A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
When I first saw The HSS’ pictures of Latest Recipe, I cursed. No, no, it wasn’t an imaginary curse. I sent him an SMS with some colourful language. Firstly, I was jealous of his pictures, and secondly, I wasn’t there. (Commercial break: This talented dude takes FABULOUS pictures. I have a shrine for him in my garden where my pet frog, Tom, lives. Tom worships him too. End of commercial.) So when I received an invitation to dine at Latest Recipe, I didn’t give two hoots whether The HSS was invited. I was going, baby, and I was going to taste some of that gorgeous psychedelic teppanyaki ice cream which I had salivated over at his Flickr site. Boolicious, Paprika and Cheryl Lum (the Director of Communications at Le Meridien KL) made up the ravenous group.
Tandooris and naans. Chapatis and dhal. Raita and Mutton. Green pea curry and kebabs. Beautiful colours, lovely aromas and fiery flavours. I was happy to just stand at this counter and bask in the atmosphere. Until somebody asked me for a slab of the Mutton Skewer.
It certainly got my attention! The rows of test tubes contained a variety of salad dressings, pre-mixed and ready to pour. Boo and I felt like Form 5 students in the lab as we picked up each tube, peered at it closely through thick rimmed glasses, made an analysis of it, and poured a different mix into each of the 6 little piles of salad. Mrs Easau, my Chemistry teacher, would have been so proud of me. And the salad! Crisp mesclun, romaine lettuce, cucumber, carrots, corn, radish and sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, croutons, capers, pickled vegetables and a whole lot more tantalized us as we struggled to make up our minds. And to top it all off, there was balsamic vinegar in fascinating fruity flavours – raspberry to apricot to orange, and truffle oil for a splash of luxury. Salad never looked so good.
I confess. I reached for the sashimi first. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I’ve had years of conditioning at buffet lines, and the one-two have always been sashimi and oysters. You there. Yes you. I heard you say “how typical”. Now do 20 pushups before I tell your mama.
The sashimi was nice with a selection of salmon, maguro, butterfish and octopus. The teppanyaki brought about mixed reactions. We had no complaints about the taste, a beautiful buttery blend with seafood mayo topping, but the scallops were a little undercooked. Of course, that would have been easily rectifiable had we taken it back and asked the chef to cook it further, but our butts felt a little too heavy at this point. Anyhow, a soft mushy scallop ain’t so bad after the third piece. The beef was soft and pliable, just like my grandmother’s gums.
I was in polite company, so I didn’t take more than four. You there. Did you say something again? Give me another 20 pushups.
There was also a range of other seafood on ice – Green lipped mussels, pacific prawns, slipper lobster and blue yabbies.
I headed straight for the seafood barbeque. Marinated in a simple sauce of light soy, onions and pepper, we had a choice of stingray, prawns, squid and bamboo clam. I loved the asam jawa sauce which I liberally poured over the seafood, but I thought the bamboo clams were a bit sandy. Who needs fibre, eh?
We weren’t impressed with the dim sum which we found a bit too hard and the skin too thick. The shanghai noodles in hot and sour sauce was absolutely delicious. Imagine one bowl shared among four people (we wanted to make space for other food). We were practically fighting to slurp up the last bit of starchy soup.
The pasta was the chef’s special. The squid ink fettucine with garlic, mushroom, chili and shrimp in olive oil was very good, although the flavours were rather subtle. All pastas are made on the spot, so you’re assured of freshness.
There are normally three chocolate fountains at Latest Recipe: dark, milk and white. But the white had thrown a bit of a tantrum when we were there and was taken away for a rotan session, so we settled for the remaining two. There was a lovely selection of marshmallows (filled with assorted flavours), chocolate cake and strawberries – sweet, juicy strawberries that turned into sinful glossy temptations after being rained on with melted chocolate.
It was easy enough to mistake some of the savoury tapas as desserts. The shredded duck rillette looked more like nougat, while the cauliflower panna cotta didn’t look like it had cauliflower in it. (Now that’s an idea to get the kids to eat their vegetables!) The sweet desserts didn’t quite excite me. The pretty presentation was just that. Pretty.
The freshly prepared waffles came with an assortment of condiments: raspberry jam, peanut butter, mango, chocolate and raspberry sauce. Very nice, although it was a bit too thick.
Lovely lacquered trays with moulded compartments for individual items were provided for ease of carrying. It is thoughtful details like these that draw me to a place. Likewise, the Japanese counter also had a similar type of tray with different sized compartments to lay out the sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki items. The trays fit in perfectly with the lively coloured panels along the counters. Similarly, the presentation of the food in cast iron pans, woks and chinaware made it look much more appealing as compared to your run-o’-the-mill buffets.
Being part Japanese, I chose the green tea ice cream over the less exciting chocolate, strawberry and coconut. With a wide array of sprinkles, from dried fruits, nuts and jellies, I picked the ever-popular Koko Krunch (perhaps I had heard it mentioned once too often this past week) to be mixed together with the ice-cream on the ice-cold table top. The resultant product was a chunky blended ice cream. Whilst I liked the texture, I thought the flavour of the green tea was a bit too strong.
Paprika scorned at my selection and declared that she was going to get something resembling the rainbow. The rainbow in her part of the world must be very different from mine.
Overall, I felt that the buffet was worth the price as quite a bit of the food was freshly prepared. Service wasn’t so great , though, as they kept clearing but not replacing my utensils. Don’t skip the Indian counter – it was definitely one of the best, while the teppanyaki at the Japanese counter came a close second. Desserts are always a novelty, so the next time I visit, I shall spend more time trying the cooked food instead of reserving space for desserts. The ice-cream can be improved. The noodles and pasta were a surprise – I loved them both. And finally, a big thank you to Cheryl for the invitation.
Also check out:
Level 5, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur.
For reservations, call: 03-2263 7434
Operating hours: 12.00pm to 2.30pm (lunch), 6.30pm to 11.00pm (dinner)
Buffet lunch: RM68++
Buffet dinner: RM78++
(Surcharge of RM10++ on weekends)
Buffet desserts: RM38++
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.