Ramadhan Buffet @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ
Ramadhan Buffet @ Paya Serai, Hilton PJ
The lines are long for breaking fast, or “Berbuka Puasa” at Paya Serai, Hilton Petaling Jaya. It is rumoured to be one of the best establishments for Ramadhan Buffet. Reservations are strongly advised to avoid disappointment, but take note that in one evening they can serve up to over a thousand people.
“Why is it so popular?” I asked. Our hosts, Amila Handunwala (Director of Business Development), Donegel’ Chong (Hilton Elevator Trainee) and Than Shaw Shiuan (Marketing Communications executive) were more than enlightening. Apparently, the traditional Malay delicacies, curries and desserts at Paya Serai are as authentic as you can get, and word of that has gotten around.
It’s a bountiful buffet spread, especially tailored for this spiritual month under the watchful eye of Executive Sous Chef Khairuddin Kamarudin.
Joining the team at Hilton PJ just three months ago, this will be Chef Khairuddin’s first Ramadhan Buffet at the hotel. Hailing from Kelantan, with a long history of traditional Malay cooking, I’m pretty certain he won’t disappoint. Hazim (Red Weekends) himself is a born and bred Kelantanese, so he was ecstatic at the prospect of tasting a little bit of home.
The menu varies every day, so technically, if you wanted to, you could break fast at Paya Serai for 5 days in a row and never face repetition. Of course, there are some staples on the menu, like the different styles of rendang, a variety of sambals, and certain desserts.
As well as your traditional Malay cuisine, Paya Serai also maintains dishes from its normal buffet spread that include Western, Indian & Chinese dishes, and local hawkers delights.
Terry (Red FM Drive), Hazim, Mary, Alvin (Photographer) and I looked at the spread that was laid out for us to sample.
We drooled, and we smacked our lips with anticipation. And then we dug in with vigour!
From Hazim’s quick and knowledgeable lesson in Malay cuisine, I understand that Bubur Lambuk is a porridge dish eaten prepared especially for iftar (the break of fast) during Ramadhan. The smell of aromatic herbs and spices wafted up from the bowl containing soft rice that had been simmered in a clear, rich peppery stock. Lovely, with shredded chicken, beef, carrots and diced vegetables.
Kerabu Taugeh dengan kerang
Crunchy bean sprouts tossed in a zesty, salty dressing, with fresh cockles.
Kerabu is basically a salad, with a dressing that varies on the maker. Sweet, sour, spicy and salty all at the same time. The shredded young papaya is tossed with diced shallots, sliced cucumber, green beans, cili padi, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil and pepper.
The gado-gado was a hit, especially with Hazim who ate it up in one swoop! A traditional vegetable salad, with kang-kung, bean sprouts, beans, sliced cucumber, lettuce, fried tofu and tempeh. Take whatever you fancy and drench it in the thick, homemade peanut sauce dressing.
To complement you meal, add spoonfuls of Acar mentah (fruit pickles) and three different kinds of Sambal.
Nasi Dagang is traditionally cooked with rice and glutinous rice. Coconut cream is added after cooking making it the perfect accompaniment for the curries. The Nasi Dagang we had has a pretty pink tinge to it from red grain rice, and was superbly cooked.
Gulai Ikan Tonkol (tuna fish)
I’ve always wondered what the difference is between a curry and ‘gulai’. Apparently, not much, except that gulai is very mild and hardly contains any chilli, with turmeric for a bright yellow colour. In this gulai, you’ll find whole chilli peppers, juicy slices of tuna fish and a smattering of vegetables.
Slices of beef are slow-cooked in thick coconut milk for a number of hours to tenderise and flavour the meat. The sauce was reduced down and clung to the beef like a second skin. Bursts of flavour from lemongrass, galangal, and toasted coconut filled my mouth as I bit into the tender, moist chunks of meat. Alvin and Mary were happy to declare that this was their favourite dish of the evening, and went back for seconds.
Udang Sambal Petai
Even though we loved the Rendang, Terry and I focused our attention on the prawns in sambal with petai. Petai itself is an acquired taste, and the bean itself has a peculiar smell. You either love it or you don’t. We loved it, especially teamed with the luxurious, deep red, sweet & spicy sambal. The prawns were very large, fresh and succulent. This time, Terry and I went back for seconds. And thirds.
Ayam Masak Merah
Directly translated into English, Ayam Masak Merah means ‘Red-Cooked-Chicken’. The succulent pieces of chicken were swimming in a sweet, red gravy made from hot chilli sauce, tomato puree, ketchup, dark sweet soya sauce, sugar and herbs and spices. Beautifully presented, garnished with onion rings and coriander leaves.
Something I’ve never tried before was the Sayur Lodeh, a Malay vegetable dish cooked in coconut stew. Cabbage, cauliflower, beans, carrots, glass noodles and beansprouts simmered in a gravy made from blended chilli, lemongrass, belacan, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and coconut milk.
Sayur Pucuk-paku Goreng Belacan
A favourite amongst all of us was the stir-fried pucuk paku (wild fern shoots). I can’t quite put my finger on what made it so good! The strong taste of belacan, the eruption of spiciness from the chilli, the sweetness of the prawns, or whether it was purely the unusual taste of the crunchy fern. Whatever it was, it was delicious, and very addictive.
After such a hearty meal, we lingered on at the table and indulged in some light chatter while sipping on a tall, cool glass of ‘Sirap’. Then, dessert!
Serawa Pulut Durian
Oh, what a joy it was to have this dessert. Chef Khairuddin explained that this was a relatively simple dish to make. Durian flesh is cooked in coconut milk with pandan leaves. Gula Melaka is added and the sarawa stirred until its consistency is thick and smooth. The sauce is then poured over a sticky, glutinous rice cake (pulut).
If you love durian, you will love this!
By the time the Bread and butter pudding arrived, all I could fit in was a spoonful.
Slices of buttered bread, layered with raisins, soaked in an egg and milk mixture, baked and seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla. Rich, and very filling. Go easy on the main courses if you want to fit this in!
The Ramadhan Buffet at Paya Serai is truly an experience not to be missed. I can only imagine the crowds that will flock there to break fast with traditional, homely, authentic Malay cuisine. With over a 100 dishes to whet your appetite, a spread of tantalizing appetizers, sumptuous curries, live cooking stations and mouth watering desserts awaits you at Paya Serai.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find such variety and quality anywhere else. Don’t forget make your booking now!
NOTE: On the first day of Ramadhan, Hilton PJ will be holding a Bubur Lambuk giveaway at 4pm, along Jalan Barat (near the taxi stand in front of Stamford College). One for each vehicle.
The Big Red Food Review wishes all our Muslim Listeners SELAMAT BERPUASA!
All this week, tune in from Eleven2Three to win a Ramadhan Buffet for 2 at Paya Serai, Hilton PJ, worth RM150!
Special thanks to Chef Khairuddin, Amila, Donegel’ and Shaw Shiuan for a wonderful evening.
Special thanks to Alvin (www.damienphotography.com) for the beautiful pictures.
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel : +60 3 7955 9122
Fax : +60 3 7957 3909
RAMADHAN BUFFET PRICES
Available from 11 Aug – 13 Aug, 2010
RM75++ per adult
RM45++ for children below 12 years of age
Available from 14 Aug – 20 Aug, 2010
RM99++ per adult
RM59++ for children
Available from 21 Aug – 10 Sep, 2010
RM109++ per adult
RM69++ for children