Bunga Emas, for the Majesty in you.

From the golden curtains hanging off the ceiling to the golden carpeting beneath your feet, from the golden cushions you sit on to the golden table settings displaying your royal dishes. Bunga Emas Restaurant is the newest restaurant in town that provides an ambience and delectable fine Malay dishes that is fit for a king.

Bunga emas plays an important role in traditional Malay customs during special occasions and wedding ceremonies. With that, Bunga Emas Restaurant would like to highlight this beloved Malaysian trademark via the interior designs, as well as the food served on the table.

Headed by Chef de Cuisine Khairul Ghazali, this is his latest culinary concerto in The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, after Sutera Harbour Resort in Sabah, and Langkawi Four Seasons in Kedah, where he became good friends with Executive Sous Chef Sabri Soid, who is just a door away at L’Heritage. (As you follow through, you will see similar usage of ingredients in the menu).

And this is Chef Khairul’s second time participating in the 2009 Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF), first time when he was in the Langkawi Four Seasons, in which he had also won the Most Creative Food category.

As the appetiser is the Udang kara kerdil limau Bali, a baby rock lobster salad topped with a tangy variety of fruits, such as pomelo and orange slices, pandan fronth, and are’nkha caviar pomegranate compote.

This is a weird combo for me. It consists of all four flavours that hit you at one go: sweet from the orange, bitter from the pomelo, salty from the caviar, and spicy from the tomato sauce. We were definitely off to quite an interesting start at Bunga Emas.

The starter is another novel composition of both land and sea – Darat dan lautan. Representing the sea is a ball of grilled salmon with a surprise pineapple and sambal filling, and the land, roulade of quail dressed in peppercorn seasoning that pops like little firecrackers in your mouth, and a dollop of – get this – purple mashed potatoes.

Again, quite an unusual piece. I was a little distracted trying to get used to something so uncalled for. I am not used to eating purple coloured food, and it did not really taste like those golden yellow mashed potatoes. But I like the effort put into the grilled salmon. The stuffing definitely put me off-guard, and it was a just flavour to go with the fish.

For the soup course is Sup ketam labu kundur, made from little spoonfuls of flower crab broths sailing on winter melon rafts on the feather light tomato consume.

This is a very overwhelmingly pepperish dish for me. So much so that it drowned out the taste of the winter melon cubes, as well as the freshness of the tomatoes. It did accentuate the crab meat, but overall, it was too much for me to enjoy.

For half-time, I thought perhaps I can take a breather from the Dadih mempelam, a silky smooth mango custard. Stated as a sorbet course, it is not exactly sorbet since it is a kind of pudding.

I did not think it is a right choice for a half-time sweetie, because the custard is a little heavy on the palettes. Thus, it did not really reset the taste buds properly, especially after the peppered soup. Although it is sweet nonetheless, a good thing after the two spicy dishes prior, but I would still like an icy cool sorbet to refresh things.

But when it comes to the main course, one would feel like they are having another serving of Hari Raya.

On the Festival Menu as mains are the Kerapu merah pais kelapa, baked grouper fish rolled up with a good touch of chilli coconut paste stuffing on the insides, and Chef Khairul’s signature dish, Sendi kambing briyani, lamb shank in briyani gravy. Accommodating the dishes is Nasi pandan gajus, savoury screw pine rice with a tinge of sweetness, and chopped cashew nuts revealed in every bite.

The fish was ecstatically spicy. I thought the chilli coconut paste filling was a good touch – I have not really tasted spicy coconut paste before, so don’t mind me. This dish is guaranteed to awaken your senses with an explosion that is oh so pleasurable.

No Malay meal is complete without a curry dish, and the lamb shank definitely filled in the blanks for the menu. Chef Khairul’s famous is not made famous for no apparent reason. Cooked in briyani gravy with the smooth and tender meat that seems to fall off the bone as you run the knife gently down in between, and the curry gravy that is not too spicy as to overwhelm diners after fighting through the grouper fish.

Concluding this year’s MIGF dining experience in Bunga Emas is their dessert platter – Manisan Bunga Emas, with a plethora of delicacies to bring it home in a sweet note.

The Warm chocolate hazelnut pudding, which was not really warm when it was served to us, was a tad bitter, but the generous drench of strawberry syrup balanced things up and all is well again. As for the Anise tea cream and young coconut ice cream, it is a touch of innovation with coconut slices hidden at the bottom of the refreshing scoop, turning every-day used ingredients in traditional Malay cuisine into a dessert. Not bad at all.

Wine selections recommended for Bunga Emas’ Festival Menu are one of Australia’s best, Kangaroo Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, displaying hints of blackberry and well integrated oak and soft tannins, and Kangaroo Ridge Chardonnay, flaunting aromas of the vivacious melon and succulent white peaches.

It is quite evident that Chef Khairul has put in much effort in originality when it comes to his food composition. He pinpoints the traditional dishes in Malay cuisine, tweaks it with some fusion styles and presents it in a way that would bring Malay food a fresh breath of air. One that might even appease the foreign crowd.

It may get a little too heavy for the taste palettes – i.e. the appetiser, the starter, the soup – but I suppose that is how the Malays like their food, strong flavouring and all, no?

I guess I am more towards traditional Malay food; that would explain why I am trying so hard to get used to the appetiser and starter. Although, it would definitely have been good if beef rendang is on the menu. Heh.

Festival Menu
RM239++ per person with wine
RM159++ per person without wine

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Bunga Emas Restaurant
The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur
6 Jalan Conlay
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Opens daily 12PM-10.30PM
T: +6 03 2688 9688
W: http://www.royalechulan.com.my

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