Dining Amid the Stars

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 28, 2017.

Maxwell’s design inspiration sparked from a simple question: How do we make our dreams come true?

Ceviche of Yellow-Fin Tuna.

Warm Pear and Raspberries Bourdaloue.

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Sheraton Imperial KL is offering guests a one-of-a-kind gastronomical experience in a setting quite literally out of this world. As its name suggests, the ambience of the dining area — within a mysterious black box on the hotel’s mezzanine floor — aims to simulate the feeling of dining while afloat in the Milky Way. The cosy box accommodates up to 12 guests per seating. Diners will savour food prepared by esteemed chefs while surrounded by a constantly changing constellation of stars.

Stepping into the box, I find myself slowly adjusting to the darkness — a stark contrast from the chandelier-lit lobby area — and upon taking my seat, I began to notice the projection of stars covering the entire space. This projection, we were told, will change as the evening progresses.

Conceptualised by multi award-winning global interior designer Emma Maxwell, the design inspiration sparked from a simple question: How do we make our dreams come true? Maxwell’s response is seen in her signature layered, worldly and eclectic style that is the Find your Lucky Star pop-up restaurant. According to the designer who dined with us on that night, the concept is based on the foundation of seeing things a little differently.

The effortlessly stylish Maxwell was the life of our little party and she also revealed her passion for design. She paused contemplatively when one of the guests asked how many restaurants she has designed thus far. “I’m not sure; I was having so much fun that I wasn’t keeping count!” she said with a laugh.

As the creative mastermind behind Find your Lucky Star goes on to describe the dining experience, I began to notice the stars have multiplied, resulting in rays of light dancing across the “room”. The mirrored table top reflects the ceiling, creating a floating effect while the glasses of wine on the table are almost glowing as the light bounces off them.

“As guests walk through the threshold of the external austere and rigid structure, they are swept from the chaotic and bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur and submerged into a seductive and evocative ‘other’ world. A scene that is the exact opposite of what they perceived from the rigidity of the structure’s exterior,” Maxwell said.

On that evening, I enjoyed the fine creations of chef Francois Mermilliod, from the French restaurant Bar-A-Thym in Singapore; this exclusive menu was only available until Dec 16. From Dec 17 to Dec 29, guests will enjoy a menu curated by chef Gaetano di Stefano of the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant, Villa Danieli. Promising a true Italian taste, the highlights include the baked turbot with braised Mediterranean vegetables, sea urchin foam and tomato vanilla sauce paired with 2013 Mazzei Fonterutoli Chianti Classico DOCG wine.

The highlight of the former, to me, was a tie between the refreshing ceviche of yellow fin tuna with yuzu ponzu dressing and apple fennel salad, and the chilled lobster ravioli with guava, lime sabayon and nahm jim. These dishes served as a wonderful introduction to the rest of the dishes that followed. The wines paired with each dish — 2016 Huntaway Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Bonpas Cotes de Luberon Blanc — complemented the flavours of the food splendidly. Halfway through the meal, we paused to appreciate the shooting stars that began appearing on the walls and the ceiling — creating a sense of movement and fluidity in the box — as a playlist of songs put together specifically for this occasion  set a relaxing mood.

Stepping out of the box after the dinner, I was gently jolted back into the hotel’s familiar surroundings where a singer was belting out tunes at the busy Mezzanine Bar Lounge. Neither the bustle in the lounge nor the singing could be heard in the pop-up restaurant. For the brief time that I spent in Find Your Lucky Star, it was easy to forget that it was a weekday in the centre of KL. It was indeed a unique dining experience.

The Find your Lucky Star experience is available at RM238 nett for a four-course lunch with wine pairing or RM188 nett with mocktails, and RM438 nett for a six-course dinner with wine pairing or RM388 nett with mocktails.