Friday, December 31, 2010

1MB Travels: Sabah, Malaysia: Ferdinand's at The Magellan Sutera Harbour - Resort Dining

While waiting for the countdown to 2011...thought I'd get one last post in before the official end of the year.  Should probably cover our Christmas dinner at Ferdinand's in Sabah, while on family vacation, before too much time has passed!

Ferdinand's is a world class restaurant  (listed as one of the best restaurants in Malaysia by the local Tatler magazine) serving up Italian fare in the only fine dining venue in The Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort, and the care they took with their holiday dinner really showed.  The tables were gorgeous, with a sparkling gold mesh over their linens, celebratory items at each seat including an elaborate, sparkling gold mask and beautifully packaged noisemakers and 'champagne bottle confetti'  (ok so these are more appropriate to New Year's Eve, but they were gorgeous nonetheless) and gold pillar candle casting a soft glow over the whole setup.  The windows overlook the South China Sea, and the pool, lit up to a beautiful blue at night, as well as the lovely candle-lit tables on the patio of Al Fresco.  In other words, fantastic ambience inside and out.

We were immediately greeted with a basket of warm rolls and breadsticks once we were seated, along with a plate consisting of a trio of butters (loved the tomato butter, along with the herb and unsalted), eggplant tapenade topped with shredded cheese, and olives.

In a celebratory mood - my dad wanted to order champagne, but all were offered by the bottle - and since none of us were big drinkers (nor interested in getting sloshed with family!) we ended up with some prosecco, the only sparkly we could order by the glass.

As for food, it was a four-course prix fixe menu with two options for entrees - all courses were amazing and completely exceeded expectations. 

Our starter 'Antipasti Nataliza' was Wild Mushroom Terrine flavoured with Truffle, and a Tomato Mousse and Buffalo Mozzarella.  We appreciated that the plating, like the table settings, exhibited skill and care in presentation - though the mozzarella was a little too watery and my 'tower' toppled over on its own before I could get to it.  I did enjoy the terrine with its fragrant truffle flavors.

Next up was a 'Zuppa della Vigilia' - Chestnut soup with Pumpkin Ravioli and Cappuccino Foam.  I thought this was a great, inspired way to incorporate a holiday staple - chestnuts - into the menu.  The soup was creamy and especially soothing on that rainy night.

Before our entrees, Sorbetto - Lime Sherbet - arrived for us to cleanse our palates, served in an adorable little ceraminc dish.
As seafood lovers, for our entree both my mom and I ordered the 'Pesce del Nord' - Mediterrenean crusted Cod on creamy Zucchini Saffron Risotto, Pumpkin Puree and White Wine Beurre Blanc.  The fish was incredibly fresh (as a matter of course, we were in Sabah!) and well balanced with the creamy risotto and crunchy veggies on the plate.

My dad had the 'Taccino di Natale' - Stuffed Turkey Leg and Breast on Barley Pearl, Fondue Potatoes and Baby Vegetable.  We thought this was a creative way to serve up another holiday staple, at least visually - and my dad enjoyed the dish, noting that the turkey was perfectly juicy and well-flavored.
As for dessert - we had 'Strudel di Mele' - Warm Apple and Fig Strudel served with Vanilla Sauce and Coulis, which arrived at just the right temperature to release the well-balanced sweet/tart fruit flavors, with the pastry shell at perfect thickness and flakiness.

After the great meal, the staff lined up at the door on our way out to give us a personal thank you (way to make us feel like VIPs - thanks Ferdinand's!) and to give us a little parting / holiday gift - we each got a small box filled with chocolate / prune themed treats (not sure what the connection was of prunes with Sabah, but the treats looked tasty)!  There was a chocolate macaron (made the Parisian way, with a crispy shell and light, airy but tender interior - no coconut) filled with a prune flavored cream, a sugared prune 'sandwich' with prune filling, and a seashell-shaped chocolate cookie and prune filling and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios on top as if to represent sand on the shell.  A sweet reminder of the great experience we had at the restaurant!

Overall, loved Ferdinand's and would definitely return next time we stay at the Sutera Harbour.  It was an insane deal for fine dining at Christmas, at a total of RM556 for three people including 3 glasses of Prosecco! (Translates to approximately $1300 HKD or under $170 USD TOTAL!!!) Though in Sabah, you would ideally want to taste local flavors and specialty dishes (see my post on Ocean Seafood Village and other local eats / adventures) Ferdinand's is a great choice for those who want to stay within the resort hotel, or just want a fine dining option with western offerings on special occasions like Christmas (as my parents did that particular night).

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%


Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
The Magellan Sutera Harbour Hotel
Level 2, 1 Sutera Harbour Boulevard, Kota Kinabalu, 88100 Sabah, Malaysia
Ph: (6088) 318 888



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