The Makan Kitchen is the signature restaurant at The DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur.
Aiming to showcase a ‘heritage eating village’ the restaurant has 3 live and interactive kitchens featuring Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine, where food is freshly prepared and presented lavishly, offering a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Buffet style dining can often be difficult for vegan guests who sometimes get stuck with a small choice of side dishes, and definitely don’t get the same choice of dishes as our non-vegan friends.
Would the Makan Kitchen provide that same level of delightful dining options for a vegan customer? We took our Vegan Food Quest there and put them to the test…
The Makan Kitchen is mainly a self-service style buffet dining experience, but as a lot of the food is cooked freshly in front of you there is a chance to interact with the staff and experience their friendly and enthusiastic service.
The staff answered questions about the food knowledgably, were very willing to help us and made us feel like very welcome guests. We love it when our vegan requests are met with such positivity.
We were lucky enough to be shown around the restaurant by the Executive Head Chef who was so passionate about the food being served by his team of chefs, that we couldn’t help but feel excited.
This commitment to serving the best food possible carried through to the rest of his team, who each took on the challenge to make us a vegan version of the cuisine they usually serve.
We were deeply impressed by this dynamic team of chefs whose creativity and skill resulted in a feast of Indian, Chinese and Malay dishes for us to sample.
Thanks to them, we felt like we didn’t miss out on the Makan Kitchen dining experience because we were vegan.
It was refreshing to see each chef embrace the vegan challenge with such positivity.
Malaysian food draws on a mix of different cultures and the vegan dishes that were made for us reflected this as we were presented with a dinner that displayed the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Our Chinese dishes began with a light cucumber salad; fresh crunchy cucumber flavoured with sesame, ginger and a little spiciness from chopped raw chilli scattered over the top.
This was followed by a sliced soft bean curd dish; beautifully presented with a dressing of sweet soy that complemented the silky bean curd perfectly and topped with crunchy, sweet mange tout. There was a good balance of flavours and textures for these light, delicate dishes.
Next we had a simple sautéed vegetable dish where the high quality of the produce was clear. Mushrooms, carrots and Chinese greens, flavoured with fresh ginger, tasted fresh and alive. No soggy over cooked bland vegetables here!
Our last dish from the Chinese chefs was an oyster mushroom tempura; a light and crispy batter (not greasy in the slightest) encasing succulent oyster mushrooms. Served with a spicy chilli dipping sauce they were very moreish.
From the chefs in the Indian kitchen, we began with cute little salads, a saltier ‘chaat masala’ made with pear, apple and mango and a fruitier cucumber, onion, pineapple concoction.
Then we were given a ‘Chana Masala’ dish with fresh flatbreads. Soft chick peas in a mild sauce of creamy coconut, sweet onions and spices, it had a warm chilli afterglow and was perfectly seasoned. We do love a good chick pea dish as this definitely didn’t disappoint.
By far our favourite food came from the chefs cooking Malaysian cuisine, don’t be mistaken, the other dishes we were served were delicious (and we’d happily go back for more) but the Malay food that we ate was exceptionally good.
There is one word that sums up the vegan Malay dishes from the Makan Kitchen and that word is ‘exciting’.
Our Vegan Food Quest means we get to try a lot of delicious food; we munch our way through beautiful food, fast food, simple food, street food and luxurious food but we’ve only had a few experiences where the vegan food has been this exciting.
Our first dish was a specially made, vegan version of ‘kerabu’, a salad of finely shredded carrot, boiled potato, beansprouts, long beans, fried tofu, fried tempeh pieces and ‘coconut floss’ served on a banana leaf.
Coconut floss is made by taking freshly grated coconut, seasoning it with chilli, turmeric and sugar before leaving it to dry out. It added a sweet, toasty coconut element to this salad that mixed perfectly with the fragrant, heady fresh lemongrass, spicy chilli, sweet palm sugar, fresh shallots and coriander.
Mixed together with the sharp, refreshing lime dressing and we had a flavour sensation that we’d never experienced in a salad before.
Next, we met Chef Addy who presented us with something he’d designed especially for us, a unique Vegan Food Quest dish that combined traditional Malay flavours with our European roots, producing what has to be the best vegan fusion dish that we have ever tasted. Honesty, we aren’t exaggerating.
Chef Addy’s creation consisted of spaghetti with scrambled firm white tofu and ‘pecik’ sauce, fried tempeh strips and an aubergene ‘rendang’.
The spaghetti was perfectly ‘al dente’ and was smothered in just the right amount of pecik sauce to make the small pieces of tofu stick to the pasta. Pecik sauce is creamy with cononut and spiced with tumeric, curry leaves and chilli.
We would never have thought to pair a curry sauce with pasta but it worked perfectly with the spaghetti and tofu. The result was mouthful after mouthful of creamy, rich vegan ‘fusion spaghetti’, spiced and seasoned to perfection.
The rendang was a particular treat as it’s normally always a meat based dish, so we haven’t been able to try it. Chef Addy wanted to showcase Malasian food and so he created an aubergine rendang that was covered in a vegan version of the thick, smooth, spice paste made from shallots, garlic, galangal, tumeric, ginger coconut and lemongrass. It was full of flavour, sweet and spicy and complemented the texture of the soft and slightly charred aubergine brilliantly.
Finally the crispy fried tempeh strips added another texture to the dish that worked really well. This was an inspired piece of cooking and we think it should be added to the regular menu so everyone gets to try just how wonderful it was.
Although we were really full up from all the amazing vegan food, Chef Addy selected a plate of ‘Nyonya kuih’ for us to sample for dessert. As we love kuih (and always have room for dessert) we couldn’t say no to this platter of little delights.
We were given a selection of 4 little kuih, all with different tastes and textures. There was a tapioca cake topped with coconut and gula Melaka sugar, ‘ondeh-ondeh’ dumplings, some ‘Keria’ donuts made from sweet potatoes and some ‘kuih lapis’, which means ‘layered dessert’.
The ondeh-ondeh were delightfully fresh and chewy with runny treacle-tasting gula Melaka sugar that exploded in our mouths when we bit into them.
The ‘keria’ sweet potato donuts were a real surprise. Sweet potatoes combined with flour to make a dough, then deep fried and drizzled in sugar resulting in a donut that didn’t taste too fatty or greasy and was almost savoury, until you got to the sweet sugar topping. We can now confirm that sweet potatoes served in donut form are a great way to eat this popular plant-based food.
Our favourite dessert were the ‘kuih lapis’ made from rice flour combined with sugar, coconut milk, salt and pandan. These heavenly little desserts not only looked beautiful but they tasted divine.
They were firm yet soft and had a slight jelly wobble when touched. The texture was smooth and a little creamy from the rice flour and coconut milk; this was food that felt good to eat. But the flavour of these little morsels was really what kept us wanting more of them. Sweet and just a little bit salty, creamy rich coconut milk and the unique taste of pandan that is widely used throughout South East Asia.
It’s hard to describe the flavour of pandan, a sort of sweet, pine like, nutty, grassy, biscuity taste that is as much about the smell as the flavour. The Makan Kitchen kuih lapis definitely weren’t short on this flavour sensation meaning that every delicious bite was a pleasure.
The Makan Kitchen is located on the 11th floor of DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, in the new Intermark building at Ampang Park. It’s central location is convenient to reach by either taxi or Ampang Park MRT station.
The Makan Kitchen seats up to 350 diners but the restaurant is cleverly designed to create plenty of smaller spaces where guests can dine in a more private setting. This gives the option to have a quiet dinner for two or to join friends, family or business colleagues and dine as a larger party. The decor is modern, with dark wood giving a real Malaysian flavour.
The open, interactive live kitchens fill the dining area with enticing smells and mouthwatering sights and the team of chefs who are busily preparing food adds to the atmosphere and vibrant look of the restaurant.
The Makan Kitchen ‘Live Station’ Dinner is served daily between 6.30pm and 10.30pm and costs RM 108++ per person.
There was no vegan wine on the wine list, but they do serve Tiger lager, which is suitable for vegans, and a wide range of freshly made juices. We sampled a star anise, watermelon and apple juice that was delicious. They also have an extensive cocktail list with numerous vegan options.
Make a reservation at the Makan Kitchen if you want to sample a variety of delicious, authentic Malaysian food created with real passion.
You’ll be rewarded with an informal dining experience that offers fabulous vegan food that’s big on flavour, culture and excitement.
We were guests of the Makan Kitchen but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
348 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +603 – 2172 7272