The shaved ice dessert was bound to be a success: what better way is there to beat the KL heat than with freezing cold sweet treats? Besides, anything Japanese-related will undoubtedly find fans in this city (we’re looking at you, Japanophiles). Digging a spoon into mountains of ice, layered with syrups and purées, topped with unique additions the likes of rose espuma, Kyoto matcha, ginger syrup, Japanese pumpkin and more is – to put it simply – a delight. You can get your kakigōri fix at Kakigōri and Mykōri.
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Let us count the ways we have shown our love for nasi lemak in 2017: as gelato; as a burger; as a limited edition KitKat flavour; as a flavoured condom; as a smoothie; as a cake; as a Miss Universe costume. While we did love some of them – MyBurger Lab’s Nasi Lemak Burger clearly knocked the socks off Singapore’s version – we may have gone a bit overboard on a couple of occasions: the cake was unnecessary, and the gelato is a novelty more than anything else (granted, we’ve yet to try the flavoured condom). We wonder what will be next – nasi kandar, perhaps?
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Kombucha – fermented black or green tea – might have taken Hollywood by storm because of its ‘healing qualities’, but it didn’t have the same impact in KL. True, many cafés – like Commoners Space and Real Food – have started to sell kombucha and even some cocktail bars like PS150 have tried mixing it into their drinks, but most KLites who aren’t into yoga and health trends are likely to think it’s the ancient name for Cambodia. Why didn’t it take? Maybe it’s because we already have our fair share of drinks with ‘medicinal properties’ like tongkat Ali and teh kacip Fatimah.
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It’s easy to see why the poké bowl trend boomed – it’s wholesome, grease-free, fresh, tasty and filling. What’s essentially a Japanese chirashi don that has been Hawaiian-ised with loads of raw vegetables, spices, mayo and pineapples, poké bowls pack in a lot for a price tag of under RM20. Early proponents like Paperfish, The Fish Bowl and Fin kicked off the fishy trend, and a number of outlets have started offering their own take that includes beef or chicken – at which point you have to wonder where the line is drawn between a nasi campur and a poké bowl.
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There was a time when most KLites couldn’t imagine a life without their favourite fried chicken, mutton curry or pork noodles. That time seems to have passed. Over the past couple of years, the city has seen a number of vegetarian-friendly or vegan restaurants opening such as Goodness Greens, Kind Kones and Simple Life which offer worthy (read: tasty) alternatives to our staple foods. Craving dairy-free ice cream? Kind Kones has over 20 flavours of vegan ice cream. Even purists who stand firmly on the opinion that good nasi lemak should always come with ikan bilis will be satisfied with Sala’s vegan version. Really.
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When bars like The Locker and Loft, Omakase+Appreciate, PS150 and Coley opened up a couple of years ago, little did they know that they were laying the foundations for a fast-maturing cocktail scene in the city. These days, it’s not enough that bartenders know how to make a perfect Old Fashioned or Negroni – they’re starting to create signature cocktails using local ingredients like bunga telang, limau purut, pandan and hibiscus flowers. And there are now more specialist bars in KL than ever with Pahit putting all their focus on gin, and JungleBird on rum. Then you have more recent additions like Botak Liquor, that really pushes the envelope on concept cocktail bars with their farm-to-glass approach and botanical-based cocktails. Expect bigger things from the bar scene next year.
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Just when you think our love for fried chicken couldn’t get any more intense, here comes Korean fried chicken – extra crispy pieces of chicken wings glazed with a choice of sweet, salty or spicy sauces made from Asian ingredients like soy sauce, sesame seeds and gojuchang (Korean chilli paste). The difference between this KFC and the Colonel’s is more than just the variety of sauces – the batter is made to create an eggshell-thin crust that crackles and crunches when you sink your teeth into it. Sure, it costs more than your regular fast-food joint, but it’s worth the splurge. Hit up Korean fried chicken specialists like KyoChon 1991, Chicken Up, 4Fingers and Nanda for your fix.
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