Time Out says
While it’s easy to mourn the gentrification of Petaling Street and the proliferation of ‘hipster’ cafés in Old KL, we’re glad to see Chocha Foodstore setting up shop in the abandoned Mah Lian Hotel. Meaning ‘sit and drink tea’ in the Hakka dialect, Chocha is a space where you can do just that – sit down with friends over a pot of specialty tea or two. It’s also a tribute of sorts to the Malaysian yum cha culture.
Located a couple of doors away from Merchant’s Lane and PS150, Chocha Foodstore is one of the most visually stunning cafés we’ve seen this year: classic pastel tiles galore which vary from room to room, a sun-drenched central courtyard lined with potted herbs, clusters of vintage glass lamps dangling over a long wooden tables in a corner. Architect and owner Shin Chang of MentahMatter Design (the second floor of the building houses the office and a co-working area) has transformed the space while keeping the structure (raw concrete walls and all) intact. Fun fact: the colourful tiles and grilles at Chocha are all original fittings from Mah Lian Hotel. According to Shin Chang, they hope this project of theirs will set an example and help in the effort to stop unnecessary demolition of old buildings in KL. Hear, hear.
The menu has gone through some changes since its opening and Chocha now has a lunch(features sandwiches) and dinner menu respectively. Regulars need not fear as the core of the menu still remains local. Whet your appetites with starters like coconut bread, smoked mackerel pâté, sardine sambal toasts and banana blossoms. Experience what burnt chiku tastes like in the form of their Stracciatella, and jackfruit hummus that comes with smoked eggplant. Grilled zucchini is served with pucuk paku, pickled chayote and rounded up with a ginger flower dressing. Carnivores can indulge in their heirloom red rice, slow-cooked and grilled goat rack, beef tongue and marinated duck. Chocha also has Australian steaks featured in their ‘cut of the week’. End your meal with semai chocolate, rice custard with black pulut and sweetcorn (corn ice cream with thyme oil and corn husks).
Their drinks menu has expanded to include a whole host of wines. They’ve also got sake on their list. But what you should really focus on is their cocktail menu (their representation of the official Malaysian cocktails) by Botak Jungle Bird. The botak ‘G&T’ features Xoriguer Mahón gin, bitter orange and tonic. The rest of the menu goes kelapa, lebah, mata kucing, bunga raya, bunga kantan, daun kari and the botak punch. Should you be a beer person, they’ve got craft beers that get introduced routine, so ask away for options. If you’re going to drive yourself home, steer clear of the alcohol and dive into their homemade sodas (also by Botak) and cold brew teas (Dong Ding oolong, sencha and Mount Emei mao feng).