Wednesday, October 30, 2019

SPG by Bijan

To me, one of the most exciting restaurants that have opened of late, is SPG by Bijan.  Okay, I might be biased, because I had SUCH a good time at the media launch.  Also, the lovely trio, a bevy of SPG like girls (maybe in their heyday, with a lot of imagination) are my dear friends.  But hey, there's no sin in being partial to a place just because it's owned by friends.

To those born before a certain era, they might not be familiar with the term SPG, Sarong Party Girl, typically long black haired leggy single ladies who love sidling up to Caucasian men.  In fact, a whole comic book was popularized in the neighbouring republic across the causeway, where presumably it was even more predominant.

However, this clever play on words in this context, stands for Sarong Party Grill.  Already images of parties being held there in traditional costumes permeate my mind.

The bright cheery decor looks spectacularly colorful in the day time, albeit a little girly for me,

But no matter how beautiful a place is, to me, the MOST important thing would be the food, and drink.  To me, a shack with great food trumps palatial settings with bad food.

Anyway, it was a lovely afternoon, and we were honored to have a specially curated degustation menu for sampling.

The welcome cocktail was love at first sight.  The Stinkitini, using Petai as a garnish instead of an Olive.  Obviously it won't be everyone's cup of Ti-ni...  but I loved it.  Inspired, if you ask me.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Cocojito.  If I have to explain it, clearly your knowledge of cocktails needs brushing up.  A marriage in heaven of the Mojito and Coconut.  In the background, chips called Fries Celup.  

Now, these might seem like ordinary crackers but the black one, a squid ink sago cracker, was truly something different and I hope they package it to sell.  The bitter kerepek, whilst more common, was still a wonderful starter that paired well with the cocktails, together with the lovely sambals.  Perhaps not ideal for the Trypophobic.

Yellow fever, basically Tumeric addition to an embellished gin and tonic.  Given the healing detoxing qualities of tumeric, would I dare imagine that this Yellow Fever is actually good for you?

Asam pedas, containing the dreaded tequila, triple sec and tamarind juice, which was actually very nice.  The winner is the spicy sugar that lines the rim of the glass.

The talented mixologists at work....

This Ah Ran Sini, a play on Arancini, is stuffed fritters with nasi lemak, can you believe it!  Pretty unique and pretty good with a Stinkitini.

Grilled Calamari. okay, nothing particularly evocative about this, it's grilled calamari with a nice sambal.

Pais Barramundi, which I thought was rather unique.  Grilled parcels of barramundi with banana leather, turmeric, spices and coconut.

Whilst this Kedondong Calamansi was originally served as a mocktail, I asked for some Rum to be added and WOW, I hope they turn it into a cocktail with my suggestion.  Kedondong is Ambara in some chinese dialect, and Ambara Sheen Mui is a common drink in Penang kopitiams.  So why not AMBARUMMM it?

The very shy Chef Raziz, who hails from Sekinchan I believe, who came up with a lot of the inspired dishes.  

Ayam Limau Purut and Roti Jala Tiffin.  The photo doesn't do the tiffin justice, cos it's tiny tiffins that are just sooooo cute, which Lissa lugged back from Chatuchak apparently.

Now this Jackfruit Rendang Bao caused quite a stir, because a diner who shall not be named was recently served the most awful bland Jackfruit curry in an unnamed fine dining establishment in Bangkok.  The conclusion was, THIS IS HOW YOU COOK JACKFRUIT.  And I agree, another inspired dish.  Of course using mantao was also a brilliant idea.

I love tongue, so this Lidah and Sambal, tender braised ox tongue,...was sooo good.

Duck Skewers, Marinated Duck Leg served with Sambal Hijau.... Such a pretty dish if you ask me.

 Chicken Kicap Skewers, marinated in a ginger soy sauce.  

Angus oyster blade served with sambal hitam, sambal hijau and sambal merah.  The sambals were really extraordinary, which I'm glad, for all intents and purposes, Bijan serves Malay food, and sambal is really one of the cornerstones of the cuisine.  So heck, luckily it's done well.

Grilled Lamb Loin with the same three sambals.

And the award for MY favourite dish of the meal, and mind you, this came at the end, when marginal utility is close to zero, has to be this AMAZING NASI SEKINCHAN, tricolour rice, and quinoa (WITH QUINOA some more, and yet it made it to my favourite), pulled chicken, asian pesto , rice crackers and ....drum roll, crispy chicken skin.....

Pays to know the owners, we had EXTRA chicken skin which was finished faster that you can say CLUCK.

An amazing combination of textures and flavours, I really can't wait to have this nasi sekinchan again.  Amazingly light, even those party pooper Keto Kakis  yielded and admitted it was fantastic.

For dessert, this Banana Over bananas (Homemade banana ice cream with smokey caramelized banana and dehydrated banana cone) and Pulut Mango cake, a chilled mango mousse, fresh mango and coconut glutinous rice .  Both a fabulous end to a fabulous meal.

Finally, a cocktail I noticed in their menu but have not tried, but feel had to be included in this write up so I would remember, is THE ROSE CHAN.  Talk about a name from the past.   I simply love the creative nomenclature assigned to these drinks.

Anyway, SPG by Bijan has so much to offer, by way of tapas, grills, more starters, Mocktails (which I didn't bother mentioning as it's wasted calories to me), and fabulous cocktails.  As of time of writing, I am not sure if they have priced their items, but if Bijan next door is any yardstick, it should be fairly reasonable for the quality you're getting in a lovely atmosphere.

I can't wait to return.

Lunch menu is available daily from 12 – 4pm.
SPG by Bijan
No.3A Jalan Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur 50200, Malaysia
Tel: 03 2022 3575
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 12.00pm-12.00am

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Launch of Club Marriott Loyalty Card

It was with much aplomb and style that the Club Marriott Loyalty Card was launced recently by Marriott International, at the swanky Gastro, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur.  A leading region wide dining loyalty program, the card provides benefits for members at 338 participating hotels, across 18 brands in 17 countries.

Loyalty is the key driving force that always allows us to cut through the competition," said Petr Raba, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Asia-Pacific for Marriott International. "Club Marriott gives us the platform to drive loyalty in food and beverage, via rewarding and recognizing our Malaysian guests through exclusive benefits and memorable experiences across a variety of brands,” he added.

In Malaysia alone, there are 14 hotels across 8 brands, including Sabah and Sarawak that are part of this program, and of course, loyalty cards come with a host of benefits, such as dining certificates, group dining vouchers, points, room discounts, upgrades and even spa vouchers.

In addition, members enjoy special privileges and year-round savings on dining consumption at over 330 participating hotels in Asia Pacific is made available through this program. Members are entitled to earn additional value with the  special members’ accommodation rates for a full 12 months.

Priced at RM788.00, Club Marriott membership offers guests access to benefits of dining, spa and other privileges across the region at over 330 participating hotels in Asia Pacific. Upon joining Club Marriott, guests will receive a complimentary one-night room stay, buffet for two persons and more*.

With over 200,000 members today and growing, the new Club Marriott has evolved as the preferred Hotel Dining Loyalty Program," adds Petr Raba, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Asia-Pacific for Marriott International. “By offering locally relevant benefits to members, we aim to continue to have a sharp focus on positioning our hotels as ‘the favorite destinations where locals go to meet, eat and drink.’”

The 14 participating hotels and resorts in Malaysia are:
1.Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
2.Aloft Langkawi Pantai Tengah
3.Element Kuala Lumpur
4.Four Points by Sheraton Puchong
5.Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu
6.Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur
7.Le Méridien Putrajaya
8.Miri Marriott Resort & Spa
9.Putrajaya Marriott Hotel
10.Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel
11.Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel
12.The Westin Desaru Coast Resort
13.The Westin Kuala Lumpur
14.The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
*Terms and conditions apply

It was most lovely to see old friend Cindy Yoong...

A fabulous banquet was prepared for the media guests and regular Club Marriott guests, with a surprise fun twist at the beginning.  Chefs from 5 participating hotels were given a black box of goodies and had to perform ala Master Chef using the ingredients in the box.

Chefs from Le Meridien Putrajaya  explaining to Petr Raba what they had created.

It was indeed a most enjoyable afternoon, and always a pleasure to see old familiar faces, who have contributed so much to the local culinary scene, like Chef Antoine Rodriguez of Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, and Chef Rajesh of the Westin.

Thanks for the media invite, Zeno Malaysia.


About Club Marriott
Club Marriott is Marriott International Asia Pacific’s paid membership program for Food and Beverage. The program is available at over 330 participating hotels across 17 countries and territories in the region. With more hotels joining every month, Club Marriott has more than 200,000 members. Aimed at targeting potential members who value a more distinct dining experience that is far more than discounts, Club Marriott offers members privileges, vouchers, personal recognition on special occasions, and exclusive member events.

About Marriott International
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,000 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 132 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company now offers one travel program, Marriott Bonvoy™, replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®(SPG). For more information, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram

For media queries please contact:
Zeno Malaysia
Anusha Shanmugaveloo (m: 014-997 6549) |
Siti Norainun (m: 017-920 7550) |


Club Marriott members will be entitled to the following:

Food and beverages benefits:
●Flat 35% off on food and beverage* at the all-day dining venues in all participating hotels in Malaysia
●30% off on food and beverage* for all other specialty restaurants at participating hotels in Malaysia, for up to 10 persons
●Up to 20% off on food and beverage in all participating hotels and resorts outside Malaysia

Accommodation benefits:
Up to 20% off Best Available Rates in participating hotels across Asia Pacific, subject to availability

Other benefits:
●20% off spa treatments in participating spas in Malaysia. Complimentary welcome room amenities per stay

For more information on Club Marriott, please visit:

Kristoffel Belgian Beer Launch

You know it's going to be be a spectacular event, when your invitation comes by courier in  a black velvet lined box, with a gold coin as your entry ticket.  Looks like gold, feels like gold, but alas, wasn't.  Nevertheless, I delighted to be invited to the launch of Kristoffel Beers of Martens Brewery, Belgium, at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, no less.

To the uninformed, (even my Belgian friend didn't know),  Martens Brewery has been around for more than 260 years since 1758, and is today helmed by the eighth generation of the Martens family, and records sales of over 4 million hectolitres (which is a heco alot I'm sure) beer every year.

Dotted with individual stalls serving the various beers at Aqua, the poolside bar at MO, we were given a "passport" to guide us through the different types.

I started off with the Kristoffel White, a pale, white yellow unfiltered beer.  Very light and mild, almost sweet.  A bit too light for me.

My passport as you can see was suitably well worn and used.

Mr Laurent Van Geelan, Sales Director of Brouwerij Martens Bocholt, introducing the beer to the thirsty Malaysian beer guzzling audience.

The summary of what was available that night

The inescapable group photoo of the various people responsible for the event.

Back to the event itself, well, yes, there were mermaids in the house too.  One was supposed to stand in the circle next to the mermaid and toss your gold goin into the pool and make a wish.  

The beers get "darker" as you traverse the path that had been set.  Kristoffel Blond, a top fermented beer (as opposed to Lager which is a bottom fermented beer), full bodied, rich aroma, and I can imagine a group of monks in the monastery having a hearty pint of this rich and flavourful drink.  One of my favourites.

Could there be a lovelier sight than seeing these babies nestled in a container of ice?

And who said that beers can't be used in cocktails? Award winning mixologist Shirmy Chan of 61 Monarchy was there preparing three unique cocktails, as described in the menu below.

The Sezoens (I assume it's a subsidiary brand), top fermented dry hopped, definitely will make you a hoppy camper.  Again, for me personally, I totally preferred the darker more foreboding looking ones.

The first coin thrower....deserves a photo lah.

Juxtaposed against the Kuala Lumpur skyline at sunset, such a glorious colour!!!

For some reason (must be feeling hoppy by then), I didn't take any pictures of the flagship 1758, the pride and joy of Brewery Martens as it's named after the founding year and is also touted as their best beer.  Top fermented, and re-feremnted in the bottle.  A bitter and fruity flavour, and an impressive ABV of 6.5%.

These craft beers should be retailing by now in local supermarkets and selected bars.