The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic luxury hotels, nestled between the Petronas Twin Towers, the City Centre Park and Suria KLCC, and has welcomed the likes of royalty and celebrities throughout its years. That said, it’s not just about the accommodation – you definitely must try the food.
Whether it’s for a business meet or a private affair between lovebirds, the Mandarin Grill has that classic steak dinner down pat, coupled with a contemporary art aesthetic. It aims to position itself as the leading grill restaurants, with prime cuts and steaks paired with an extensive selection of wines and champagne.
Although it’s open for lunch and dinner, if you’re up for dessert, I really, really recommend you come at night (I’ll explain later).
“After Aziamendi88, we said we wanted an elegant steakhouse concept. The dishes come from me, and we fine-tune as a team… I don’t think fine dining would work very well, most people who dine on Fridays and Saturdays are looking for a casual, elegant flair. Sometimes, fine dining can be too much – twelve to fourteen courses, you don’t know which cutlery to use, which wine – better to have a nice evening where you can talk to each other.”
And it has just the man to execute that vision: German national Benjamin Halat, Mandarin Grill’s Chef de Cuisine.
“I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur for two years and eight months. I’ve been in Mandarin Oriental for six years – the first few years were in Munich.”
Like all films, the exposition helps set the stage and build everything up. So does Mandarin Grill’s list of starters and soups – purposed to whet and prepare your appetite for the main course. For those looking a little bite and crunch, give the classic prawn cocktail or house salad a go – with vibrant greens contrasting the muted yellows, pinks and browns; or, if you like beef and want a sneak preview of things to come, try the beef tartar.
The flowers give a sweet touch, because of the honey, and they look nice!
Now we come to the main attraction! For those who adore beef, you’ve got the finest selection in Mandarin Grill. The steaks offered in Mandarin Grill are King Island, Black Angus, and Sher Wagyu – all from the fine nation of Australia. The menu even gives you a quick brief of the beef you’re consuming – the former is grass fed, while the latter are grain-fed, 150 days and 400 days respectively. You can order your choice of three cuts, out of three – tenderloin, ribeye, sirloin, or chateaubriand (for King Island and Black Angus – serves 2).
If, however, you have a troupe of ravenous diners looking to go big or not go at all, then Chef Benjamin has a trump card – the Tomahawk steak, which is 1.5kg of Sher Wagyu goodness that serves two to three guests, or just one, if you’re really peckish.
“If you come with a lot of people, go for the Tomahawk!”
Aside from steak, you can also opt for grilled Australian lamb. All grilled dishes are served with one side dish (out of a selection of 12) and one sauce (out of a selection of 10) of your choice.
If you’d rather skip the beef for something else, Mandarin Grill does have several classic mainstays, like chicken, lobster, cod and salmon. Vegetarians aren’t left out, and can get in on the feast as well, with wild mushroom barley risotto and roasted pumpkin on the menu. All classic mains are served with your choice of one side dish.
The list of sides are as follows: tempura fries, gratinated French fries “Alsace”, Idaho baked potato, potato gratin, potato mash, crispy onion rings, creamy spinach, green asparagus, wild mushroom ragout, steam broccoli, seasonal vegetables, and roquefort salad.
Meanwhile, your selection of sauces are: bearnaise, lemon butter sauce, garlic anchovy butter, fresh horse radish cream, white wine, mushroom, green peppercorn, red wine, homemade BBQ, and lemon gremolata.
My personal favourite? The red wine sauce.
Now here’s why I recommended that you drop by at night – one of the desserts is baked alaska, where you get a short pyrotechnic performance when you are served. You get vanilla and strawberry ice-cream in soft Italian meringue, with whiskey set alight – quite the visual spectacle.
However, if you’re up for something different, then you should try the smoked dark chocolate cigar, paired with single-malt whiskey on the rocks. Conceived as a contrast to the usual sweet, colourful treat, this particular dessert evokes images of (to me) old 50s film noir and gangster flicks – understated, but powerful and oh-so-stylish. And that was Chef Benjamin’s intention all along.
“What I wanted was to have a gentlemen’s dessert. Most of the time, dessert is sweet and fruity. The idea was to make an edible cigar, since you can’t smoke here. The whiskey is to add the smokey flavour – to provide an experience with the cigar.”
Honestly, I think dining at Mandarin Grill is more than just the food (though I will be first to say that it’s amazing). The atmosphere and the art, combined with the food, make it a place to create memories and experiences – a place to remember milestones rather than just a laissez faire wine-and-dine.
So if you want to make a special occasion etched into your memory, stop by Mandarin Grill.
For more information on Mandarin Grill and its various menu items, you can head to this link: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/kualalumpur/fine-dining/mandarin-grill/
Contact number: +60 (3) 2380 8888
Lunch – 12 – 2.30pm.
Dinner – 6.30 – 10.30pm.