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For exquisite North Indian fare, Bombay Palace Restaurant at Life Centre in downtown Kuala Lumpur is an excellent restaurant that dishes up this royal repast with aplomb. Located on the mezzanine floor, the restaurant’s large glass windows enable ample daylight to pour in, as you watch city folks whizzing to and fro on the busy street, while at night, the warm glow from its many Moghul lanterns and chandeliers warm up the interior.
The décor is traditional Indian with carved wooden doors inlaid with brass, statues of deities bedecked in flower garlands and scenes from the Moghul kingdom – pleasantly Indian without looking like a dusty museum. Popular with all types of diners, the restaurant does brisk business during lunch hours, attracting corporate types and even tourists. Families tend to visit during weekends.
Upfront, most noticeable is the unwavering quality and taste of the food at Bombay Palace. A big basket of papads and a selection of pickles and sauces/chutneys arrive promptly at the table.
Start your meal with the chilli pakoras – deep-fried green chillies stuffed with mashed potatoes and coated with a chickpea batter. Mild with just a touch of heat, this is the perfect dish to start the meal. The Palace Sizzle is a hot plate piled up high with fish tikka, tandoori chicken, jumbo prawns and two types of kebabs. This smorgasbord of meats and seafood is moist, tender and grilled just right, flavoured with a deep red spice mix and accented with a squeeze of lime juice.
The murgh tikka masala is made up of charbroiled chicken meat simmered in tomato gravy while the baldi gosht has tender pieces of lamb cooked in a spicy sauce resplendent with Indian spices. Raita (cucumber and tomatoes in yoghurt) and the ubiquitous palak paneer (Indian cottage cheese in a spinach gravy) help temper the spice and heat of the other dishes.
The star of the show, however, is the Navratna biryani. This vegetarian rice dish is so amazingly good, you could just eat it by itself and ignore every other item on the table! The rice is cooked to perfection in the ‘dum’ style and subtly flavoured with a selection of spices that allow the taste of the aged rice to shine. Truly divine!
No Indian meal is complete with a sweet treat. Opt for the gulab jamun – milk dumplings in rose flavoured syrup. The spongy, cardamom-flavoured dumplings are not cloyingly sweet and are the perfect ending to a glorious lunch.
Bombay Palace offers a very good selection of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. A good list of red and white wines from France, Australia, New Zealand, California, Italy, South Africa, Chile and the Alsace region have been carefully selected to go with the food. Although, many believe reds stand up better to the robust flavours of Indian cuisine, the food here is delicate enough to be paired with some of the whites, especially Riesling. The drink menu also includes spirits and aperitifs.
Service is very pleasant and waiters attend to the guests’ every query, recommending dishes and suggesting which food items went better with bread or rice, explaining levels of spiciness, heat and even helping them understand the cuisine better. Plates are changed a few times and glasses filled up promptly. It is a joy dining here attended by the waiting staff who are knowledgeable and passionate about the food they are serving.
The price is highly reasonable, especially for the meat dishes. The portion size is adequate for two to three diners per serving and ordering between two and three dishes with rice or breads will fill you up adequately. If uncertain, the waiters are more than happy to suggest and, stop you when you start getting carried away.