Up-Scale Malaysian Street Food @ JP Teres, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

JP Teres. What a weird name.  Seems to me Malaysians love abbreviations and it takes a local KLite to make the association.  When I first arrived KL, I was told to go to BB Plaza, where’s that?  Oh, Bukit Bintang Plaza, duh!  Then there’s  SSJ, SS, etc, etc, … don’t ask, I’ve no idea!  Besides, I don’t have a ride to venture out of KLCC  (another one!) and if I do, it’s chauffer driven in the un-metered taxi!

So what does JP Teres stands for?  It’s a cafe serving authentic Malaysian cuisine at Grand Hyatt Hotel at Jalan Pinang, duh!  JP!  And ‘teres’ I was told is a Bruneian spelling of ‘terrace’ as the Sultan of Brunei owns the hotel.

With overseas city-slickers in town, I wanted to show them local Malaysian specialties without too much walking or melting under the sun,  Madam Kwan’s at Pavilion near the fast-food court came to mind, but it is extremely noisy and not an impressionable entertaining spot.   Since  I have eaten at JP Teres a few times and also at its Western-Asian fusion sister, Thirty8 (my review here), I decided on lunch there.

The interior is a up-scale trendy cafe divided into Chinese, Malay/ Indian and Dessert show kitchens so you don’t get to miss out any actions at the local hawker stalls on the streets.  The waiters and waitresses are super-friendly and highly efficient. I’m loving the quirky blue jeans which is rather mod.

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BBQ roasted chickens lining up to be chopped for Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Chinese station

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So here’s how I introduced the Malaysian specialties. With a vegetarian amongst us, JP Teres did well to accommodate a vegan.

Fresh coconut:  We all got excited by coconuts.  Naturally in an Asian country, you order a coconut to quench your thirst.  It’s natural electrolytes and the young pulpy flesh is almost jelly-like.  I saw that locals ordering Iced Longan Tea… wonder how good that is…

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Satays:  Sweet meaty bites of beef and chicken to be dipped into sweet peanut sauce. Beats the gamey satays served by MAS hands down, I must say. I enjoyed the ‘lontongs’, which are compressed rice and a very traditional Malay delicacy.

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Beef Rendang:  Also know as ‘caramelised beef curry’.  This is my favourite dish of all, beef simmered for hours on end in rich spices and coconut milk.

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Chicken Mughlai:  A rich, creamy, thick Indian curry dish originating from the Mughal Dynasty in India

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Kangkong Belacan/ Kangkong Garlic (Vegetarian):  Kangkong is also known as ‘morning glory’. I’ve been advised not to eat too much of this veg from the swamps as it aggravates arthritis. Belacan is dry shrimps paste. We also ordered Kangkong with garlic for our vegetarian friend and that tasted marvellous as well.

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Nasi Biryani (Vegetarian). This is an aromatic rice fried in saffron with an Indian origin.  Perfectly cooked with the individual rice grains separate.

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Plain Roti Canai (Vegetarian):  An Indian-influenced specialty, also known as ‘roti phrata’.  Flat, fluffy on the inside but crispy and flaky on the outside.  Came with 3 dips – dhal, sambal ikan bilis (small fish in spices) and curry.

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Our conversation turned to Central Market which my out-of-towners wanted to go.  I have been there many years ago before the refurb, but did not find any local souvenirs nor handicrafts worth buying.  Needless, to say  the  whirwind trip at the Market finished in under 10 minutes!  There you go!  (Can anyone suggest a place to shop for local Malaysian souvenirs? – Thanks!)

Chiffon cake wtih Soft-serve and strawberries:  The glossy soft-serve looks invincible under the watchful eyes of our table.

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Sago Gula Melaka (Vegetarian):  A sago pudding in ‘santan’ (coconut milk) and ‘gula melaka’ (palm sugar).

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JP Teres is definitely a winner.  The pungent aroma of  Assam Laksa which I smelt on my way to the Ladies’ – gosh, you should visit the Loo, the door  slides open by pressing a black button – makes me want to try the laksa next time and also the Rojak Buah, both famed Malaysian local dishes.

Here are pictures of the outdoor bar/ alfresco terrace dining area.

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Thirty8 @Grand Hyatt Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: February 4, 2013

Grand Hyatt Hotel Kuala Lumpur only opened late last year. The original site was supposed to be in another part of the city, but the developer went out of money during the construction phase, so Grand Hyatt has to relocate to a new site, atop a new office building. Thus the Lobby on Level 39! Hear, hear…

To get to the hotel cafe, you can either walk down the perspex glass stairs or catch another special purpose lift from the Lobby.

We were seated in front of the open kitchen. Ventilation was good, no food smell – but perhaps because we were seated in the pastry section of the kitchen and the kitchen is not running at full-capacity?

Views of Kuala Lumpur with the KLCC park

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The menu was a mish-mash of Western and Japanese food, none appealing. I was thinking of ordering a light dinner, perhaps a salad but remembering how disappointing salads can be in Asia, it took me quite a while to settle on my dinner choice. I noted that there was only 1 pasta dish (linguine with chicken); lots of steak choices with different assortment of dressings; choices of fish (snapper, salmon or trout) cooked either steamed, grilled or fried, but no fish and chips, however, I am sure I can always request if I really wanted to. Chicken kiev and steamed scallops with black beans seemed to be popular among the other diners.

First to arrive, pita bread fresh from the oven and chicken liver pâté.

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The liver was really fresh but a bit too salty. Still… Yums!

In the end I opted for Assorted Sashimi with Shellfish (RM$180). It came in the huge ceramic bowl – almost like a flower pot. Some weight lifting for the waitress!

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Fresh sashimi. Freshly grated wasabi horseradish scored top marks from me!

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Sirloin Steak from Oz (RM$100)

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Ordered a side of chips too. Did not take a picture, but it was good (ie double-fried)

The open-kitchen concept does not go well with everybody especially for a fine-dining establishment that has a dress-code. The high expectation turned to shock with the casual cafe style layout (comment from an acquaintance)!

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Dessert was a HIT.

Banana, pineapple, coconut crumble (RM$18)

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It came with a soft-serve ice-cream and midget bananas. This dessert went down well.

Mille feille (RM$25)

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This is a new dessert specially recommended by the very chirpy personable waitress. No disappointment here!

Grand Hyatt’s Signature Dessert – Thirty8 Signature Cake
The cake arrived on a covered glass cake stand with much pomp. Inside was fumed with smoke (from dry ice) and I only got to see the cake when the glass cover was removed. The waiter then proceeded to pour hot caramel onto the cake.

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The cake seemingly melted leaving a ‘hole’ (hang on, I’ve seen this theatrics with the 8 layer chocolate cake at the Quay in Sydney recently!)

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How was it? Excellent! A rich chocolate dessert verging on the lighter style. Chocolate mousse, cake and praline with banana ice-cream and nuts crumbles works well.

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On my way out, on the other side, I saw amazing night time views of the Petronas Twin Towers. There was also a band playing, possibly because it was a Monday night, there wasn’t much patrons around. I am sure the Lounge Bar will be fantastic spot for romantic rendezvous with candle lights and booth seatings (if privacy is required *wink*)