The hunger that was tormenting me was starting to burn a hole in my tummy, but I was sure I won’t be having a meal any time soon. My travel buddy and I stared at the menu for more than five minutes, deciding on what to have for dinner. We arrived at the restaurant to try their steamboat feast, but the Western dishes on the menu were making the task difficult.
“Not ready?” asked the waitress whose impatience leaked despite a very polite facade.
“Not yet,” I answered. “Give us five more minutes.” And with that, the waitress rushed to the next table. She’s the only server on duty at the time.
After a while, she returned and stood by the table as she waited. We still could not pick.
“Still not ready?” she said.
I looked at my travel buddy and asked, “Have you made up your mind? Are we going to try their steamboat tonight?”
“I don’t know,” my buddy replied. “Sige, wag na lang.”
“Ay sus, Tagalog!” the waitress interrupted and flashed a big smile. “Pinoy pala kayo!”
“Opo, ate,” I responded. “Di kami makapili. Ano po bang pinaka-okay?”
She gave us a rundown of their bestsellers, narrowing down our options, and we had made our choice in a few seconds. Her name is Irene, and she’s one of the only 11 OFWs in Cameron Highlands.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Much ado about nothing
Rosette Cafe is part of a long restaurant lane along the main road of Tanah Rata town center. But Rosette stands out. Thanks to its cozy layout and the dim lights that created a classier ambiance. What took us so long to decide what to have for dinner? We wanted so many things. My travel buddy and I had agreed on trying steamboat while we were planning our Cameron Highlands itinerary. The problem was, a hot pot of steamboat is good for six people (possibly even more). We were a party of two and we were afraid that if we ordered that big a meal and we disliked the soup, then it would be a big waste of food and money. Besides, it was already our fifth night in Malaysia and we were just getting tired of Southeast Asian food. When we spotted the more western set meals, it messed up the plan.
A Western Night
On our first night, we ended up having a Black Pepper Steak set meal (RM17.90) and a Fried Chicken set meal (RM15.90) just so we could indulge our sinful side. Yet, I still could not turn my back on my love for Asian cuisine, adding a plate of Fried Kuay Teow with venison. We also ordered a regular bowl of Tom Yum just so we could try the soup and decide whether their steamboat would be worth it. You see, we planned on having tom yum as the base of our steamboat hotpot and we thought we would give it a taste first before trying the bigger bowl another day.
The black pepper steak was cooked perfectly. The beef was tender and tasty, with no nasty smell or aftertaste. The serving was just right: neither too small nor too big for the price. The chicken, however, excited me at first, for it looked humongous. But one stab with a knife and it reeked of disappointment. The breading was too thick and the actual chicken meat was underwhelming in terms of size. It was cooked as excellently as the beef, though. Both meats were topped with rich pepper sauce, which was too salty for my taste. Nonetheless, it was tolerable and its peppery properties saved it from ruining the dishes.
Included in both set meals are a small bowl of mushroom soup, a scoop of mashed potatoes, a serving of coleslaw, and a glass of lemon iced tea. All of these tasted spectacularly ordinary.
I only ordered Fried Kuay Teow with venison for its, well, venison. I wanted to try deer meat but I was scared that I would not like it so I just picked a dish with bits of it just so I could treat my tongue to a deer treat for the first time. It was really good. I don’t know how it was supposed to taste but I liked it.
As for the tom yum, it was probably the best we tried in Malaysia thus far. It sealed the deal for us: we would return the next night to finally give ourselves a gastronomic ride on the most sought after culinary delight in Cameron Highlands — the steamboat!
The Steamboat Hotpot
There were no apprehensions the next evening. We sat at a table at Rosette’s and, without a glance at their menu, ordered a Steamboat Hotpot. Ate Irene asked us to choose two from their three soup options — tom yum, laksa, and chicken soup. We picked the first two. I’m not really a fan of laksa but we thought it would be nice to try it, too.
Ate Irene first brought out a yellow single stove, set it on our table, and placed a partitioned casserole on it. Just looking at the soup, there was no doubt that finishing it was impossible at one sitting. She then served platefuls of fresh herbs, mushrooms, and vegetables, and uncooked seafood, chicken, and tofu. We added the ingredients to the soup one by one and waited until it boiled, occasionally trying what we pseudo-cooked for dinner.
When it was ready, we had cups after cups of tom yum. As expected, I didn’t love laksa as much. The rich tom yum soup had a fantastic blend of sour and spicy, allowing us to enjoy that chilly night even more. The ingredients were all fresh and did not have any nasty aftertaste. We spent almost two hours at the restaurant, forcing ourselves to finish everything. We devoured all solid ingredients but half of the soup was left when we decided to call it a night.
Overall, Rosette is really commendable — the service to the ambiance to the food. We tried what other restaurants in Tanah Rata had to offer for lunch but Rosette was really in a different league.