Ensconced within shopping haunt Pavilion Elite in Kuala Lumpur is Rasanya. The eatery is a sprawling, RM3mil project that features ornate furniture, mosaic patterned tiling, jade accents and a general feel of sophistication and charm.
The brainchild of Chris Lee – a former mechanical engineer turned F&B entrepreneur – who is now the CEO of Rasa Empire Holdings which also runs eateries like Kingdom Cuisine), the eatery pays homage to steamboat, but with a very singular twist: the steamboat is heavily influenced by Peranakan food culture.
“Peranakans are such a unique community in Malaysia. And in terms of food culture, many Peranakan foods are intertwined with Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultures. That’s why we decided on Peranakan steamboat as a unique selling point to open the door to all races in Malaysia to enjoy steamboat. Because otherwise, the majority of people think of steamboat as Chinese food,” explains Lee.
The eatery prides itself on a range of soup bases that deviate from the norm and have been tried-and-tested to death before making it on the table. These include options like winter melon and herbs, laksa and tom yam, to name a few.
As Ramadan is fast approaching, the eatery also recently collaborated with celebrity chef Datuk Zamzani Abdul Wahab, better known as chef Zam – the host of television shows like Agak Agak on the Discovery Channel – to put together a Ramadan buffet, priced at RM118 for adults and RM58 for children (six years and above).
For this collaboration, Zam created a special soup base called RahsiaNya, which makes use of a diverse range of ingredients including Chinese char siew sauce, palm sugar, fermented bean curd paste and coconut water. The result is a tropical-inflected concoction that has distinct barbecue notes and a light sweetness.
One of the highlights of dining at the restaurant is that table service is provided for the steamboat, so instead of dipping all the ingredients into the steamboat yourself, your server will do it for you and you don’t have to lift a finger.
From the Ramadan menu, you can first choose your soup bases (up to three options). Once that is done, opt to try some of the appetisers on offer, including the rendang daging, which features incredibly malleable, tender beef coated in a coconut-rich, lightly spicy kuah rendang that is incredibly intoxicating.
The popiah goreng is also a good opener to the meal and features crispy spring roll logs (although a tad bit oily) that break open to reveal shredded carrots within.
To indulge in the steamboat, try the Sedap-nya Laksa soup base. The laksa is thick and rich, with pronounced curry powder overtones that are very, very pleasant. It’s a powerful crowd-pleaser that is spicy without attempting to kill your tastebuds altogether.
Another soup base that you might want to try is the winter melon and herbs. This is redolent of more classic Chinese steamboat soup options, and is very light, with a slightly medicinal, herbal quality to it. This is basically the sort of soup base that acts as a blank canvas for all the other ingredients that are added to it.
From the seafood on offer for the Ramadan steamboat buffet, definitely try the fresh tiger prawns. Cooked to perfection in the boiling hot steamboat, the prawns are large, fresh and incredibly sweet. The fish fillet (grouper) also makes for a good addition to the soup and is very fresh with aquatic traces running through each slice.
The carnivorous options include Australian beef slices and lamb slices. Both are delightful once cooked and feature meat that is very, very tender and almost melts in the mouth.
The eatery also has a range of homemade fish balls and dumplings to accentuate the steamboat, as well as spinach, cabbage, tofu and enoki mushrooms. To cap your meal, opt for noodles like yee mee or glass noodles to dunk into the soup for a truly soup-er experience.
On the side, the eatery also has a range of sauces and other condiments to elevate your meal even further. Choose from the house favourite spicy sauce, green chilli sauce or even a seafood sauce, alongside condiments like roasted garlic, dried chilli flakes and coriander leaves and mix and match until you find a combination that you like.
Moving forward, Lee says that there are plans to open more Rasanya outlets in the Klang Valley, as reception has been very good since the restaurant launched.
“For this kind of premium outlet, we are targeting only three outlets in KL. Why only three? Because we want to make sure that the service, ingredients and overall food quality is under our control.
“We invested a lot of money into this restaurant so we want to offer a better environment and ambience, so that more people will want to come here. So even with our food, our target is to improve and hopefully be the first steamboat restaurant in Malaysia to be recognised by the Michelin Guide Malaysia,” says Lee, grinning.
Level 8, Pavilion Elite
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 010 773 0223
Open daily: 11am to 10pm