CRANE RENTAL COMPANY SAFELY LIFTS DINNERS 50M UP IN THE AIR
The idea, of course, is that fear makes food tastes better – or rather, that the senses, including taste, are heightened. The restaurant, too, is the height of taste; Dinner in the Sky allows high-flying diners to dine out while dangling from a crane 50m up in the air. For RM599, you too can be seated at a suspended sky platform – I say seated, but I mean strapped to your seat attached to the table, tethered by a crane car at KL Tower. All in all, it’s a table hanging from a rope. What you get is a five-course meal prepared by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, and free flow water and juices, with a bird’s eye view of the KL skyline and a side of vertigo.
Dinner in the Sky debuted on August 1. It’s a month-long event with two dinners daily, and is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia; the Belgian-based service has served over 40 cities around the world so far, including the Las Vegas strip, the hills of Villa Borghese in Rome, and the marina of Dubai. The thing is, KL has many fine restaurants with a view – think Cantaloupe and Marini’s on 57 – and it surprised me that many KLites would want to dine while dangling in the air, strapped into seats that are not much different than those of a roller coaster.
Before we boarded, my dining companions (the table seats 22 people per session) were positively bubbly and bursting with excitement, all bright eyes and smiling faces. I kept to myself at the welcome lounge, where I drank too much orange juice and fussed about the weather; it had rained earlier in the afternoon, and was then drizzling. What if there’s a hailstorm in the midst of dinner? What if my phone gets wet? Worse, what if I drop my phone up there?
We board at 6.30pm. I am strapped onto my seat – it’s a little tight, so I speak up. ‘It’s supposed to be tight, it’s a safety measure,’ I am told. Well, I mean, in that case. We slowly ascend, and then there’s a short security speech – so far, so good. I’m a little indifferent; I mean, this isn’t so bad! We’re only about two floors up. If I fall, I’ll survive with a scratch. Chef Marc Fery, two other chef crews, and two security staff (all strapped to harnesses) stand inside the table cut-out in the middle – one of them presses a play button on a DJ deck, and Coldplay’s ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ starts streaming out. The first course is served: house-smoked duck breast, bean sprout salad with hoisin vinaigrette and passion fruit drops. At this point, everyone is busy taking food pictures, selfies and videos. Someone whips out a GoPro. I take out my subpar smartphone to surreptitiously snap a few shots. I cut into my meat. I make the mistake of looking up from my food, and now we’re almost 50m up in the air.
My biggest fear isn’t height, exactly, but this unnerved even me a little bit. I swivel to the side, and am greeted with a view of KL evening traffic, KLCC, and a sliver of sunset. It’s still drizzling, but the plastic sheet above shields us from the rain; the table, though, rattles slightly, and the wind whips at my hair. When I swivel back, my plate is cleared, replaced with the second course: roasted Roma tomato soup, mini herb focaccia, fresh Irish Kelly Galway oyster and homemade yuzu caviar. The third course is miso black cod, Thai asparagus and poached daikon; the fourth is confit country hen served with caramelised red onions, and carrot and green pea puree. Much of the food, I learn, is prepared in advance, and then finished with the convection oven onboard.
By now, the sun has set; the buildings all around us are lit up and we marvel for more than a few minutes at KL Tower’s night lights. We’ve been up in the air for over an hour now, but in the flurry of selfie-snapping and video-taking, the dinner feels a tad rushed; it feels like I haven’t done anything at all but take photos of my food, jab at it, and ignore the fact that I now have a full bladder. I regret wearing strappy heels (the dresscode is smart casual), because on top of worrying about my cutlery, phone, and seat falling off, I also agonise over my shoes. I have a vision of tomorrow’s newspaper headlines: ‘Man stabbed to death by stiletto falling from the sky’. There is altogether too much fretting. Being strapped to a seat makes a number of things difficult to do: eating, for example, as there isn’t much space to lean forward to connect your fork to your mouth.
One course replaces the next, and the next, and then, dessert is served: Valrhona Jivara Grand Cru chocolate praline, crème chantilly crunchy hazelnut with exotic gel. I take two, three bites, and before I know it, we’ve descended to safety. ‘How was it?’ a ground floor staff asks, smiling. I smile back. It’s an elevated, unique experience for sure, but I am reminded of that time I dined in total darkness and spilled a glass of beer on the strangers who sat next to me. On my way out, I collect a printed picture of myself having dinner. I only look a little disoriented.