For all of the times we’ve been through KL the Sheraton Imperial is a place we’ve stayed at only twice. It’s conveniently located close to the monorail, Asian Heritage Row and the breakfast buffet is one of the best I’ve experienced. Seeing we had Mr K’s mum with us it was easier to stay in the air-conditioned confines of the hotel building rather than drag the poor woman out through the sweaty streets in search of a place to have lunch. Plus there’s free internet downstairs in the lobby, if you’re lucky enough to nab one of the pc’s.
It seems there’s been a bit of a face-lift at the restaurant since our last visit. What used to be a depressingly dated fitout that looked way older than when it was built in the late 90’s, the new outfit is all light and airy with warm colours and contemporary furniture and crescent booths. What a transformation!
As any experienced buffet diner would know you always begin by wandering around the food territories, sussing out what there is, where it is and where to go first. The sprawling islands of options seem endless: there’s the main counter displaying a multitude of Malaysian and Western dishes, a chef flaming up satay sticks over coals, there’s a salad bar with a decent choice of seafood goodies, another island devoted to freshly extracted fruit & veg juices, the impressive spiral dessert bar and tucked away down a couple of steps is the noodle and dim sum section where I began my journey.
I side-stepped the choose-your-own noodles with requisite condiments and made a beeline for the massive steamer sheltering a bunch of small steamers. What was inside? Who cares, they’re dumplings! After grabbing a few of the steamers as well as a dish of chilli, lime and fish sauce I sat and enjoyed every one of them, especially the mushroom & seafood ones. Throughout the meal, I must admit, I did go back for seconds and thirds.
Satay is the next contender and it was at this point that I whipped out the camera and asked the chef if I could take a photo of them cooking over the coals. He loved it and even said “You want to see flame?” at which he brought out the basting brush and created a small satay inferno. The floor manager wasn’t too happy with me weilding the camera around the food displays and asked me to stop taking photo’s. Come on, I’m a tourist on holidays!
The satay here is just as good as the stuff in the street markets and comes with all the sides including ketupat, compressed rice cakes cooked in woven palm leaves and lemang, glutinous rice & coconut milk cooked in bamboo lined with banana leaves. I couldn’t help but finish off my satay sticks by rolling them in the spicy serunding daging (meat floss) for extra grunt.
After trying the curious purple-coloured sushi roll (I thought it was beetroot but it didn’t taste of anything) I quickly turned to the seafood as the sushi was arid dry and uneventful. The unpeeled sweet and salty prawns are deliciously crispy and messy and the baby squid wasn’t worth going back for. Not bad, just ordinary. I’m not sure what the little discs of crispy something were but it could have been some form of cucur udang – prawn fritters. I did love the kerabu munga muda (papaya salad) with its no-holding-back-on-the-chilli kick.
Somehow I failed in getting photo’s of the curries and freshly made roti but take my word for it, they’re sensational.
Dessert time. The array of western and asian sweets covers all tastes from hot and sticky to crunchy and cold. Individual portions of un-named cakes that resemble tiramisu and chocolate walnut cake topped with cheesecake are delicious but I’m more interested in the local goodies. Beautifully laid out platters of onde onde – glutinous pandan balls rolled in coconut that burst with oozing palm sugar syrup. An absolute texture and flavour sensation. A mystery mochi I chose contained red bean paste and the orange ang ku (glutinous rice flour filled with green bean paste) weren’t favourites as I’m not that big on mochi. They just look so nice!
In amongst the dessert platters were these beautiful cut ‘cigars’ of sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf. The orange centre was clearly coconut and when I unwrapped the parcel and threw the entire thing in my mouth I was rudely hit by the sharpest slap of chilli. How could this be in the dessert section? This un-named torpedo happens to be pulot (or pulut) panggang – sticky rice filled with spicy coconut. I was expecting sweet coconut and was clearly mistaken. Not sure how they got in with the desserts. They were delicious but at this point I needed something to cool my mouth. Good old ice kacang. Here you can just point at the ingredient and it’s yours. Red beans, nuts, jelly, sweet corn kernels, all topped with shaved ice and sickly sweet sugar syrup. Love it! Ok, I think I’m full now.
Lunch buffet RM68 ($22.5)