Christmas is fast approaching and thankfully, the festive menus are starting to appear in our favourite eateries. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Oasis Restaurant at thistle Hotel in Johor Bahru is doing things a little differently this year, with a “pre-Christmas” Menu that I just had to try. Sitting down in the Oasis restaurant is a pleasure in itself. Its al fresco setting overlooking the pool area and manicured gardens, soft lighting, and the complement of The Strollers, a four-piece band whose repertoire is quite astonishing, all create a relaxing dinner ambiance.
Chef Imran Bin Hamid said that he “always had a passion to pick up traditional dishes; ones that didn’t need any improvisation, just an appreciation and respect for the classics.” The Oasis menu is “back to basics” in many ways, but everything is prepared with flair and finesse.
The first dish was the Prawn Cocktail, with the traditional Marie Rose sauce. Garnished with crisp salad the peeled prawns were delightful and the accompanying soft roll had its own surprise with a basil, parmesan, and olive oil dip. That delightful start was followed by the Roast Honey Pumpkin and Red Pepper Soup with a dash of cream. What made this so special was how the bowl was perfectly filled with the soup in two halves, which blended the flavours seamlessly as I ran the spoon through it – simply delicious!
It was then that the Australian Rib Eye was served with seasonal vegetables, château potatoes, and a light serving of gravy from the meat’s own juices. Like a knife through butter, the tender steak melted in my mouth and was, quite easily, the best steak I have had in my eight years in Malaysia – seasoned and cooked to absolute medium-rare perfection.
How this would be followed I wasn’t sure, but the Grilled Salmon Fillet served with buttery hollandaise sauce, parsley new potatoes, and seasonal vegetables was ideal. A simple dish, but full of flavour and culinary finesse, the salmon was delightful. Next up was Chef Imran’s signature dish, a three-mushroom risotto, featuring Trumpet, Portobello, and Button mushrooms. It is a dish of such calibre, it entices customers to cross the border from Singapore just to sample its flavours.
I had consumed enough, but when the dessert arrived there was definitely room for more. We tucked into a wonderful Christmas Pudding with cream and brandy (if required), a festive mince pie served with chocolate and blueberries, a light and tasty crème brûlée, and the mother of all desserts – the heart-warming classic of treacle sponge pudding with an irresistible caramel sauce. It was a wonderful end to a beautiful meal that brought back memories of a traditional Christmas family meal.
The set menu is available from 1-23 December with more Christmas deals happening over the festive period. While you’re there, why not make a night of it and stay at the lovely Thistle Hotel as well? You won’t be disappointed… and did I mention how good the steak was? By Nick Atkinson
Source: The Expat December 2013
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