Picture by Phil Brown via Screenshots.
Savouring nasi kandar in Melbourne
IT was not just a Malaysian cultural feast in the bustling city of Melbourne last week. Australians were also feted to Malaysia’s best-known dish – nasi kandar – in a posh five-star hotel ambience.
And how they all enjoyed tucking in to the various aromatic dishes prepared by five specially selected cooks from Original Kayu Nasi Kandar Sdn Bhd, who were flown from Kuala Lumpur to take on the challenge.
Playing host at the posh Crown Towers Hotel for 200 dinner guests was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his daughter, Nori.
The special guest at the nasi kandar dinner was Janette Howard, wife of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
Also present was newly-posted Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Penny Williams, and The Star’s group chief editor, Michael Aeria.
Earlier in the morning, Abdullah and Janette jointly launched a Nyonya Kebaya exhibition at the Immigration Museum. Most of the kebaya exhibits belonged to Abdullah’s late wife, Datin Seri Endon Mahmood.
Those invited to the opening ceremony on May 3 were automatically on the list of the private dinner Abdullah hosted at 8.30pm the same day.
Original Kayu Nasi Kandar proprietor Buruhan Mohamad, who led his team of cooks to Melbourne, said it was a personal accomplishment for him since starting his nasi kandar businesss back in 1974.
“Australia has very strict food requirements and we were very impressed with their standards. We were put to the test and passed,’’ he added upon returning.
His nasi kandar fare is much proven here, but Buruhan knew that it would be back to square one as far as Australian taste buds were concerned.
“It was our first overseas engagement, and it was an important event for Malaysia. I flew there a week earlier to prepare ahead, came back to get the necessary stuff and flew back again,’’ he revealed.
Some 40kg of spices were flown in from Malaysia. Fresh meat, fish and vegetables were sourced Down Under.
After negotiating with the Crown Towers senior management for use of a section of the kitchen for cooking purposes, Buruhan’s team set out to work at 10am.
By the time it was 8.30pm, piping hot nasi kandar dishes were all ready to be savoured.
Buruhan’s catering manager, Kosol Napatalung, took charge of serving the VVIP table, where Abdullah, Janette, and Nori were joined by, among others, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and his wife Datin Seri Maznah, and Nori’s husband, Khairy Jamaluddin.
The opening course comprised roti canai and murtabak served with dhal gravy with lamb, followed by briyani with ayam rendang, beef rendang, kari ikan, sotong sambal and udang goreng.
“We were delighted when Janette asked for more briyani,’’ quipped Kosol, who is a Thai.
Buruhan said he was well-aware of Abdullah’s likings, and planned the menu accordingly.
“Our PM is not fond of chicken. For drinks, he prefers just kopi-O,’’ he revealed.
As such, desert consisted of pulut panggang, kuih talam, kuih bengkang, seri muka, teh tarik and kopi-O.
“We ordered 500 pieces of various kuih which were prepared by several wives of Malaysians residing in Melbourne,’’ he added.
Oh, he doesn't like chicken. But prefers to be one himself? ;-)