From the busy streets of Telawi to the more laidback Jalan Bangkung and Jalan Kemuja, we round up the best restaurants and cafés in the neighbourhood.
RECOMMENDED: Bangsar area guide
Restaurants and cafés
By food entrepreneurs Ili Sulaiman (of Dish by Ili) and Basira Yeusuff (of Root Cellar KL), Agak Agak (meaning ‘more or less’ in Malay) is a new food-based social initiative that’s modeled after Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, where underprivileged youngsters are trained and mentored for a career in food. Setting up shop at APW Bangsar, Agak Agak is an eatery that provides one-year apprenticeship programmes for kids from underprivileged communities. These kids will not only learn skills in the kitchen, but they’ll be picking up training in managing and operating an eatery (kitchen service, sales and marketing, food delivery, etc). Agak Agak will be open to public October 31.
Ashley's by Living Food
Living Food bistro’s maiden offshoot stays true to its health food roots without sacrificing panache and élan. Spruced-up comfort food like the quinoa salad as well as baked brie with almonds and cranberries share the spotlight in this quirky, stylish spot on Jalan Telawi 3. Other dishes to try here include the scrumptious saffron-spiced paella with shrimp, scallop and pearl snapper as well as the Portobello mushroom and buckwheat polenta stack.
Breakfast Thieves Kuala Lumpur
After Pulp, APW adds another café to its premises, and it’s a very handsome one. Already attracting brunch hunters and Instagrammers in droves, Breakfast Thieves (yes, it’s the sister of the one based in an old chocolate factory in Fitzroy, Melbourne) is a stunner: a glasshouse-like space with lots of pale wood, white tiles, pastel railings and concrete, punctuated by the occasional plant and exposed light bulb. Founded by a team of Malaysians (Brandon Chin, Kevin Foo and Edwin Koh), KL’s Breakfast Thieves features a minimal brunch menu of modern Australian dishes with Asian influences – think berry compote yoghurt with granola, ginger apple crumble and soft-boiled eggs; spicy baked eggs with beef salami, onion jam and okra; and even eggs Benedict is given an upgrade with braised beef cheeks, honey apple compote and yuzu hollandaise. What you can look forward to: an upcoming lunch menu with more Malaysian-centric dishes such as polenta soft-shell crab burger with lemongrass-chilli sauce and a side of kaffir lime salted chips, a nasi kerabu dish named 1MBT, popiah stuffed with shredded crab and honey herbed ricotta, and more. Rounding out the deal is a simple coffee menu (sorry, no filter coffee for now) with the usual latte, double espresso and cappuccino. But the Magic is the one you have to try: it’s a double ristretto topped with steamed milk.
Bangsar’s most treasured Indian restaurant is built on the foundation of rich curries and generously spicy condiments. While most of you may frequent Devi’s at ungodly hours of the night, it’s the restaurant’s daytime banana leaf section we like the most. Tucked away upstairs, the banana leaf range is an impressive one – opt for the creamy, dreamy Kerala fish curry but be wary of the chilli-laced mutton masala. This isn’t the cheapest banana leaf meal in town but air-conditioned Bangsar corners come with a price. Awards Food Awards 2011, 2012, 2013 Devi's Corner won Best Cheap Eats in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2013. It was shortlisted Best Banana Leaf in 2012 and voted Best Mamak/Hawker in 2011. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
APW is transforming into a cool new arts and dining venue, and one of its latest tenants is a 30-metre long origami dragon that lights up after dark. This is Kaiju Company, a Thai-Japanese fusion restaurant offering interesting selections of rice bowls, salads and pastas with fun and bold flavours. Try the tom yum udon. Or get the Hawaiian Kaiju rice, which is a fresh take on the classic Japanese curry rice. This rice dish is topped with chicken patty, fried egg and mushrooms, and drenched in Japanese curry. For drinks, there are sake cocktails, with flavours such as Ribena, lemonade, asam boi, lemongrass and more. Visually, Kaiju hits all the right notes, thanks to the fuss-free but captivating interior by design powerhouse pow ideas, as well as graphic elements by L I E. Solo diners won’t feel out of place here as there’s a bar seating area right up front.
Best places for dessert
For a sundae that meets your childhood aspirations, Morelli’s Gelato fits the bill with gelatos that are made from scratch daily. Their sundaes are placed in the -15C blast freezer after every layer is added to ensure it retains its shape and temperature. The Berry Pavlova, a concoction of wildberry sorbet, raspberry yoghurt, soft vanilla gelato with raspberry coulis, meringues and seasonal berries, is one that stands out. Adults can go for Baileys, a satisfying sundae made from hazelnut gelato and chocolate sauce, served with a single shot of Bailey’s liqueur in a chocolate cup.
Om Shakti Chelo’s Appam Stall
This modest 26-year-old stall in Bangsar churns out appam so good you’ll wonder why it hasn’t joined the ranks of Antipodean and Yeast at weekend brunch time. While you can opt for plain appam with coconut milk, we go weak for the brown sugar variety; coconut milk and brown sugar are liberally applied onto appam batter and swirled in a pan so the edges remain fluffy while the sides are brittle. The sugar is intentionally left in chunks, so every bite hits you with a burst of caramel-coconut goodness.
Best places for coffee
Not far from Jalan Kemuja's row of eateries like Southern Rock Seafood and Fierce Curry House is Bean Reserve. Operated by the same team as Brewmen, the café serves as a coffee spot for folks using co-working space The Co. Of course, that shouldn't stop the café-hopping crowd from hanging out here, because what awaits them is soft-serve ice cream, among other things. Bean Reserve makes their own cereal milk soft-serve ice cream and in the future will add more flavours such as chocolate and coffee. Unlike other KL varieties of soft serve, the topping here is simple – cornflakes. If you want something a little more complex with a little more coffee, get the soft-serve affogato. For a quick meal, they serve simple sandwiches like smoked salmon, pulled beef, and a turkey ham pineapple variety dubbed the 'Hawaiian'. While Brewmen is famous for their nitro coffee, Bean Reserve adds one more choice to the nitro variety – Earl Grey tea infused with nitrogen to give it a foamy top, which may easily get mistaken for a pint of beer. Besides that, there's also chai latte (with chai syrup made in-house), a drink that is slowly creeping into the menu of KL’s cafés. With nitro drinks and soft-serve ice cream, Bean Reserve is a refreshing addition to the local café scene. But if you're here for just coffee sans nitrogen, you can't go wrong with a flat white.
The coffee enthusiasts at Thirdwave are so serious about their java they established a special coffee counter just to educate you about hand-brewed coffee. Think of it as a caffeinated bar: You can sit on the high stools and sip on a cold brew but minus the cheesy pick-up lines. Thirdwave gets beans from a variety of sources including Three Little Birds, and the resulting brew is a full-bodied coffee that pairs well with the upside-down starfruit cake, the root beer float cupcake, and – if you can handle it – the papaya cheesecake. Here’s a laidback café that manages to avoid the rustic wood/metal decor of its peers.