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Category / Buffet

Whenever we think of vacations, we often think about sandy white sand, far-away foreign cities, beautiful old temples, or at a waterfall nested within a pristine jungle. Those are “traditional” and in a sense, more ideal vacations, but at the same time they also require a lot more planning, time, and often incur higher expenses.

Enter the recent trend of “staycation”, pick a nice hotel somewhere not far away and spend a couple nights enjoying the facilities, good food, while having someone else make sure everything is clean and tidy.

We spent an awesome 3 day 2 night stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur doing just that a couple weeks ago for a much welcomed de-stressing session. At the end of this post, you’ll find out how to win the same 3D2N de-stress getaway (for 3 winners.)

Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art
Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art

The decoration within Aloft KL is one that is pretty atypical. Lobby is a mixture of industrial presence dotted with quirky art works everywhere.

Right behind the check-in counter is a re:fuel counter that offers ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches, salads, drinks, coffee, instant noodles, and many other snacks. If you want to have a quick bite, this is a good one-stop center.

To the far right of the lobby, you’ll find the W XYZ bar that offers a selection of draught beer, cocktails, juices, and more. There’re also live bands performing at the area. Have a drink, shoot some pools, enjoy the music.

Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym
Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym

On the top floor there’s a more “serious” bar with a great view of the city.

At night, MAI Bar is lit up by colorful LED lights and offers a full range of drinks and great live performances as well as DJs spinning latest tunes. This is a place to go to shake your booty.

For those who loves to sweat, Re:Charge gymnasium is well-stock with modern equipment. While isn’t exactly big gym by any stretch of imagination, it is well sufficient.

infinity pool on the top floor
infinity pool on the top floor

Then there’s my favorite part of the hotel – the infinity pool on the top floor, right next to Mai Bar.

The pool is some 25-30 meters in length and sufficiently wide enough to accomodate some 8-10 swimmers at the same time if they’re all doing laps. Furthermore, opening my eyes underwater did not sting, I suspect that this is probably due to the fact that they might be using salt water treatment instead of the more traditional chlorine.

In either case, this is a great place to chill.

our room for the weekends at Aloft KL
our room for the weekends at Aloft KL

All guest rooms are equipped with comfortable platform beds, iron, ironing board, bathrobes, coffee maker, 42″ flat screen TV, a sofa, mini fridge, safe, oversized shower, and a workstation. I also particularly like the floor to ceiling windows that takes up the entire wall for an uninterrupted view of the city.

Since we have Haze’s siblings staying with us over one of the nights, we also got the hotel to provide us with extra beds that came in a form of cute little tent thing and a bed with cute bed sheet.

On top of every headboard is also a piece of quirky art work, another nice touch.

breakfast buffet spread at Nook
breakfast buffet spread at Nook

The big restaurant at Aloft KL is Nook, and this is where most foods are served.

Breakfast comes in the form of buffet with pretty decent spread (complimentary for room guests). There’s salad, cold cuts, juices, cereal, espresso coffee, and many local dishes. My favorite was the laksa Sarawak, which had the same soup base with the high end version that was offered during MIGF at Nook.

evening buffet spread at Nook
evening buffet spread at Nook

At night, the buffet spread at Nook gets an upgrade. There’s good selection of seafood such as mussels, prawns, smokes almon, and even scallops. There’s also roast chicken, delicious salted beef that is served with kimchi, salad, soup, cheese, desserts, and many other local and Western dishes.

Nook provides a good selection of ala-carte menu too
Nook provides a good selection of ala carte menu too

Apart from buffet, there is a pretty decent selection on the ala carte menu as well, though you might have to wait a little bit before the food is served.

There’s mushroom soup, steak, cod fish, sandwiches, spaghetti, yee mee with tiger prawns, and many more dishes. These were mostly pretty delicious, though our experience with the steak wasn’t as good as other choices.

kids at play, Aloft KL
kids at play, Aloft KL

Over all, it was a very nice and relaxing stay over at Aloft KL. This whole “staycation” thing is something I can get used to, and hopefully will be doing more.

the ultimate de-stress gataway

OK now here’s a few steps you can do to stand a chance to win a 3D2N stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur

  • like MyStarJob Facebook page www.facebook.com/MyStarJob
  • go to MyStarJob Facebook  app Ultimate De-stress Getaway Contest
  • take a photo of how you de-stress in the office
  • Fill in your details and upload your own Ultimate De-stress Photo in office
  • Share and get your friends and family to vote for your photo
  • Vote for your photo. Participants can vote once per photo per day

how do you de-stress at work?
how do you de-stress at work?

3 pictures with highest votes will win a 3-days-2-nights stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, so start doing it and hopefully you’ll be the one who wins this “staycation” package! Contest ends on 15th January 2014, be quick!

Adress:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 
5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, 
50470 Kuala Lumpur. 
Tel03-2723 1188
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Emailaloft.kualalumpur@alofthotels.com
Website: www.starwoodhotels.com/aloft
Facebookfb.com/AloftKualaLumpurSentral

Over the years, from business traveling, meeting with friends, and invited reviews, I’ve seen quite a few buffet spreads. Hence, for the most parts, buffet offerings don’t excite me very much.

Then again, the Bubblier Sparkalite 4Cs Sunday Brunch at Intercontinental KL’s Serena Brasserie isn’t just any buffet spread.

Serena Brasserie, at ground floor Intercontinental KL
Serena Brasserie, at ground floor Intercontinental KL

Heading the kitchen is executive chef Darrell O’Neill, originally from Australia and has since left a trail of presence across the globe in countries such as New Zealand, UK, France, Hong Kong, Dubai, India, Maldives, and now, Malaysia. During his time at restaurant Al Mahara t the Burj Al Arab Hotel Dubai, the restaurant was awarded Best Seafood Restaurant by Time Out Dubai.

this is what we came here for, the Alaskan King Crab
this is what we came here for, the Alaskan King Crab

The concept of the Sunday buffet brunch at Intercontinental KL centeres around 4Cs – Crustaceans, Carvery, Chocolate, and Candy.

Crustaceans is what excites us the most, there were Alaskan King Crab, slippery lobster, tiger prawns, and cray fish. Under this “C” also includes catch of the days such as fresh white fish, marinated tuna steaks, oysters, mussels, scallops, salmon, and more.

yeap, bubbly too, and a host of seafood ready to eat
yeap, bubbly too, and a host of seafood ready to eat

If you haven’t had a chance to sample king crab due to the price, this buffet offers one of the best values. The seafood were fresh, tasty, and most importantly, plentiful. I think I had close to 10 oysters, a departure from norm as I usually don’t get more than a couple, they tasted so good!

cold cuts and little appetizer in shot glasses
cold cuts and little appetizer in shot glasses

The next C stands for Carvery – which basically means cooked meat that are freshly sliced. Here you’ll find roasted whole ribs, prime ribs, roast chicken/duck, and more. Trimmings such as Yokshire pudding, roast vegetable, and baked potato accompany these dishes well.

roast chicken & duck, local delights, and prime ribs too
roast chicken & duck, local delights, and prime ribs too

For those who wants to sample some local delights, they are available too. A good selection of traditional Malay, Chinese, and Indian dishes are available for your picking.

BBQ meat & sausage, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon
BBQ meat & sausage, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon

They’ve also set up a BBQ area right outside the air-conditioned dine in section. Here you get freshly grilled lamb rack, chicken tandoori, sausage, baby chicken, satay, and even freshly smoked salmon and “DIY” burger stand with mini-Augus beef sliders and mini-chicken satay sliders.

fruits, a variety of cheese, desserts, and cakes
fruits, a variety of cheese, desserts, and cakes

The third C stands for Chocolate, and of course, that includes a host of other desserts as well. There are Australian lamingtons, chocolate fudge brownies and rocky road, mini Pavlovas, mini fruit trifles, banana and caramel sticky puddings, and more.

I can't get enough of the Alaskan King Crab and slipper lobsters
I can’t get enough of the Alaskan King Crab and slipper lobsters

Finally, last but not least is Candy. This actually refers to the Sparkalite Kid’s Corner, a section within the restaurant set up to keep kids busy learning the sweet art of making lamingtons and be entertained by the clown. This is a particularly great feature for parents with kids who actually want to have some food in peace.

with Umei, Josen, Haze, Evelyn, Dennis, and Damian
with Umei, Josen, Haze, Evelyn, Dennis, and Damian

The Sparkalite ’4Cs’ Sunday Brunch at Serena Brasserie is available every Sunday from noon to 3pm. Brunch is priced at RM 120++ per person, and if you want the free flow sparkling, white & red wine and beer, it’ll be RM 198++. Kids from 6-12 is charged RM 60++ per head.

For the spread that you get, I think the price is more than reasonable, now excuse me while I go get myself more King crabs.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Serena Brasserie
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com

A good restaurant to a resort is like a good sound system to a cinema. While not always the centrepiece of the overall experience, good in-house restaurants often enhance the overall experience during a stay.

For The Datai Langkawi, there are four different on-location restaurants within the confine of the luxury five class establishment – The Beach Club, Gulai House, The Dining Room, and The Thai Pavilion.

All four restaurants offer quality food, making travelling out of the resort for food unnecessary. This is especially important for The Datai since the location of the resort is quite far away from Kuah, Langkawi’s main town.

The Beach Club, by the second pool
The Beach Club, by the second pool and beach

Our first meal at The Datai was at The Beach Club, appropriately located by the beach and the second swimming pool. On foot it’s about a 10-15 minutes’ scenic walk from the main entrance of the hotel, free buggy service’s available as well.

The Beach Club is a strictly open air restaurant, with most tables and comfortable huge chairs under the roof, with some outside if you prefer a little bit of sun.

pizza, surf & turf, bruschetta with mozzarella, wat tan hor, ice cream
pizza, surf & turf, bruschetta with mozzarella, wat tan hor, ice cream

The menu comprises the best from East and West. The four of us shared the following dishes:

  • bruschetta topped with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and olives. 46
  • langkawi prawn, lemongrass, mushroom, corinader, chili, lime pizza. 65
  • surf & turf, black angus strip loin with tiger prawn, vegetable medley, barbeque sauce. 87
  • wat tan hor with king prawns and seafood (chef’s special)
  • stir fry chicken with thai basil. 56
  • home made ice cream. 14

The western affairs were well executed, with the thin crust pizza particularly delicious. Wat tan hor too were surprisingly tasty, benefiting from the fresh seafood in the list of ingredients.

The Dining Room serves lunch and dinner.

The Gulai House, premier restaurant of The Datai Langkawi
The Gulai House, premier restaurant of The Datai Langkawi

The premier restaurant at The Datai Langkawi is Gulai House.

Many luxury five star resorts in Malaysia have premier restaurants serving foreign cuisines such as French, Japanese, Cantonese, Italian, and so forth. So I was more than happy to see that Datai took the initiative to make Malaysia proud by serving something closer to home. A great way to introduce our local cuisine to many visitors from all around the world.

mango salad, sup ayam, soft shell crab, aloo gobi, grilled cuttle fish
mango salad, sup ayam, soft shell crab, aloo gobi, grilled cuttle fish

The Gulai House is located not far from the Beach Club and best accessed via a buggy. The restaurant has both indoor as well as alfresco dining area, the latter provides great ambiance only unless it’s rainy heavily or if it’s a particularly hot night. Gulai House is only open for dinner.

Our dinner was determined by the chef, a degustation affair if you like. Our menu was written on a piece of huge dried leaf picked from the forest, a unique approach to personalization and one that is tastefully done.

tiger prawns, grilled garupa, lobster, skewered boneless chicken, prata, kuih
tiger prawns, grilled garupa, lobster, skewered boneless chicken, prata, kuih

We had mango salad, sup ayam (chicken soup), deep fried soft shell crab, aloo gobi (cauliflower & potato with spices), grilled cuttle fish, grilled tiger prawns, grilled fish, skewered boneless chicken, prata bread, nasi briyani (rice), and even lobster that’s prepared with both grilling and frying techniques.

It was an absolute feast and we stuffed ourselves silly. Food was authentic with ingredients of quality, very hard to find any fault.

Prices is seasonal and depends on weight of ingredients. As with every facet of Datai, it is with a bit of a premium, but you do get what you pay for, including excellent service.

champagne breakfast at The Dining Room
champagne breakfast at The Dining Room

Breakfast is usually served at The Dining Room, located by the main swimming pool, just below the resort reception.

Much like most international breakfasts, the menu changes a little bit everyday, but with the core items such as juices, the egg station, fruit & salad bar and such always presence.

I enjoyed the cold cuts, smoked salmon, and noodle soup. Of course, there’s also the free flowing champagne to jump start your day, everyday! The dining room also serves lunch and dinner.

classic Thai cuisine at The Thai Pavilion
classic Thai cuisine at The Pavilion

During our second and final night at The Datai, we had dinner at The Pavilion, which was also the location where we learned to cook tomyam and drunken prawn dishes.

For dinner, we had crispy soft shell crab with Thai chili oil, green curry chicken, seasonal vegetable with oyster sauce, deep fried snapper with chili and soya sauce, and of course, tomyam prawns. It was a spicy, strong tasting, and very satisfying, like a good Thai dinner is supposed to be.

We also concluded the meal with mango on sticky rice.

The Pavilion is open for dinner only.

I miss this resort already, when we can return?

Address:
The Datai Langkawi
Jalan Datai, Teluk Datai, 
07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Tel:+60 4-959 2500
Webwww.dataihotels.com
FBThe Datai Langkawi
Reservationreservationsdatailangkawi@dataihotels.com

It’s two more weeks to Mid Autumn festival, a time where Chinese everywhere light up lantern, look at the fullest moon of the year, and gives each other mooncakes while attending those parties for the sake of their kids. Well, at least this is what traditional families in small towns do, in KL, maybe slightly less so.

Anyway, a week or so ago we went to Prince Hotel to sample their mooncakes for 2013 as well as some of their pork free dimsum. The mooncakes will be available now till 19th September, 2013.

Tai Zi Heen at Prince Hotel KL
Tai Zi Heen at Prince Hotel KL

Behind the Chinese restaurant at Prince Hotel KL, Tai Zi Heen is a chef who was trained both in traditional Chinese cuisine as well as Western cooking method. Thus, many of the dishes, including dimsum and mooncakes, are created with a bit of influence from the west.

While some might readily dismiss them as gimmicky or not “pure”, I always applaud chefs who dare to push the limit and create something out of the ordinary. After all, how would any cuisine improves if you only stick to what’s taught?

four types of steamed dimsum
four types of steamed dimsum 

We sampled four types of steamed dimsum.

My favorite being the purple spinach dumplings topped with Mexican clam, the taste of seafood and texture of those clam (something like in between lala & scallops) were really fantastic.

The prawn dumpling with crab meat and dried scallop as well as crystal yam dumpling with chicken and mushroom were both pretty good as well, with the latter come in a beautiful flowery shape.

The meatless choice of crystal vegetable and mushroom dumpling though, was a bit too bland for me, but perhaps those who are vegetarian would enjoy it more.

crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives, crispy salmon & cheese roulade
crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives,
crispy salmon & cheese roulade

I enjoyed the fried dimsum here more than their steamed counterparts. Crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives, as well as the crispy salmon & cheese roulade were all pretty creative and carry a taste that isn’t very typical of traditional fried dimsum, but in a good way.

I felt that ingredients such as cheese and salmon gave the dishes an extra edge and really went will the those soft crispy pastry.

shanghai dumpling with crab meat & broth, beef patties with leeks
shanghai dumpling with crab meat & broth, beef patties with leeks

The “xiao long bao” alternative here comes in a small bowl, and is definitely not “xiao” (small). Stuffed with crab meat and those sweet, savory broth, it was quite a treat.

The beef patties with leeks, mayo and teriyaki sauce seems like something out of a Japanese restaurant, and tasted as such as well. I was happy to have a bit of beef after the mostly fish and chicken dishes sampled above.

2013 mooncakes from Tai Zi Heen
2013 Tai Zi Heen mooncake collection

Then there’s the mooncakes, Tai Zi Heen’s mooncakes were all handmade in house, we sampled eight different varieties and just about the only problem I have is that they don’t have a version with double salted egg yolk! gahh.

Here are the flavors:

  • baked five variety of nuts, rum & raisin (with alcohol)
  • mini snow skin chocolate and whisky (with alcohol)
  • baked white lotus paste and single egg yolk
  • baked low-sugar white lotus paste with sunflower seeds
  • baked pandan paste with melon seeds
  • baked with red bean paste
  • mini snow skinw ith red bean paste
  • mini snow skin with pandan lotus paste and mung bean paste
  • baked premium durian lotus paste
  • mini snow skin with passion fruit cheese cake

Of all these flavors, I find the passion fruit cheese cake version to be most interesting and out of the ordinary. It tasted like a mix between really good sorbet and snowskin mooncake, in a good way. This is a must try if you’re adventurous. The traditional lotus paste with egg yolk version holds up with some of the bests I’ve tried as well.

KY, Kelly, Eunice, Dennis, Evelyn, Sarah
KY, Kelly, Eunice, Dennis, Evelyn, Sarah

A word of caution for Muslim friends, while the food is pork free, some of the mooncakes do come with small amount of alcohol; and as far as pork free dimsum goes, the dishes we sampled here were of pretty high standard and for sure, worthy of the dishes. I like the creativity and the different ingredients used as well.

For weekends and public holidays, they also run an ala carte buffet dimsum for RM 45++ which features 45 types of their best selling dimsum dishes.

map to Prince Hotel KL

Address:
Tai Zi Heen
Prince Hotel
No.4 Jalan Conlay,
50450 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
GPS: 3.15041, 101.71467
Tel 03-2170 8888
Hours: Lunch & Dinner daily

For those who loves dimsum and enjoys buffet at the same time, I’m sure it must have crossed your mind that someone should really come up with buffet style dimsum.

Well, Dorsett Grand Subang (formerly Sheraton) does just that, on every Sunday and Public Holiday, you can get eat-all-you-can dimsum brunch at The Emperor Chinese Restaurant. We had the luxury of sampling the spread at this five star hotel recently.

Emperor Chinese Restaurant, Grand Dorsett Subang
Emperor Chinese Restaurant, Dorsett Grand Subang

Dorsett is located just behind Sime Darby Medical Centre, accessible via Federal Highway, and while traffic can get a bit ugly during rush hours, you shouldn’t expect any trouble during Sunday/Public Holiday brunch hours.

Interior decoration isn’t the most modern nor overly antiquated, tables and chairs are nice and comfortable, but I’m not too into those carpet on the floor.

Anyway, lets talk about the food instead.

our dimsum spread, of course to be shared
our dimsum spread, of course to be shared

For RM 60++ per person (RM 30++ if you’re over 60, or between 5-12; 5 below eats free), the spread is certainly commendable. There are over a dozen different types of steamed dimsum for your choosing.

The usual suspects are all available, har kau, siu mai, fish ball, phoenix’s claws, ribs, char siu pau, shrimp chee cheong fun, pan fried vegetable pau, steamed chicken wings, and various other types of dumplings too.

This is a pork free establishment, but I must say that the chefs did a fine job in preserving the essence of dimsum taste despite not using pork. The major ingredients here are prawns, chicken, and in a few dishes, beef.

deep fried items, soup, desserts, and more
deep fried items, soup, desserts, and more

If deep fried items is what you crave, they have deep fried prawn rolls with cheese (yes they ooze out!), yam puff with BBQ chicken (instead of pork), sui kok, shrimp dumpling, egg tart (super soft), baked century egg with pickled ginger in pastry, and sesame balls. There is also a decent selection of desserts as well, these include peanut soup, cakes, mango pudding, herbal jelly (my favorite), and Chinese pan-cake.

the wu kok, or yam pastry, turned out to be pretty good despite having chicken and yam as the substitute to the traditionally pork and yam filling.

bean curd, oyster, brocolli, prawns, deep fried fish, noodle
bean curd, oyster, brocolli, prawns, deep fried fish, noodle

Those who want a bit of a departure to dim sum can opt for main dishes as well. While the exact dishes may vary from week to week, there’ll usually be noodle, poultry, meat, bean curd, vegetables, and at least two seafood dishes. I only tried the broccoli and bean curd this session, and was not disappointed.

wantan soup, fried pau, yong tau foo, chicken charsiu pau
wantan soup, fried pau, yong tau foo, chicken charsiu pau

Last but not least, there’s also a “live action” barbecue stall stationed within the restaurant where you can get roast duck, roast chicken, and chicken chasiu, all served with traditional condiments. The roast duck wasn’t exactly the standard you’ll find at places such as Loong Foong or Sunrise, but they are more than decent.

KY, Haze, Umei, Josen, Derek, Chris, & Elaine at Grand Dorsett Subang
KY, Haze, Umei, Josen, Derek, Chris, & Elaine at Dorsett Grand Subang

For those who have a healthy appetite and long for a slow and sumptuous dimsum dinner on a lazy Sunday morning, The Emporer at Dorsett  Grand Subang certainly won’t be a disappointment. I think it is also a very good location if you have guests who prefer a pork free meal. RM 60++ is pretty fair for what you get.

Furthermore, for those with kids, there’s a sort of “day care” activities going on right outside the restaurant, with clown and such to keep your kids entertained while you attack the buffet line.

map to Grand Dorsett hotel, Subang Jaya

Address:
The Emperor
Dorsett Grand Subang
Jalan SS12/1,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.079211, 101.595999
Tel: 03-5031 6060 ext 1954
Hours: Sundays & Public Holidays 10 am – 2:30 pm

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