Friday, September 27, 2013

MIGF 2013: Nook, Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral

Interactive and fun dining experience...

Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) is back for its 13th year, and this year, the theme is "Cool Chefs - Cooking with Attitude!". Nook in Aloft KL Sentral is a first-timer in MIGF and we were there yesterday to try out their Festival Menu, which is available from 1-31 October 2013.

Nook is the all-day dining restaurant in Aloft KL, serving pork-free International and Asian cuisine. The interior is modern with a raw industrial vibe.

"Is your chef from Sarawak?" was the first question I asked after browsing through their Festival Menu, as the first two courses come from that region. Turns out Executive Chef Steven Seow hails from Ipoh but he saw MIGF as a good opportunity to showcase some great cuisine from East Malaysia. I was eager to try out his menu as it is not often that you see a MIGF menu focussing on Malaysian Cuisine.

The Full Festival Menu at Nook (4-courses) is priced at RM280++ per person with wine and beer pairing and RM180++ without. They also do a light menu for RM160++ per person with wine.

We started off with the smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. The scallop umai sushi came served covered with a glass, and when we lifted it, we got a whiff of the smoky lemongrass. It looked fantastic on the plate and tasted great too. Umai is a local delicacy from Sarawak with a method of preparation similar to ceviche. The umai is topped on sushi rice with some ebikko and on the side, there is a pipette filled with soy sauce which you drip on the sushi. Fresh and tasty. On the side, there is also a duck confit, topped with crispy duck skin and a yogurt sphere (some molecular gastronomy going on here too). What a way to start the meal!

Smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere

Colorful and attractive looking starter

A few drops of soy sauce... and it's ready to eat!

The starter was paired with the Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

Two laksas in a week, that is a new record for Hubby. This time, we are having a luxurious version of Sarawak laksa, which is served with lobster and abalone. Just the sight of this makes my mouth water. The server comes with a teapot filled with the laksa broth and pours it tableside. Here, Chef Steven have opted to use organic soba noodles topped with beansprouts, chicken slices, coriander, lime, sambal belacan and some shredded omelette on the side. The lobster is simply grilled, and the flesh is meaty and juicy. The abalone on the other hand is thinly sliced and cooked in some butter and herbs so it is cooked right.  Though I have never tried Sarawak laksa before, this was a really good bowl of laksa which I devoured to the last drop.

Luxurious sides to this Sarawak laksa

The organic soba noodles work well

Sarawak laksa is said to be best paired with beer, so here we have the Leffe Blonde

Wagyu beef cheeks are extremely delicious when braised, and Chef Steven is using them in his dry beef rendang. The beef cheeks were flavourful and very tender. It is served with a turmeric coconut rice, which I was told is a dish originating from Sabah as well as acar jelatah and quail egg. The accompanying wine was Madfish Shiraz from Australia.

Wagyu Beef Cheek Rendang, Farm Vegetables, Achar Jelatah, Turmeric Coconut Rice

Tender pieces of meat... yum

Madfish 2009, Shiraz, Australia

The eight treasure ais kacang is a dessert which evokes the playful side in us. A bowl of shaved ice with a myriad of toppings such as sago pearls, cendol, mango, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, lychee, sweet potato, peaches and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Five different syrups are served in syringes - pandan infused with apple syrup, salted gula melaka, milk infused with cornflakes, rose syrup with strawberry and orange and lime. There is no right or wrong way to eat it - you can either squeeze it all over the ais kacang, or alternatively scoop some ice and topping and then squeeze the desired syrup on top.

When I complimented Chef Steven on his creative and interactive menu, he replied, "Aloft is seen as a trendy, fun hotel, so I tried to introduce some playful elements into our MIGF menu." And guess what, it works.

For me, NOOK's MIGF "Malaysian themed" menu excited me in terms of taste, presentation and also had the fun factor. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Price: The Full Festival Menu at Nook (4-courses) is priced at RM280++ per person with wine and beer pairing and RM180++ without. They also do a light menu for RM160++ per person with wine.

Location: NOOK, Level 1, Aloft KL Sentral, No 5 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2723 1154


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  1. Sarawak laksa with lobster and abalone! Very interesting combination, sure very nice.

  2. nice place to dine... interesting.

  3. what a cool, one-of-a-kind starter that is ... really fun recipe, mixing umai in a modern preparation! :D

  4. What a creative place to dine at! Hehe I love the use of syringes-very mad scientist! :P

  5. That Sarawak laksa with lobster and abalone sounds so luxurious... must be very nice!

  6. I love the laksa so much... practically drank the whole bowl of gravy! :)

  7. wow what a unique concept to 'inject' liquid and taste in!


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