Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lavand Kuala Lumpur




It's nearly lunchtime at Lavand's flagship cafe in Bukit Damansara when the crowd suddenly exclaims in excitement. A massive tray of freshly baked baklavas has been brought out, prompting everyone to pause their conversations in order to photograph the perfectly crafted pastries, which flood the afternoon air with their sweet, sumptuous fragrance.

Lavand's Malaysian founder Sheerin Zalani beams with justified pride as she slices out a few servings of the traditional Ottoman Turkish dessert, ravishingly layered with buttery-crisp filo dough, some sprinkled with cinnamon, others with hazelnuts, scented with rose water and made nectarous with lashings of honey.

The story of Sheerin's passionate focus on top-flight flavours and textures has turned Lavand into the country's most reliably enduring purveyor of fine baklavas, chocolates and other irresistible temptations for close to 15 years now. Having a conversation with her left us completely impressed with how much heart and effort is poured into Lavand's signature products.




Three full days of labour go into the making of Lavand's hand-constructed baklavas, from proofing to their time in the oven. When Lavand first launched a generation ago, its baklavas were imported from Lebanon, but the brand has since become more than capable of producing its own, entirely in KL, overseen by a Lebanese baklava specialist chef. Busy seasons see more than 100 kilograms of baklavas emerging from Lavand's ovens every day.

What makes Lavand's baklavas very likely Malaysia's most satisfying is the meticulous attention to detail, the consequence of Sheerin's own years-long love affair with baklava. The filo pastry, sometimes featuring 40 layers, is prepared with rich clarified butter from Switzerland. Pistachios are typically flown in from Iran (the birth nation of Sheerin's mother), cashews from Brazil and India, and almonds, macadamias and hazelnuts from California. Spices are newly ground before baking to bring out their best virtues. These behind-the-scenes initiatives ensure unparalleled results.





These baklavas make for a tantalising treat at any time of the day or night, washed down perhaps with hot cardamom tea. Each bite proves confidently balanced with a buttery crunch, aromatically nuanced with nuts and spices, sugary without being saccharine. If you're new to the world of baklavas, Lavand would be the ideal introduction, living up to the Persian meaning of its name, 'desire' (fun fact: baklavas are customarily believed to be aphrodisiacs, because of several of their ingredients).

Beyond baklava, Lavand also specialises in gourmet confectioneries such as lushly smooth chocolates, creamy to the bite, as well as made-to-order delicacies including dragees and nougats that can be viewed on the company's website. 

Even Lavand's boxes and hamper containers display a remarkable degree of artistry, each individually built for Lavand by longtime craftspeople who Sheerin has personally met with in territories such as Kashmir. These are gift boxes that will eventually outlive their contents, gorgeous enough to hold on to or present to loved ones as permanent keepsakes to treasure.







Seasonal selections are available from Lavand for every major Malaysian festive celebration, from Hari Raya Aidilfitri to Deepavali, Chinese New Year to Christmas; there's a vast variety of hampers to choose from, comprising not only the baklavas and chocolate but also premium Saudi dates, Lebanese malban sweets and more. 

If you're looking for gifts to spread joy with as Ramadan comes to a close, check out lavand.com.my and facebook.com/lavandonline - or visit Lavand's operations at Day Dreamers Cafe in Bukit Damansara, Jasons Food Hall in Bangsar Shopping Centre, or Ben's Independent Grocer. You can also use flowerchimp.com for online orders and deliveries. Also watch out for Lavand to soon surface at the new Four Seasons Place retail mall in the city centre.

For more information, contact 03-2095-5154 or 012-3181-922

Many thanks to Lavand for having us. Selected photos courtesy of Lavand.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pacific Standard Bar @ Alila Bangsar

California dreamin' takes the limelight at KL's latest cocktail bar, inspired by the spirit of 1960s American showbiz glamour. Head bartender Ruben Anandha and his team stir up potions that pay chic homage to Bel-Air and San Martin, in beverage categories that span L.A. Noire, Hollywood Highballs and Trip The Lights Fantastic, on the 41st floor of the Alila Bangsar hotel.

If you're seeking robustly nuanced cocktails that pack a pleasurable punch, conveying a mature sense of confidence while still striking some playful notes, check these out (RM45 each): Sunset Swizzle (essentially a tiki drink with pineapple rum, green chartreuse, basil cordial, fresh lime, pineapple, mint), The Lady Georgian (citrus-infused vodka, fresh grapefruit, thyme, citron cordial, soda water) and Chocolate Negroni (bold gin, bitters blend, sweet vermouth, chocolate bitters). Heady concoctions to down while classic soul singer Perk Badger sets a buoyantly soulful tone in the background.

Pacific Standard Bar
Level 41, Alila Bangsar, 58, Jalan Ang Seng, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
Open Mon-Tues, 12pm-1030pm; Wed-Thurs, Sun, 12pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 12pm-2am. Tel: 016-215-6597


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Ramadan Buffet: LINK, Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar

By Aiman Azri

Stepping into Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar's flagship restaurant for buka puasa, it's clear that the Ramadan spirit is in full swing. Joyous cartoon pop-ups of Malaysian children welcome you at the entrance. Inside, families and friends are digging into a buffet dinner of more than 150 dishes that beautifully represent local cuisine, under a decor of ketupat and crescent moons. A ghazal band entertains with traditional Malay songs, set to the beat of the kompang. It's so buoyantly festive, it feels like celebrating Aidilfitri early.


LINK All Day Dining's Sajian Selera Desa Dinner Buffet captures the essence of the modern Malaysian Ramadan in both its setting and its cooking, with a distinct spread that encompasses not only cherished Malay classics but Chinese and Indian favourites too. It's the hot and hearty flavour of muhibbah heaped on your plate, with everything from Ikan Masak Tempoyak to Pak Choi and Lamb Varuval ready for the feasting - you can savour tender bites of Kajang-inspired satay, swiftly followed by freshly made roti canai. For folks who love Malaysian fare, this is poised to excite the palate.

Step outside to the terrace to witness stalls serving a massive variety of foods, most prominently the Roasted Whole Lamb, marinated in Executive Chef Juzaili's special blend of spices that bring out the flavour of the meat to the fullest, tender and dripping with juices. While it's satisfying enough on its own, condiments like black pepper sauce, mushroom sauce and mint sauce are all provided.

Chef Juzaili boasts more than a dozen years of professional experience, including seven years in Dubai, with five years so far at Pullman Bangsar Kuala Lumpur, so he draws from a rich reservoir of recipes - his Nasi Ikan is a should-try, evoking a speciality he first saw at an exclusive VIP-invite-only restaurant in Saudi Arabia. This features a Middle Eastern spice blend that complements three kinds of fish - sea bass, catfish and tilapia - to represent his time as a chef in the region. It's certainly one to check out if you're seeking unique dishes this Ramadan.


Befitting the best of buffets, there's so much to choose from, you could happily spend hours here. Side-by-side on the terrace are the Mongolian Grill and the Seafood Grill - select your preferred protein and watch LINK's chefs cook it up on the spot for your hot, hearty pleasure. If you can't get enough of prawns and mussels, this is the spot to check out.

Walk right up to the woks, where the Malaysian-Indonesian Gulai Kawah series promises rich curries swimming with chicken, fish, lamb and beef, encapsulating the core of kampung cooking - a nice way to whet your appetite before returning to your hometown this Raya season.


At times like these, we certainly wish we had more stomach space to explore the entire Arabic food selection (showcasing the enormous Nasi Arab Kambing, as well as chicken and lamb kebabs), as well as the Noodle Station that tempts with Curry Laksa, Prawn Mee, or Chicken Broth with your preferred noodles and toppings.

For folks who tried the Ramadan buffet here in 2017, note that last year's favourite dish is back in 2018, the Oxtail Gear Box Soup. And if you want something foreign but still familiar to accompany your meal, you'll spot some Japanese sushi alongside Malaysian salad-based hits like kerabu, ulam and rojak.


Durian devotees will adore what's next: After 830pm every evening, the Durian Stand is set up, enabling customers to dive deep into a world of durians, with everything from Musang King to D101 represented. All the durian your heart desires, indeed.


Desserts are colourfully alluring, spanning both Malaysian staples as well as international crowd-pleasers, from kuih lapis, ais kacang and cendol to cupcakes and French pastries, as well as chocolate fondue, an ice cream bar and fresh fruits. Certainly a satisfyingly sweet conclusion.

The Sajian Selera Desa Dinner Buffet runs daily, from 6pm to 10pm, priced at RM 168 nett per adult and RM 84 nett per child under 12 years of age. It is available until 10 June 2018.

For reservations call 03-2298-1888 (extension 5000), or email H7962-FB5@accor.com


Many thanks to Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar for having us.

LINK All Day Dining
Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar, No. 1, Jalan Pantai Jaya, Tower 3, Kuala Lumpur.
For reservations call 03-2298-1888 (extension 5000), or email H7962-FB5@accor.com

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