Which bird will win the taste crown at the newly renovated Evolution Cafe’s Christmas buffet in Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel? That will be the diners’ job to judge.
But they should know that the tandoori turkey has been touted as a signature item. It is first soaked in a bath of ginger juice for two hours to tenderise the meat then rubbed with turmeric powder, fenugreek, cumin, coriander and chilli powder.
The hand responsible for the tandoori turkey is a chef from Teluk Intan, Perak, who goes by the name of Rram (yes, he spells it with two R’s) Kumar Shanmugam.
Another of his creation is the cheese tandoori chicken drumsticks — non-spicy and suitable for young children. Marinated in yoghurt, cardamom powder, ground cumin and coriander, the drumsticks sported a light cheesy crust and were tender to the bite.
Ten chefs from different sections of the hotel’s food and beverage restaurants have come together for the festive buffet menu. Headed by executive chef Edmund Ng, the spread is a showcase of his team’s combined skills.
In the revamped restaurant, once known to regulars as Kuali, the marble element dominates. Chiller shelves built into the walls keep fruits and chilled desserts fresh. Salads and herbs are kept in hydroponic pots where they can be plucked for diners.
The buffet is served in a market-like setting with live cooking stations offering dim sum, soup noodles and dish of the day as well as a carvery section.
Flavours are kept subtle and pure, naturally derived from the very ingredients themselves.
Over at the starter section, the cheese board beckons with very fresh offerings of Gorgonzola, Gouda, Edam, Camembert and feta served with dried apricots, macadamia nuts and prunes. For salads, there is enoki in Sichuan chilli dressing and radish pickled in orange juice.
The seafood-on-ice features the creamy flesh of Fine de Claire oysters and slipper lobsters.
Removing the shell in the latter is an art. One plunges the tip of a knife into its abdomen then lower the blade towards the tail to split the shell in half. You can then dig out the sweet white flesh to be enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon or a cup of warm lobster bisque from the bread station.
We also loved the wok-fried prawns from the hot section. Fragranced with basil and given a spicy element with chilli, the prawns were succulent to the bite.
At the carvery, a slow-roasted striploin of beef beckons with a cool, red centre. One can tell by the bright yellow shade in the layer of fat that this is an appetising cut, best enjoyed with lashings of mushroom sauce.
Ng said diners should head for the Beef Wellington straight away. Featuring a tenderloin enveloped in puff pastry, the dish will be at its optimum prime for the first 30 minutes under a warmer. This is when the pastry will be at the right degree of crispiness and much of the meat juices still retained within the muscles.
Featured in the same row is lamb chop served with rosemary potatoes, roasted until soft but retaining a crisp outer layer. Covering the lamb is a smoky garlic gravy, complementing the gamey notes of the meat with its pungent, slightly spicy flavours.
As a starch to accompany the meats, diners at the restaurant recommend the Baked Macaroni with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle Oil.
The mince tarts are recommended for dessert. You can find them nestled in the dessert section, placed on one of the chiller shelves. Why put a fruit tart in the cold? Hold one in your hand and you will find out. The shortcrust here is so soft that the warmth from your hand is enough to make the tart crumble. So, it is best they stay chilled until someone decides to eat them.
The filling of dried apricots, raisins and cranberries mixed in cinnamon and Christmas stollen spice is slow-burned for an hour in sugar caramel and orange juice. This mixture is kept for a week with additions of black treacle for flavour.
The Christmas stollen, with an almond marzipan in the centre, is as good. Just like the mince tarts, the dried fruits and roasted walnuts in this confection were immersed in a sticky sugar syrup for a week. A vanilla stick was added for that extra layer of flavour.
Christmas Eve buffet dinner served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm is priced at RM188 nett (adult) and RM94 nett (child aged six to 12). At RM248 nett per person, customers get free-flow wine and beer.
Christmas Day lunch, served from 12.30pm to 4pm, is priced at RM168 nett (adult) or RM228 nett (free-flow wine and beer) and RM84 nett (child).
There is a festive a la carte menu too, served throughout December for dinner featuring seasonal favourites such as Creamy Chestnut Soup, Poached Asparagus with Home-cured Salmon, Roasted Turkey Roulade with Foie Gras, Pan-fried Atlantic Black Cod with Gnocchi, Warm Christmas Pudding with Berries as well as Mini-pandan Yule Log with Shredded Coconut and Chocolate Sauce.
EVOLUTION CAFE, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2162 2233) Business hours: 6am to 10.30pm, daily.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.
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