Makan Kitchen @ Doubletree by Hilton

August 11, 2010

Part Two of our Doubletree eating expedition: After snacking on Italian food at Tosca, we headed immediately for Malaysian cuisine upstairs at Makan Kitchen, the hotel's flagship restaurant.

This sprawling outlet has a wide range of settings, including one section that's meant to conjure impressions of an Iban longhouse. Everything looks mighty fine, with a dimly lit interior filled with evocative furnishings.

The Chinese-themed hall is a stunner, though our recommendation is a table by the window, which showcases a 12th-floor view overlooking Jalan Tun Razak.

Both a buffet and an a la carte menu are available, but the offerings are strictly local _ Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kristang, Nyonya & Iban. The buffet costs RM79++ (though the price will be raised to around RM98++ during Ramadan), while the menu items are RM20-30++ each. No prizes for guessing which route we chose.

The selections from Sarawak are limited, but we relished the pansoh manuk _ tender chicken, cooked slowly in a bamboo stem and richly infused with the scents of lemongrass & coconut.

Portuguese-Malaccan grilled fish. Fresh and juicy, topped with a deliciously spicy sambal sauce that wasn't toned down for delicate tastebuds.

A ho-hum variety of Chinese dim sum. All pork-free, none particularly outstanding.

The roast duck sounded like a winner, marinated with five spices & prepared in a specially built wood-fired oven. But the meat was utterly bland and bony. We were also less than impressed by the chicken char siew and roast chicken.

The Indian spread provides all the predictable favorites: tandoori chicken, roti canai, fish tikka, nasi briyani, vegetable masala and so on. You could have an entire feast just here.

We quite liked the butter chicken, which was as rich and creamy as possible.

The outlet's widest collection features Malay recipes. Skip the chewy, flavorless keropok lekor; you'll find more satisfyingly authentic versions at street stalls.

The otak-otak was also a disaster. Both the taste and texture were reminiscent of rubber.

Ikan Pari Bakar. Forgettable; without this photo, we wouldn't have recalled eating it.

Chicken and beef satay. Meaty and chunky, but again, not as succulent or flavor-packed as the best ones out there. The peanut sauce was also lackluster.

Ayam percik. This one was OK. Moist meat, sweet and smoky.

A selection of kuih-muih. Can't rave about these either, unfortunately.

Red wine might not be perfect partner for local food, but here's why we ordered a bottle: if you use a Citibank credit card to pay at least RM388++ on one receipt, you'll receive a voucher for a complimentary 2D/1N stay in a Doubletree deluxe room.

By the way, service here is sterling; warm, genuine smiles all the way, with a blend of efficiency and helpfulness that speaks volumes about the staff and their training.

One more anecdote: when you make reservations here, you'll receive several e-mails. The first is a booking confirmation; the second is a reminder, several hours before your meal; the last one is a thank you note, shortly after you leave. All the messages begin with the same greeting: "Salam Satu Malaysia." It has become inescapable.

Doubletree has three more F&B outlets: The Food Store, Cellar Door & Axis Lounge. We managed to eat and drink at all of them after Tosca and Makan Kitchen that same evening/night (it took us nearly five consecutive hours), but that's a tale for another time.

Makan Kitchen,
Doubletree by Hilton,
The Intermark, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 2172-7272