Mai Makan-Makan at Cafe BLD this Ramadan

Dubbed Mai Makan-Makan, this friendly phrase is loosely translated to mean, “Come join the feast” which is being prepared at Café BLD in the Renaissance Johor Baru.

Freshly made Teh Tarik, a traditional "pulled tea"
served as mugs of milk tea topped with a foamy head
So come join the crowd heading to Café BLD this Ramadan month for the buka puasa or breaking-of-fast buffet dinner that will happen from May 8 to June 3.

Every year the culinary team led by Director of Food & Beverage, Chef Mohamad Mahady, is challenged to take the Ramadan buffet presentation to new heights and this year, it is no different.

I can see from the sumptuous spread that starts at the entrance, arranged through the café, around the central isle and into the outdoor section, that no effort has been spared to create a gastronomic experience.

I’m trying to take in the spectacular sight at a glance but it proved quite impossible so I take my time for a closer look at what is served at each section of the buffet.

A serving of Bubur Lambuk topped with condiments like
fried shallots, chopped spring onions and coriander leaves
As in most buffets, some popular items remain consistent while the menu will be changed on a daily basis so that diners are able enjoy a different range of dishes on each visit.

Consistent items here include the popular seafood-on-ice, comprising chilled Tiger prawns, green mussels and split fresh oysters, the Fresh Salad and cheese section as well as a range of Japanese cuisine like sushi and sashimi.

At the Soup section, I notice a new addition of Soup Tulang Merah to the range of big pots of comfort food like traditional rice porridge Bubur Lambuk, Soto Ayam (chicken soup) and Soup Ekor (oxtail).

As its name describes, Soup Tulang Merah is brewed with big bones in a rich Red broth and one of the pleasures about eating this dish is to draw out the marrow from its bones.

Lamb Quzi, with fragrant rice spilling out from its sides
Condiments like fried shallots, toasted peanuts, dark spicy sauce, and chopped spring onions and coriander leaves are provided to enhance the flavours of these rich broths.

Appetizers range from refreshing green salads to the zesty kerabu and assorted ulam or kampong greens, to savour with various sambal sauces.

In the hot buffet, some of the gravies to enjoy with steamed white rice are Malaysian traditional dishes like Ayam Percik (chicken), Rendang Daging (beef), Gulai Kampung and Udang Goreng Rempah (shrimps).

Choose your favourite parts of the Ayam Golek
At the Briyani station, don’t miss their popular house specialty, whole Lamb Quzi where rice is baked, stuffed within the lamb. The fragrant rice tastes so good that you can eat it on its own but there is a choice of gravy to add extra flavour to the meat and rice.

At the Carving station, diners can choose their favourite parts of the chicken because Ayam Golek – whole chicken grilled on a rotating spit – is both tender and tasty.

And there’s more poultry like freshly roasted chicken and roasted duck over at the Chinese cuisine section.

Near the Noodle station, I discover the ingredients provided for diners to assemble their own serving of Mee Rebus and Laksa Johor.

Lemang [Right] accompanied by Beef Rendang
[Top Left] and Serunding
While there are no hard and fast rules about enjoying food from a buffet, I like how the chefs have arranged the Lemang (glutinous rice rolls) next to Beef Rendang and Beef Serunding (meat floss), and the cubes of Ketupat (boiled rice cakes) next to the Sayur Lodeh and Sambal.

This arrangement is a simple guide for diners, not familiar with this food, to eat the Lemang with Rendang and Serunding while the Ketupat could be savoured with Sayur Lodeh gravy topped with a dollop of Sambal.

Close to the Dessert section, an entire wall is arranged with a choice of chilled, thirst-quenching drinks while hot coffee and tea are also available from dispensers.

Sayur Lodeh [Right] accompanied by ketupat
[Top Left] and Sambal 
At a live-cooking station, a staff is preparing Kuih Ketayap, traditional pancake rolls stuffed with shaved coconut flavoured by Gula Melaka (palm sugar).

I’m particularly charmed by a range of local kuih – from Binka Ubi to Kuih Keria – all prepared the traditional way, with fresh ingredients.

Traditional sweet broths like Pengat Pisang, Pulut Hitam and Bubur Cha-Cha, are kept warm on stoves, while a variety of cakes and pastries plus fresh fruits, ice-cream and shaved ice delicacies like Air Batu Campur (ABC) and cendol are available for diners to end the meal sweetly.

Traditional Kuih Keria
At the outdoor section, live cooking stations are whipping up freshly made murtabak and a variety of deep-fried Malay and Indian delicacies, grilled meats and seafood while the charcoal stove is flaming non-stop to grill skewers of satay.

I can see new additions to the buffet where live stations are preparing Teppanyaki from a choice of ingredients for diners and another staff is cutting slices of meat stacked in a vertical rotisserie to prepare servings of Shawarma, a Middle Eastern style of kebab.

The Indian cuisine section offers a range of freshly made breads like Roti John and traditional roti for diners to savour with a variety of delicious gravies.

A variety of ingredients to prepare for diners at the
Teppanyaki Station
I smile in agreement when a Muslim friend commented about how curious it is that an item named Roti John – quite non-Muslim by name – remains ever popular during the Ramadan season.

The staff serving Roti John must have overhead our chit-chat because he promptly joined our conversation by introducing himself, saying that his name is John!

Roti John made by John is a good reason why I must help myself to a portion, so I did.

Meanwhile I’m drawn to the Teh Tarik station where a staff is “pulling tea” the traditional way to create tasty mugs of milk tea topped with a foamy head.

Deep-fried sweet potato and banana slices [Right] and
 the ever popular deep-fried rolls stuffed with real durian
From the corner of my eye, I spy a queue forming at the Deep-Fried station and I cannot resist going closer to find out why.

There are deep-fried banana and sweet potato slices to savour the Johor way, with a drizzle of dark spicy sauce, but I sense that all eyes are on the fryer-staff who is gently lifting out the next batch of freshly deep-fried items from the kwali/wok.

Ahh… now I know why.

My eyes zero-in on the deep-fried rolls stuffed with real durian – a lip-smacking must-have for durian lovers – and I join the queue to help myself to my own portion.

The Mai Makan-Makan buffet at Café BLD from May 8 to June 3, is priced at RM165 nett per adult and RM78 nett for children aged five to 12.

Early Bird promotion for vouchers to dine from May 8 to May 15 bought from March 1 to May 8 will receive three (3) complimentary vouchers for every 10 vouchers.

Vouchers to dine from May 8 to June 3 bought from March 1 to April 15 will receive two (2) complimentary vouchers for every 10 vouchers.

While vouchers to dine from May 8 to June 3 bought from April 16 to May 8 will receive one (1) complimentary voucher for every 10 vouchers.

Standard Chartered Bank card holders will enjoy 15% per cent discount while Club Marriot Members will enjoy 20% discount.

Diners who wish to host their own buka puasa gathering may opt for a banquet package for Ramadan and Raya, valid from May 8 to June 3, offered in two menu selections.

These Mai Makan-Makan banquet packages are for a minimum of 30 people, held in the ballroom or a private function room are offered in Menu A at RM98 nett per person or Menu B at RM128 nett per person.

Renaissance Johor Baru Hotel is located at 2 Jalan Permas 11, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, 81750 Masai, Johor. Café BLD is on the lobby level.

For enquiries and reservations, Tel: +607 – 381 3312 or +607 – 381 3317 or send email to: or

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