I had the pleasure of attending a preview of the Citarasa Serantau Ramadan buffet in Hilton Kuala Lumpur recently. ‘Citarasa serantau’ means ‘tastes of the regions’ and the amazing culinary team at Hilton headed by executive Chef Kazi Hassan certainly delivered a variety of festive offerings to satisfy any palate.
The buffet at restaurant Vasco’s highlights not only the traditional iconic flavours of Malaysia, but also specialities from abroad. Vasco’s buffet apparently features 300 dishes and it seemed like most of them were there that evening!
A dazzling display of dishes
I decided to walk around first to get an overview of what the buffet had to offer. The first stall immediately attracted me with its fresh seafood – prawns, crabs, mussels, snails with an array of different sauces. I made a mental note to oneself to come back here, not realising how much more food was to come…
The centre location was reserved for the highlight of every Ramadan buffet – the roasted lamb. My husband immediately abandoned me and queued up for the lamb shank mandi. Unfortunately he got a fatty cut, so was a bit disappointed but undeterred.
My favourites: kerabu jantung pisang and nyonya curry laksa
The next table offered well-known staples like different types of green salad with condiments, Waldorf salad, cucumber and red onion salad. The second table however had a dish I was not familiar with. Next to my favourite kerabu jantung pisang (banana blossoms with a creamy dressing of coconut milk and chilli) and rojak buah (a local salad made of mixed vegetables, fruit and dough fritters), there was also kerabu perut. A chef explained it is a salad made from beef tripe. I passed on the tripe, but had my banana blossoms salad which was rich and creamy and the rojak buah, which was very refreshing.
Moving on I arrived at the next offering, which was an amazing display of baked salmon, sea bass and stingray, followed by satays, beef rendang, rendang ayam kampung, pulut kuning (yellow glutinous rice), ketupat palas (rice cooked inside pouches of woven young palm leaves), and ketupat daub kelapa (glutinous rice in woven coconut leaves) among others.
Since I can never pass up salmon, I had the salmon in banana leaf and it was cooked to perfection with a slightly sweet earthy flavour. My hubby went for the beef rendang which, after the lamb disappointment, he thoroughly enjoyed saying it was rich and flavourful.
Next up was my favourite section with nyonya curry laksa, as well as mee Bandung short ribs and lok lok satay celup. I had the nyonya curry laksa and it was by far my favourite dish of the evening – the perfect balance of creaminess, sweetness and spiciness.
By this point I was starting to feel very full, but we couldn’t resist the selection of curries, jeera gobi and seekh kebabs. My meat eating husband went for the kebabs whilst I tried a bit of the jeera gobi. Both were good.
At the far end of the display was the Pad Thai section… The chef’s preparation was too entertaining to ignore, so we both sampled a bit of the Pad Thai. It was a bit bland for both of us, but maybe living in Malaysia for so long we have acquired a taste for stronger spices.
Last but not least, we arrived at the dangerous section with all the sweet goodies. Again, it did not disappoint and the desserts were definitely a crowd-pleaser. From more western offerings like donuts, cakes, bread and butter pudding, through an assortment of Malaysian desserts like durian goreng, buko, durian crepe to a lovely selection of dry fruit, baclava and konafa.
Sadly, by this point I was done and could only watch my husband gluttonously overdo it on the sticky date pudding which was apparently delicious… and the churros (a bit too dry, but tasty).
All the food was accompanied by a choice of local soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee and we were entertained throughout the evening by a musical trio.
Hilton has also organised two cute mascots: Abam and Cik Ros. They will definitely be appreciated by the younger customers.
Overall a great experience, both for those who will appreciate the restaurant’s signature favourites and a great introduction to the diverse Malaysian cuisine for those who are not so familiar with it.
The Citarasa Serantau Ramadan buffet will be held at Vasco’s from 22 March to 21 April 2023. The buffet starts at 6.30pm and ends at 10.30pm. It is priced at RM228 nett per adult and RM114 nett per child.
You can book online here or call the restaurant to make a reservation at 03 2264 2264.
We were invited by Hilton Kuala Lumpur. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.