The wide land that is Damansara has the privilege of being both KL and Selangor. It can be confusing – Bukit Damansara for example, is not exactly near the main Damansaras while Ara Damansara is somewhat Subang (and sometimes even Shah Alam). To make things easier for you, we've picked some of the best restaurants, cafés, bars and things to do in each Damansara area.
Battery Acid Club
Here’s another ‘hidden’ café to look out for the next time you’re in the Damansara Utama area. Battery Acid Club’s minimalist façade makes it hard to distinguish between the laundry service and car workshop on the same row; add to that the absence of a signboard and you can completely miss it. However, co-founder and barista Aaron Tan assures us that there will be a marker placed in front to better distinguish the premises – look out for a metal structure in future. On to the drinks, Battery Acid keeps it simple with espresso-based coffee prepared by Aaron, previously of Butter + Beans and Artisan Roast. While cold brews are still in the works, a more interesting choice for the undecided would be the bottled honey-infused latte (RM12), or any of Battery Acid’s own line of ‘creative’ juices (RM10). Reflecting the founders’ love for design and architecture, each flavour is named after a design hero: Vignelli (orange, pink guava and strawberry), Corbusier (apple and grapefruit) and Rams (orange, mango and pineapple). There are also snippets of each designer’s work on the label, so you may want to hold on to the bottle after you’re done. As for food, only snacks and desserts are available: a selection of pastries, cakes from Petiteserie Desserts (try the cendol cake or gula Melaka banana cake, both priced at RM13 each), and tarts from Ling’s Kitchen. Retail store Objekt-Object is situated at the back, selling a well-curated selection of clothing and accessories, reading materia
I'm So Sleepy
Apparently, when you’ve been awake for over 24 hours straight, driving sleepy becomes as dangerous as driving drunk. If you’ve dozed off at the wheel before, you need to know about this. Located in Damansara Uptown is KL’s first napping station – I’m So Sleepy – the answer to all sleep-deprived folks working in the Damansara Uptown area. Getting onto the LDP during rush hour can be a nightmare (well, where isn’t?), but at least Uptown folks are lucky enough to have sleeping pods in the vicinity. Inspired by the Japanese, the napping pods at I’m So Sleepy are designed for the fatigued office crowd who need a quick nap before heading home. Having a couple of hours to kill in between photo shoots on one fine Thursday evening, we decided to check out I’m So Sleepy for a quick snooze. The setup is basic: it’s a small room filled with private sleeping cubicles, separated with partition boards and curtains. The friendly receptionist told us that it would be RM8 for a 30-minute nap, which includes free (fast) Wi-Fi, use of washroom, and even a women’s area for extra privacy. With no time to lose, we peeled off our socks and stretched out on the (height-adjustable) mattress in the cubicles. There’s a light bulb installed in each cubicle if you want to do more work (but why would anyone do that). We were told that blankets require a surcharge of RM5 (as are the portable massage mats) so we decided to go without one. As it wasn’t rush hour yet, the place was pretty quiet, but light sl
Minut Init Art Social
Minut Init welcomes both aspiring and established artists alike regardless of the artistic discipline practised. So whether you do pop, street, or abstract art, photography, animation, or even film, Minut Init studio would showcase your work. Minut Init promises to be the best platform for the finest of local contemporary artists from various genres to display their art.
Hail's Soft Serve
The once-minimalist menu (two soft serve flavours and a variety of toppings) at Hail's Soft Serve is now replaced with a dessert spread featuring waffles, chocolate lava tarts, pavlova and hotcakes, but the star of the show is still the pink peppercorn soft serve. Dress up your ice cream with toppings like green tea marshmallow, meringue stars, vanilla crumble, salted caramel popcorn, French butter cookies, gula Melaka, lemon curd and more, or have it plain to better taste the full flavour of the soft serve. Fans of the Osaka black sesame flavour will be disappointed to know it's a seasonal swirl, but the festive Valrhona chocolate hazelnut soft serve that comes with a Christmas cookie should be a good replacement.
Miru Dessert Café
Joining the ranks of dessert joints in Damansara Uptown is Miru Dessert Café, a cosy spot that specialises in Shibuya honey toast. The thick, fluffy slice of toast is segmented and buttered before being served with different toppings (think ice cream, fruits, coconut flakes, walnuts and so on). At last count, there were eight flavour combinations available – original honey toast, matcha, cheddar cheese, chocolate banana, s’mores, peanut butter, chocolate strawberry, and even a ferrero toast (with hazelnut sauce topped with the asteroid-like chocolate). If you’re not up for toast, they also have inventive froyo shakes – large mason jars of visually-pleasing shakes topped with fruits and sometimes, edible flowers. Try the Lychee Freeze (lychee froyo with strawberries and rambutan).
Nara Kitchen & Co
Damansara Uptown has a good mix of places to eat – you have your cafés, your hawker stalls and your dessert joints. Run by the same team as The Good Batch and Hyde, Nara Kitchen & Co is a nice addition to the area for your #eatclean days. Dishes in the menu boasts a lot of fresh ingredients; the team makes their own jams, marmalade and almond butter, and even the breads are baked in-house (except for the croissants, which are outsourced for now until they perfect their own recipe). Once everything is up and running, you’ll be able to buy their bread to take home. There are also plans to supply these breads to The Good Batch. One of the crowd favourites for now is the Big Belly: a mix of quinoa, roasted beets, orange wedges, mint, sliced kyuri, hummus, miso vinaigrette and edible flowers. Another favourite is the Organic Scramble which uses free-range eggs, caviar, tobiko, tempura mushrooms and is served with a croissant. Their homemade soup changes regularly, but to give you an idea of what to expect, past soups include red bell pepper soup with feta cheese, creamy mushroom soup topped with tempura mushroom, and curry pumpkin soup. For cheat days, dessert here comes from local artisanal ice cream makers Forty Licks, home bakers Frost & Flourish and Saya Bake, and occasionally Nara’s own creations. As with The Good Batch, the coffee here is supplied by Papa Palheta and while they don’t serve alcohol, you can look forward to bubbly brunch sessions in the future. Besides ref
After a wave of specialty coffee bars in KL, it's tea's turn in the limelight. For a good dose of Zen, head to Japanese tea house Tea Press at Damansara Uptown for soothing cups of genmaicha served by trained tea sommeliers Ami Sugiyama and Shaveisha Bathumalai. The menu includes interesting renditions of tea such as tea espresso, green tea leaves blended with Japanese orange marigold, and even roasted green tea blended with cinnamon and Japanese chilli. Fun fact: Tea Press uses premium Japanese tea leaves from Shizuoka. As for the food menu, every item on the menu is thoughtfully created to bring out the flavours of tea, with dishes such as the ochaduke (a traditional dish where dashi or green tea is poured over mackerel and rice, much like cereal and milk), chimaki (sticky rice dumplings wrapped with lotus leaves) and onigir. USJ folks, you guys can check out the second Tea Press outlet when it opens at new mall da:men in January.
Fat Spoon Café
September 2011 The only thing worse than going to Uptown is going to Uptown at lunchtime. Like Pudu, the area has always invoked an inveterate fear in me, probably because everyone is driven into a frenzy of desperation to secure the few miserable parking spots available and that generally results in a lot of raised middle fingers and unwholesome behaviour. Luckily then for Fat Spoon, whose whimsical décor and quirky details did much to calm my murderous instincts. An homage to retro-cute, Fat Spoon is a shutterbug’s dream: from the mismatched wooden furniture and fat spoon door handle to the Peter and Jane storybook menus, here’s a longing backward glance to the good old days when children still read Ladybird books and drew on blackboards. Predominantly Nyonya with a nod to DLL (that’s ‘Dan Lain Lain’), the food is by and large competent, although many dishes still lack the finesse that will come with time and experience. Nevertheless, the menu is impressively extensive, and includes watercress soup noodles (a tad too two-dimensional), assam perut ikan (nicely piquant), and the ubiquitous spring rolls (a tasty contrast of textures). All-in-one meals like the sambal fried rice – served with fried chicken, fried egg, cucumber and pineapple salad, and papadam – provide excellent value for money, but it’s the claypot loh shee fun that takes top spot in the popularity stakes. The house speciality is aromatically but not overly spiced, and its nourishingly smooth texture makes
POKC, which stands for People of Kheng Chew (a term to describe Hainanese, or those from the Kheng Chew or Hainan province in China), was launched early last month in the busy square of Damansara Uptown. Rather than playing it safe and joining the coffee outlets, dessert chains, restaurants and boutique shops that line the inside rows, instead it’s set up on a quieter, less frequented street facing the LDP. It’s just down the lane from A Pie Thing and Epicuro – if you still have trouble finding it, look for Village Park Restaurant in the block behind. Sure, the café garners a smaller and slower crowd in this neck of the woods, but customers will appreciate the ample parking lots and the bubble of peace it provides. It’s tastefully furnished with a mismatched bunch of chairs and stools in various styles. The highlight is the huge, scarred wooden table downstairs, which seats up to ten people – perfect for a big family meal, or, as encouraged by the staff, for random strangers to sit together and make new friends, in keeping with the Hainanese kopitiam vibe they’re going for. The menu pays homage to classic Hainanese recipes, served with a modern twist. A popular appetiser is the buffalo shots (RM20) – fried pieces of chicken wings capping a shot glass of barbecue-Tabasco sauce. The narrow glasses don’t make for satisfying dunking but the presentation is definitely Instagram-worthy. Mains have a more traditional look to them, such as the simple lamb stew (RM25) with generous
The Kitchen Table Restaurant & Bakery
Restaurateur Marcus Low and pastry chef Mei Wan Tan draw inspiration from world-renowned bakeries and restaurants to serve up modern American food that showcase local produce. The dynamic duo (formerly of the namesake supper club) focuses on clean, rustic flavours best exemplified in dishes like pulled pork with carrot and beet slaw, potato and leek soup, buckwheat fried chicken, and French toast with cornflakes and gula Melaka syrup. The restaurant’s bakery section operates during the day where Mei Wan’s expertise shines in teatime tin cakes and slices. A must-try is the housemade sourdough, some of the best you’ll find anywhere.
IDC (Ice Dreams Café)
New Zealand's famous Kapiti ice cream takes centre stage at Damansara Kim's Ice Dreams Café (IDC), where you can enjoy scoops of the rich, creamy ice cream in an affogato, with waffles and crepes, and even as an ice cream sandwich. The signature at IDC is the affogato. While we're all used to affogato as being a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, founders Darren Tan and CK Chee took the literal Italian meaning (which translates to 'drowned') as inspiration to create a whole menu of affogatos with different flavours – and they're not all espresso-based. A standout is the olive oil and sea salt flakes affogato: Kapiti vanilla bean ice cream is sprinkled with flaky sea salt before being poured over with extra virgin olive oil – a bizarre-sounding combination (on this part of the world anyway) that works wonders. Other standouts include orange zest and Earl Grey lavender. Branding itself as 'inspired by Kapiti', you'll find a whole range of ice cream flavours at IDC; spicy apple crumble, vintage stawberry and cream, lemongrass and ginger, Anzac coconut cookies, and Black Doris plum and crème fraîche are just some of the flavours in-store IDC recommends to pair with your waffle, cake or crepe. You can have the ice cream on its own at RM8 per scoop (or order The Sampler to try six flavours at once), but we recommend having your ice cream with lavender and cranberry Welsh cakes, or next to a peanut butter and Valrhona dark chocolate fondant.
The Locker & Loft
Hidden behind a block of beat-up lockers on the first floor of a nondescript shophouse in Damansara Kim is this speakeasy bar. The industrial vibe favoured by many bars and cafés in the city is given an interesting twist here – the addition of exposed metal pipes lining the ceiling and jutting out from the beaten-copper bar and walls, an obvious nod to the steampunk aesthetic. Cocktails here feature inventive use of local and Asian ingredients. Kg Pandan Don uses pandan syrup, coconut milk and homemade pandan bitters together with tequila and rum, while Jacked-up is a gin, mustard, jackfruit, Cointreau and honey mix. The best part is, cocktails are kept between RM25 to RM30 – except for the house cocktail, Kelapa Rock, which is only RM20 (made with fresh coconut water, Aylesbury Duck craft vodka and a little sugar). The food menu, consisting mostly of finger food and bar bites, is just as interesting. Tex-Mex-inspired dishes have been reinterpreted with local ingredients – so expect punchy flavours. We highly recommend the spicy yet addictive mutton varuval quesadillas with mango chutney – a perfect accompaniment to the drinks. Other noteworthy highlights include miso-flavoured moringas, yam croquettes with char siew, and the potato and bitter gourd pakora.
Somewhere along the quiet hills of Damansara Heights is a corner-lot bungalow that is part gallery, part café – altogether a cool hangout spot. Lorong Kekabu describe themselves as a collective, which we'll take to mean that this is also their headquarters. The collective consists of 12.1 Gallery, Malaysian Artist Intention Experiment (MAIX), Kecil by Kedai, and visual artists Anwar Suhaimi and Izat Arif. What it really is is a bunch of friends who just wanted to have a space to call their own and share it with others. Local artist Shooshie Sulaiman is the person behind 12.1 Gallery and MAIX, a platform that offers research, exhibition and discussion facilities for artists. She’s also the former occupant of the bungalow; she had good memories living here a few years back, so she hopes that its good vibes will live on with Lorong Kekabu. Meanwhile, Izat Arif is the man behind gallery and woodshop, Kedai. As Kedai is currently focusing more on woodwork and furniture-related ventures, Lorong Kekabu is a place for Izat to experiment with other things. Anwar Suhaimi manages the space for now, playing the role of curator as well. Located in the bungalow's backyard is Kecil by Kedai, an al fresco café which serves coffee, tea, hot chocolate, yoghurt drinks, and snacks fit for teatime (it's only open from 4pm). The snacks menu is still in its experimental stages, and by experiment we mean you’ll have to ask them what’s available, although we predict that the s’mores we had on our v
This bar lets you work a little for your post-work drinks by being hidden. Look for the trail of posters lining up the walls of the staircase and you’re there. They have a variety of cocktails which includes their signature Blue Elephant, filled with tropical flavours like vodka, Australian Chardonnay, passion fruit syrup, apple juice, grapefruit juice and some blue curacao syrup. Besides the popcorn (available in caramel, curry and peanut butter), bar snacks come by way of A Li Yaa, the Sri Lankan restaurant located behind the bar.
Way Modern Chinois
What separates a good restaurant from a great one is its interpretation of food: The former executes a dish well while the latter successfully translates an idea into a brilliant meal. The latter can be a long, tedious process – in Way Modern Chinois’s case, it took 15 months of food tasting and experimentation, as stated in the opening page of its menu – but when it does work out, you get exciting food that you can’t quite get enough of. That’s exactly how I felt after my first dinner there; I quickly planned a second visit to make sure the quality is consistent. Way Modern Chinois takes a contemporary approach to Chinese cuisine; the 60 dishes featured on the menu can be divided into two camps: classic dishes that are given a modern reboot, and brave new inventions. This is risky business, because without the right balance, this could easily become pretentious Chinese fine dining. So it’s to the chef’s credit that the execution is almost flawless. The Szechuan marinade in the Pac Man steamed prawn dumplings is restrained to allow the sweetness of the crunchy prawns to come through before the heat kicks in, while the accompanying ponzu dipping sauce rounds off the flavours with a fragrant sour tang. The same precision can be found in the crispy oyster mushroom tempura style with creamy sauce (impossibly light batter coating a pillowy mushroom centre), and the Szechuan-style mutton hot pot with vegetables (a measured balance where the spiciness of the broth complements, rathe
Yellow Brick Road
While some of us miss the old establishments on Jalan Batai, the rest of us can look forward to new places opening up around the area, and the new café on the block is none other than Yellow Brick Road next to Torii. Just like its sister café The Red Beanbag, you can add this to your list of places for brunch. Besides the obvious yellow pathway, don’t expect too much 'Wizard of Oz' gimmicks – no waitresses in gingham dresses and red shoes here. In fact, co-founder Lin Lee explains that the name is more about their journey from their first café to the road ahead. The café differs from its Australian-influenced sibling by incorporating local flavours in its food. Take 'I Wanna Be Kaya' for example: French toast with poached pear slices, coconut mascarpone cheese and caramel kaya sauce. Some of the other localised dishes include sugar-cured prawn omelette and anchovy sambal served with toasted rye bread, and pasta aglio olio with chicken char siu made in-house. Coffee-wise, Yellow Brick Road knows its game, what with co-founder Jason Loo being a Malaysia Barista Champion. Their beans are sourced from Artisan Roast, and is a blend of Colombian and Costa Rican beans especially made for the café. If you’d like to see the baristas in action and have a chat with them about their craft, take a seat at the brew bar, which is decked out with bottled coffee beans and pretty blue China cups (a subtle ode to its namesake perhaps?). Besides being the head barista, Jason (who had trained
Kinme Sashimi & Grill Bar
April 2014 It’s not very often you come across a good restaurant by chance, let alone a Japanese one that isn’t accented with bamboo. Kinme is that six-month-old restaurant you walk past, do a double take at, and continue walking past – its façade is neither conspicuous nor stylish, something that can be partially attributed to Plaza Damansara’s general blandness. But once you push past the doors, it’s a different story. The space opens up into a narrow vertical set-up, where high chairs loom over tables, a glossy bar extends sleekly across the floor and sake bottles sparkle in unison on strategically lit shelves. I’m whisked to a high table by Jason, the effervescent waiter, who then hurriedly pulls out a chair to rest my bag on. He brings over the menu, launches into a brief summary of it, and gives me a polite smile. I’m left endeared and somewhat suspicious of his beguiling graciousness. What are the odds of excellent service when I least expect it? The afternoon only improves when both my sashimi and nigiri platters are outstanding. Chef Voon, formerly of Hilton KL’s Iketeru, picks the day’s freshest catch depending on season and market availability. My sashimi platter is a bed of ruddy pink fish on ice – thick, fresh and perfectly decadent. The nigiri plate meanwhile, is an assortment of tuna, yellowtail and mackerel among other premium catches assembled in a line with housemade pickled ginger. The portion of sushi’s topping far exceeds the rice that holds it, a case
Ben's Independent Grocer at Batai Village
Ben’s Independent Grocer (BIG) opens a second outlet at the newly-revived Jalan Batai. It may not be as spacious as Publika's, but BIG in Batai does feature the grocer's star highlights: BAY seafood, Barn Butchery, a cheese counter, and B.read, which also offers sweet treats by Ben's Bake Shop, coffee by Plan b Roasters and pun-tastic sandwiches by B'wiched. Look out for Ben's General Food Store opening next door.
Raisin’ The Roof
Bukit Damansara now has a healthy eats establishment for your #eatclean days. Raisin’ The Roof is located in Plaza Damansara within the same vicinity as Huckleberry, Blue Elephant and The Gaslight Café. Owned by a German, a Thai and a Singaporean, the trio are all advocates of healthy eating, and they set up Raisin' the Roof because of KL's lack of cafés serving organic food. Although the café aims for a nutritious, meat-free menu with vegan and gluten-free options, none of the dishes sound plain or unappetising (as some would imagine healthy organic food would be). Items on the menu are a mix of brunch dishes, salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts – yes, even desserts. A standout dish is the brown rice sushi bowl salad, described as deconstructed sushi with avocado, edamame, sautéed spinach, toasted seaweed and pomegranate seeds. Now on to the dessert counter: You'll be surprised to know that most of the desserts here are of the raw, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options. The café serves up raw orange chocolate cake and key lime cheesecake (and by raw, we mean that the cake isn’t baked and uses raw ingredients – think crusts that are made of dates and pistachios). The purple pecan pie uses gluten-free flour for its crust and has a sweet potato filling topped with oats and pecans, while the bliss balls are a healthier version of chocolate truffles with variations like cranberry, fig and chia seeds, and lemon, coconut, cashew and vanilla. Raisin' The Roof also stocks a
The Swedish home furnishing giant offers everything under one roof, everything you need to complete your home with. Buy reasonably priced furniture like sofas, beds, tables, wardrobes, soft furnishings like curtains, bedsheets, towels, and rugs as well as accessories for your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.
Closer Kitchen & Espresso Bar
Occupying an unlikely spot in Menara TSR (a short walk away from the Curve) is the geometry-themed Closer Kitchen & Espresso Bar. The space ticks all the right boxes for a cool café vibe. Think stark white walls, black steel touches, design magazines, and a single white orchid in a glass vase resting on a long wooden table. Co-founders Paige and Stan, from design and media backgrounds respectively, are well-versed in what elevates a café beyond the ordinary, and it shows from their carefully planned menu (with a molecular gastronomy chef as consultant) and attentive staff. Odd location, but parking is free on weekends.
Over the years since it was established in 2006, Laundry went from being the go-to live music venue in the city (especially during the Crossborders regional music series days) to a bar overshadowed by The Bees and the No Black Ties of the world. A recent cosmetic facelift and reinvention aim to bring back the glory days to Laundry, with a new retro-chic aesthetic heralding the return of a more consistent music-driven format.
An indoor theme park originating from Mexico, KidZania is like a scaled-down town for kids to live out their ambitions or fantasies, whether they’re acting as police officers solving crime, makeup artists performing manicures or firefighters extinguishing a burning hotel. The procedure is very simple: pick a profession you like and act out the roles. Attractions include the Schwan-STABILO Arts and Crafts Studio, Cadbury Chocolate Factory, beauty salon, AirAsia ticketing office, Oreo Cookie Factory, Sushi King Sushi Bar and more. To celebrate birthdays here, a birthday package includes admission tickets for both the birthday child and parents for the whole session. Also includes 12 passes for their invited guests, a birthday cake, games and 45 minutes use of Disco Lounge or Game Room or Urbano Room.
The Offday is the brainchild of the power duo that is Irman Hilmi and Deanna Ibrahim. If you’re a fan of the label’s razor-sharp edge to streetwear looks, you’ll like their standalone store Markas. Previously available at Bangsar’s kitschy store I Love Snackfood, The Offday has decided to feature more items and introduce new and local vendors to their customers. Besides The Offday’s own ‘Masharakat’ brand, featured vendors right now include new local label Stakes Shop and Aussolusi who source their items from various vintage markets and bundle stores. Not limited to just clothes, expect a little bit of everything – think of Markas as a very small-scale Urban Outfitters. For homeware and decor, Mareqeshi has it covered with pastel-coloured pots and cups. Also available is local bath and beauty label Wunderbath whose Wundersoaps make cute gifts as they come in the shape of a duck, egg and even fried chicken (just don’t eat them). Back to the edgier side of things, Markas has brought in Shapeshifts, a brand that produces 3D-printed products including accessories, vases and phone covers. Budding graffiti artists can also get drip markers and refills from the Quad crew. In future, look forward to more vinyl records as the store stocks up on selected albums with the help of Subang’s Teenage Head Records. For book lovers, Markas has a whole shelf filled with books from DuBook Press, including one written by Irman himself. We also spotted ‘Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book’ –
Located next to Ahmad & Co is Rakshee for your bakso fix amid stylish surroundings. All decked out in black steel, gleaming white tiles, touches of green and dangling lamps, Rakshee is a venture by young entrepreneurs to spread the love for bouncy Indonesian meatballs (sourced from Penang) through incorporating it in linguine, sliders, and in the way we like it best – mini bowls of noodles priced at RM1.90 each. After you’ve placed your orders at the counter, you’ll be given a gadget that will buzz once your food is ready. Sip on a glass bottle of Teh Botol jasmine tea while you wait.
Charming and inviting, Erawan serves authentic and fusion Thai cuisine. Owned by two Thai brothers, dishes are carefully prepared with one of the brothers, Chef Korn, overseeing and cooking all the main dishes. Their pomelo salad and crispy papaya salad make a refreshing appetiser and their curries are also popular. Creatively handpainted walls, paintings and flowers decorate Erawan, adding to its appeal and cosy ambience. As Erawan is run by a small team, the restaurant requests that you make a reservation before arriving. Awards Food Awards 2011, 2012 and 2013 Erawan was shortlisted Best Thai in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2012 and 2013. It was shortlisted Best Thai/Indochinese 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. 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.
Food trends come and go, but Thai fare remains a mainstay in the KL dining landscape. As more independent Thai eateries open shop, we made our way to one of the newest spots in Kota Damansara – Rak Somtam. It was a rainy evening when we dropped by, and the warm light spilling out from the windows and welcoming smiles from the staff set things off on a good note. A browse through the simple two-page menu showed that Rak Somtam focuses on regular Thai fare – skewers, Thai salads, sticky rice and tom yam. As the rain continued outside, the food arrived in odd intervals. The som tam (Thai salad) came first, a heap of shredded young papaya with chopped string beans, peanuts, wedges of creamy salted egg and a generous drizzle of spicy sauce (there were hints of fish sauce and lime juice). Served on a lotus leaf-like plate, the som tam came embellished with tiny bright orange prawns that provided a nice crunch and texture to the proceedings. Flavour-wise, it’s reminiscent of the versions we’ve had in Bangkok, but perhaps the young papayas could be more finely chopped for a more pleasant bite. The som tam languished on the table for some time before the rest of the orders (red tom yam, deep-fried sea bass and barbecued pork neck) arrived in quick succession. The fragrant pot of red tom yam was filled with mushrooms, lemongrass, dried chillies and chicken, but taste-wise, it teetered on the milder side. Meanwhile, the sea bass (all 750g of it) came in a large platter, with deep-frie
Occupying a narrow half-lot, Crack Pork is one of those places that instinctively understand that less is more. Not only is the space tiny, the short menu is also focused on what they do best – pork. Pork specialists Siew Ching and Juan Lyn (from writing and design backgrounds, respectively) roast their siu yuk and porchetta in the shop, along with the production of Garam Haram (bacon-laced salt the duo started off with). For siu yuk fans, there is the Peking Pork (also known as the Siuyuk Mantao), a Peking duck-inspired dish with roast pork and man tao. There’s also the porchetta sandwich, where baguettes are paired with salsa verde, rocket, sweet pimento peppers and chopped porchetta. For dessert, go with the salted caramel bacon tart.
Wood & Steel
No visit to Wood & Steel is the same – the owners of the café shift their furniture around like they’re playing The Sims. That’s because each piece of furniture here, from the custom-made denim chairs and paintings to the motorbike parked upstairs, is for sale. Once they’re sold, the café – or some parts of it – will be redecorated all over again. Wood & Steel owes its newfound fame to brothers Ierfan and Adam Azriff – the former an interior design graduate; the latter a barista. Ierfan designs all the furniture at Wood & Steel and uses the two-storey building as a showroom, which also doubles as a café run by Adam. The duo spurns the clichés of a bog-standard café by introducing a unique industrialist decor: Paintings and murals splash across the walls downstairs while a wood-dominated setup – overrun by lighting fixtures made from steel pipes, cushions, and windows tinted with images of John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe – crowd the upper floor. You might find the same vibe resonating across other coffee outlets like Feeka and Thursdvys because Wood & Steel designed some of their furniture too. The food menu isn’t extensive – the coffee and the signature stuffed chicken are standouts – but it does nothing to dampen the casual ambience Wood & Steel is so expert at creating. Have you ever loved a chair at a café so much you wanted to bring it home? Now you can.
Ahmad + Co. Coffee and Cigars
Owner Asnawi Rahman knows a thing or two about design – this coffee and cigar bar is some of the prettiest among a slew of openings this year. With ideas and furniture from Wood & Steel, the café’s novelty factor is a private cigar room fitted with a TV for you to watch anything from the team’s selection of classic films. If you’re nice, they’ll even allow you to hook up your USB and put your feet up – a concept that promotes lingering long after you’ve finished your coffee. Food-wise, the menu is limited to simple pastas and deep-fried items, but within a hideout this comfortable, you don’t need much except a latte, a few friends and a ’90s sitcom rerun.
If you’re in the quiet side of Ara Damansara (Pacific Place) and need a cake fix, drop by Double A, owned by husband and wife team Alia and Aiman. Besides serving customers good slices of cake, the duo aims to showcase the best bakers in KL so they will be sourcing cakes and other sweet treats from bakers around Klang Valley. For now, they have goods from That Last Slice, Gateauxlicious, Gula Bakery, Cake Jalan Tiung and Sugar Rush. According to Alia, they plan to have as many as ten different bakers in the coming months with each baker showcasing only one product. If you really need to have something savoury before cake, the pesto cheese melt is the only dish you can order. And don't expect the food menu to expand either, as Alia points out that they aim to be solely a dessert café. For drinks, they have roped in Johorean coffee experts Monsta Café with whom they consult about coffee, including training Double A’s baristas. Even with top-notch interior (especially the really pretty black and white tiles), Double A is surprisingly down to earth – as long as you like cake, you're welcomed. The crowd here is a mixed one: on our visit, we spotted aunties catching up, some freelancers discussing work and a solo diner reading a book with a slice of mango cheesecake.
The Royal Flush
Helmed by the same group behind the successful Tom, Dick and Harry’s, The Royal Flush is an opulent three-storey restaurant with many regal virtues: porcelain vases, moonlit rooftop garden, and a grand entrance that can be easily mistaken for a temple. The chefs transform traditional mainstays into adventurous offerings – fig soup, pan-fried chicken with seaweed and claypot pandan tofu are definitely not for the old-fashioned. The Royal Flush may just be a reflection of how Chinese cuisine has evolved in KL. Awards Food Awards 2013 The Royal Flush was shortlisted Best New Restaurant and Best Chinese in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2013. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
The team behind Tom, Dick & Harry’s and The Royal Flush has turned to the sea for their new culinary venture, Crazy Crabs. Aside from the larger-than-life crustacean on the sign outside, the restaurant keeps things subtle with a clean-cut, contemporary space housing round tables and plastic chairs. The kam heong style is a popular choice – crabs infused with an aromatic, smokey flavour and a bit of heat from the chopped chili.
Ali, Muthu and Ah Hock
The Malaysian kopitiam has been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts. They are no longer the grungy slop shops that we knew and loved. In their places are peppy, preppy open-air eateries replete with free WiFi, lots of power points for the juicing of electronic companions, and which all seem to share one dish in common: nasi lemak. And, most of these new breed of kopitiams seem to have worked out how to get our unofficial national dish right.
Atria Shopping Gallery
Damansara Jaya residents will definitely remember the good old days of Atria (apparently parties at The Piccadilly inside Atria were all the rage – police rage). But to keep with the times, the mall has undergone a facelift and is now shiny and sleek. All is tame now and you can have brunch at Antipodean, then desserts after that at Swich with loads of shopping in between. Or do some workouts at Chi Fitness.
Chuup serves the kind of food your nanna would cook if she was hip. There are neither salted egg mash-ups nor pasta flecked with crab meat, just local comfort food heightened by lots and lots of pork. Even the slightly twee setting does little to distract from the honest, hard work that goes behind the food. The signature Nasi Lemak with Pork Rendang sounds like something worthy of controversy.
Jazzercise Damansara Jaya
Gyms like Jazzercise are reframing the idea of ‘fitness’, introducing a workout regime that fuses cardio with resistance training, yoga, pilates, kickboxing and various demanding forms of dance. Best of all, you’ll be sweating out to the latest hits, which includes Taylor Swift and sometimes DJ Snake. Bring on the neon stretch pants!
A café capable of making those dreadful weekdays seem like a lovely weekend is Second Sunday, which features an exciting brunch selection prepared by the staff formerly of The Front Door in Petaling Street. How does pandan pancakes with caramelised bananas and gula Melaka syrup sound?
If there ever was a café to wet your nose and melt your heart, it’s Clawset. Founded in November 2014, Clawset was opened with the idea to create a place where furry kids could roam freely. A retinue of dogs live at the café (so it’s the perfect place to visit if you love animals but don’t own a pet yourself) and you can bring along your own furkid. In-house Pomeranians are the main attractions with their cute little outfits, but be aware that they tend to take a leak anywhere so don’t wear your new shoes. Are you and your pooch hungry? Not only are there healthy dog snacks sold, there’s even a dog menu. They will also soon have a selection of cakes for puppies. For humans, the café specialises in waffles but the apple crumble is pretty good too. Main courses include chicken chop, spaghetti and fish and chips. Fuel up on a Mango Mojito on a sunny day or have a go at several drinks named after the Pomeranians.
Nasi Lemak Kak Sanah
There are long lines, and there’s the line at Nasi Lemak Kak Sanah. The 15-year-old operation gets so popular on weekends that fans with less patience have fought about who gets served first. This prompted owner Azmi to introduce a numbering system, and much like a bank, the lines don’t get as unruly.
The Curious Goat
This new Damansara Perdana corner is run by three friends – Nathaneal, Andy and Kevin – who trained at Coffee Société. The boys use a single-origin from Sulawesi Toraja supplied by local roaster Sprezzatura; the flavours achieved here are robust and if you’re not used to it, slightly harsh. But take comfort in the striking graffiti murals by Australian artist Steve Browne in the outdoor area.
After Shibuya-style Japanese honey toast has generated long queues in Tokyo, Taiwan and Thailand, Haraju Cube founders Daichi Fukuzato and Kent Ong decided that it’s high time KLites are introduced to this Japanese treat. The brightly-lit café has cheerful yellow and white walls, huge windows and minimalist furnishings that seem to be sourced from Muji (they’re not). The honey toast in Taiwan and Japan are excessively decadent, but Haraju’s versions are almost austere in comparison, even though they’re already quite indulgent. Here’s how to make one: Eight bread cubes are carefully slathered with butter, toasted on each side, and assembled in a square bread crust before the toppings are heaped on. Remember, these toasts are made for sharing (we recommend coming in a group of four). As a final touch, drizzle Haraju’s local honey blend over the toast, take a photo (or ten) of the concoction and dig right in.
See more area guides
Bangsar has gone through many phases – unobtrusive residential area, clubbing haven, arts and culture quarter, and now, café district. From the busy streets of Telawi to the more laidback Jalan Bangkung and Jalan Kemuja, we round up the best restaurants, bars, cafés and things to do in Bangsar.
Populated by expatriates and upper middle class families, Hartamas is fancy – even its name says so (‘harta’, treasure; ‘mas’, gold). This isn’t saying that the area is inaccessible for us 'mere mortals' – in fact, it’s quite the opposite now. With many cafés and eateries opening up around the 'hood, plenty of non-Hartamas residents flock here, and not just for the lineup of Japanese restaurants. By the way, we're also including the best places to eat and visit in neighbouring areas Mont Kiara and Solaris Dutamas. Fun fact: The area was the premise of a local TV show titled (surprise, surprise) ‘Hartamas’ starring Ida Nerina and Rashidi Ishak.