Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eat-what-you-want, give-as-you-feel (Swayamvara) Buffet @ Annalakshmi, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur


Gosh, my Internet has been even slower than a much so that uploading pictures has been a real chore and bore. Taking the cue from one of my blog readers, who mentioned she recently became vegetarian, I thought I'll share with all of you, my great vegetarian experience last weekend.

fluffy chappati
one of the best ever chappatis tasted - fluffy, soft and not oily

I have had Annalakshmi on my list of must-eats for a very long time. The last time, I wanted to eat here, I didn't have the full address hence I couldn't find it but this time, I was all prepared with the address and telephone number. Located within the modern looking Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) on its ground floor, this is right opposite the Buddhist temple.

green pilau rice with sambars
unusual green tinged pilau rice with a variety of vegetarian dishes

It has been a while since I visited them, I think the last time I ate here was when they used to be in Bangsar! I had a colleague who was vegetarian on Fridays, hence it was a favourite place for us to drop by whenever he joined us for lunch. For those new to the Annalakshmi experience, the food is prepared by volunteers and completely vegetarian. You pick what you wish from the buffet line, order your breads (prata or chappati) and drinks (mango lassi is the best!).

vadai and payasam
tiny vadai packed with flavour with white payasam with cashew nuts at the back

Sounds simple and completely ordinary but wait, unlike other places in town, here you eat what you like and pay what you feel like. Hence, the price can range from anything depending on how much you decide. An amazing service concept, this is based on the philosophies of Swami Shantananda Saraswati, the founder of TFA whereby, "the guest is God" or "athithi dhevo bhava". Here, the principle objective of the restaurant is service. Volunteers help to serve and cook the food with no expectations of anything in return.

It is probably why the food tastes delectable and the whole dining experience is even better with the polite and courteous service. For me, I find the food has a home-cooked air about them. Akin to eating in a family friend's house, the food tastes does not overwhelm like other places with the overusage of spices. Instead, flavours tend to sing out true blue here. Even though we were a little unfamiliar with the food and how to pair it, everyone is helpful in giving gentle suggestions. Not surprisingly, this place is packed with people streaming in to help themselves to the array of foods from Northern and Southern India - sambars, vegetarian dishes, idli with a superb fresh coconut chutney, vadai rasam where the sourness does not overwhelm, vadai, green pilau rice, fluffy chappatis, pratas and etc. For dessert, they serve a white payasam with cashewnuts.

And, how much did we pay? Honestly we couldn't put a price tag to it but we felt for the taste of their food and the great service, this is definitely even better than those posh Northern Indian restaurants in town. Do go and experience it for yourself and give as you wish. Hopefully you will feel the same way as we did and pay top dollar for the superb food.

Temple of Fine Arts
114-116, Jalan Berhala
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03 - 2272 3799

(Pork free. Closed on Mondays. Open for lunch from 11.30am to 3pm and dinner from 6.30 to 10.30pm)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Rebecca Saw said...

oh i had this one back in Pg! Also called Annalakshmi and also in the Temple of Fine Arts.. must b the same? yup, delicious old-school food!

I said...

Yes, yes... I used to go to the one in Midvalley for years...before that it was in Bangsar Baru. I like the menu keeps changing too. You know the food is cooked with love with the afterward feel good in your tummy! Amazingly many volunteers run the show! Look out, there might be a VIP or too in the next table sometimes! Thank you very much for the post!

Anonymous said...

Ever since they have moved out from Mid Valley, I didn't visit Annalakshmi, sigh....really miss this place! Will check this out soon....anyway, the one in Penang and KL, both serves really good food! Love it!

Precious Pea said...

Brilliant concept..i just hope people don't take advantage of it.

q said...

oh i've wondered where they've gone, and sometime last week i did pass by the building and noticed an eatery there. so thanks so much for this post, will definitely head there soon :)

thule a.k.a leo said...

I have heard about this concept for years, but to actually hear about one in Malaysia??? Definitely a first time... sometimes I wonder if some MAlaysians would actually take advantage of this pay-what-you-feel-like concept.

Sean said...

oooh, i visited them in midvalley once a few years ago, but i thought they closed permanently after that. thanks telling us that they moved! i recall the food was very good and i had no hesitation about opening up my wallet to them! :D

HairyBerry said...

thanks for the info, boo...been really interested in this place when i read about it in a magazine a coupla years back. love the concept too! if only more restaurants are liddat hor? ;)

rokh said...

this is the same one as midvalley's right? i've been there once with a vegetarian friend too and had an enjoyable experience! :)

Bangsar-bAbE said...

Used to go to there frequently when they were in mid valley. I especially like the poori and vadai.

They also do a mean Barfi and other Indian sweets.

Babe_KL said...

so this is where they've shifted to?? thanks for the info ;-)

worldwindows said...

Service from the heart makes the food warm for the belly. The chappatis looks good. My favourite among all the bread except that it is diffciult to ferret out the really good ones.

Rarebeet said...

Do they have on in Midvalley? I remember eating at a place in Midvalley that had the same concept. Food was superrrrb!

boo_licious said...

thenomadGourmand - yes, same people and same concept. They have this in a few countries also.

G. Kalaiselvi - glad you like the post, seemed to be karma since u mentioned being vegetarian after we had eaten this last weekend.

simplegirl - guess rental got too expensive at MidValley hence they moved out?

Precious Pea - LOL, I hope not too.

q - you can't really see the eatery's signboard as it is hidden within the building but follow the signs to Temple of Fine Arts.

leo - I guess it depends on the person on how much they place the worth of such good food.

Sean - hope you will enjoy it.

Nic - yeah, it will be nice if food was cooked with love vs necessity.

rokh - yes, looks like u shld visit this place also?

bangsar-babe - I have vague memories abt the sweets but so far no complaints abt the other food.

babe - Lavanya is also there.

worldwindows - this is great chapati. The other one I like is at Santa near Colliseum in a hole of the wall shoplot.

paprika - has to be the same one. Not many do this concept.

Ciki said...

i've only ever eaten at the Mid valley one a long long time ago..

I find that you end up feeling guilty if you give too little.. so we always end up overpaying.. haha:D

boo_licious said...

ciki - yah lor, esp since it is for charity.

J2Kfm said...

yeah, i;ve had this in Penang last time. one of our fav haunt for lunch, as it;s near to Penang GH (where we were doing our attachment).

pay for wat you ate. a good concept, but sometimes felt at loss on how much to pay.

boo_licious said...

j2kfm - pay what u feel the food is worth it....?

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