Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An Unpleasant Dining Experience At Makan Kitchen @ Double Tree By Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo By: Elin Chow
Official Website: Makan Kitchen

My recent dining experience at Makan Kitchen, Double Tree By Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur was bad. This was perhaps, my worst dining experience at a 5-star establishment.

I seldom write reviews for my bad experiences at restaurants because I feel that it was not worth my time to, unless the bad experience have occurred repeatedly or the experience was just so bad that I felt a need to write and share about it.

Even so, I never like writing bad reviews, but was not afraid do so when warranted. Some people might think that I am just being too picky, but trust me, I am really not. I always believe that negative reviews can serve a positive purpose. They are honest feedback with constructive criticism, meant to help the company improve.

Our First Bad Experience

My company hosted our annual company dinner at Double Tree By Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur earlier this year and has experienced very poor service. Generally, we found the waiters serving us that night were not very well-trained and have very weak knowledge of service. For some reason, the waiters were always in a rush to clear our plates, even when we have not finished our food. Furthermore, they do not have the basic courtesy to ask before they remove the plates.

For every dish, there were lots of leftovers, which we did not have the chance to enjoy. The waiters will clear the entire plate of it away while we were still eating. When we asked them not to clear the leftovers on our tables, they showed their unhappiness to us.

We had a really unpleasant dining experience that night. The attitude of waiters were not friendly. They were in fact, unpleasantly rude. I understand that being a waiter is a difficult job, and it is impossible for them to control every element of the dining experience.

Even though the quality of service always play an important role in my dining experience, I do not usually complain about the poor service I have received unless it was really terrible. Unfortunately, this was. The level of service was utterly disappointing and definitely not up par for a 4/5 star hotel, especially if you consider the Hilton brand name.

So, after gathering opinions from colleagues, I wrote a feedback letter to the hotel expressing our disappointment in the service we received. The main purpose of the letter was not to ask for compensation, but rather, to bring this issue to their attention.

However, our experience was not entirely bad, considering the quality of food was actually good. The ballroom and tables were nicely decorated and the ambiance was excellent. We also expressed our appreciation to them for their tremendous effort in making our annual event a successful one and look forward to seeing an improvement in their services.

Our Second Bad Experience

My company received 10 complimentary Makan Kitchen dining vouchers from Double Tree By Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur to compensate for our unpleasant experience. Each voucher entitled to two persons to a buffet dinner at Makan Kitchen, which is the signature restaurant of Double Tree By Hilton Hotel. But unfortunately, it was not a very sincere apology.

The vouchers we received did not specify any terms and conditions, so we were not sure whether we can use them during the Ramadan period. We only knew that the vouchers will expire on 31st July 2016.

So we called Makan Kitchen to check whether we can use the dining vouchers during the Ramadan period, but as expected, we were not allowed to. After much discussion, we called Makan Kitchen again around Mid of May to make a dining reservation for 20 persons on a Friday night after the Ramadan period.

But we were told that we were not allowed to make our reservation under a company's name. The restaurant has requested us to provide 10 different names in order to make the reservation for 20 persons. Since they requested, we have no choice but to provide the 10 different names to them. Right before the call ended, we double confirmed our reservation details again before hanging up.

A week before the dinner, we called Makan Kitchen again to check on our reservation, and surprisingly, we were told that there were no reservation made under our names! In addition to that, we were also told that we were not allowed to use the vouchers on a Friday night. The vouchers can only be used on weekdays, from Monday to Thursday only. Now, we were feeling extremely angry because this was not previously mentioned to us when we called to make the reservation two months ago! We took the trouble to provide the 10 different names to them, only to be told that our reservation was not made.

Sometimes I really wonder whether the restaurant was just trying to make things difficult for us. I believe the purpose of complimentary vouchers is to compensate for our previous bad experience, and yet, they have made our experience gone from bad to worst.

Eventually, we managed to finalize our original reservation with them, visiting on a Friday night. But that was only after so much troubles we have went through.

Located at the 11th floor of Double Tree by Hilton hotel, Makan Kitchen offer buffet dinner from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm daily and cost RM 125 per person (inclusive of 10% service and 6% GST).

I would say that this was by far, the worst dining experience I have ever had at a fairy well-established hotel brand. I was utterly disappointed with the quality of the food offered at the dinner buffet. Most of the food were cold and stale, and it seems like they have been left out for a while. Again, this was absolutely unacceptable for a Hilton establishment.

Well, as I have mentioned, I usually would not write about a bad dining experience. Having said that, I did not initially intended to write about my bad experience at Makan Kitchen too. But I believe that I have already given the hotel an opportunity to make things right, only to be disappointed once again.

I can accept that not every food offered at the buffet is tasty and delicious because I understand that not everyone is a great cook or chef. But I cannot accept food that were served cold and stale, especially when you are spending so much money to dine at a higher end restaurant.

Putting aside the quality of food, the overall layout of the restaurant is great. The restaurant is nice and spacious with plenty of seating to accommodate up to 350 diners.

The restaurant itself was rather empty, with one or two other tables occupied when we arrived. Every table was perfectly spaced out and divided by wooden screens to offer more privacy and comfort. The ambiance of the restaurant was very comfortable and relaxing with warm cozy lighting. Perfect for business dining, private get-together and family gathering.

The service was excellent and serving staffs were generally very polite and attentive. Water is topped up regularly and empty plates are cleared promptly. But as much as company, ambiance and service make a dining experience, so does food. It was sad that the quality of the food was low, definitely not up to 5 star hotel standards.

Ais Kacang

Makan Kitchen is specially dedicated to serving traditional local Malaysian cuisines. The restaurant buffet dinner generally consists of three open interactive live kitchens offering not only a sprawling spread of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines, but also authentic Perankan, Kristang and Iban specialties from other parts of Malaysia.

Offering more than 80 local dishes, this is certainly great place to sample a variety of authentic Malaysian food and experience the real taste of Malaysia.

Stepping in, we were excited to find a colorful pushcart standing at the right near the entrance of the restaurant, offering freshly made Ais Kacang (or Ice Kacang) - a shaved ice dessert topped with a variety of toppings like sweet corn, red beans, grass jelly, palm sugar syrup and evaporated milk.

A variety of toppings or an ice shaving machine is available to churn out the shaved ice so that we can make and customized our own bowl of Ais Kacang to our liking.

Fruits Station

Fruits Station offers a variety of freshly cut fruits like Dragon fruits, oranges, apples, papayas and pineapples.

Each plates of fruits were placed atop dry ice to keep it fresh for the night.

Quench your thirst with truly Malaysian drink "Teh Tarik". The drink is part of the buffet and is available without an additional charge. Drinking water is also provided free of charge to all diners.

Desserts Staion

Desserts Station offers both local and western-style desserts to satisfy every cravings.

We get to enjoy an assortment of sinfully sweet items - ranging from cakes to mousse, fruit tarts to marshmallows with chocolates dips.

Besides that, there were also traditional Malay and Nyonya desserts like Ang Koo Kueh, Chwee Kueh, Kuih Gulung, Onde Onde and many others. I always love traditional Malay and Nyonya desserts very much. However, these were very disappointing. In fact, all the desserts offered at the Desserts Station were terrible. Most of them were cold and hard - certainly does not taste fresh at all. They were definitely not a delight to eat.

Other than pastries, the Dessert Station also offer a handful of flavored ice cream.  We were free to pick and mix the flavors we would like to have at the Station.

We can add delight and a creative touch to our ice cream with a variety of toppings.

Salad Station

The Salad Station includes various selection of raw greens, sliced cucumbers, capsicum and salad dressings.

In addition to that. the Salad Station also offers a variety of Ulam, or traditional Malay style salads - tossed with seafood like mussels and shrimps. But unfortunately, I am not a fan of Malay Ulam.

Cold Seafood Station

Comparing to many other hotel buffets that I have been to, Makan Kitchen offers very limited selections of cold seafood, There was also a mini sushi bar offering one or two choices of sushi, which unfortunately. does not look too appealing at all.

Malay Kitchen

The Malay kitchen dominates the main dining area. We were seated at a corner in the main dining area, but were allowed to move freely among the other areas. All the kitchens feature live cooking stations where food are freshly prepared. As we walked pass, it is not hard to see a team of chefs busily preparing the food in the respective kitchens, which really made me wonder why most of dishes are still served cold.

The Malay Kitchen does not offer too not much selections to choose from. I could find much to eat in this section. Most of the chicken and seafood dishes served offered at Malay Kitchen were cold, dry and hard to eat.

Noodles Station

The Malay Kitchen includes a noodle station where we get order our choice of noodles and soups.

We also get to choose the various ingredients (fishcake, fish balls, bean sprouts) to be added to the noodle soup.

Satay Station

Makan Kitchen has a Satay Station offering both chicken and beef satay, freshly grilled at a live cooking station. The Satay Station is very popular and all the satay are being snatched up fast once grilled. We immediately took several sticks to try the very moment that it was served.

The meat were very well-marinated and delightfully fragrant. Grilled to perfection, the meat were not over-burnt and too dry or greasy to eat. Satay is usually served with a creamy peanut sauce, onions, cucumbers and Ketupat (Malay rice cakes). The peanut sauce was wonderfully thick and aromatic, though quite oily.

The Indian Kitchen was undoubtedly my favorite because almost every food items we ate was tasty and hot.

Basically, you will get a choice of a few (or more) curries, crunchy papadum crackers, tandoori chicken,  roti canai and naan bread.

Although the variety was not not huge, most of the food items were delicious. I especially love the curry chicken and naan bread. Very well-cooked and nicely flavored. All in all, the Indian Kitchen offered fairly good quality food and a good variety.

Bread Station

There was a small Bread Station offering a very limited selections of breads and salads. Apparently, the breads were the only western fare offered at Makan Kitchen.

Chinese Kitchen 

The Chinese Kitchen is separated off from the main dining area, and initially we thought that it was a separate restaurant because it features its own seating areas.

I actually expected that the Chinese Kitchen will offer better quality food than the other kitchens, but disappointingly, it was not.

Just like the other kitchens, the Chinese Kitchen also offers very limited selections of food items for us to choose from, and most of it were pretty bland in taste.

But the separate seating area is just perfect for those who prefer extra privacy.

The Chinese Kitchen offers some of the famous Cantonese roasted meat dishes like roasted chicken, duck and chicken Char Siu. If you are wondering why the restaurant serve chicken Char Siu instead of pork, it is purely because Makan Kitchen is a Halal certified restaurant, and thus, do not serve any pork.  Of course, I prefer pork Char Siu more than the chicken ones. The chicken Char Siu is just taste weird to me.

The chicken, duck and Char Sius have been sliced to smaller pieces to be enjoyed, while several others were hang in the display windows until it is time for refiling. Under the incandescent lighting, the meat look really nice and delicious but unfortunately they were not. The taste of the meat were particularly bland and uninteresting.

For desserts, the Chinese Kitchen offers deep-fried sesame balls with Lotus paste filling, seafood rolls, crab meat and scallop soup and carrot soup. There was also a small selection of dim sums, but
nothing was particularly exceptional.

The Chinese Kitchen also offers local home-cooked wok-fried dishes, but none of it was super amazing. Yes, I can be  quite picky when it comes to Chinese food.

I always try to "Eat my money worth at an all-you-can-eat" buffet. But unfortunately that was not the case at Makan Kitchen. I did not eat much that night. It was not because that I felt full, but rather because I did not have the appetite to eat. The food were generally not appealing or tasty. I tried to sample a little of each dish, but nothing impressed me. Well, at least the satay and Indian food were good.

I actually like the concept of the buffet, but sadly, the quality of the food was not up to standard. Hopefully, Makan Kitchen can improve on that. It is lucky that we had the dinner buffet for free because it is really not worth the price. I will certainly not pay RM 125 to enjoy cold and stale food. There are much better food available down the streets for a third of the price.

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1 comment:

  1. good read. thanks for the heads up!