About 10 years ago, I booked the Lemon Garden Café at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur for a group of 20 who had come in from Perth on a holiday. I had to recommend the best buffet in town to these Australians and they were amazed by the variety of food, the taste and quality of it. Even the dour-looking guy among them who had wanted to order a la carte at first joined in the fun of the eating.
What would they say now if they saw the all-new Lemon Garden Café? I had arrived late at its opening recently, shattered by the traffic jam on a rainy Friday evening. I was cheered by the bright, warm ambience of the café, and the happy company of Fat Boy Bakes aka Cheng Yi. He had a plate of mud crab and king crab before him and and was relishing these.
I headed for the buffet, met up with Chef Cheong who quickly led me to the Chinese section of the buffet where a bowl of double-boiled black chicken with ginseng soup was lifted up from a steaming giant earthen urn and handed to me. It was an energising, nutritious soup, just what I needed.
But there were other soups in this giant urn – Double-boiled top shell with snow fungus and wolfberries, Double-boiled local catfish with black beans, Watercress and old cucumber soup, Chicken and herbal soup, Double-boiled wintermelon with dried mussel soup and Double-boiled lotus root with red dates, goji berries and chicken soup.
The Chinese section of the Lemon Garden Café buffet is always my favourite. Here I can help myself to braised fish maw, black mushrooms and broccoli, freshly steamed red garoupa, roast duck and more. But this time I was pointed to prawns in a Sichuan broth, with the chef poaching fresh prawns in boiling stock, then serving them in a bowl of fiery hot (ma la) Sichuan broth. A taste of that zinged through my palate and perked up my senses. The prawns were delicious.
Before this, I had had some fresh oysters, sashimi , sweet, meaty king crab legs and some of the prepared salads, so a little heat from the Sichuan prawns was called for. Another hot dish not to be missed is the Curry Mee from the Noodle Station. I love it with lashings of dried shrimp sambal but Cheng Yi added raw oysters to his, which was a scrumptious idea.
At the Asian Theatre Kitchen which is a showcase for Malay, Indian and Thai dishes, I could not resist the stingray curry, Indian chutney and dhal and had them with bryani rice.
There is the Western Theatre Kitchen with roast beef, glazed lamb ribs and quiche, pizzas from a wood-fired oven and at the Pasta Hotspot you could have pasta done to your style with your choice of pasta and sauces.
The dessert pavilion is an irresistible draw with chocolate lava cake, crème brulee, durian cake, mousses, strawberry crumble, soufflés, waffles, crepes and ice cream.
A memory gong was supposed to sound every 10 minutes to signal that the chocolate lava cake, double-boiled soups and otak-otak were ready to be served hot from the oven, earthen urn and steamer respectively, but apparently there was no need for this as these finished as soon as they appeared!
The Seafood Dinner Buffet is on Friday and Saturday (RM208 nett) while from Sunday to Thursday is the International Dinner Buffet (RM158 nett). There is also a Sunday Champagne Brunch (RM488 nett) and a Sunday International Buffet Brunch (RM168 nett). The Lunch Buffet from Monday to Friday is RM148 nett while on Saturday it’s RM148 nett.
From now till 31 March, dine at Lemon Garden Cafe, draw a raffle ticket and you may win a whole year of free buffet valid from April 2017 to May 2018. Call 03 2074 3904 for reservations.