Reach for the Skies

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Climb the last of the 65 steps and an astounding view takes your breath away. A panorama of limestone hills, geothermal hot springs lake and azure blue skies to eternity greeted me as the waiter brought me this fluffy concoction of a cocktail with the name of “Under the Roof” a Cointreau, Hendricks gin and cranberry juice topped with a ‘roof’ of candy floss, where a machine to make this awaits.

As does a popcorn machine, popping out caramelised popcorn in individual cups still warm to the touch. And served on a toy circus carousel. Such a delightful novelty.

When “Roof” cocktail has been downed to the last drop and the candy floss devoured in a snap and a bite, check out the Dr. Fish cocktail of DonJulio Tequila, Havana Club 7yrs. Rum and blue Curaçao. A cute reminder of the garufa fish in one of the ponds where they reside, ready to nibble off all the dead skin from your feet and body. (An aside: apparently in places like Turkey, there are pools where people with skin problems like eczema and psoriasis go to be “Nibbled” and are cured).

But I was not there to spa but to indulge. And indulge I did.

With GM Alex Castaldi, raconteur par excellence, as host, I could only have a wonderful time as we sat and chatted over nibbles with the sky palette gradually morphing from azure to orange to violet and finally into the indigo blue-black of night, nibbling at delicate morsels of canapes, exquisitely presented.

Prawn Lollipop (love all the childhood evocative items and names), beer battered Tiger prawns on sticks, with dipping sauce of Harissa mayo, were crisp on the outside and fresh and firm on the inside; RM125.

This was followed by the assorted sea salt Macaroons, four luscious bonbon(s) each with its own filling from foie gras mousse with porto confit onions puree; apricot jam; caramelized kaya and truffle honey; RM180.

The pièce de résistance appeared as the Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef Kushiyaki. Glazed with unagi sauce and grilled on charcoal, it was served on its own Hibachi or Japanese charcoal grill. At RM350 for 4 sticks it is a bit on the pricey side but worth every bite. Well marbled, juicy and tender, infused with the fragrance of leeks grilled alongside the beef chunks. Rapture on a stick.

For those who wish to blow the budget, there is always their Kaviari French Caviar with the Oscietre Prestige at 30g RM800; Sevruga 30g RM1000; Kristal 30g RM1200 and Beluga Imperial 30g RM1600.

I certainly felt like I had my dinner after all those snacks and as I bade farewell to Alex, I noticed the special Whisky bar on the way down where many a vintage malt was beckoning. Another time Alex . . .

Sky Bar @ The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
1 Persiaran Lagun Sunway 3
31150 Ipoh, Perak.