Sometimes, I feel a little homesick and begin to reminisce about my extended family in Singapore. Many of my fondest memories are centred around the dining table, or scattered across the my Ah Ma’s living room with bowls of her famous dishes and ‘da pao’ (takeaway) packets of Singaporean hawker delights!
Being a melting pot of foods from all over Asia, the cuisine of Singapore is rather synonymous with that of Malaysia. So when I first heard about The Grace Hotel’s “Flavours of Malaysia” Food Festival two years ago, my little tastebuds were screaming to taste the culinary splendour exhibited by this well known buffet of Sydney’s Crave Festival. Would the “Flavours of Malaysia” be the cure to my homesickness…?
This is the third time that I have attended the Grace Hotel’s “Flavours of Malaysia” – each time I leave feeling more impressed than the previous! I was lucky enough to attend the opening night to sample the culinary delights of Malaysia. This year there was a focus on North Malaysian cuisine.
As always we started off with a variety of fresh salads, bursting with spices as the culinary journey began. I was already starting to feel somewhat closer to home! I absolutely adored the DIY ‘Gado-Gado’ – what I like to describe as a mix n’ match of crunchy salads with a punchy acidity of tropical fruits, topped off with a sinfully delicious sweet sauce accompanied by crunchy peanuts! The variety of sauces on choice sent my head into a spin and I was ready to squeal with delight when I spied the enormous jars of ‘keropok’ (prawn crackers).
The variety of warm dishes foreshadowed my impending inability to walk out of the brasserie – how could I not have a little try of everything? I was going to be very very full! I headed straight for the ‘roti prata’ station as I had earlier seen the chef’s especially flown in from the Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur (The Grace’s ‘sister’ hotel) working their magic! It still amazes me as to how dedicated The Grace Hotel is to truly taking its diners on that authentic culinary journey!
Highlights from the warm selection were the oh so tender ‘Ayam Masak Rendang’ (Chicken cooked with Spices & Toasted Grated Coconut), ‘Sambal Udang’ (Prawn Sambal) and the famous ‘Chicken and Beef Satay’. Having a love for seafood, the Prawn Sambal was definitely a favourite as the spices culminated in such a way that really encapsulated the flavours of South-East Asia and reminded me of those times in Singapore. But, I cannot forget to give the ‘Satay’ an honourable mention. This food was and still is my essential meal component when I visit Singapore – fun and easy to eat and of course share with the family. The chefs did a fantastic job recreating this famous Malaysian dish – ‘satay’ is truly synonymous for Malaysian cuisine!
What I loved the most about the buffet was each dish was proudly labelled with its geographical origin! Such a subtle yet effective idea, which embellished the notion travelling through Malaysia.
With deep regret, I was too full to try the ‘Laksa’ station but I loved the concept of having the ingredients put together in front of you, emulating the hustle and bustle of the hawker centres in Malaysia and Singapore!
I won’t lie…I already had my eye on the dessert selection when I was piling salads onto my plate. The famous ‘kueh’ truly brings me back to my summer holidays spent passing the box of delicious sweets around Ah Ma’s living room – tasting every single selection that had been bought. I was even more excited to try the pancakes, when I saw the accompanying ‘gula melaka’ syrup – what I perceive to be an even more decadent version of maple syrup! So I indeed took every single dessert, including the DIY ‘Ice Kachang’ full of colourful syrups, beans, tropical fruits and crunchy shaved ice! The ‘kueh’ was full of flavour and definitely a great introduction to Malaysian sweets for those new to the cuisine, while reminiscent for those familiar with the authentic Malaysian cuisine.
By the end of the evening, the Grace Brasserie had turned into Ah Ma’s living room – full of people, sharing conversation as they were enveloped by the aroma of spices and brought together by the authenticity of the “Flavours of Malaysia”. With a tinge of sadness, I rolled out of the Grace Brasserie with a very full stomach, leaving Ah Ma’s living room behind. However, the joy and reminiscence brought about by this culinary journey overshadowed any sadness in parting as I remembered there will be another “Flavours of Malaysia”! “Until next year!” I remind myself.
Congratulations must go to the Grace Hotel for once again producing such a fine and authentic quality of food. They are truly great at bringing foreign cultures to Sydney through the universal language of food!
A highly recommended meal and experience!!
The festival ends this Sunday so make your way over to The Grace Hotel ASAP!!!!!
To book call: 9272 6670
The Grace Hotel | 77 York Street | Sydney 2000 | Australia