Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

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The Kuala Lumpur Big Kitchen Festival 2015

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When I was invited my Malaysia Airlines to be the guest blogger to cover a food festival, I was pretty excited. I looked up their website http://www.klbigkitchen.com/ to get a sneak preview of what the event was about. Naturally I accepted the invite and looked forward to a gastronomical trip!

 

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I arrived at KLIA around 5:30pm, on time and enjoying the in flight entertainment on a comfortable flight MH730. Did you know MH stands for Malaysia Hospitality? I have to say Malaysia Airlines lives up to this name and the friendly service from the cabin crew made my flight really pleasant and the available in flight entertainment made me wished there was more time for me to enjoy more of it ~~~ time flew past before I realized we were about to reach Kuala Lumpur.

 

The first mission when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, was of course to grab a simcard at the airport ~ the most important thing for most travellers nowadays is to get connected! It’s always a good idea to research what simcard you want before you travel to any country.

 

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We took a KLIA Express train to KL Sentral to Hilton Hotel, which was strategically located right next to the station! Talk about convenience! I had the pleasure to stay at their executive suite, a spacious comfortable room for the next few nights.

 

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I really enjoy their showers, especially the ceiling shower ~~ strong powerful shower ~~ ooooh yeah!!

 

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I also like the convenience of a place to put your toiletries and glasses in the shower room ~ it’s the small little things like these that make your experience better.By the way, from May 11 till 30 June, Hilton Worldwide will be having a Discover Asia midyear promotion that can help you save up to 30 percent on room rates in participating Hilton Hotels.

 

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For the first night,  we were given the opportunity to try out the Hunan Cuisine at Hilton’s Chynna restaurant. Hunan or known as Xiang cuisine, stems from a province that has an age-old reputation as a "land of fish and rice” and is one of the “Eight Great Traditions” of Chinese gastronomy. Its dry hot - hot spicy flavour, use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic is noted for its pungency, thanks to its liberal use of spices, especially 
the use of chili.

 

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Chef Lam, their executive chef was very entertaining while serving us the delicious peking duck, and showcasing other great spicy dishes. A very enjoyable introduction to Hunan cuisine.

 

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I must say I am pretty impressed with their desserts – especially the idea of serving bubur cha cha served inside a coconut shell! The purple yam with red bean paste is also interesting as well as that smooth pumpkin puree ~~ a sweet ending to a good meal.

 

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The next morning, we woke up early to have breakfast at the Executive Lounge at Hilton Hotel, which boasts a great sky view of the city. I really enjoyed the selection of cheeses and danish pastries ~~ but I must say I enjoyed their poached eggs the most – really really good! It’s hard to have good poached eggs at hotels but they nailed it here!

 

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I always love soft cheeses with a mix of fresh fruits with jam or honey. This fork is a heavenly bite of cheesy fruity goodness!

 

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Ruby from Indonesia, is another invited blogger, who accompanied me throughout the trip. It was a real learning experience to have a professional food photographer with me. Here’s a shot of him aiming for the perfect shot ~~

 

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We finally arrived at the Big Kitchen which is at the Dataran Merdeka. There are quite a few tourist attractions nearby and you can even join a tour to walk around and enjoy the historical sights. This is also just a short walk from Petaling Street, a popular tourist place for good food and shopping~

 

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There’s quite a lot of things to do at the KL Big Kitchen Food Festival, so this handy guide is useful for you to get around. The cost to get in is RM10 for adults and RM5 for children.

 

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You can see quite a nice garden theme to the festival with cute signs like these for instagram photos ~~

 

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Now now ~~ I know they asked if you have eaten but you don’t need to eat the signboards ~~ there’s plenty of food to enjoy at the festival ~~

 

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One of the highlights of the festival is the BIG KITCHEN, which invites a lot of celebrity chefs from Malaysia and rest of the world to give cooking demonstrations and hands on workshops to those who registered!

 

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The sign is very popular for the visitors and probably one of the most photographed ~~

 

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Here’s the schedule for the Big Kitchen! I wished I could attend every single one of them but I had to attend tours nearby and cover the other sections of the festival.

 

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One of the demos I watched was by chef Isadora Chai, who is is currently a panelist judge for San Pellerino World’s and Asia's Best Restaurants 2015 and a celebrity judge for Food Wars series on AFC. Her restaurant Bistro à Table is voted top 3 in Malaysia, specializing in French fine dining with Asian influences as seen in her Dhukkah Crusted Rack of Lamb presentation. Did I mention that I think she’s gorgeous? *swooons*

 

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I also got the opportunity to attend a hands on workshop to cook a Malaysian spices inspired scotch eggs with Chef Norman Musa, the current Kuala Lumpur’s food ambassador, Executive Chef and co-founder of Ning restaurant, Manchester. It was fun to cook with Malaysia Airlines Stewardesses Hayati and Reena as our partners.

 

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It was a pretty enjoyable experience and I wished I attended more hands on workshops ~~ perhaps in future festivals, they can schedule me for more hands on workshops so I can learn more cooking tips from the pros! Now I can’t wait to make my own variations of the scotch egg recipe ~~~ Mmmmm ~~~~

 

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Chef Wan, one of the legendary icons of Malaysian Cuisine was also one of the presenters at the Big Kitchen. His session was packed with lots of people and it was really pleasant to meet him in person, who shows a very warm friendly personality. I guess true foodies really do cook from the heart – with a good heart – the food will taste even better!

 

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Another cooking demo of Nasi Kuning Dan Opor Ayam Kacang, was an interesting cooking presentation by Her Royal Highness Tengku Puan Pahang, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Binti AlMarhum Sultan Iskandar AlHaj, wife of the Pahang Crown Prince, who recently embarked on a 10-month culinary journey travelling to every district of Pahang to introduce the wonderful flavours of traditional Malay cuisine and favourites from the Royal household. I must say she has such a down to earth motherly presence in the kitchen and was very humorous in the way she mentions sambal belacan as the magic cheese of Malaysians! She generated quite a lot of laughs from the audience with her straight forward friendly personality and I really enjoyed her session! Her royal cuisine ‘Dari Dapur Istana’ will be featured as a collaboration with Malaysia Airlines on their various first and business class flights! Thanks Ruby from www.wanderbites.com for this great shot!

 

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Speaking of Malaysia Airlines and yummy business class food, they also have a booth at the KL Big Kitchen Festival to showcase their award winning signature dish ~ which is their chicken satay ~~

 

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Who can imagine having very delicious tender satay with aromatic spices and dipped with rich peanut coconut sauce as an in flight meal ~~ mmmmm ~~ mouth watering indeed!

 

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Part of the fun of the booth besides selling their signature satays is to take interesting photos of you with their satay or eating their satay and hashtag #satayintheskies while also following and tagging @malaysiaairlines. Besides that, you also have the opportunity to win that cute bear I am sharing my satay with, by guessing what are the 8 ingredients used to make their satay! I had quite a lot of fun posing and shooting these fun photos – big credit to Ruby from www.wanderbites.com for such great pictures!

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During my time at the KL Big Kitchen, the event play host to great live music performances by local artists such as Zainal Abidin, Shafinaz Selamat, Dafi, Freddo, Sasi the Don, Winnie Kok, Najwa Latif, Aweera, Aina, Othman Hamzah, Ameera Shahira, Nadia, Fina AF, Ronnie, Zack Zul, REM, Man Bai, Alif Kadim, One Juicy, Alif (Sleeq), Greg, Amelina and Nadeera. There were also traditional styles of music and dance performed by various troupes from across the country. .

 

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As we explore other parts of the festival, there are various pop up villages to showcase different types of cuisines! This is the Manisan village which means ‘Sweets’ in Malay. We started with this one first obviously because we adore desserts ~~

 

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Yummy home made ice creams and unique shaped ice creams like these are pretty popular with the crowd!

 

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These iced coffee and teas make quite a big hit as well as I noticed quite a lot of people drinking them ~~ gotta love That Packaging!

 

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Coconut Ice cream? YES PLEASE!!

 

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One simply doesn’t say no to APPAM BALIK!!! The Malaysian version of Crispy Crepes!

 

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They have another section for Food Trucks though I feel they should have more variety for this category which I am very fond of! Perhaps for the next event, they should invite more trucks ~ ooo I can imagine those burgers, hot dogs, doughnuts ~~ just like the States! Oooh yeshh~~

 

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Fancy Malaysian style snacks at the Warisan Village – this is where you can to savour some traditional styles of cooking that has been handed down from generations to generations ~

 

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Gorgeous looking lemang and Lempeng Kelapa (coconut pancakes)

 

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I spotted this grilled fish in clay, which is a pretty interesting dish that I’ve never tasted before ~~

 

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It’s interesting because you only use snakehead fish, and wrapped them in banana leaves and clay or mud from the well to baked using charcoal. A very unique and delicious way to enjoy fish!

 

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You also see some signs showcasing certain dishes that are in danger of being forgotten. It’s quite an educational read and I hope one day I will be able to learn these dishes! It would be a shame for such culinary delights to be forgotten!

 

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There’s also the FAMA Market section displaying fresh produce from the locals. Would you look at those mangoes! *DROOLS*

 

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The Warung section is a favourite for many visitors for a good reason because Warung means Street Food!

 

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The Tauhu bakar, which is grilled beancurd, stuffed with vegetables and drizzled with a sweet thick rojak sauce and crushed peanuts makes a very comforting snack!

 

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Grilled Chicken wings or squid ~~~ mmmm ~~~ which one would you choose? How about both!?

 

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ooooh fancy some keropok lekor (fish sausages) or these cute mini curry puffs?

 

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Good old fashioned fried chicken ~~ hubba huba ~~

 

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They are not limited to Malay cuisine, but also Chinese Dim Sum and Taiwanese Style fried Squid!

 

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Speaking of fried stuff ~~ they have fried sushi makis and breaded cheesy hot dogs too ~~~ Now these would look really good on a food truck!

 

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Ruby and Melanie trying to get an awesome shot of that delicious Durian Dessert ~~ a rich indulgence indeed!!

 

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You gotta love these two shots by Ruby ~~ that Nasi Lemak Pandan and Nasi Hujan Panas not only looks good but tastes good! It’s such a torture to write this blog post and missing the food! *tummy growling*

 

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The Negri village, showcases booths from different states of Malaysia featuring their iconic dishes ~~

 

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Maaann ~ That Tempoyak Daun which is tapioca leaves cooked in a special fermented durian sauce is really really yummy! I love how they give English descriptions so tourists can understand what they are having.

 

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One of my favourite things from Kelantan is their Nasi Kerabu with a lovely drizzle of budu (fermented fish sauce) and lots of herbs, spices, and coconut! OMG I MISS THIS SO MUCH!! Oh why oh why can’t we get this in Brunei?! Guess I would have to fly over to Malaysia again to have this yummy dish! Nasi Kerabu ~~~ you’re my number one ~~~ *blows kisses*

 

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Nasi Lemuni is a herbal type of rice and then served with a gorgeous chicken curry.

 

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This is the first time I tried Kedah Laksa, which has some similarities to Nyonya Assam Laksa, but it’s slightly thicker and not as sweet and sour as the Nyonya counterpart.

 

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Oooh say hello to Tempoyak Patin! Fish cooked with fermented Durian paste ~~~ I can never say no to this!

 

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At the Malacca booth, I got to meet and take picture with Florence Tan, who has been the icon for all things Nyonya and for over 25 years has strived to preserve for posterity, the cuisine of her Malacca Straits Chinese heritage. I grew up reading some of her recipes in magazines and cookbooks and I must say to taste the food from her recipes, I am very impressed with how simple, down to earth yet delicious they are!

 

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The Sampling Village, is the section where popular restaurants get to showcase their signature dishes, and you can try them at bargain prices! I noticed Bijan, whom I’ve researched about, an upscale Malaysian cuisine restaurant.

 

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We tried their two of their signatures: Char Grilled Beef Ribs marinated in their special spices served with chili eggplants and fragrant ghee rice as well as Kaffir Lime Saucy Chicken with an epic roasted young jackfruit salad! Very delicious and I really look forward to dining at their restaurant in future!

 

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The two little bosses of Bijan restaurant helping out ~~ they are adorable aren’t they?

 

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After exploring the many sections of the food festival, and doing some shopping at Sam’s Groceria, we pop into the Mayor’s Courtyard Section where one can enjoy good food collaborated by Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur. We managed to have lunch and also dinner at the closing ceremony of the event.

 

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One of the exciting events was the KL Big Kitchen race where participants buy the ingredients at Chow Kit Market, then they have to cook and be judged! It was a pretty rewarding first prize and look at the happy faces of the participants~~

 

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2nd and 3rd prize winners also all smiles ~

 

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It was also cool to meet Masterchef Malaysia Season 2 winner, Izyan Hani, who dined with us at the closing ceremony of the big kitchen. She is actually a geologist by profession and has visited Brunei before to enjoy Japanese food! You must come and visit us again!

 

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Celebrity chef @chefkamarul from Malaysia who has come to Brunei before and enjoyed the Bruneian hospitality! We will welcome you again to the land of unexpected treasures! 

 

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Here's Chef Cyril Rouquet-Prévost, who participated in the first season of Masterchef in France and was hailed as one of the most talented candidates according to the jury. He went on to win the title as France’s first Masterchef and is the currently the most awarded chef in Masterchef history! I missed his workshop as I was shooting pictures at the other pop up food villages! Maybe the next event!

 

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Celebrity chefs at the closing ceremony posing for a shot ~~

 

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I express my thanks and gratitude to Malaysia Airlines for sponsoring me to attend this event. It was so much fun and I look forward to next year’s KL Big Kitchen Festival!

 

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Flying back to Brunei was super comfortable as I got to fly Business Class. You have to love the extra leg room and space for you to have a luxurious flight! It also feels special to get more attention from the more experienced cabin crew designated to Business class. Economy class was really pleasant but Business class was LIVING IT UP #flyingINstyle ! They also got quite a good menu of selections for you to choose from! Oh yes!

It’s too bad that the Dari Dapur Istana selections weren’t available for the MH730 and MH731 flights from Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuala Lumpur and having tried them at the Dapur Istana showcase – you absolutely must try them in your business class flights that do have them! I did get to enjoy a lovely pasta dish from the menu so it’s still a great meal for me~~

 

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and despite having so much satays at the KL Big Kitchen, I could not resist having some more on the plane ~~ *nom nom nom* #satayintheskies It is THAT GOOD!

 

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That’s the end of my post! Hope you enjoyed my coverage of the KL Big Kitchen Event! Once again, thank you Malaysia Airlines for the awesome time in Kuala Lumpur!

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