Kuala Lumpur’s Mandarin Oriental Brings Its Malay Specialities To Bengaluru

Chef Nor Saiful Asrul Bin Saidin of Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur believes in keeping his food simple and yet loaded with Malay flavours.

Published On Oct 12, 2023 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


This is chef Nor Saiful Asrul Bin Saidin’s third trip to India, of which two, he says were before COVID. “But this is my first time in Bengaluru and I am really looking forward to this pop-up,” he adds. Speaking about the flavour profile he’s bringing to Bengaluru for the first time, he says: “My food focuses more on traditional delicacies of Malay cuisine. There is no drama, just pure flavour.” 

Saiful is one of the lead chefs at Mozaic at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, and will be presenting his culinary expertise at Wabi Sabi, The Oberoi Bengaluru. With over two decades of experience in the kitchen, Saiful has with him Muhammad Alif Farhan Bin Salihin—his Malay demi chef—and Faiz Fadhli Bin Abidin—the chef de partie—both from Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur.

The concise menu at the pop-up takes one through a plethora of flavours and textures, be it the Roti Jala (which pretty much translates to net bread) served with chicken curry or the more popular Malay satay.


Bengaluru is not a complete stranger to Malaysian food—rendang curry and satays are found in various avatars across the city. And it comes as no surprise either. Malay and Indian food share a lot of similarities, especially if you look at the diverse ingredients used in the southern regions of India. The use of coconut milk, generous doses of chilli when needed, spices such as cardamom and star anise are common to both cuisines. Some of the Indian influence in Malay food might be attributed to the invasion of modern-day Malaysia and Indonesia by Rajendra Chola I in 1025 CE, and of course to the immigration of South Indians to Malaysia during the British rule. 
However, Malaysian food has a distinct flavour profile and at this particular pop-up, Saiful chose to focus on food that is typically prepared during special occasions at homes, like weddings and festivals. “I have handpicked all the dishes for this special feature, but my top recommendations would be the lamb satay with our traditional peanut sauce, the young mango salad, the jumbo prawn curry with ginger flower rice, the lamb rendang with jala roti, and the aromatic fish with lady fingers,” he suggests.


The appetisers are a good introduction to the menu. The crunch of the Cucur Sayuran Kuah Kacang (crispy vegetable fritters, turnip, and peanut sauce), the softness of the Lempeng Kelapa Kari Sayuran (coconut pancake, vegetable curry), or the subtle bite of the Ikan Bakar Daun Pisang (grilled spiced fish, lemon leaf, banana leaf)—which can be quite hot if you get too greedy with the tamarind and chilli dip it comes with it—each of these dishes stick to not more than two or three core ingredients. They are almost delicate on the palate, making way for the more complex flavours that follow. The chef-recommended Kerabu Mangga Muda Berserai or the young mango salad is absolutely delicious, allowing you to  taste a giddy mixture of sweet and sour flavours.


There are a few soups to choose from as well in case the rains come and you need something to warm you up. The Lontong Sayur Lodeh (vegetable soup, rice cake, coconut milk) or the Sup Soto Ayam (chicken soup, rice cake, peanuts, potato dumplings) are two good options. But for us it was the temptation of the Udang Masak Lemak Nenas Madu, a beautiful coconut broth with prawns and pineapple that won. The spiciness of the broth contrasted the sweetness of the fruit perfectly, giving the fresh prawn a perfectly rounded flavour. Served with rice, this particular dish is an absolute treat. The Rendang Kambing Daun Kunyit or the slow cooked lamb—treated with palm sugar and grated coconut, and additionally flavoured with the subtle aroma of turmeric leaf—is power packed enough to silence any chaotic thoughts. Best eaten with rice–you can choose between steamed rice or even a fenugreek ghee rice–this classic dish is a must-try. There is a range of noodles you can try as well. The stir-fried vermicelli rice noodles with vegetables and chicken is a light and yet flavourful choice.

Another dish that we would definitely recommended is the Nasi Lemak Halba Rendang Kambing, where aromatic rice is served with coconut milk, anchovies, and lamb rendang. A wholesome flavour bomb, this could very well be a meal by itself. Don’t end the meal without some dessert, even if you don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. The Bubur Pulut Hitam, a black sticky rice porridge, is sweetened just enough and the glutinous black rice will make you love porridge all over again.

The pop-up is being held at Wabi Sabi—The Oberoi, Bengaluru—till October 15 and is available for lunch and dinner. Meal for two Rs 4,000 (plus taxes, without alcohol). For reservations, call +91/80255-85858.

Photo: The Oberoi, Bengaluru