A-maze-ing buffet spread

A beef leg marinated for 36 hours and slow roasted. — Photos: ART CHEN/The Star

RAMADAN buffets can often be a maze to get through as numerous dishes are laid out for diners to try.

In such cases, a map showing the various offerings will certainly be useful.

This is especially true for Zest Lifestyle Restaurant in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel.

Its executive sous chef Zulkifli Asyul Sutan Saidi, however, said the fun is in looking for the delicacies.

This explains why certain attractions are “hidden”; the rojak counter is placed in a corner, nearly lost between the grilled seafood and gulai kawah counters.

This section has pasembur and fruit salad. Laden with offerings of fried squid rings, prawn fritters, jumbo chicken sausages, chicken fillets and squid balls as well as cut fruits, it is a mini buffet by itself.

Chicken rendang from the gulai kawah station.
Chicken rendang from the gulai kawah station.

Revealing that creating an appetite is an art which requires many years of experience, Zulkifli added that the trick is knowing where to place a dish.

This year, a beef leg marinated for 36 hours and slow roasted at 160°C is the highlight.

A rich and creamy lasagna and spinach cannelloni with beef bolognese sauce is another must-try.

An in-house creation of butterfly chicken was a favourite at the Japanese counter, which also featured pan-seared sashimi-grade tuna. Marinated overnight in garlic, ginger, black pepper and granulated bonito fish stock, the chicken was grilled for 40 minutes, rendering it tender and flavourful.

The rojak counter has pasembur and fruit salad.
The rojak counter has pasembur and fruit salad.

At the noodle counter, the tangy and sour aroma from the asam laksa will make one’s mouth water.

The highlight of the spread was the gulai kawah, featuring classic favourites such as lamb kurma, chicken rendang, beef ribs and catfish in coconut milk with bird’s eye chillies.

Cooking meat in the cauldron may be time-consuming and laborious, but by sight and smell, a cook can control the texture and level of flavours. In a pressure cooker, on the other hand, once the timer is set, a cook will only know the results after the whistling has stopped.

Fresh squid rings are coated in a special sauce.
Fresh squid rings are coated in a special sauce.

The rich lamb kurma was tender and had just the right balance of spices, and it paired well with freshly made roti canai from the Indian food counter.

Attention-grabbing was the display of whole fish and squid on ice. For big groups, the chefs will grill a whole Spanish mackerel.

As for dim sum, the chicken siew mai is good but so are the lotus leaf buns and stewed beef slices. Diners will need to keep their eyes peeled for this item as a whole roasted lamb beside it may catch their attention.

Durian lovers, don’t forget to head out to the garden for an eat-all-you-can experience. The Tembaga variety is served here and the standard imposed by the hotel is only pods of bright yellow flesh with an intact carpel, a thin membrane-like capsule that houses the flesh.

ZEST LIFESTYLE RESTAURANT, Putrajaya Marriott Hotel, IOI Resort City, Sepang Utara, Malaysia. (Tel: 03-8949 8888). Business hours: 24 hours, daily.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.


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