Grandmother's beloved Daging Dendeng recipe paves the way in inspiring Chef Khairulnizam bin Mohd Rostam when he planned the five rotational buka puasa menus for Latest Recipe's first ever fasting month promotion.
The hotel's Banquet Chef whose experience spans two decades said he gleaned the precious recipe by observing and helping his granny in the kitchen. "The Daging Dendeng reflects her Javanese background and it is her signature dish. When I got married, she made loads of it and presented the speciality in place of bunga telur to friends and relatives. Everyone was so touched by such a personal and priceless gift."
As with all traditional food, the preparation is painstaking but Chef Khairulnizam says he has modified the recipe, making it possible to produce big batches of Daging Dendeng in his modern kitchen. You have to try the tender slices of beef, richly suffused with myriad spices, caramelised onions and subtle chilli hotness. Unlike the Padang or Minang version which tends to be dry with jerky-like texture, the chef's version is moist and redolent with complex layers of sweet, warm and zingy nuances.
I also sampled Ayam Ungkep, another Javanese dish from nenek's familial repertoire. Again the robust flavours of the rempah are vividly bright and tantalising; similar to the richness of rendang but without kerisik in it.
Finding Satar makes the long drive to Putrajaya worthwhile for this East Coast delicacy can rarely be found in the city. Wrapped in banana leaf cones and grilled, the clumps of lightly spiced minced fish meat and grated coconut instantly brought back fond memories of my trips to the East Coast years ago.
While everyone makes a beeline for the seafood on ice selection, I prefer the ulam and kerabu section. The Kerabu Kacang Botol or winged bean salad is notable as is the variety of sambal.
I daresay it's impossible to eat everything served from such an expansive buffet; the array includes Malay, Indian, Italian, Japanese and Chinese fare. The trick is be selective and focus on offerings you usually won't cook at home, labour-intensive dishes or pricey treats like roast lamb, oysters and prawns.
From the Indian kitchen, decent options range from Garlic and Cheese Naan, and Mutton Vindaloo. Spice fans will enjoy the piquant specialities available.
Gulai kawah - curries cooked in giant woks come in four variants: duck, chicken, beef and goat meat. Each is distinctly different as the spice blends vary according to the meats but Gulai Itik wins out as the dish is more uncommon for buka puasa.
Japanese food enthusiasts will have a field day savouring perennial faves such as Teppanyaki, Tempura and Assorted Sushi Rolls. Mindful of retaining the taste quality, two chefs constantly whip up the airy light tempura prawns and veggies on the spot as fast as the crowd snaps them up.
On-point meaty choices include Braised Lamb Shank, Fried Belacan Chicken and Roast Chicken Rice. Over at the Chinese section, take your pick of Dim Sum, Yong Tau Foo and Fried Radish Cake.
Sweet temptations should leave you spoiled for choice too. The Turkish Ice Cream is a definite crowd-puller as is inventive Cheese Banana Fritters. Classic reliables like Ais Kacang, Pulut Serawa Durian and Tapai will ensure you and your dining companions roll out of Latest Recipe with big, satisfied smiles.
Priced at RM158nett (adult) and RM79nett (children aged 5-12), Destinasi Rasa Buka Puasa is open daily from 6.30pm to 10.30pm until 24th June 2017. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 03-8689 6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.