Everyone says KL is a shopper's paradise, but not many people look beyond the big brands and international chains. We’ve handpicked the best local and independent stores the streets and malls have to offer. Get your wallets ready.
Within the Academy of Pastry Arts are shelves of shiny baking equipment and ingredients to gratify the Pierre Hermé inside you. Imported Callebaut chocolate of 100 percent cocoa solids are a specialty here, and the stuff is sold in bars, coins or nibs. Even if prices are north of RM50, the staff are willing to explain the intricacies of each packet depending on what you plan to bake. Also run your fingers through rows of chocolate tempering machines, chocolate moulds and fondue sets.
For beers enthusiasts, this is the best bottle shop in town. For the uninitiated, this is a bottle shop in which to educate yourself. Run by the good fellas behind beerbeer.org, Ales & Lagers focuses solely on craft brews (none of your commercial beers here). Currently, they stock about 60 different types of craft brews in bottles and the variety is constantly expanding. What’s more, they also provide some barstools and tables so you can buy and drink on the spot. But the stock comes in small quantities, so if you find something you like, it’s best to grab a dozen to go.
We’ve heard of people driving across the city to do their weekly shop in BIG, and we don’t blame them. It has everything you need in a supermarket: excellent stock, good organisation, well-lit and spaced aisles and a whole lot more. Like a florist. And an oyster bar. Also, one of the best coffee stops in KL, a dessert counter, a bakery round the back, a porky restaurant, a bargain bin and plenty of seasonal promotions to keep the customers happy. It’s the little touches that matter, like the medicine hall-style section for traditional Asian ingredients, the incredible selection of magazines, and the GStick ice cream stand just outside.
You want to party in Changkat, but drinks are expensive and you’re broke. Do you have RM20? Great, that’ll buy you six cans of beer at Bottlez Houz opposite Bakita – you can mix and match at RM10 for three cans, including Chang, Foster’s and Hollandia. Do you have five friends? Great, get everyone to fork out RM20, pool that cash and buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s priced at RM110 (cue gasp). A bottle of Bombay Sapphire will set you back only RM80 (that’s the price of a diluted ‘tall’ jar of Long Island at most bars and clubs in Changkat, by the way); Johnnie Walker sells at RM100; and a bottle of Chivas goes for RM149.
This tiny shop in Lucky Garden devotes itself to two seemingly disparate countries: the UK and the Philippines. Shoprite brings in imported goodies from these two nations, especially the kind of everyday groceries that expats get so passionate about. Think chocolate bars, cereal, sauces, toiletries and all kinds of packaged goods. On the Filipino side of things there is an ample range of cooking supplies and ingredients, as well as biscuits and sweets.
Tucked away at the back of the lesser known Viva Residency, Tommy Le Baker is a tiny bakery whose doors are always open and workers are always kneading. The shopfront is a little haphazard, with its stacks of loaves and handwritten menu, but take your time or ask for recommendations – the sourdough is our favourite. Apart from their artisanal breads (they’re puritans about the fermentation process), Tommy Le Baker also sells a range of desserts, sandwiches and coffees. Beware though – there are only a couple of tables so our advice is to savour the bread in the comfort of your own home.
Soft lights, brick walls and blonde wooden flooring – these terra-cotta touches add to the charm of this family-owned wine shop. Deemed the largest wine shop in Malaysia, WW Wine Warehouse has an extensive selection, with heavy representation by Australian, French, German, Spanish and South African producers. If you like a good bottle but are wary of prices, wines here are 10 to 15 percent cheaper than market price because the shop sources their wines directly from the wineries. Staff are always eager to help you choose from 400 kinds of wines in stock, but if you’re no oenophile, novices can partake in the daily free wine tastings before making their pick.