Date night doesn’t always have to be grand gestures of romance and deep pockets. There are places you can go for a casual night out, just as there are intimate restaurants for momentous romantic celebrations. Regardless of which stage you are in your relationship – crush, courtship, long-time partner, married or even a fling – you’ll find the right restaurant here in this list.
Pizza and wine – a winning combination for any casual date night – come together at APW's popular pizza joint. The small an intimate restaurant serves up one of the best pizzas in town: go for the classic Margherita and Diavola (house-blend tomato sauce, chorizo, red onions, chilli flakes and mozzarella) and pair them with a glass or two of Chianti. Reservations are a must if you want to avoid disappointment, particularly on weekends and Friday evenings.
If you want to turn a dinner date into an occasion, book a table at Tamarind Springs. Set within a jungle, this rustic chic Indochinese restaurant that’s just 15 minutes from the city centre will make you feel like you’re dining in a tropical resort. It’s easily one of the most atmospheric restaurants around.
Keep this for the special occasions: when you’re celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, a promotion, or when you want to pop the question. Service here is top notch; the view is stunning; the tables are well spaced out for privacy; and you can each design your own tasting menu, which means you get to try out each other’s dishes. How’s that for romance?
What could be more romantic than spending date night with a few drinks while being serenaded by KL’s best singers? At this intimate piano bar, you’ll find the likes of Sean Ghazi, Elvira Arul and Melissa Indot crooning a range of classic, acoustic pop and musical numbers in a laidback setting cosy enough to quash those first-date nerves. It also helps that the place serves good drinks – go for the whisky-based Bobo Ginger Iced Toddy, or Gin & Basil – and the dishes from the European restaurant downstairs are equally as good. You won’t go wrong ordering their herb-crusted rack of lamb, sweet potato gnocchi or moules marinière for dinner.
Okay, so Foo Foo isn’t exactly a restaurant, but this café is perfect for first dates. The slightly obscure location gives you privacy; its well-designed café vibe provides relaxed surrounds so it’s less intimidating for both parties; and the beautifully plated desserts elevate it from just a regular coffee date. More importantly, it shows that you actually put some thought into this outing even though you want to keep it casual first.
Set in the quiet enclave of restaurants on Lorong Kurau, this Italian eatery by the BIG Group takes over the space was once occupied by Mario & Luigi; if you were a fan of the latter, you’d be glad to know that much of the décor is left unchanged bar a few paintings taken down and some minor added touches. The intimate fuss-free space offers a more casual dining experience – great for nerve-wracking first-dates – while small intricacies like table-top plants add to the romantic charm. Couple that with Bella’s hearty Italian fare and you’ve got yourself the ideal simple date night joint.
If your date has expressed disdain for cafés that veer on the cheery side with too-earnest vibes, take them to Chocha Foodstore. With a sun-drenched central courtyard lined with potted herbs, clusters of vintage glass lamps dangling over a long wooden table in a corner and classic pastel tiles from its days as Mah Lian Hotel, the place is a little atmospheric. The weekend crowd can get a bit overwhelming, so your best bet for an intimate date is on a weekday, slightly earlier before the dinner crowd swoops in. You’ll be rewarded with an almost-exclusive feel (you can finally get a table at the popular courtyard sans the eager Instagrammers), more attentive service and the chance to get to know your date better over cincalok-marinated chicken and oolong tea.
For a dinner date with a dash of French romance, French Feast is the place to be. Unlike stuffy fine dining restaurants, this restaurant exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere where you're free to laugh until red wine squirts out your nose. Featuring tried-and-tested French dishes prepared by Jean-Michel Fraisse, formerly of La Vie En Rose, the menu reads like a French cookbook come to life. Top dishes include beouf bourguignon, cassoulet of duck confit and profiteroles with housemade bourbon vanilla ice cream.
Perched on the 51st floor of The Face Suites, the newly opened Tangerine not only sets the right tone for a romantic night out, but it’s also a surprisingly affordable fine dining restaurant. As part of its effort to woo customers, their European three-course dinner menu is priced RM138nett, the five-course at RM188nett, and the seven-course menu at RM288nett. For a satisfying night out, we suggest going for the five-course menu, which comprises three starter courses, a main course (go for the wild cod for a lighter meal, or the sous-vide Australian lamb loin if you’re hungry) and dessert. When you’re done, step outside to the balcony and enjoy the gorgeous view of the KL night sky together.
If you’re dating a foodie who loves trying out new things, Sitka Studio is the place to be. The fact that this restaurant only opens two Fridays a month will certainly boost your cool factor for being in the know. Its secluded spot on the first floor means there’s privacy, and you can take your time and enjoy the ever-changing six- or seven-course tasting menu. The restrained, modern Scandinavian aesthetic of the restaurant is perfect for an intimate night out.
If your date is a fan of ‘Chef’s Table’ and ‘The Mind of a Chef’, make a booking at Dewakan for a night you both won’t soon forget. Located deep within the campus of Shah Alam’s Kolej Damansara Utama (KDU), Dewakan is where head chef Darren Teoh creates marvelous dishes using homegrown and unusual ingredients such as keluak, budu and even brains (found in their curiously named ‘What do sheep think with?’ dish – which, at the very least, will spark a discussion). A meal here can cost quite a bit – an 11-course tasting menu goes for RM300, while the 17-course menu is priced at RM370 – but keep in mind that you’re dining at one of the country’s best and most progressive restaurant.
So you and your bae are a little short on cash but still want a proper date meal? MARCO Creative Cuisine in 1 Utama Shopping Centre offers a six-course menu (lunch, 12noon-3pm; dinner, 6-9.30pm) priced at an affordable RM98+ per person. The soup, entrée and dessert courses offer three items each to choose from, while the main course boasts a selection of six items. Despite its affordable price and uncanny location in a shopping mall, you’ll be served like you would in a fine dining restaurant – staff are attentive and will describe each dish as they arrive at your table. Helmed by Chef Daren Leong (previously of Miam Miam), MARCO is where you’ll find the same finesse in execution as you would at a more upscale eatery.
With elegant white walls, tasteful wooden furniture and pop of colour from its statement wall featuring 50 striking portraits of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Antara Restaurant makes a good backdrop for a date night with class. The traditional Malaysian menu – with a bit of French inspiration thrown in – is impressive; go for the deluxe degustation menu (RM158++ per person) that includes toasted chapatti served with goat curd and curried mussel cream; Marron lobster Sarawak laksa; and black apple marble with chai cream and basil seeds. Ask for their cocktail of the month (it’s currently Hibiscus Dream, made with tuak and Absolut Hibiscus) or the Red Dragon with Martell cognac, Absolut vodka, dragon fruit purée and candied ginger.
Fancy date nights don’t always have to involve Italian or French food; if you’re looking for some good old Southeast Asian cuisine, look no further than the cosy Isabel. Set along Jalan Mesui, Isabel boasts a Parisian café-meets-post-colonial era décor – think date-night-worthy indoor and alfresco dining spaces with white marble-top bar and tables, mosaic floors, stylish awnings and an LED-lit tree at night. All dishes on the dinner menu are served in sharing portions, which can lend to an intimate dining experience. Tips to avoid embarrassment: Some of the dishes, like the oxtail assam pedas, can be a bit spicy, so we recommend avoiding it to save yourself from sweating at the wrong time.
A date in Fuego will always be a fun night out. This open air Latin American-inspired restaurant and bar offers dishes that are designed for sharing alongside cocktails that are good. The atmosphere is lively and joyous – and if you run out of conversation topics, you can always talk about how much you admire the Twin Towers view from here.
At night, Huckleberry turns from a bakery café into a bistro with a laidback vibe all round. This casual mood is evident in the dishes as well, which is food truck-inspired – hence very shareable and easy to eat with your hands (think burgers, chicken wings, etc). It’s not stuffy or pretentious; this means less fuss on the food so that you can pay more attention to each other.