For people who care about their food

Planter’s Inn, Kuala Lumpur

Hotel Crowne Plaza Mutiara, jln Sultan Ismail

We often go for a hotel buffet if we’re getting hungry and can’t decide between ourselves what we fancy to eat; at least that way we stand a fair chance of getting something we like, and neither of us is constrained by the other’s preferences or dislikes. So one lunchtime we took the easy option and nipped into our hotel’s lunchtime buffet in the Planter’s Inn bar/café to see what they had to offer. A preliminary scout around looked promising: salads, tempura, teppanyaki, sushi and sashimi, pasta, Malay food, cheeses, soups and desserts, all well presented. We decided to go for it, and were shown to a table for two in the restaurant’s smoking section (yes, they still exist in Malaysia) with a great view of the Petronas Towers. A cheerful and chatty waiter took our order for two Tiger beers, which appeared promptly.

Here’s a quick run-down of the various stations we visited, whether we ate from them or not:

  • Mr ND’s tomato and seafood soup wasn’t a very promising start; rather watery and tasteless, even after he’d added salt and pepper.
  • The sushi and sashimi bar offered better prospects, although when I went up there was relatively little on offer – evidently it’s one of the more popular stations. Mr ND visited it a few minutes later after it had been replenished, and got a good selection.
  • The salads were pretty typical of salad bars anywhere.
  • The bread was variable, though none of it was bad. Some of it was run-of-the-mill stuff, but they had some very nice seeded wholemeal rolls, and some others made with pretzel dough with a tasty dark crust.
  • The range of cheeses was OK, but not fantastic – some nice blue cheese and ripe Brie rubbed shoulders with bland Northern European hardish (ie rubbery) cheeses.
  • The tempura appeared to be made in batches and then left for people to take as they wanted. We tried asking if it was possible to have some freshly made to order, but apparently it wasn’t.
  • Mr ND visited the pasta station and ordered some spaghetti with chilli and garlic in a tomato sauce. He thoroughly enjoyed it; the pasta was tasty and done perfectly al dente, and the sauce was everything he hoped for.
  • I didn’t see anything I particularly fancied at any one of the stations, even though I was surrounded by a vast array of fresh and inviting ingredients. So I decided to turn the wide range of ingredients to my advantage. I took an empty plate and went around the buffet taking bits and bobs I fancied; mushrooms from the pasta corner, greens from the salad bar, beansprouts from the Malay food centre and some raw shrimps. Having gathered all these, I took them to the teppanyaki bar and handed them over – “Could you cook these for me, please?” They were a little surprised (after all, most people will simply stick with the choices presented at the station they happen to be at) but seemed very happy to be cooking something different for a change. And the result was wonderful; perfectly cooked, and my own creation!

Overall rating: 3½ out of 5
We wouldn’t race back here as a special treat by any means, but we certainly weren’t disappointed either – it was a reasonable offering for a hotel buffet. Be warned, though; at about RM50 for two small Tigers, the beer is very expensive!



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