Back for its third edition is The St Regis KL’s Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu. Introduced in 2019 with a focus on reimagined local dishes, the 6-course menu took on a Malaysian folklore and fairytales theme last year and is followed up this year with one centred on the rites and rituals of Malay weddings.
Don’t be mistaken – while the menu is inspired by the wedding rituals often practised by the largest ethnic group in Malaysia, the culinary delights that comprise it are ones that truly capture the melting pot nature of our multicultural nation.
The Courtship (Merisik) – Snack
Presented by Chef Norazizi Taslim, Chef Mohd Ridzwan Mohamed Rasit, Chef Azizul Bistaman and Chef Saiful Anuar Mohd Mimyamit at the hotel‘s The Brasserie, the gastronomic journey through Malaysia’s 14 states begins with their reinterpretation of the keropok lekor from Terengganu and hati itik from Malacca.
Opening the dining experience as a part of The Courtship (Merisik), the crispy homemade fish cracker is wrapped in paper, mimicking a love letter, and presented in a wooden “mailbox”. It is paired with a Foie Gras Terrine Sambal Geragau (Hati Itik Bunga Ros), an interesting mix of sweet and spicy that is intricately shaped to represent a stalk of rose. The kick of the thin layer of sambal at the bottom is quickly soothed by the richness of the foie gras. From the get-go, the bar is set high for both taste and presentation, and diners will not be left wanting for either as the culinary journey progresses.
The Proposal (Meminang) – Amuse-bouche
Next comes The Proposal (Meminang), comprised of Negeri Sembilan’s Sabak Salai Smoked Beef, which is reinterpreted into a smoked beef-topped pomegranate gelée with grated areca nuts; Sabah’s Lempeng Udang Kara, a lobster crêpe with kapur aioli; Kedah’s Tenggiri Asam Gelugor, a mackerel tamarind sandwich with betel leave julienne; and Perak’s Bidor Duck (Cara Berlauk), mini pancake cups with grated gambir.
Apropos of the proposal tradition that sees the male offering a “Tepak Sirih” to his love interest, the aforementioned ingredients are inspired by the betel leaves, areca nuts, slaked lime and extract from gambier plant leaves often found in the box. To further highlight this, the presentation of the amuse-bouche is very much reminiscent of the traditional offering, set in a beautifully-carved box with leaves and flowers lining it.
The Engagement (Bertunang) – Appetiser
Akin to The Engagement (Bertunang) ritual, this is where the drama and theatrical flair truly kick into gear. Here the engagement rings are everyone’s focus, as they symbolise a promise between the happy couple and their respective families. To communicate this, the appetiser – Kelantan’s Kerabu Sotong – is presented along with “engagement rings” in a velvet box. Served in a hollowed passionfruit, the squid salad is a perfect balance of sour and savoury, with its poached squid, pais kelapa grated coconut, selom leaf, lime chili and passionfruit dressing. Meanwhile, the accompanying “rings” are sambal doughnuts topped with caviar and gold leaves. However, aware that not many may enjoy a strong spicy sensation in their quick bread, the chefs infuse only a minute amount of sambal into the doughnuts so as to provide only a slight tingle rather than a full-blown kick.
The Bachelorette Party (Malam Berinai) – Soup
Now it’s time for The Bachelorette Party (Malam Berinai), an intimate henna party joined by the bride and her bridesmaids. Ladies who’ve experienced this would be aware that the highlight is the decorating of the bride’s hands and feet with intricate motifs, using the dark brown paste derived from the henna plant. It is this same plant that is used as the main ingredient in the henna-marinated roasted lamb rib tandoori and spiced lamb soup that represent the berinai experience. As explained by Chef Norazizi, the soup is inspired by the one popularly consumed in Penang and has more of a Malay touch, while the lamb rib has more of an Indian touch. Together, they are a perfect blend of herbs and spices that will truly awaken the taste buds.
The Wedding (Akad Nikah) – Main
Finally, it’s time for The Wedding (Akad Nikah), when friends and family come together to celebrate the marital union between the bride and groom. This, being the main event, of course inspires the main course. Six representative foods from the Federal Territory (Wilayah Persekutuan) make up the majestic spread: roasted chicken with Tualang honey, lamb kofta or spiced meatballs, saffron-boiled potatoes (shaped into balls much like the carrots and potatoes in the aforementioned lamb soup) with sambal bilis or anchovy chili paste, yellow glutinous rice with chicken floss which represents the Nasi Kunyit, pickled white radish, and traditional Malay salad with chili paste or ulam-ulaman dan sambal (to those who do not take spicy well, do heed that the sambal might be too hot to handle) which represents the sirih junjung. The Malay wedding staple, Nasi Minyak, is represented by the Briyani Gam Rice or buttered rice that is interestingly served in a crispy spring roll form, which gives it a nice crunch when bitten into.
As the foods at traditional Malay weddings are often served on a tray, to be shared by several guests, the main course similarly comes beautifully arranged on a wooden tray, with the roasted chickens served on a mini charcoal barbecue grill.
The Reception (Bersanding) – Dessert
Of course, no matter how big a meal one has had, there is always room for dessert. In The Reception (Bersanding), Malacca’s wajik takes centre stage. In Malay weddings, bersanding is a reception that includes the merenjis or blessings ceremony, where traditionally the most important guests are invited to sprinkle the newlyweds’ hands with rose-scented water mixed with sweet-scented flowers. The St Regis KL encapsulates this tradition in the form of fondant flower petals that adorn the wajik, which additionally has been given a modern twist with its vanilla ice cream topping and “glass” dome – or sugar dome to be precise – that diners will have to break (a light tap will do) before digging into the sweet glutinous rice. The palm sugar, coconut milk, pandan, ice cream and thin disc of chocolate on top blend well with the soft, chewy rice to provide an icy cool mouthfeel.
Wedding Favour (Bunga Telur) – Petit Four
Last but not least, traditionally when it is time for the wedding guests to take their leave, they will each receive a Wedding Favour (Bunga Telur). As the Malay name translates into ‘egg flower’, guests do literally receive hard-boiled eggs, which symbolise fertility. For this menu, it has been reinterpreted into chocolate praline eggs, served alongside the petit four: Perlis’ sugar cane caramel truffle, Sarawak’s batik cake, Selangor’s mango praline, and Pahang’s Cameron Highland strawberry fruit pâté. The aesthetics are further heightened by an exquisitely hand-crafted rose adorning the intricate structure the petit four is served on. There is nothing like ending a hearty meal with delectable desserts that simply melt in the mouth.
Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu – Of Rites & Ritual is available at The Brasserie on 10th and 16th September, priced at RM388.00+ per person. Take away and delivery will be available until 15th September (except on the 10th), priced at RM776.00+ for two pax. For more information, call The St Regis KL at +603 2727 6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photos: The St Regis KL)