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Monday, September 17, 2012

Food: Sparkalite Sunday Brunch @ Serena Brasserie, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur

Warning! You are about to start reading our longest post yet!


Here's a riddle for you: Where do you find unlimited flows of sparking wine, red wine, and white wine together with a homegrown Australian barbecue all under one roof? 


A grand array from the sea.

The answer is at the Sparkalite Sunday Brunch happening at Serena Brasserie, located just around the corner from the lobby of Intercontinental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Thanks to their gracious invitation, we were given the opportunity to sample the latest that they and their new executive chef, Darrell O' Neill, hailing from Australia, had to offer! Food is aplenty, including several Live Action Stations where you can watch your food being cooked and customised, right before your eyes.




I had been to Serena Brasserie a few times before when there was a work event held at the hotel. But on the Sunday when we went, the place looked much different with champagne glasses on every table, and little stars sprinkled all over to create a "sparkling" feeling. =D



Seating outdoors is also available for those who prefer it. There's a mini waterfall outside, so there's more to outdoor seating here instead of the usual watching-cars-go-by! There's none of that here, only serenity and smoky barbecue.


But the Sparkalite Brunch is not just about adults and alcohol; it's also about the children and their sweet tooth! Our invitation from Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur also extended to any children we might want to bring, which we duly made use of to invite Amelia, Wendy's niece, along to the brunch as well. But more on that later... =D


What's a buffet without our Japanese friends?

First, we focus on the food! The usual buffet at Serena Brasserie is already pretty complete, so with the new additions for the Sparkalite Brunch it was nearly impossible for us to try a bit of everything! We did try our best though, starting with the cold appetizers that ranged from the oysters, lobsters and clams to sushi and sashimi.


A Japanese restaurant this is not, but fresh salmon do they serve! We certainly couldn't fault the slices of sashimi we ate, or the peeled prawns at the prawn cocktail. If not for having to exercise a great deal of self-control, I would have definitely polished off a few more rounds of sashimi, as I usually do at other buffets. =D



But if you're the kind that rather pile up on oyster shells instead of salmon, then head over to the oyster bar, where friendly staff labor continuously at shucking oysters for all to share! We didn't manage to have any, but we heard they were very fresh. In fact, we even heard someone went through 40 of said oysters! (you know who you are.. =p)



Moving on from the appetizers, pasta is available from one of the live action stations. Whether it's macaroni, angelhair spaghetti, or fettuccine, it can be cooked in styles ranging from tomato bases to creamy carbonara! Thank goodness for this, otherwise I'm not sure what else Amelia would have fancied eating...

Oh yea she was pretty happy with her pasta alright.. =D
It's nice that they actually allow customers to choose how much pasta they want first before cooking, so everyone gets the exact portion they want instead of just cooking standard sizes. Thumbs up for that.



If Italian pasta isn't your thing, then how about a local laksa flavour? There's no shortage of meehoon and kuey teow here as chefs churn out bowl after bowl of curry laksa, assam laksa, Penang laksa, Johor laksa, and Sarawak laksa (you didn't think East Malaysia would be left out, did you?) with a wide array of condiments that any hawker stall would be proud of!




Not far down from the pasta booth (no, definitely not 500m away!), is where there is Peking Duck.


Peking duck, all rolled up and ready!

Peking Duck, made to order, is not a common sight at buffet spreads, so we wasted no time taking advantage of this unique opportunity! We thought the flesh was very tender, with just the right amount of sweet sauce. On the other hand, I think I'll still prefer making my own peking duck wraps, because then I can make sure no spring onions go into mine, unlike those we had here. Wendy enjoyed them very much, though.



Peking Duck is not a common sight at buffets, but roast beef certainly is! Not one to be left out, the Sparkalite brunch also features a full leg of Roast Beef. Notwithstanding all the beef at the barbecue section, we still tried to do this roast beef some justice! The meat was tender, and load up on some yorkshire puddings, roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts and potatoes, and you've got yourself a Sunday roast! 


Round 3... or was it 5?

And how could we not, when the beef was so tender and succulent? Frankly, the poor roast beef does get outshone by the barbecue items on offer, but we think a slice is worth trying, especially with the fluffy tiny Yorkshire puddings at hand.



So far I've just skimmed the surface on what's available inside the restaurant, but by now you might be wondering where all that Australian barbecue is. All that's happening outside, by way of Sparkalite's Live Action Stations




What would Australia be like without Fish N' Chips? Some of the freshest fish can be found in Australian waters, and it's commonly turned into a simple fish and chips meal over there. At the Sparkalite Brunch, they have brought over that same simplicity and satisfaction. 

The fish n' chips and the perfectly cooked eggs, sharing the limelight at the station.



Each portion may not be very big, but that's a good thing since it keeps us from overindulging in the same thing. You'd be hard pressed not to go back for seconds though, because the fish served here is undoubtedly thick, and deep fried in a light batter that doesn't overpower the fish! With a dollop of tartar sauce and a small serving of fries on the side, not many things can taste as good on a Sunday afternoon. 



I was particular thankful for the french fries, because that was nearly the only thing Amelia wanted to eat that day! Thank goodness for fries indeed.. =D



150km away from the  Fish N' Chips  booth (a.k.a. just next door) is a booth for you to build your own burgers!



Alas, we didn't manage to sample any of the Mini Angus Beef Burgers or Chicken Satay Sliders that they had. Instead, we focused on the Create Your Egg Buddy station, that was whipping out plenty of egg-cellent creations like this mini egg bun!




Though it looks simple, we're sure the art of poaching an egg just right to get that perfect runny yolk can't be easy! Top it off with some tomato sauce and some grated cheese and turkey ham, and these are the things we wish we could make so well ourselves at home. We would have gladly polished off more of this, but there were just too many things to try, too little stomach space.



But while the fish is fresh and the burgers are hearty, the star of the afternoon is still the variety of meat available at the barbecue station! Diners can choose from a selection seafood including tiger prawns, marinated tuna steaks, white fish, or slipper lobster at the Bruce’s Australian Barbeque station.



Or if red meat is more your fancy, than stock up on as much chicken, beef, and lamb as possible! Besides the meat, there's also 3 types of sausages on offer. Spoilt for choice? Most definitely!



I thoroughly enjoyed all the sausages, with the lamb being my favourite and the chicken and cheese being Wendy's pick. The meat was good too, though the beef came out slightly undercooked, which the helpful chefs quickly put right again. The prawn we had was also delicious, grilled to a smoky perfection. Since the barbecue station is the most popular, expect some queues and longer waiting periods. 



I commonly find hits and misses in each buffet, but I'm pleased to announce that the Sparkalite Brunch does a great job of keeping everything to an excellent standard of taste. I was too full after I was done with the Barbecue Station, but Wendy took a little of everything to taste and especially liked the Veal Milanese and the Spanish Meat Balls with Tomato and Rosemary Sauce.




More buffet line items, including a fluffy, light Potato Mausseline that went well with all the roast items.

Asparagus with Thai King Sauce, Chicken Kurma, Mutton Curry and Singapore Noodles

But still, if you're a buffet with your parents or your grandparents who still prefer a some Asian dish, Sparkalite Brunch has got that aspect well and covered as well. 



These two dishes, Chilli Crab and Beef Rendang, caught our eye when we went on our rounds, but alas! we forgot all about them, once we were done with all the other food.


Pizza is also available, a meaty one that counts beef seruling amongst its toppings, and our favourite of the two, a creamy smoked salmon with lettuce.



And so with all that food, there has to be something to wash it down with. Thankfully at the Sparkalite Brunch, there's no lack of happy juice for the masses! Take your pick from not one, not two, but three different sparking wines, namely an Australian Seppelt Stony Peak Brut, Italian Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, and a French Arthur Metz Cremant D'Alsace Brut. If sparking wine is not your thing, then there's also plenty of white and red wine as well as beer on offer; plus fun mixers for your own cocktail concoction! 



Sadly because we were "parents" for a day, we didn't get a chance to savor as many drinks as we would have liked! In the picture above is the Prosecco Superiore, a good choice of sparkling wine to pair with food thanks to it's fresh and dry flavor, with hints of green apple flavour. 



The dessert bar was a hit with adults and children alike, the children for this tall chocolate fountain (I lost count of the marshmallows Amelia dipped in)...



And the adults for this magnificent Rocky Road creation - a wonderful gooey dessert made of crumbly biscuit bits, marshmallows and chopped maraschino cherries iced with powdered sugar. Wendy had tons of this during our university days in Melbourne (they're called Chocolate Hedgehogs over there instead) and thought these were just as good as the ones she'd had there, if not better. I've never had them before but I'm inclined to agree; this was the highlight of the dessert counter and a must-have, especially if you've a sweet tooth.

More colourful, enticing desserts... calling your name!

My favourite display of ice cream at a buffet - no pesky leaning into an ice cream trolley here!

By now Wendy and I were plenty satisfied, but what Amelia was looking forward to all afternoon wasn't the glorious food or wine on offer, but rather, the children's section!




I would say InterContinental Kuala Lumpur and Event Directus did a fantastic job with this gaily decorated corner. The colours were bright and vibrant and there were lots of fun activities to keep children occupied while you enjoy your food. A TV was playing childrens' movies throughout the afternoon, and there were board games, storybooks and colouring available on hand.

Amelia watching TV, popcorn in hand.



What was even more impressive were the additional treat booths to keep the children happy (and on a perpetual sugar rush after we left! Yup, we had fun with Amelia, but were quite happy to pass her back safe and sound and all sugar-rushed to Wendy's brother and sister-in-law after that =P) - fresh buttery popcorn was available in colourful Ikea plastic cups in one corner, and in the other corner...



...the I Candy Station where children can mix and match candies to their heart's content.


The kind staff let you choose your candies on a plate to be eaten there, but there are also bags available for the children to bring the candy home. We thought that was a lovely touch.




Wendy also brought Amelia to the caricature table where she got herself drawn, though she was very nervous to begin with. Kudos to the team of Event Directus! Celine, the artist was quick and deft, and Elaine managed to ease Amelia out of shyness very quickly.



The highlight for the children that afternoon had to be the lamington making session! The children all got donned up the cute "I had a Sparkalite-time" aprons and had a hands-on lamington "class" with the chef and the attentive staff of InterContinental KL.



Lamingtons are another Aussie dessert staple, and in this class, the square jam sponge cake sandwiches were pre-prepared. The kids got to skewer the cakes and dip them into a bowl of chocolate...


...and roll the chocolate-covered cakes into a bowl of coloured dessicated coconut as the grand finale! The kids were naturals at this, though it got a little messy in the end, but that's where the fun is, right? Amelia got to take home two for her parents to try too.


Amelia got to make friends with Evelyn's niece, Emily, too! :)
Amelia with (aunty) Wendy

Thank you Serena Brasserie!

And that concludes our nearly 3-hour Sparkalite Sunday Brunch at Serena Brasserie! Everyone went home happy, including Amelia who took a balloon home for good measure. For anyone considering giving this brunch a try, do note that they currently have a dine for 4, pay for 3 promotion for September. So why hold back? Get your friends and their kids together and head over to the Sparkalite Brunch for a spanking sparkling good time! =D


*For the full set of scrumptious photos, visit our Facebook photo album here.


Sparkalite Brunch @ Serena Brasserie | Site
InterContinental Kuala Lumpur,
No. 165, Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2782 6228
Buffet Hours: 12pm-3pm
Email: foodandbeverage@intercontinental-kl.com.my
Price: Standard buffet RM 120++ / With wine RM198++ / Children RM60++


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