Chinese New Year cheer at DoubleTree JB

When I’m invited to a preview of the auspicious Prosperity HHI-Tea Buffet and Fortune Feast Dinner Buffet at the Makan Kitchen in DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru, I’m there ahead of time.

Makan Kitchen on lobby level of DoubleTree by Hilton JB
I’m early so that I may get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the hotel is gearing up for a season of family reunions and feasting this Chinese New Year. 

As I take a slow walk around the Makan Kitchen, I meet with Executive Sous Chef Ong Eng Kok, who appears rather unruffled in spite of the pressure building up for his kitchen team to present a traditional menu with auspicious names and meanings.

Maybe he was reluctant to let the proverbial cat out of the bag and hesitated a moment when I asked him about the specialties in the lunar new year themed spreads that are presented at the Makan Kitchen during the festive weekend from January 27 to 29.

Sous Chef Leong Soon Tiam [Right] and Junior Sous
Chef Joseph Thien [Left], in action at the "open kitchen"
Or maybe he did not know where to begin to tell me about the many exciting food highlights lined up for this festive season.

Pointing to the giant ceramic jar which is a double-boil cauldron, Chef Ong hinted that the Chinese kitchen is serving the goodness of double-boiled soup in the proud tradition of the Cantonese penchant for good soups.  I can relate to that sentiment because I was brought up with the taste of seriously good soups from my grandmother’s kitchen!

I wander over to the “open kitchen” and catch Sous Chef Leong Soon Tiam and Junior Sous Chef Joseph Thien in action, but my eyes are riveted to the glistening whole roasted duck which Chef Joseph is coating the bird evenly with boiling oil.

A serving of Ocean Trout Yee Sang with side condiments
This certainly is a glimpse of what diners can expect to savour – freshly made items from team of dedicated chefs who are privileged to show off their culinary skills this festive season!

For a change from the usual sit-down banquet, diners at the Fortune Feast in Makan Kitchen can help themselves to a range of lunar new year dishes from the Chinese kitchen in a buffet spread that includes all the popular items in the Malay and Indian kitchens, as well as International cuisine in fresh salads and delectable desserts.

Since local businessmen started the tradition of tossing Yee Sang to usher in more prosperity at the start of the lunar new year, this raw fish salad is a must-have delicacy during the festive season and a not-to-be-missed item at the Makan Kitchen.

Braised Broccoli topped with Black Mushrooms
and Pacific Clams
Groups of eight and above will be served their own platter to toss to their prosperity while other diners may help themselves to the Ocean Trout Yee Sang in the buffet.

The delicious blend of chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds and Chinese shrimp crackers with five-spice powder, a drizzle of plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil, tossed with julienne of fresh vegetables and raw slivers of Ocean Trout among more than 20 ingredients in the Yee Sang platter, will certainly bring out the festive spirit and whet your appetite for the numerous items in the buffet spread.

If you are a fan of double-boiled soups, don’t miss out on one or more portions of the delicious double-boiled soup: a rich broth of chicken, dried scallops and white radish. 

Almond Beancurd jelly shaped in koi fish with
Mango Pudding, drizzled in tangy Passionfruit sauce
If you are a rice person, then indulge in a choice of Lotus Leaf Rice and Green Tea Seafood Fried Rice.

Bear in mind the joys of dining from a buffet – you can shamelessly return for countless helpings – and nobody’s counting!

The Chinese kitchen is sparing no effort to dish out some traditional lunar new year dishes like Braised Broccoli topped with Black Mushrooms and Pacific clams, Stir-fried Tiger Prawns with Cereal Oats, Hong Kong style steamed Garoupa fish, in addition to the Roasted Duck and Pipa Chicken with prawn crackers.

One of my childhood memories of Chinese New Year must be the taste of Almond Beancurd jelly and this nostalgic specialty brought back a flood of fond memories about how I first tasted it at the home of our late grandaunt in Singapore.

Meet the chefs [L to R] Junior Sous Chef Joseph Thien,
Sous Chef Leong Soon Tiam and
Executive Sous Chef Ong Eng Kok 
For this festive season, the chefs in Makan Kitchen decided to shape their Almond Beancurd jelly into pretty koi fish served with a side of Mango Pudding and drizzled in tangy Passionfruit sauce.  Mmm…yummy!

So get your family together for a Fortune Feast and make your group reservations early because family and feasting is certainly part of this auspicious festive season.

Prosperity HHI-Tea Buffet from 12.30pm to 4pm is RM98 nett/adult while the Fortune Feast Dinner Buffet from 6.30pm to 10.30pm is RM138 nett/adult.

The Makan Kitchen is on the lobby level of DoubleTree by Hilton JB, at 12 Jalan Ngee Heng, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor.  For enquiries and reservations: Tel: 607 – 268 6868 or email:  Website:

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