The evening’s drinks were handled by Bartek Halemba, the talented bartender from Aliyaa’s sister restaurant The Sticky Wicket, who ensured that each arrival received the perfect drink to fuel the pre-dinner conversation. Datin Merina Lough, Datin Catherine Lai Lee and Datin Suraya Falak
They mingled in the subtle atmosphere of Aliyaa, taking in the large frames of captivating scenes photographed by its owner, Abbi Kanthasamy, during his many travels around the world. His astonishing portraits of African giraffes, lions and rhinoceroses, hanging next to the main dining table, were particularly eye-catching. Datin Seri Jeanette, Sofia Rahman, Tunk Shahabuddin and Saheran Suhendran
Chairman of Strateq Sdn Bhd Tunku Datuk Seri Shahabuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, his wife Datin Seri Jeanette Shahabuddin, Cardiologist at Pantai Hospital Tan Sri Dr Ridzwan Bakar, his wife Puan Sri Siti, Managing Director of FAL Group Shamsul Falak bin Tan Sri Kadir, his wife and Managing Director of FAL Management Resources Datin Suraya Falak, Founder of Mobipromo Johannes Lind, General Manager of Tradewinds Premium Goods Sdn Bhd Sofia Rahman and Consultant at Chua Agencies Saheran Suhendran were among the dignitaries in the dining group for the evening. Johannes Lind, Effi Shafinaz, Bill Lewis, Dato’ Nick Lough, Datin Suraya Falak, Dato’ Shamsul Falak and Datin Merina Lough Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bakar and Dato’ Nick Lough Eileen Tong and Jie Ling
When the crowd settled in, Dato’ Steve Day called for everyone to be take their place at the table in anticipation of the first delight from Chef Sivaraja Suppaiya exclusive, reinvigorated Festival menu; the four appetisers, called Sundal, Isso Papadum, Upma and Kiribath. The very interesting – and toothsome – appetisers
These, Abbi told the intrigued guests from his seat, were creative representations of classic Sri Lankan street food and snacks, as he described the intricacies of each one. The flavourful soup, which raised the expectations for subsequent dishes
Next up from Aliyaa’s kitchen was Milagu Thanni, a traditional black pepper soup containing mixed vegetables and served with oven-baked roast pan bread. Although it may seem like a modest package, it was bursting with flavour and received many a wow from those at the table. There was a reason for the scaled-down servings – the portions thus far were intentionally light because the mains following them were quite filling, explained Sangeethan Sivaganam, General Manager of Cinnamon Group, the parent company of Aliyaa. The many components of the Village Rice Set amount to a delectable marriage of tastes
As the diners put down their cup of soup, Chef Sivaraja, who has been with the restaurant since it opened, sent out the first half of the mains – the Traditional Village Rice Set, which comprised either rice or string hoppers accompanied by a selection of archetypical Sri Lankan curries. This set had no trouble winning over the group, who went in for second and third helpings. The irresistible Amma’s Crab was a tremendous hit
What many considered the star of the night, the second main, came out to the awe of the Festival gathering. Amma’s Crab, essentially Sri Lankan crab cooked using a generations-old recipe, certainly made an impression with everyone. They loved everything about it, from the appearance to the taste. Out came the phones to snap the dish in all its glory, and the bibs and crab claw crackers when everyone was ready to dig in. The guests enjoying the much-lauded main dishes
The mix of spices used in the curry thrilled the palate, and the general consensus was overwhelmingly positive. The ever-popular Aliyaa appam, available in savoury and sweet varieties
To bring the heat level down after the spicy mains, Aliyaa offered up its other signature dish, the famous appam and a new dessert, a charming Sri Lankan sago pudding served in a coconut shell. A new Aliyaa dessert option, the sago pudding was served in a lovely coconut ‘bowl’
The former, available in sweet and savoury forms, was cooked in front of the diners at a live station, allowing all to see exactly how it was created. Dato’ Dr Ridzwan delivering his wrap-up speech
Rounding up the dinner, Dato’ Steve thanked Aliyaa’s staff for the fabulous evening, and passed the microphone to Tan Sri Dr Ridzwan to say a few words on behalf of the guests. After expressing his happiness that MIGF is transpiring once again, he said, “Aliyaa has grown from strength to strength, and as the ladies and gentlemen here have experienced tonight, the food has remained consistently excellent.” Dato’ Steve posing with the incredible team at Aliyaa, whose kitchen is led by the gifted Chef Sivaraja (fourth from left)
The Full Festival Menu at Aliyaa Island Restaurant & Bar costs RM128+ per person without wines and RM198+ per person with wines. Click here to read more about the restaurant, Festival menu, and Chef Sivaraja.
For more pictures, click here.
Sponsored by Vision KL, Festival Publicity Dinners help create and sustain the MIGF buzz throughout the Festival month. These dinners provide an excellent way for the organisers to individually recognise the professionals in each Festival Restaurant and to thank everyone involved, from the restaurant managers and service teams, to the Master Chefs and their kitchen staff.