Monday, August 31, 2009

Berbuka + Merdeka @ Jumeirah Beach Hotel

for our national day celebration in dubai, we were invited by the dubai business council for iftar plus merdeka do at one of dubai's famous landmark, the wave-shaped building that's nearest to the 7 star burj al-arab hotel in the world - the jumeirah beach hotel.

it's one of the pioneer hotels in dubai, being the 9th tallest building when it was first built in 1997 - at present it did not even make it to the top 100 tallest buildings in dubai what with the speedy sky-scraping development done all over for the past 10 years. yet, jumeirah beach hotel remain an icon in this tanah arab.

the lobby

we dined at 'diwan al-khayal', a hut-like one-storey wooden building that is separated from the hotel but offers the fantastic view of the burj al-arab. punya la malehnya pak-pak arab kot, there's a buggy service that takes you from the hotel's main building to the 'diwan'.

ala, jalan kaki je lah! bukan jauh sangat...

as we brought a stroller along, we had to pick seats at the far back for easy access. you see the seats were combined with one another in a long line like a canteen table, which makes it difficult for someone to squeeze his or her way if they're sitting in the middle lane, and impossible for one with a stroller. i don't know whether the seats were arranged like that because there were too many of us, (thus the need to accomodate more tables) or because that's just the way it is which sucks.

but sitting at the back has its merits - we're the nearest to the burj and everytime i turned to khaleef to check on his eating (and table manners - or lack of!) i would see the burj al-arab changing colors in the dark of night. gorgeous!

the burj al-arab in the evening (at the top), near senja (below it) and at night with the colors yellow and then purple

the food? i honestly didn't expect to be greeted with malaysian dish all over! i really thought it'd be nasi arab, and roti arab, humus and segala macam makanan arab lah!

when i saw satay i was already jiggly! then i saw asam laksa stall beside it. wah! walking further up, a nasi lemak stall and the best was a stall with freshly made roti canai and murtabak - made there and then! awesome!

i quickly grabbed a bowl of laksa first, followed by berkeping-keping roti canai (as i had a bad experience back in malaysia with MUHSIN restaurant yang kata roti canai fresh baru buat tapi bawak balik tengok roti keras and nampak sangat dia panaskan je!) anyways, that's the last that i'd mention that coz i got my yummy roti canai already!

mr. khairul started with two helpings of bubur lambuk as he said it was really one of the best he'd tasted. me not a fan but i tried a few spoonfuls from his bowl. not bad!

khaleef had nasi lemak and roti canai. i made him eat the savoury ones first before telling him there's actually a kid's counter with bananas in pajamas plastic plate, and sugar-glazed doughnuts, cookies, muffins and ice-cream served on knee-high tables!

i dunno bout you, but i love looking at how the buffet is arranged - the special plates, pots and pans that they used, the decor, the placing of food, the unique looking bowl they put dips and sauce in - and in this particular buffet i found the chicken and fish curry placed in woks on stoves! cute!

my, my. no wonder the malaysian dishes were scrumptious - just like home - it's made by our very own team of malaysian chefs! patut la roti canai sebijik macam kat mamak, roti canai macam makcik pagi-pagi kat giant and ayam percik macam kat pasar malam rapat setia! it was fun meeting the very friendly malaysian chefs. tetap dapat lepas rindu merasa makanan malaysia walaupun baru seminggu lepas ade di sana!

after a hefty buffet meal, the malaysians took time to socialize, mingle, renew ties and make new ones. hardly anyone was sitting down unless they're still eating (or have two boisterous boys to take care of!) - most were standing around catching up and chatting amongst themselves.

i met the new trade commisioner for matrade who is a nice, friendly man with years of experience on his back.

at the back of the hall, a poster was ready on a stand that proudly say - 'national day celebration 2009' with the jalur gemilang on it. as the night drew near to the end, the chefs brought out a cake! a fantastic looking chocolate cake with bushy hibiscus (our national flower, bunga raya) and our jalur gemilang in sugary-glossy finishing!

our malaysia ambassador to the united arab emirates, dato' yahya and wife, datin saerah were asked to officiate the ceremony by cutting the merdeka cake.

before that, our consul general, tuan syed and wife madam sarah joined them in the singing of our national anthem 'negaraku'. it was a goose-bumpin moment when the crowd gathered around the cake, standing up, ready to sing. when we first started, khaleef instantly started singing too.

but he sang 'happy birthday' instead!

and of course, after dato' yahya made the first cut in the cake, some took turns to take pictures with the lovely merdeka cake before the chefs cut it out into pieces for the guests. of course we had to join in!

everyone was too full for the cake, or too busy chatting. so the chefs prepared a few containers, cut up the cakes and placed them inside for guests to take home.

the only person - only person who ate the cake there and then at the hotel, even before the chefs finished cutting up the cake - was khaleef.

"uncle, cake please?" and one chef became his personal maitre de! cuting a cake specially for him, take a plate for him, bring him a fork - and upon seeing his difficulty in using a fork - had actually gone away into the kitchen looking for a smaller tea-spoon in exchange for the fork. and when khaleef insisted on sitting at the high chair at the bar, the chef carried him up, making sure he's all comfy before leaving him to munch his choc merdeka cake. all for tuan khaleef. haha!

then it was time go home. we saw this adorable fat cat right outside the makan hall. actually susah tau nak nampak kucing liar kat tanah arab ni!

..and of course, the night would not be complete without a family potrait against the majestic sight of burj al-arab. nampaknya ini macam shot menarik untuk hantar kat salam perantau. amacam? hihi.

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