This time around, Hotel Istana’s festive feasts will not be held at its Taman Sari Brasserie restaurant. Revellers can instead expect a cosy and lively setting at the Songket Lounge
By AZALEA AZUAR
IT’S December and you can already see glorious lights illuminating the city, while the malls are showing off
their dazzling Christmas trees and cute statues of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.
Hotels are beginning to welcome guests who are preparing for their festive feasts. Whether you are celebrating the festive season with your loved ones or you’re just a foodie who’d like to indulge in the finest feasts, Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur City Centre’s (KLCC) festive buffet should be on your list for that distinct taste of Christmas.
According to Hotel Istana executive chef Alfithri Shah Albakri, the items that the customers could expect are what families would serve during Christmas every year. He said the items are “very traditional, very homey”.
Chef Alfithri said all the chefs who are responsible for the menu had worked overseas. Some were stationed at Michelin-star outlets.
“They’d worked overseas for quite some time, including one who was at a Michelin-star restaurant in France, and others who were based in New Zealand and also in Luxembourg. We have quite a number of experienced chefs,” he said.
Beef Brisket: The Star of the Show
This year, a fine addition to the collection will be the classic beef brisket.
“We wanted to introduce something new this year, apart from the traditional turkey, so we decided on the brisket. We did the research and development for the past six months, and now we got it perfect,” chef Alfithri said.
To ensure that the brisket — the meat from the bottom part of the cow, located between the legs and belly — is cooked to perfection, the team has to smoke it for 10 hours to break down all the fat.
“When you cook it long using slow smoke, the temperature is around 90°C to 95°C, not even 100°C,” chef Alfithri said.
“There’s a lot of meat and fat. The brisket is also the part of the cow used for walking, so it’s a bit tough. You need to cook it until it’s standard.
“However, some muscles like the legs where there is no fat, if you cook it too long, it will be dry after a while,” he added.
Chef Alfithri said the fat and tenderness of the beef brisket would strike a perfect balance as the meat is very nice and soft.
Yup, after a taste, it is safe to say that it is very tender and not too fatty. The taste is further elevated if it’s paired with mushroom or barbeque sauce.
A Sweet (but Not Saccharine) Selection
Adults and children alike will enter another world after a glance at the selection of desserts, which are beautifully-decorated with that distinct Christmas theme.
The croquembouche, a traditional French Christmas dessert, will be the highlight of the buffet’s dessert. The base of the structure is a tower of profiteroles (or cream puffs, if you may).
Usually, chef Alfithri’s team would glaze the French dessert with sugar, but as the customers are getting a little more health-conscious, the team had decided to replace it with chocolate.
“This year, we did not glaze it with sugar because a lot of customers said the dessert is good, but it is too sweet. So, we used chocolate rather than sugar,” he said.
Although it would only take about two or three hours to make the croquembouche, the process is very tedious. “You need to make the cream. Then, you need to make the casing to pop the cream in. Then, you need to put the chocolate in. So there’s a lot of process involved to create it.”
The croquembouche is not the only dessert on the menu that has the right amount of sweetness. In fact, the whole dessert selection does not taste too sweet as well.
Replacing the usual caramel sauce would be fruits that provide the right sweetness for the cream caramel.
One unique innovation is a tofu cheesecake that seems to be lighter, yet with all the right texture. Yes, it melts in your mouth.
Not Just About the Food
This time around, Hotel Istana’s festive feasts will not be held at its Taman Sari Brasserie restaurant. Revellers can instead expect a cosy and lively setting at the Songket Lounge.
“We expect more crowd this year, so we decided to have it at the Songket Lounge, not inside the restaurant. We’re going to have a party there, so we’re going to highlight that it is a Christmas event with family and friends,” said chef Alfithri.
He said the buffet experience at the Songket Lounge include Christmas carols and live music. The carollers will sing from 8pm to 9pm on Dec 24. After 9pm, guests can enjoy live music performed by Hotel Istana’s in-house band.
“This is the second time we are having the Christmas Eve buffet at the Songket Lounge after last year’s success. We had a lot of good feedback,” he said.
The Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner will be available from 6.30pm until 10.30pm on Dec 24 and priced at RM148 nett per adult, while for children aged five to 11 years, it is priced at RM50 nett per child. The dinner comes with a glass of wine or Santarina Mocktail.
Be Amused by the Christmas Hi-Tea
Santa will not be the only one showering your friends and family with gifts on Christmas Day. You can also treat your beloved ones with Hotel Istana’s Buffet Hi-Tea which will be held at Taman Sari Brasserie for only RM90 nett per adult.
The Christmas joy can be tasted through a variety of dishes, from roast stuffed turkey with caramelised vegetables to roast beef medallion with salsa verde and baked crusted salmon with honey mustard sauce.
A Christmas Tree with that Modern Touch
This year, chef Alfithri said the hotel is expected to host more guests for the festive feast. To complete the grand Christmas feel, the hotel has also included a 5.5m-tall Christmas tree.
“This year, we are focusing on blue, white and silver. That’s our Christmas theme for this year. It is more modern. The Christmas tree at Songket Lounge will be decorated with the three colours,“ Hotel Istana food and beverages director Ramani Shanmugam said.
A Back-to-Back New Year’s Eve Party
Some may have gone through 2019 with challenges, while some would have sailed smoothly. Perhaps, ending the year with a New Year’s Eve buffet dinner at Hotel Istana’s Taman Sari Brasserie would be a great idea.
Guests can start dinner with a glass of Santarina Mocktail and there will even be barbequed seafood such as grilled red snapper, salmon, flower crab, fresh prawns, squid, green mussels and clams.
After 9pm, the Songket Lounge will open up a New Year’s Eve party, where the countdown to 2020 will take place.
“For our New Year’s theme, we are going for the back-to-back era since we will be celebrating our New Year in 2020,” Shanmugam said.
Enjoy the party as Hotel Istana’s live DJ and four-piece band will entertain the guests with live music from the 80s, 90s and towards 2020.
There will even be special offer on bottle sales, balloon drops and lucky draws (fingers crossed for that!), while guests do not need to fret over cover charges.
Those who are interested to book, do call 03-2141 9988 or send your email to f&[email protected].