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By Balkish Awang
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The government’s decision to allow food and beverage (F&B) outlets to offer Ramadan buffets and operate up to 6 am during the fasting month is a relief to eateries and hotels that hope to recover some of the losses they suffered following the restrictions on movements imposed since March last year.
However, the concessions granted to food operators are subject to strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Ministry of Health as new COVID-19 case numbers have been rising lately.
Kumpulan Malakat chief executive director and founder of halal fine dining restaurant Casa De Madani Mohd Fadzil Hashim said the green light for Ramadan buffets will help to stimulate the F&B industry as business has been dull over the past one year or so.
“Last year, people were not allowed to break their fast outside in big groups. But this year they can and I see this as a positive sign for the industry. We hope people will take advantage of this (relaxation in dining out rules) as it will help to rev up the local economy,” he said, adding that restaurants were now fully dependent on local consumers as tourists are still not allowed into the country.
Mohd Fadzil, who was speaking to Bernama recently at a food-tasting session at Casa De Madani restaurant at Malakat Mall in Cyberjaya, also hoped that more corporate bodies would come forward to host needy groups such as orphans and tahfiz centre students at Ramadan buffets.
Kumpulan Malakat executive chef Mohd Shahrul Nizam Zulkifli said as part of its SOPs, Casa De Madani is implementing a semi-buffet concept whereby only the appetisers and desserts are served at the buffet counter while the main dishes are served to the diners at their tables.
Apart from that, both guests and restaurant staff would have their temperatures taken and to ensure social distancing, the tables are arranged two metres apart, with only four diners allowed per table.
“We also provide handwashing facilities and sanitiser to our diners… our premises are also disinfected in accordance with MOH guidelines,” he added.
On Monday (April 12), Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that all restaurants, stalls, eateries, including coffee houses in hotels, as well as fast-food outlets and food delivery services in states under the Conditional Movement Control Order and Recovery MCO can operate until 6 am during the month of Ramadan.
He also said that hotels and eateries will be allowed to hold buffets for breaking fast, with strict compliance with SOPs.
Meanwhile, Casa De Madani’s Ramadan buffet offers a variety of kampung delights to appease the palates of diners who are not able to return to their hometowns and villages due to the ban on interstate travel.
Its buffet spread has over 300 items, includes rendang tok, bubur lambuk wagyu, ayam percik, daging salai, daging bakar and an assortment of traditional Malay kuih-muih.
Malakat Food Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Abdul Aziz Juhari said the buffet menu is changed every week and that it features the culinary highlights of the various states of Malaysia.
“The kuih-muih that we serve are actually made by the makcik-makcik (aunties) who make and sell premium Malay kuih at bazaars. By buying from them, we are helping them to generate an income,” he said.
Besides the traditional Malay offerings, Casa De Madani’s buffet also has an array of international dishes such as Aussie braised lamb shank, smoked duck with purple mash, pan-seared wagyu MB5 with orange sweet potato, rack of lamb with purple carrots, lobster thermidor with duo spaghettini aglio olio, pan-seared wagyu MB7 with roast Japanese sweet potato and oven-baked aromatic Chilean codfish with mango chutney.
Another unique feature of Casa De Madani is its staff, many of whom had previously worked as stewards and stewardesses at various airlines such as VietJet Air, Qatar Airways, EgyptAir and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) before they were retrenched last year following the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide.
Former MAS head steward Rizal Pawanteh, who is now a waiter at the restaurant, said the ex-airline staff are all well-trained and know how to serve their customers well.
Translated by Rema Nambiar