March 4th, 2021
KL's Dinner in the Sky: What You Should Know
People love new things. So when 2Spicy Entertainment brought the novel Dinner in the Sky experience to Malaysia for the month of August (Update: 27 August, now extended to September) – its first appearance anywhere in Southeast Asia – the limited seatings that were announced quickly sold out. So quickly, in fact, that additional dinner and even late-night dessert seatings were added, which also promptly sold out.
Organisers are now looking into extending the event or returning to Malaysia soon, no doubt buoyed by the prospect of so many people willing to hand over RM599 for a one-hour, five-course meal. After experiencing the dinner ourselves, we are forced to wonder if that will come to pass. The popularity and rapid sell-out of the Dinner in the Sky experience was largely attributable to social media, but that medium can erase goodwill as quickly as it creates it, and we’re not sure what people’s thoughts will be as the month progresses and more people experience Dinner in the Sky and talk about it. After all, we’re talking RM1,200 for a couple to eat a fairly short meal, and even with the ringgit’s decline, that’s still a lot of money for dining in Kuala Lumpur.
But let’s get to it: What was the experience like?
The setting at Menara Kuala Lumpur might have you thinking it’s somehow related to the tower itself. Composite PR images circulating around certainly feed into that narrative, the notion that you’ll be suspended far above the ground with sweeping views in every direction. In actual fact, the experience is set up in a parking lot near KL Tower, and a crane hoists the table assembly some 40-45 metres up above the parking lot. On the night we attended, a persistent drizzle was on hand for the entirety of the experience. No matter though; a light rain is manageable, and the table is fully covered by a transparent canopy. And it must be said, the technology and safety measures of this experience are impressive. A large rectangular table with 22 integrated chairs resembling the Recaro bucket seats you’d find in a race car surround a central area which serves as the service area. A lead chef, an assistant chef, and three safety and support personnel man this area, preparing the dishes and serving and clearing. The safety staff also gets everyone settled and harnessed securely into their seats, checking and double-checking everything before the table assembly is hoisted off the ground.
We lifted off just before 7pm, and after a safety briefing, Chef Marc Fery of Hilton Kuala Lumpur introduced himself and his team, and the meal began. The first course was a smoked duck breast appetizer with bean sprout salad, which we eagerly ate as the crane slowly raised us off the ground and up to position. The ascent was very, very smooth, and honestly, only the most fearful of heights would really have any problem with this.
There is a little platform in front of your chair for your feet, but the chair does swivel, so you can swing your feet off for a bit of a thrill. Corner seats, if you can get them, are advisable, and we reckon seat #20 might just be the best of the lot. For the best views ahead, seats 1-8 are good, and for the best selfies (with KL Tower and KLCC behind you), seats 12-19 are preferred. The latter group of seats will also be the ones facing the sunset. Seats 9-11 and 20-22 are the end seats, and 1, 8, 9, 11, 12, 19, 20, and 22 are the corners. Of course, this advice is all subject to the seats not being renumbered (or the entire table assembly being spun around)!
The dinner itself was quite good, though not spectacular. There are, of course, limitations inherent in the experience, and given those practicalities, we felt Chef Marc and his team did an admirable job, delivering the meal smoothly and sociably. The only real bump in the culinary road for us was a Confit Country Hen dish, which was less than satisfactory. For this course, there is typically a Wagyu Beef Cheek option as well, though we unfortunately did not get that choice. However, based solely on the palatability of the hen option (or lack thereof), we’d recommend going with the beef. The other courses – including a roasted Roma tomato soup served with a fresh oyster and Yuzu caviar, and a miso-marinated black cod – were all pleasing enough, and we left feeling acceptably well-fed. However, we were surprised that wine was not furnished at this price point, but rather offered as an add-on, and even then, only by the bottle. Of course, this has to be ordered before you leave the ground. Included in the RM599 price, as mentioned on the Dinner in the Sky website, is a “free flow of water and some juices.” A very limited selection of bottled wines, Kronenbourg beer, and a couple of Champagne options are also available for purchase, including a RM1,300 Dom Perignon, which we feel would be a rather wasteful extravagance, as the entire dinner is conducted in roughly an hour’s time.
Despite the light drizzle, visibility was very good. The views, however, though certainly nice, were not especially inspiring. We couldn’t help but think that this setup would have been much more impressive in a place like KLCC Park, which would certainly have afforded some lovely views, even from only 40 metres up. Perhaps if Dinner in the Sky does return to KL, other venues could be explored. The organisers have also mentioned the possibility of the experience going to other places in Malaysia, and that could open up a number of opportunities, such as a seaside venue in Penang.
Of important note on the Dinner in the Sky experience, there is always a risk of weather-related delays or disruptions. However, this risk is borne entirely by diners, and no refunds are given unless the organiser moves to actually cancel the event, and that seems to require something like a natural disaster or riot. In the event of heavy rain, or other weather factors at the discretion of the operators, the dinner will be moved into a ground-level lounge (a tent set up next to the crane) and the food and service will remain the same. This to us seems a fairly significant risk to be shouldered by those wishing to “dine in the sky,” particularly given KL’s regular rain storms. The website is quite clear on this point, so this is very much a caveat emptor situation, and we do not feel this dinner, served on the ground with no wine at all, would be at all worth RM1,200 per couple. We certainly would not want to be the ones to tell 22 hungry people who had paid RM600 each that their sky dining experience was being moved to a tent in the parking lot. That would likely be a fairly unpleasant dinner scene, so it is our sincere hope that the weather will be cooperative for the month of August!
Safety, technology, stability – All get top marks. This is pretty clearly a professionally run operation, and we never felt unsafe or in any sort of danger at any point. Obviously a significant portion of the RM599 ticket price pays for the safety and training that’s built in to the experience, likely along with permits, liability insurance, and things like that.
The meal itself – It’s up to par, though a bit of a stretch to call this “fine dining.” Chef Marc and his team work well within the space and time constraints of the experience, and admirably handle the culinary limitations imposed by being 40 metres in the sky. The chicken dish was a disappointment, but everything else was satisfactory. Service, unsurprisingly – with the attendants never more than a couple of feet away – was very good. We found it a bit unfortunate that wine was not included in the ticket price.
The venue and experience – The site itself is fairly unremarkable. KL Tower at ground level is certainly nothing special, and the views once hoisted into the air are similar to those you would get standing atop a 14-storey building. This may have been the best option organisers had, but it’s hard not to imagine something a bit more impactful. The experience of eating suspended 40 or so metres above the ground is certainly unique, and if the cost doesn’t give you pause, it’s a novel and interesting way to have a meal as a one-off experience.
Value for money – The price tag is pretty steep, but as mentioned, we are confident a large portion of that goes to support the reliability and safety standards of the experience. The best meal at the best price means nothing if the safety is compromised, so we are comfortable with this. However, it’s wise to temper expectations: This isn’t going to be comparable to fine dining in a ground-based high-end restaurant, wine is not included in the price, and it is a somewhat hurried meal (though they paced it quite well) – an hour for a five-course meal doesn’t leave you much time to relax and soak it all in. It’s a novel experience, but the venue here in KL could have been better, and the no-refund policy on rain disruptions makes signing up for this experience a potentially costly risk.
Final thoughts – The team at 2Spicy Entertainment have scored a bit of a coup bringing Dinner in the Sky to Malaysia, its first appearance in Southeast Asia. Everything ran to plan, there were no unexpected hiccups or delays, and the whole thing was smoothly and professionally executed. Guests are also given a keepsake photo of themselves seated at the table after the dinner experience. It’s a nice token, and it’s included in the ticket price.
Dinner In The Sky Menara KL:
Update (Thursday, 27 August 2015)
Don’t worry if you feel like you’ve missed out on the Dinner in the Sky Experience. The people at 2Spicy Entertainment have extended the experience to another month!
They have officially launched the seats for the month of September, and have also included some exciting upgrade packages to make your experience more memorable.
Book your seats quickly to secure your spot. Sale of seats will begin from 8pm on 27 August, 2015. Click here to book your seats.