A taste of home at Sajian Warisan Ibunda

On the first day of Ramadan, families traditionally break their fast at home over a meal of well-loved favourites, lovingly prepared by the family matriarch.

A chef is carving Kambing Golek, whole roasted lamb
This familiar taste of home is a not-to-be-missed family tradition but if circumstances prevented you from breaking your fast with mother’s home-cooked meal, the next best thing is probably to enjoy the Sajian Warisan Ibunda at Salt & Pepper Restaurant.

In the tradition of buka puasa, Head Chef Jamaluddin Sadikum, better known as Chef Jamal, and his team of talented chefs have designed a choice of menus made up of more than 200 dishes to take diners on a culinary journey through the region and beyond.

At the entrance to Salt & Pepper, my eyes are riveted to three giant pots or kawah that are bubbling with Gulai Kambing (lamb), Beef Rendang and Soup Gear Box.

Dishes served from giant pots or kawah
This steaming hot, comforting soup on the stove as well as Bubur Lambuk (chicken), a traditional broth for Ramadan, are best for warming the stomach after a day of fasting.

Before the diners arrive, I take a quick tour of the stalls, some with live-action stations to serve various items in the buffet.

I’m struck with curiosity when my eyes lock onto traditional bamboo steaming trays – usually used to serve dim sum – and next to it are servings of spicy peanut sauce and a selection of serunding or traditional meat floss.

Puffs of steam are snaking out from its lid so I take a quick peek inside this bamboo tray and discover ketupat or cubes of rice that are being kept warm within!

“Such a capital idea!” I thought to myself, quite impressed by the clever use of a Chinese dumpling steaming tray to serve a Malay food item like ketupat!

Head Chef Jamaluddin Sadikum
presents traditional Soup Gear Box
Throughout the (many!) previews of Ramadan buffets this year, this is the first that I’ve come across such a cross-cultural use of utensils in a buffet setup.

And I simply cannot explain the way I feel ridiculously pleased with it.

Cheered on by this discovery, I pass a chef who is carving a whole roasted lamb, popularly known as Kambing Golek, which is still on the spit, to get the meat ready to be served with Nasi Arab (rice).

With a little time before the breaking of fast, I watch as a chef prepare traditional apam balik fold-over pancakes filled with crushed peanuts, while another chef at the deep-fried snack station is dropping batter for deep-fried fritters by hand into the heated oil, reminiscent of how mothers are still doing so at home!

There are freshly fried items made with bananas and sweet potatoes and popular snacks like cucur udang among other fried favourites like deep-fried durian!

Look! Ketupat kept warm within a bamboo steaming tray.
In the Appetizer section, there is a selection of kerabu mixed salads to savour with rice tinted blue by butterfly pea flowers, along with fresh garden greens as well as ulam-ulaman kampung greens that are complemented by a choice of local sambals to whet the appetite.

By now, I’m quite familiar with popular spicy and savoury sauces like sambal belacan, tempoyak, mango sambal, cencalok and budu.

At the Noodles station labelled Aneka Laksa, I understand that the daily choice of noodles with gravy will rotate among selections like Laksa Johor or Laksa Penang and other noodle dishes.

Freshly-made apam balik, fold-over pancakes
At the Satay station, served in a choice of beef and chicken with peanut sauce and condiments, once again I’m impressed that these skewers of meat – that were cooked well in advance – are being kept warm within large dim sum steamer trays!

At another stall, I spot small saucepans on stoves that are bubbling with a choice of gravy.

From its enticing aroma, I recognise mouthwatering favourites like Asam Pedas and Curry, where a chef will prepare the diner’s pick of fish to go into the choice of gravy.

The Sajian Warisan Ibunda theme continues with traditional Ikan Panggang or grilled whole fish, stuffed cincaru that are freshly grilled and served drizzled with dark spicy sauce and a twist of fresh lime.

Deep-frying fritters, like how mum does!
There is also a choice of meat for diners to pick from and have it freshly grilled for you.

Another exciting item in the buffet is Chicken Shawarma – meat grilled Middle-Eastern style – and stuffed into pockets within halves of pita bread.

In the dessert section, there is a variety of warm, traditional sweet broths like Bubur Kacang Hijau, Bubur Cha-Cha and Pengat Pisang, among others.

Nearby, the colourful range of local kueh as well as cakes, cookies, pastries, puddings and jellies are just too tempting to miss.

The sweetness continues in a range of specially prepared chilled drinks while an entire section is dedicated to self-serve ice cream and the diners’ creation of Air Batu Campur or ABC shaved ice dessert.

And to round off a hearty meal, there is free-flow of brewed coffee and tea, conveniently provided by an efficient hot beverage dispenser.

A choice of fish and gravy: Curry or Asam Pedas?
It’s the first day of fasting and I join the diners, small groups made up of families and friends, to tuck into the spread of traditional dishes while a trio provides soothing, live music entertainment.

The Sajian Warisan Ibunda buffet spread at Salt & Pepper Restaurant will be served from now to June 3, priced at RM88 nett per adult and RM48 nett per child and senior citizens.

Salt & Pepper Restaurant is at level six of Berjaya Waterfront Hotel Johor Baru, located at 88, Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, Stulang Laut, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor.

For enquiries and reservations, Tel: +607 – 221 9999 Extension: 5106 or 5107, or send email to: bwh.rsvn@berjayahotel.com.

For more info, visit website: www.berjayahotel.com.

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