Before I actually start reviewing, I should say that I’m biased. Yes, I love this place with a passion. I’ve been a huge fan of Annalakshmi since my first bite of their authentic, homemade taste. Firstly, however, we should examine this eatery’s background. Annalakshmi is a fully vegetarian restaurant that serves no meat or alcohol. It was started in the 1980s under the Swayamvara (own choice) concept by their founder Swami Shantananda Saraswati.
Swayamvara encourages its adherents to be selfless, generous and charitable. This is why the entire setup at Annalakshmi is completely voluntary. All the servers are volunteers, as well as the group of ladies that cook the buffet spread on the weekends. The price system here is different too, as it’s a pay-as-you-wish concept. However, a minimum price has been set to avoid confusion and people taking advantage of the system.
The restaurant is now housed in the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields and is rather hidden from the main road. The restaurant is pretty easy to find as it’s on the ground floor towards your left as you enter. On Tuesdays to Thursdays and on Sundays, they serve dishes from an a la carte menu. However, on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet spread for about RM27 per person.
I’m a regular at Annalakshmi and usually go for their weekend buffet spread. This buffet of vegetarian dishes is prepared fully by volunteers and changes from week to week. The dishes prepared are all family recipes, some of which you won’t find on any restaurant menu. These home cooked authentic dishes are really delicious and unique. They’re so rich in flavour and never watered down in any way.
Usually, the spread contains a rice dish, either plain white rice, Pulao or a Briyani. This is followed by about 5 to 7 vegetable dishes. My favourites are anything with paneer, and spinach with lentils. There will always be about two gravy dishes, like Dahl or Sambar, as well as steamed Idli, Vadai, and other carbohydrate based dishes like Uppma. You can also order bread like thosai, chapatti and puri made hot and fresh from the kitchen.
To cool your palate down, there will often be a raita or a yoghurt based condiment. Sometimes it’s in the savoury section, but sometimes it’s in the dessert section, depending on what they mix it with. The savoury raita often has bits of red onions, red chillies, green chillies and coriander leaf. The sweet version will often have fruits and nuts. Towards the end of the buffet line, you’ll find the dessert, which would often be a sweet porridge of some kind. When I was there it was glutinous rice Payasam.
You can order different beverages from their menu, including lassi and fruits juices. However, this isn’t part of the buffet and the price will be added to your end bill.
Apparently, there’s a smaller version of Annalakshmi located near the basement parking in the same building, but I’ve never had a chance to go there yet. That area, known as Annalakshmi Riverside, serves rice in a ‘mixed rice’ style and you really do pay what you can afford with no fixed price.
I sincerely recommend coming here even though you’re not a vegetarian. The food will prove to you once and for all that you don’t need meat or seafood to have a satisfying meal.
- Address: Annalakshmi @ The Temple of Fine Arts, 116, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Phone: +60 3-2274 0799
- Opening Hours: Open 6 Days a Week, Lunch: 11.30am - 3.00pm, Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.00pm. Closed on Monday