Desaru is on the rise as one of the most popular holiday destinations across the Causeway. But a weekend trip leaves precious little time — which means you’ll want to spend as little of it fussing about the little things, such as where to eat.

It’s easy to find places to explore or chill in this seaside town, but finding food might be a little harder. Don’t worry, though — that’s where we come in. We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. 

Whether you’re longing for a lunch place or desire some drinks, here are some of the best places to dine in Desaru:

Breakfast/lunch: Sessions

Can’t decide whether you should have Eastern or Western food? At Sessions, you don’t have to choose. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

Regardless of whether you’re an early riser or still in bed at noon, Sessions is the way to start the day. 

This 344-seater restaurant is where the best of East and West Come Together. Offering a staggering selection of food, ranging from good old American-style burgers to the signature Mee Mamak and Lamb Biriyani, diners have the freedom of choosing between the extensive buffet spread and the no-less-impressive a la carte menu. 

Regardless of which route you opt for, you had better be hungry. The Sessions classics, like the Signature Hidangan Set are famously massive, so you should bring a friend — or several, if possible.

The Signature Hidangan Set at Sessions is highly recommended — but make sure you bring a friend to help conquer the sheer amount of food. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

Dining alone? The a la carte menu spans everything from traditional Beef Burgers to Prawn Malabari to even tried-and-true Indonesian Soto Ayam. Regardless of what you’re craving, Sessions probably has it. 

Of course, there’s a risk that comes with having such a heavy lunch — in that you might be tempted to spend the rest of the day simply lounging around in the hotel, rather than heading down to the beach like you initially planned. But what’s wrong with that? 

Coffee break: Constant Grind

Need a coffee to get you through the day? You’ll find it at Constant Grind. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

Let’s face it: Most of us can’t survive a day without a hot cup of java. But with no Starbucks to be found in Desaru, coffee lovers might think that they Can’t Get No Satisfaction. 

That’s where they’re wrong. They’ll find it in Constant Grind, an air-conditioned, highly Instagrammable cafe with a wide selection of wraps, sandwiches, and of course, freshly-brewed coffee. 

While the wonderfully sinful Extreme Milkshakes are a familiar sight on Instagram, there are plenty of healthy options at Constant Grind too, like the Healthy Wrap and Caprese sandwich, or the Albacore Tuna and Chicken Caesar salads.

Constant Grind is a great place to grab some coffee and a sandwich or wrap for a quick lunch, but its Extreme Milkshakes are perfect for those with a sweet tooth too. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

If you’re just looking for a quick bite before you Go Your Own Way, the cafe also offers Grab & Go Combo Sets for a set comprising either a slice of cake, sandwich, wrap or salad and a glass of iced tea. 

But you’re more than welcome to spend as long as you want in the cafe too. Bright, airy and welcoming, it’s a great place for those who just want to curl up with a book and read the afternoon away, or have a leisurely chat with friends — or even finish up that report you have to submit before you get back to the office tomorrow.

Dinner: The Elephant & The Butterfly

The Elephant & The Butterfly is so dedicated to authenticity that it uses ingredients specially imported from Mexico. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

Desaru is probably the place you’d least expect to find a little slice of Mexico — and yet it’s there that you’ll find some of the most authentic Mexican food in Southeast Asia. 

Inspired by the fiery romance of two of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, poolside grill and bar The Elephant & The Butterfly puts a deliciously modern twist on classic Mexican food. Even the decor reflects this, sporting a vibrant palette with light touches of traditional Mexican influence.

You’d be remiss not to try the chef’s special: soft shell tacos, best enjoyed with a side of roasted garlic and jalapeño guacamole. Why not order a bottle of wine and enjoy a complimentary platter of tapas too?

Round out your meal at The Elephant & The Butterfly with some authentic Mexican desserts, like Mexican chocolate pots de crème. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

For dessert, you can expect authentic Mexican desserts like warm churros and Mexican chocolate pots de crème — ending the meal on a sweet note. 

The Elephant & The Butterfly is so dedicated to authenticity that it actually imports ingredients all the way from Mexico, such as the artisanal tequila and mezcal it uses in signature cocktails like the Prickly Love. 

The Elephant & The Butterfly is perfect for both special gatherings with family and friends, or just a romantic dinner with that special someone. PHOTO: 

And speaking of tequila, what’s dinner without a few drinks? The Elephant & The Butterfly’s award-winning mixologist and outlet manager Chris Danial masterfully mixes his cocktails with a Whole Lotta Love. Whether you choose a margarita or mojito, you’re guaranteed to finish dinner feeling like you’ve been Thunderstruck.

Drinks: GMT +8

Session band The Sharp 9 keeps the good times rolling late into the night at lobby lounge GMT +8. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST/JULIUS NG

Just because the night ends doesn’t mean the fun has to. There’s no better place to Rock Around the Clock than GMT +8 — one of the many famed Hard Rock Hotel lobby lounges scattered around the world. 

Designed to emulate an atmosphere of travelling through time, GMT +8 is a cosmopolitan concept that is simultaneously vintage and timeless. With 74 seats, the bar has more than enough space, whether you want to have a quiet night to yourself, or get up on the dance floor and lose yourself in the rollicking live music. 

The lineup of live bands changes monthly — but regardless of which band takes the stage, their infectious groove is sure to get you Dancing in the Moonlight, no matter your preferred choice of music. 

Expert mixologists are sure to wow your taste buds at GMT +8. PHOTO: HARD ROCK HOTEL DESARU COAST

But a bar is only as good as the drinks it serves, and GMT +8 is determined not to disappoint. Using fresh juices and syrups made in-house, all cocktails at GMT +8 are prepared by skilled mixologists, and guaranteed to Take Your Breath Away with their dazzling presentation.

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