On my recent business trip to Kuala Lumpur, I stayed at Hotel Maya which is located on Jalan Ampang in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. I found it to be a convenient location because it is merely a 10-minute walk to KLCC. One of the best features of the hotel is the deluxe suite being suprisingly large with study desk, wifi connection and view of the iconic Petronas twin towers.
The ensuite and wardrobes are fairly large and it makes this suite feel more like a good size apartment.
A good thing is the hotel also has a fully equipped gymnasium to help me work off all the good food that I am about to subject myself to whenever I’m in KL.
Photographs are not allowed to be taken of the gym but today, I enjoy an early morning swim in the heated hydrotherapy pool.
Powerful water jets are designed to sooth and relief a stiff neck, shoulders, arms, thighs and back.
I soak for a good hour in the pool, enjoying the serene view of an infinity water feature with lush tropical greenery in the backdrop.
The pool is located on the third floor of the hotel which has an enormous loft in the centre of the building.
But important things first – when in Kuala Lumpur, I always try to seek out my favourite street food in the morning. Nasi lemak is the national breakfast of Malaysia.
A smile comes to my face whenever I come across these stalls on the streets of KL and I am lucky to find a stall just outside Hotel Maya every morning.
Although a beautiful breakfast spread comes with the room (more about this below), I couldn’t resist venturing out to the stall on the first morning to get my nasi lemak fix.
Is there anything more beautiful than a simple nasi lemak with some of its most basic ingredients?
The best thing about these packet nasi lemak is they are extremely portable and also meant to be eaten at room temperature. Therefore, reheating is definitely unnecessary let alone a carnal offence. Nasi lemak wrapped in a banana leaf and brown paper with a plastic spoon adds to the delight of this simple yet tasty meal.
As I savour each delightful spoonful of rice with its fragrant coconut aroma in the comfort of my hotel room, I knew I should have bought a second pack but I was good enough to pace myself as I knew I had a few more days of feasting on the food of this wonderful city.
Lunch at Elegant Inn, Kuala Lumpur
After my meetings in the morning, a friend of mine whom I affectionately refer to as the “Maestro” (because he is such an accomplished pianist) invites me to Elegant Inn, a Hong Kong style cuisine restaurant located in Menara Hap Seng.
Being a regular to this restaurant, Maestro is familiar with the menu and I suggest he orders for us.
A stir fry kai lan with garlic arrives in a silky vibrant green, incredibly crunchy and punctuated with hints of shao xing wine and charred wok flavours. I love the freshness and punch of the whole garlic cloves on my palate.
Maestro orders the signature shark’s fin dumplings in superior broth. This Cantonese delicacy are dumplings in clear chicken broth that are made of succulent scallops, prawns, crab meat, shark’s fin, chinese mushroom and water chestnuts wrapped in the most delicate of wanton skins.
Each mouthful is a delicate balance of sweet seafood with the water chestnuts providing crunchy textural contrast.
The old fashioned prawn toast immediately transports me back to my childhood in Malaysia where this simple snack is a favourite with every Malaysian kid. The toast is a crispy contrast with the soft and sweet prawn paste, truly comfort child food that has gained universal respect among adults too.
The char leong or crispy vegetarian rice roll is soft outside and crispy inside balanced by a savoury sweet soy sauce.
The home made fishballs might seem ordinary but these delectable morsels are firm to the bite with a distinct sweet aroma of fish enhanced by a subtle chilli sauce.
I am not a big fan of dessert but Maestro recommends that we try the malai ko literally translated to mean Malay cake or the home made custard cake.
It is truly the best version of this cake that I have tasted. The Maestro’s recommendation is to take a whole cross-section bite of each square to experience the contrast of the soft sweet cream with a spongy bread texture.
Through the years that I have known the Maestro, we have shared our passion and love for piano music, especially Chopin’s music and now we share our passion for food. He has indeed given me a lot of insights into the works of great composers and I value our friendship dearly. My only regret is he refuses to let me settle the bill on this beautiful lunch today.
I attend to a few business meetings after lunch and then I head to my favourite part of Hotel Maya for a special hour.
Happy hour at the Sky Lounge is indeed happy and cosy where an opulent wine and cigar lounge and library have commanding views of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
It is unfortunate for the seven days I am in Kuala Lumpur, a blanket of haze lingers on the horizon which does little justice to the simmering skyline.
The next morning I head down to the Maya Brasserie to sample the breakfast spread of the hotel.
I love breakfast spreads in Malaysian hotels because you always get a choice of western style breakfast such as yoghurt, an endless choice of cereal and muesli, fresh fruits, fresh eggs cooked to your liking.
Breakfast at Hotel Maya, Kuala Lumpur
In addition to American or continental breakfast, Malaysian hotels also offer a fantastic selection of local favourites such as nasi lemak, congee with all the local condiments and accompanying favourites such as fried black dace in black beans, century egg and fu yee or fermented beancurd.
Because of local Muslim laws, food outlets and restaurants in Malaysian hotels are required to serve halal or kosher food and beverage to patrons and guests.
This ruling means that western style breakfast eggs are served with beef as opposed to pork bacon and I always skip past the western breakfast because I know I can have these hearty breakfasts back home in Australia with my favourite pork bacon and sausages.
I always opt for the local breakfast favourites such as nasi lemak, curry laksa, chee cheong fun or kon low noodles whenever I’m in KL.
Nevertheless, I would also eat a good serving of local fruits every morning because they are so sweet and juicy.
I am sure you can tell by now that I am a die-hard nasi lemak fan and the one in Hotel Maya lived up to my expectations on all accounts.
The rice is fragrant with its delightful coconut aromas, the sambal sharp and spicy and the deep fried ikan bilis crispy while the cuttlefish and chicken curry added a little decadence with its rich and tasty curry sauce.
I could not resist tucking into a bowl of curry mee after my nasi lemak.
The fried tofu puffs soak up the spicy tangy curry broth while the egg noodles and fishcakes makes every mouthful so tasty.
I would definitely stay in Hotel Maya again because the size of the rooms are generous, service is prompt and efficient, the breakfast spread has good variety and best of all, its location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s CBD is difficult to beat.
The serene view of the lush greenery from the hydrotherapy pool leaves me a vivid image of the Hotel Maya.
So dear readers, have you been to Kuala Lumpur and did you have a favourite local food there?
138 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2711 8866
Check availability and rates with instant confirmation.
2nd Floor, Podium Block
Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P Ramlee,
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel +6o3 2070 9399