It’s quiet and cosy at the Oriental Bar and Kitchen in Park Hyatt. No distractions, like jarring music that ruins your mood. In the limelight it’s you and your food. Nothing else matters.
With quick steps I walked into Oriental Bar & Kitchen, at Park Hyatt, dreading the frown on my friend’s and our host’s faces. I was held up elsewhere and from there I braved the rain and the traffic and reached half an hour late. But as I strode up to where they were sitting, I was greeted by smiling faces, on which I could not find a modicum of displeasure. They did not seem to mind at all that I was late, but made me welcome and bade me sit down. I did and felt at ease; perhaps that feeling is contagious here.
It ought to be: I looked around and I noticed instantly one is bound to feel cosy at one’s table, for the tables are widely spaced in the big dimly lit hall, so chances of your hearing your neighbour’s conversation or vice versa are nil. And the light above each table is set such that it illumines only those with you and your food, sort of hogging the limelight. And the greatest relief is the absence of exasperating music rampant in most diners, chosen without taste or sensibility, killing our mood and appetite. Here the only pleasant distractions are the faint clicking of forks on plates, the sound of sizzling from the open kitchen and the aroma that emanates from there. Here, it’s you and your food. Nothing comes in between.
People who are direct will like it here. There are no starters as such and anything you eat is the main course. You feel content, not stuffed.
We were served the Singapore Ayam Bakar, spicy baked chicken with Asian herbs, and pan fried prawns. When I say spicy, be not alarmed. Nothing here is overdone, and so you won’t feel the bite in your guts later. Then followed the clay pot chicken, a Chinese delicacy.
The waiter opened the lid of the pot, and out came the steam, bringing along with it the flavour. We found it tender and delicious.
We had the Asian pan fried fish, too, which is fresh chilli, and mix vegetables. It’s a special from Indonesia.
There is a teeny weeny sweetness to some of the dishes, mostly made of chicken. However, you will not find it annoying. It’s a welcome change from many places where when you are done, the world knows you have dined out from the hissing you do to ease your burning tongue.
The best part is you can see your dish being prepared and ask how it’s done and how you want it.
Vegans, please don’t feel left out. Executive Sous Chef Shanmuganathan Marimuthu, Shan for short, suggests for you Thai som tom, which is green papaya, mango salad with long beans and peanuts, Johar laska soup — vegetable coconut soup with fried onion — or Indonesia fried round eggplant, which comes with sambal paste… and more.
Shan is a Malaysian who has been in the trade for 21 years. Cooking since the age of 15, he knows what works, and swears by the South East Asian cuisine.
“Some of the things you ate here are street food. But don’t be mislead. Street food in South East Asian cuisine is wholesome. They are tasty and don’t make you fat in the long run.” Now we know how our neighbours in South East Asia have their ‘cake and get to eat it’, too.