COVID-19 Update: For increased hygiene and safety, the traditional buffet experience of serving yourself from communal trays and pots is no more. Instead, you will be given a menu of over 50 dishes that will be cooked to order and brought to you, very much like at a regular restaurant. Personally, I am the type who takes small servings of many different foods at a buffet, and tries to eat as much as I can. This new style makes that impossible as the chef decides how much of a particular dish they serve you. I would also guess that you get fuller faster because you sit there digesting while the food is being cooked (unless you order everything you want up front). Consider your own buffet dining style/strategy before choosing to visit Nook in this new normal.
I have a special relationship with buffets. It’s not just a game of seeing how much food I can pack down my gullet. Growing up, my family would always go to the buffet when it was someone’s birthday, so now when going to one as an adult, there’s that extra buzz of nostalgia, comfort and happiness; a subconscious feeling of being surrounded by family and loved ones while celebrating something.
On a Sunday night we were headed to Nook by Aloft KL for our anniversary (but a small part of me considered it my birthday dinner, as my birthday was the next day). This is how you know Mark and I have been together for ages. Instead of a romantic anniversary dinner where we feed each other canapés, we went to a gut-busting, belch-inducing buffet. A classy buffet, but still.
Nook restaurant is up one set of escalators at the Aloft Hotel on the second floor. The dining room is spacious and spotless, with the shiniest white floor ever. There are good, wide lanes for guests to walk with their plates of food. It wasn’t until I left and looked at the pictures that I noticed how odd the decor was. Nook has a high-tech, ultramodern look with booths situated on futuristic raised pods. Combined with the bright white colour scheme, it looks like we are inside the sickbay onboard the starship Enterprise.
If you want to know specifically what food to expect at the buffet, click the button above to get to my previous post where I list off the different stations in detail!
In terms of what you should absolutely try if you see it available, the lobster tails were delicious, not to mention an incredible deal to be able to have all-you-can-eat. Juicy flesh that separated easily from the shell, it was best with just a small spritz of lemon. I got seconds of this and was upset when I was too full to get thirds. The butter squid was also surprisingly good, and I got seconds of this. Nicely chewy, but not too much, and the included Thai basil leaves add an extra dimension to the salty flavour.
At the carvery station was the marinated sea bass. Easy to separate the bones, it was crispy on the outside but flaky on the inside. There were three different sauces: mustard, percik sauce and pineapple salsa, with the percik being the best one.
The rendang short ribs were so tender with lots of fat and plump kidney beans thrown in. Although this was a seasonal special that was made to order during this time, this might appear in a big clay pot where you serve yourself. If you see this, grab a scoop.
If you need a lighter course, try the pear and cheese salad. Since it was in a salad, the pears were probably on their last legs of freshness but they were nonetheless incredibly juicy and sweet. Raisins and walnuts add extra texture to this. This stylised salmon ebiko sashimi on a bed of alfalfa sprouts was interesting as well. Served in its own plastic spoon, it’s a great bite of sushi taste without the excess filler of all the rice.
You will see many reviews raving about Nook’s Sarawak Laksa from the make-your-own noodle station. I was kind of expecting it to taste similar to a regular curry laksa but this has its own distinct flavour – a bit spicier and thicker. Very rich and flavourful broth combined with my favourite types of noodles and ingredients resulted in the perfect bowl. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tried authentic Sarawak Laksa so I can’t compare. Try to taste a bowl of this if you visit – share it with your dining companions if you don’t want to fill up too quickly. I made the mistake of slurping up this entire bowl, and I’m pretty sure it was the reason I was painfully full fifteen minutes later.
Tea, coffee and select juices are free-flow and included in the price. Wasting calories on liquids is a bad strategy but the option is there. In cheaper buffets, everything that isn’t water costs extra, so this was a really nice touch. I know you can only drink so much coffee, but the unlimited tea takes up little room in the stomach and really helps with digestion.
Everything can’t be amazing and some dishes missed the mark. Though I loved the size of the cold prawns, they could not be elevated to the next level without the right dip. The sauces that the restaurant had laid out for them were odd choices, and without the perfect accompaniment of cocktail sauce, the prawns felt like they were missing something.
The tandoori chicken was a touch dry but I still got seconds. You can get better tandoori chickens in this city. I tried both the chicken and beef satay and they were both too tough and overcooked for my liking. The cubes are pure meat, as opposed to some places where they put a cube of fat in between. If Nook had done this, these satays might have been edible. I didn’t even finish my second satay as, honestly, it wasn’t worth the room in my stomach.
Though I came in with a mental checklist of all the desserts I wanted to eat, I actually only got this chocolate blueberry tart for dessert because I was so nauseatingly full. It was a bad way to end my dinner. The chocolate curl and base were fine, but the blueberry mousse was awful. I only managed one small bite before a chemical-like taste overpowered my mouth and churned my stomach at that point.
Perhaps we were both so full by then, but we both agreed that the desserts did not look appetizing at that time of night – around 9pm. The chocolate fountain was starting to get goopy, and most of the other options were mass-produced cakes that had dried out during the evening. If we had eaten really fast and were getting dessert by 7:30pm, they might have looked and tasted better. The desserts don’t get refreshed as often as the other food, so the kuih that looked so good at 6:30pm is still the same kuih at 9:30pm but now the colours look a bit off. Yuck.
The service, while typical of an upscale hotel, made us feel like VIPs. The staff knew we were going to be paying almost half price for our meal from the moment we arrived, but they still treated us like honoured guests. They never once ignored us, acted rudely, or gave us a shitty table because of what we were paying. The host greeted us warmly and spoke in gentle tones. Although he disappeared once it was clear we weren’t going to order any wine or drinks, the servers dutifully cleared our plates and promptly filled water glasses. A couple of them even went above and beyond: one offered to deliver a cup of hot tea to my table when I was too dumb to understand how to work the coffee machine. Another swept in and carried my food back to my table when I was struggling to hold a very full bowl of laksa and a hot drink.
There is no bathroom inside the buffet, but next to the elevators just outside the restaurant. You’re probably going to be visiting this place a lot during your visit if you intend to eat until one inch of exploding. It’s a hotel, so you can expect it to be very clean and serviced regularly. There are four stalls, all sitting toilets, with paper inside the stall. Sinks are in the hotel’s signature super bright pink colour to wash up at, with a dryer and paper towels to dry off. There is no baby changing station in here though, and I witnessed one mother be forced to change her little one on a table in the outside seating portion of the restaurant right out there in the open.
International buffets in Kuala Lumpur are usually pricey affairs in elite hotels. The regular Thursday to Saturday price of RM128 (update: is it now RM138) is personally too high for me unless it’s an occasion, but it’s overall not too bad when you think about what that will get you in a similarly fancy establishment (that is to say, not much!).
Compared to similar buffets in this city, the price of Nook’s buffet is normal, but I used the Eatigo app to get a discounted price. With the 40% discount, it was a crazy good bargain for the amount and quality of food we ate. We’ve eaten at casual restaurants that cost almost what we paid! For that price and with the selection of high-grade meat, seafood and non-filler food, we will be back to Nook by Aloft Kuala Lumpur… hopefully, with bigger stomachs!
Price for 2 Pax: RM141.60
International Buffet Dinner x 2: RM222.64
40% Eatigo Discount: (RM89.06)
6% Service Tax: RM8.01
If you choose to download the Eatigo app for yourself to begin saving money at restaurants across Kuala Lumpur and Southeast Asia, please use my referral code saturday99 when you sign up – it’s a good way to let me know that this post helped you today!
Nook by Aloft Kuala Lumpur
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral Hotel, Second Floor, No. 5 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
Daily: 6am – 12am
Dinner 6pm – 10:30pm
Alcohol Served: Yes (order from server)