If you're wandering around TTDI looking for a café to get some coffee, brunch, dessert or a quick meal after shopping at 1Utama, it can be an overwhelming experience - what with the number of cafés and restaurants popping up all over the neighbourhood. Here's a cheat sheet to help you choose from the myriad of cafés in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Artisan Roast Coffee
The folks at Artisan Roast got it right when they put precedence on the coffee over the decor of their café. But this is not to say the outlet’s shabby; on the contrary, it has an endearing DIY charm to it. Artisan Roast uses the Loring Smartroast coffee roaster, one of the world’s best and the only one of its kind in Malaysia. But that’s hardly the point: The recipe for Artisan Roast’s success lies in their total involvement in the entire production chain, from the sourcing of the beans to the roasting and the training of the baristas. While they experiment with different blends and roasts, a signature Artisan Roast coffee is one that’s slightly acidic, bold in flavour, and leaves a fragrant bitterness on your palate. Awards Food Awards 2012, 2013 and 2014 Artisan Roast was voted Best Place for Coffee in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2014 and 2013 and was shortlisted in the same category in 2012. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded. Food 40 Food 40 is our monthly, definitive guide for where to eat in the Klang Valley. No entry into the Food 40 has provided any Time Out team member with a free meal or other incentive. If you have eaten somewhere that you think should rank amongst KL's top 40, email us and we'll check it out: email@example.com.
Judging by the crowd at Foo Foo on a Monday night, plated dessert cafés are a huge gap in an industry still plagued by lazy iterations of hollandaise on egg. I suppose, after all, people do want chocolate shards branching out of their pudding or tuile splinters leaning nonchalantly against their ice cream. And even if Foo Foo isn’t flawless, it’s a fine pioneer in what could be an oncoming fad in KL. The parlour is fitted out to a tee – lots of forest green shades to soothe the eye, soft throw cushions squeezed into graphic prints, and rattan shaped into coffee tables and chairs. Bonus: The Foos and their team are incredibly warm, and the very lovely Keith will take you through the menu if you’re a first-timer. Linger you will. Because every table around me is adorned with it, I order the crispy profiteroles with salted caramel coffee ice cream (RM22). The ice cream is very, very nice and I imagine it with many other wonderful things (sticky date pudding! Gingersnap ice cream sandwiches! Affogato!). But the profiteroles point to signs of overcooked choux roux, dried out and slightly bitter. The candied oranges at the bottom are fine on their own, but the bringing together of citrus with caramel and coffee is a case of too many cooks. The pavlova (RM23) fares far better. It’s a towering pillow of egg whites, layered to great heights. I make a beeline for the crispy, shattering edges, the dessert equivalent to the crunchy bottom of lasagne. The billowing lime Chantilly atop
TTDI is a burgeoning district for new coffee bars, and this eye-catching spot leads the pack. Owned by buddies Hadri and Hanif, this Melbourne-inspired set-up sports a feature slant wall that provides the illusion of a falling warehouse – it’s all a bit cool. The boys have an undoubtedly tasteful eye for style, proven with the execution of a clear theme without the curse of convolution. Count yourself lucky if you get your hands on a slice of peanut butter cheesecake with M&Ms, best paired with a cup of Singapore’s Common Man.
There are two things that stand out at Exhibit Café: chairs and coffee. Owners See Hin Loo and Rie Mizoguchi have managed to decorate the space with beautiful mid-century modern furniture while keeping it cool and relaxed. It reminds us of the Scandinavian-styled Fuglen café in Tokyo – and that’s not surprising, given that Exhibit uses beans imported directly from some of Japan’s cult roasters, namely Maruyama, Glitch and Fuglen. Exhibit is a proponent of the slow coffee movement, and that’s only wise considering the specialty beans they use. Coffee is brewed using the time-consuming pour-over method to best extract the nuanced flavours.
More cafés in TTDI
If you’re looking for some place peaceful and quiet, Aether Café fits the bill. It’s stowed away from the busy streets of TTDI, setting up shop in an area surrounded by lush greeneries instead. The DIY wooden furnishing adds a rustic charm to this tropical-themed sanctuary, which also champions healthy and wholesome meals like protein-packed salads, garlic lychee pasta, and a range of Korean and Japanese options. Pair those with a freshly brewed Doi Chaang coffee, fresh juices (they also come in Rainbow Shots; pictured) or a cup of tea.
Bowery Petit satisfies two camps: those who like cake and pastries, and those who like pizza. If you belong to the former, the café's tempting display of baked goods will put you in a bit of a pickle decision-wise: should you go for the caramelised nuts monkey bread, Boston cream pie danish or filled doughnut? What about the cakes and pies? And you haven't even gotten to the milkshakes yet (available in banana cream pie, raspberry macaron and peanut butter brownie). It can get all very overwhelming for the indecisive dessert lover, so here's some help: order the caramelised nuts monkey bread, lemon and vanilla cream doughnut, and the raspberry choux à la crème. If you want cake, have the red velvet cookies and cream brownie or flourless dark chocolate cake. Tip: Bring a friend along, and make sure they have a sweet tooth. For something savoury, Bowery Petit offers large New York-style pizzas sold by the slice (varieties include spicy tuna, Mediterranean and beef pepperoni) as well as pies, quiche, and even bagel balls. Aside from coffee by Perth's Blacklist Coffee Roasters, milkshakes and sodas, the café also serves a range of beers and ciders.
The American waffles-and-chicken combo has finally crossed geographical borders, now available as a Chicken Cobb Sandwich at Chequers, featuring crispy waffles, shredded chicken, hard-boiled egg, avocado, beef bacon, plum tomatoes and curry mayo. There are several other versions worth mentioning too: Moo Moo (a waffle burger with sirloin beef patty), Eggs Benedict (served with watercress salad), and if you like something sweet, Melting Moments (waffles with deep-fried bananas and salted caramel sauce). Your breakfast, lunch and dinner, sorted.
The proverbial cronut may have taken the world by storm, but people haven’t seen what Dotty’s salted egg yolk cronuts are capable of – they command an even longer queue as the elusive croissant-doughnut hybrid only appears in three batches throughout the day. While waiting, we suggest you seek solace in their addictive éclairs, sprinkled with shortcrust cookies and stuffed with cardamomflavoured cream. The café has also rolled out their hot meals – Scotch eggs with sweet potato fries and big breakfast – but come on, you know what you’re really after.
Your brunch options extend with the opening of Frisky Goat, yet another industrial, raw-bricked setup in TTDI. Food is given priority over coffee with entries like baked eggs and French toast along with house-made breads, pastries and cakes. The café’s selling point is its operation at dinner time, when hearty favourites like beef bourguignon and Angus rib-eye steak set the place apart from your standard coffee joint. Service is a little sluggish, but judging by the full house every weekend, KL-ites are a forgiving bunch.
The Grumpy Cyclist
The Grumpy Cyclist draws on the concept of cycle cafés commonly found abroad. It was created as a way of combining the founders’ passion for good coffee, food and cycling within a friendly community-based hub, providing a relaxed space for people to hang out regardless of whether they’re cyclists or not. Located in TTDI, the café is well situated between popular parks and cycling routes, within a matured neighbourhood that’s well loved by both the cycling community and café-lounging hipsters.
A good reason to get out of bed, this café is inspired by Cereal Killer Café in London and KITH Treats in New York City. Serving a mind-boggling assortment of cereal and breakfast grains, it’s a fun way to revisit familiar favourites like Coco Pops and Koko Krunch while sampling American-sourced treats such as Reese’s Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Two kinds of cereal, two toppings and your choice of milk totals RM12.90.
Mukha is a cosy little spot serving Middle-Eastern influenced food and teas. Some of the dishes served here are the baked eggs with Arab toast, beef bamia, lamb cutlets and a particularly decadent bannoffee pie. Try out some of their Shahi Arab teas and house-blend coffees while you're there.
Pickle & Fig
The neighbourhood sandwich shop serves up pressed sandwiches and paninis of all sorts for under RM20. We particularly enjoy the rotkraut pastrami panini, a fresh and hearty wholemeal bread upgrade that is hot-pressed to perfection. The star here is the rotkraut, an Austrian delicacy of red cabbage cooked in vinegar and apples that adds a tantalising sweetness and tang to the piquant Russian dressing-slathered beef pastrami. An accompanying side of chunky hand-cut potato wedges, triple-cooked to a golden crisp, tops it all off. Awards Food Awards 2014 & 2013 Pickle & Fig was voted Best Healthy Eats in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2014 and was shortlisted in the same category in 2013. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
This little charmer in TTDI is run by Wandi (of They Will Kill Us All), Fadli (of Elisebelle Tears and fixed gear café Grafa), Redzuan (of Force Vomit) and Halyza (of Grafa). It’s a fascinating arrangement of secondhand furniture and recyclables – note the frosty glass windows tilted and used as tables, and the striking two-tile pattern at the outdoor seating area. Here’s the clincher: A vinyl section is set up where the owners’ personal collection of dusty records are displayed. Customers are encouraged to sift through the music or bring their own tunes, and subsequently put the records on themselves. The current collection includes gems from P Ramlee, The Black Keys and Morrissey.