Treasures of the Middle East

Treasures of the Middle East, The Resort Cafe

Eugenie Chan and Monica Tindall
Jordanian Chef Ala’a Habibi is joyful and jovial, and very experienced with more than 20 years of specialised Middle Eastern expertise. Absolutely dedicated to delivering top-notch quality and service, he is in the kitchen daily by 4am, catching a quick nap in the afternoon, and passionately labouring away again to deliver an amazing buffet spread in the evening.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Chef Ala’a Ali Ansawi
Previously the Chef De Cuisine at the Hyatt Regency, Dubai, Chef Ala’a knows what tickles Arabian taste buds and this knowledge attracts huge throngs of Middle Eastern tourists to enjoy all that Sunway has to offer, including a taste of home.
For us, this means we do not have to brave the dry heat of the desert, or a long plane ride to journey the culinary pleasures this continent has to offer. Every Friday and Saturday, feast from Syria to Lebanon to Egypt in the comfortable confines of The Resort Cafe at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa.
The Resort Cafe
Entering the enormous restaurant, we were visually impressed by the huge buffet spread, which if laid out in a vertical line, I wouldn’t be surprised if it measured the length of a full size Olympic pool. Interspersed with a healthy serving of Middle Eastern delights, were some Malaysian specialties and western favourites as well.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Salad Bar
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Whole Lamb Roast
But let’s concentrate on the Middle Eastern menu. For this special preview, we found small bites already delivered to our table, seducing us to get to the buffet: Tabbouleh (finely chopped parsley mixed with chopped tomato, burgh and marinated with olive oil and lemon), Hummus (chickpea blended with tahini and lemon), marinated vegetables and even Cypriot cheese enticed us and opened our appetites.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Cold Mezzeh
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
At the buffet area, amongst my favourite appetisers or Mezzeh, are the Turkish Warab Enab – marinated vine leaves stuffed with rice, tomato and parsley. All made in house, these were fantastic renditions of a traditional starter – soft leaves encasing the moist centre. In fact, the appetisers are one of our favourite sections with Moutabel, Babaganoush and Marinated Spiced Olives all worthy of repeat platings. Remember to inspect their hot Mezzeh dishes too, such as Falafel from Jordan, and Chicken Wings Motafa from Syria.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Stuffed Vine Leaves
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Expect to sample a rich assortment of Middle Eastern cuisine as Chef Ala’a has made a concerted effort to present authentic recipes from close to a dozen countries in the region. An example of one of the mains is Chef Ala’a’s very own recipe, which he is particularly proud of, Saudi Chicken Kabsa. Chicken is first sautéed then baked with a rich blend of spices before being placed atop a pile of soft fluffy basmati rice. Another must-try is the Emirati Seafood Salona, a mixture of tiger prawns, calamari, lobster and mussels stewed with spices and blended with a good dose of tomatoes. Other mains include: Whole Fish Harra, Chicken Musakhan, Mansaf Lamb and Lamb Leg with Freekeh. The flavours overall are earthy and rustic, with cloves, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, coriander and an assortment of nuts – cashew and almond – giving each dish a hearty finish.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Fish with Capsicum and Tomato Sauce
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Beef with Freekeh
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Chicken with Pinenuts
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Kuwaiti Prawns
Resort Cafe, Sunway Resort and Spa
Egyptian Stew
Of course Middle Eastern cuisine is never complete without the Iranian mixed grill items, which are cooked to perfection on skewers – marinated chicken, beef, shrimp, lamb chop and lamb tikka. Round the heat off with soothing Persian yoghurt and cucumber dip, which plays perfect companion to the charred flesh. Shawarma sliced hot off the spit and made fresh to order is another popular station.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Mixed Grill
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Last but not least, desserts were a real treat, with several types of Baklava (can’t go wrong with sugar syrup, layered dough and bountiful nuts), Saffron Mahalabiya, Aish Al Saraya and Basbousa – honestly, I can’t remember which is which – just put everything in your mouth – they’re all worth it, and you won’t care at the end what they’re named just as long as you can go back for seconds.
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
Middle Eastern Desserts
resort cafe, middle eastern food, sunway resort
End the meal with a choice of tea – Moroccan Mint Tea or Saffron Tea – both are a medium brew with a hint of chai like spice but extremely subtle. For a stronger ending, Khaleeji and Turkish coffee are fine chaperones to balance out the sweets.
The buffet dinner is priced at RM138 nett per adult or RM168 nett per adult with churrasco (grilled meat and seafood on skewers). While the buffet runs daily, the special churrasco is added on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30pm – 10:30pm. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all feature a dedicated section for Middle Eastern cuisine, and an extensive selection of these goodies are too available on the a la carte menu and for in-room dining.
Reasons to visit: a comprehensive offering of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, stuffed vine leaves, all of the cold mezzeh, a good bunch of interesting grains such as freekeh, and mouthwatering desserts.
The Resort Café
Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa
Persiaran Lagoon
Bandar Sunway
46150 Petaling Jaya
+603 7495 2009
+603 7492 8000


  1. Monica and Co
    All looks quite appealing.
    Certainly safer eating these Middle eastern delights in Selangor
    than in Beirut, Damascus or Cairo.
    I hope "junior" El Cordobes didn't extend his South American visit
    to Argentina – good God, he probably is racing on his steed across
    the Pampas at break neck speed.!!!
    El Colin Cordobes, the Middle one.

    • You're right, we're lucky sample authentic recipes right here in the safety of Malaysia.
      No expeditions further south for Junior, just the sunny Caribbean on this visit.

  2. Gorgeous, everything! Sure would love to try it all!

    • There's so much to try, but I'd I'm quite happy never moving past the mezzeh counter. I love all of those veggie based dips and salads.

  3. Roast lamb….and chicken….I am getting hungry! 🙂

  4. YUMMY….I adore middle eastern food, especially
    Lebanese food, amongst the tastiest and healthiest. But, not fan of their desserts extremely sweet for my taste.
    Have a lovely week!

  5. Chef Ala’a's recipes look as joyous and exuberant as he does! the produce looks fresh and hearty, and there's definitely an interesting air of exoticism in the food here that we don't see a lot in kl. freekeh! 😀

  6. Wow, what a feast!
    I actually quite like hummus, couscous, grilled vegetables etc
    But I am going to skip those stuff (maybe some tiny samples) and focus on the main meat section if I ever go there!
    RM138 only? Better deal than Marble 8. He he…

  7. The Chef works long hours…..but he must love his profession.
    The foot looks delightful.
    Nice to see gloves on the hands of the carver…

  8. That is quite a spread! There is a new restaurant (fairly new, at least to me) in San Antonio that serves to the tables with an array of servers with all sorts of meats, etc., and then a huge buffet. It was amazing. This is a really lovely spot.

  9. nice. seems like having quite a high rating and good reviews. i wonder i would try it when i am back.

    well, been eating too much middle eastern food over here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.