Damansara Utama is home to Damansara Uptown, the land of hard-to-find parking spots and more cafés than you can shake a stick at. We say park in the new Starling Mall and walk about the area before you eventually step in to an eatery. Here are our picks of restaurants, cafés, shops and things to do in the area. PS: If your favourite spot isn't featured here, let us know in the comments.
Cafés in Damansara Utama
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
Random Food Store
Located right next to Village Park (winner of Best Malay/Malaysian of the Time Out KL Food & Drink Awards 2016) is Uptown’s latest eatery, Random Food Store. This three-concept food store is where you can get baos courtesy of Buncit Bao-Bar, coffee by One Half and ice cream by the people behind the now-closed Every Sundae. Spotting the store might take a bit of an effort as there’s no obvious sign. Instead, look for an exposed concrete wall with a small silver nameplate that reads Buncit Bao-bar and One Half Coffee; the neon red light spilling out of the entrance might help. Inside you’ll find minimal decor with white and black accents – there’s an art piece and a singular decorative neon light in the shape of a hand on the walls, and a long black table dominating the dining area. The space is shared between the dining table, Buncit Bao-Bar’s small kitchen and One Half’s coffee bar. Food-wise, Buncit Bao-Bar offers a compact menu of baos and a selection of siu sek (small bites). The siu sek menu offers up a selection of bite-sized dishes like furikake corn, pan-fried kambing gyoza as well as sweet potato mash with roast duck. But when you go to a bao bar, you go for the baos. Try the star fruit smoked paprika chicken bao – a steamed bun stuffed with smoked paprika chicken, salsa verde and star fruit – or the Chinese roast duck bao served with hoisin sauce, ginger, spring onion and relish. For beef lovers, the wagyu bao – M6 wagyu beef, caramelised onions and a touch of was
Located on the same row as the police station at Damansara Uptown, this tiny café is the first Asian outpost of Melbourne-based artisan coffee roaster Cottle Coffee. Stock up on coffee paraphernalia and coffee beans here. With beans flown in from their roastery in Australia every two weeks, Cottle currently offers a rotating selection of single origin beans (ranging from Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to Mexican San Cristobal and organic Peruvian micro lot beans) in addition to their three house blends. Food-wise, they also have some sandwiches (go for the pulled braised beef sandwich), pies, wraps, salads and cakes, but their focus is still on the coffee. Try the Magic (double ristretto 6oz flat white), a uniquely Melbourne creation.
As one of the first cafés in KL to bring in speciality coffee, Departure Lounge has stood the test of time (and competition) with their consistently smooth lattes. This is largely thanks to the baristas who consistently froth the milk to full-bodied precision and to a comforting temperature without the bubbles. Also try their range of cold coffees that extend well beyond your regular iced coffee and head into (virgin) cocktail territory. In case you’re wondering, they get their beans from Australia’s 5 Senses coffee. Awards Food Awards 2013 Departure Lounge was shortlisted Best for Coffee 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.
Frisson Coffee Bar
If you prefer your pasta selection varied and extensive, Frisson Coffee Bar in Damansara Uptown should be your next brunch spot. Pick from a list of 14 types of pasta: the picante soft shell crab pasta in creamy tomato sauce, garlic basil salmon pasta and beef striploin parmigiana are good choices. For an alternative to doughy pizza bases, order Frisson's 'skinny' pizzas (they use baked tortilla instead) with toppings such as salmon and parmesan and mozzarella cheese. When you're ready for dessert, dig into the 'Are You Nuts?' affogato, served with a single shot of espresso (or chocolate, if you aren’t caffeine-inclined) and a scoop of ice cream along with toppings like crushed peanuts, pistachios and shaved chocolate.
The Good Batch
This new one is owned by former manager of The Bee, Andrew Tan. The setup is less cluttered and more spacious than most new cafés, and focuses more on food than coffee. All-day Western brekkie dishes are served, like upgraded mushrooms on toast, corned beef with fried potatoes, blueberry pancakes, and ‘roti canai’ burrito. What we like best is the all-day bar, where wines, beers and cocktails are available, including the popular passionfruit mojito.
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.
Places for dessert in Damansara Utama
Beans N Beans
For premium Korean desserts, the Damansara Uptown café offers bingsu, waffles and sandwiches, but focus on the bingsu and choose from flavours such as green tea, cheese and caramel. If you're in for the dessert kill, ask for the chocolate-laden bingsu topped with chocolate brownies, chocolate Oreos, crushed chocolate biscuits, chocolate sauce and a chocolate wafer.
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).
Shugatori Dessert Café
If you’ve exhausted all the dessert options in Damansara Uptown, there’s the new Shugatori Dessert Café. The menu is simple – stacks of pancakes, waffles and buttery honey toasts, but with a range of flavours and embellishments. Try the signature charcoal and classic toast combo topped with torched meringue blanket, and paired with meringue sticks, dragon fruit balls, a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. Green tea fiends should delight at the matcha waffle with mixed berry compote topped with a scoop of matcha ice cream. For drinks, ask for the fizzy peach lemonade or a cup of coffee.
The Damansara Utama area is ripe with cafés like The Good Batch, Wondermilk and Fat Spoon. When you’re done with brunch, head down to Softsrve for dessert. The minimalist Japanese-inspired decor is a far cry from the usual twee ice cream parlours. And Softsrve's 'less is more' philosophy also reflects in the only two flavours they have for now: cereal milk and deep chocolate. With interesting toppings like popcorn, honeycomb, cotton candy, chocolate chips and truffles available, the thought of overloading your cup with spoonfuls of everything is a tempting one, but alas, you can’t. Co-founder Redmond Ho assures us that this is for our own good, as they want to give customers the best combination by pairing ingredients that complement each other. These toppings are also carefully sourced from what they consider the best of its kind. For example, the popcorn comes from Garrett, the honeycomb from New Zealand, and the truffles are homemade. If you're up to date on ice cream flavours around the world, you'll know that cereal milk soft serve is nothing new; the team was inspired by New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar. In KL however, Softsrve is the first to have such a flavour and it works well with the Breakfast (RM12), cereal milk ice cream topped with caramelised cornflakes and a macaron shell. Also, don’t worry about having your ice cream melt halfway; each cup is served in another cup of dry ice to keep the ice cream from melting (which explains why the cup appears to be smoky in p
Straight from green tea dessert central Kitayama-dori in Kyoto, tea dessert institution Tsujiri has arrived on Malaysian shores. Known for their matcha-based treats, the 155-year old tea brand Tsujiri uses high quality gyokuro leaves (a type of green tea grown in the shade) for its range of teas and desserts. Apart from having hojicha soft serve or a calming cup of uji matcha, take a seat in the tatami room and pick from the extensive matcha-oriented menu which includes tea macarons and green tea shaved ices. High quality matcha powder, sencha and Japanese tea paraphernalia will be available for purchase in the future.
Places to eat in Damansara Utama
A Pie Thing
A good meat pie is difficult to track in our city, and the young team behind A Pie Thing is attempting to change that. Shortcrust pastry holds fillings like pulled lamb, chicken and cheese, and spinach, and is served with mushy peas, potatoes and gravy. While the pastry is appropriately yielding and firm, it’s laid out too thickly and falls short on buttery flavour. The sweet pies suffer similar fates, but are quickly compensated by never-fail fillings like banana-peanut butter and Nutella-s’mores.
With a reputation of serving the best steaks in town, The Ship is one of the oldest Western dining franchises in Malaysia. The unique exterior resembles an almost life-size hull of a ship, while the interior recreates a sea-going vessel. To complete the theme, their service staff don maritime uniform, so don't be surprised to have your meal served by a captain or cabin crew. The Ship is also located at Jalan Sultan Ismail, Pertama Kompleks and Bukit Bintang.
Things to do in Damansara Utama
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.
Situated at the back of Battery Acid Club, Objekt-Object is a cool place to check out once you’re done with coffee or a cendol cake from the café. Vintage things to look for at this store are the clothes from Project Swissify, eyeglasses from the ‘80s, typewriters and other knick knacks. Owner Aaron Tan will be happy to tell you the story behind some of the objects, like how the labels of the ‘50s apothecary bottles are hand-painted – notice the irregular types.
The Oven Cuttery
Barber-musician multi-hyphenate Kevin Tan – formerly of OTHRS barbers – has his own salon space now: The Oven Cuttery, located inside Battery Acid Club. First and foremost, it’s home to Mentega, Kevin’s own oil-based pomade (#whatbutteryisthis, he’s also an entrepreneur/hair scientist) – but it’s also a barbershop, where the master barber will treat your whiskers to a beard trim (RM15), an old-fashioned straight razor shave with a hot towel service (RM25), and so on. Haircuts, which come also with a hot towel service, start at RM38.
Bars in Damansara Utama
The space at 61 Monarchy is reminiscent of a holiday resort, what with the wooden accents (like rattan stools and furniture) and flora and fauna motifs highlighted throughout the bar. In case you didn’t know, 61 Monarchy is Hyde’s sister bar that specialises in whiskies from all over the world – Irish, Welsh, American, Japanese, Taiwanese and more. It’s a very unassuming bar; there’s no sign outside (it’s located right above Nara Kitchen & Co. by the way), and while you may think whisky bars are typically a little bit showy, 61 Monarchy has stripped those preconceptions away. The outside area (also the smoking section) epitomises the bar’s chilled and laidback ambience with a swing in a corner, long cushioned benches and low tables with stools. Inside, the wall behind the bar glistens with shelves of whiskies and other spirits. Upon placing your order at 61 Monarchy, you’re given warm hand towels to clean up. The waiter will come with three menus: the main spirits menu displaying their extensive whisky collection (in the hundreds!), a tasting flight menu (ranging from RM95 to over RM300), and also a seasonal cocktail menu. The staff here are well-versed with their offerings and will be able to help you with recommendations. Even if you’re not a whisky expert, they’ll carefully guide you through the menu, explaining what flavour would suit you best. Once you decide to call it a night, you’ll be offered a cup of Japanese green tea – they tell us it’s to freshen you up for the
Located in Damansara Uptown’s new The Starling mall is the new restaurant and bar Bonfire serving up modern Australian cuisine. The space boasts a rustic lodge theme accentuated by medieval-style chandeliers, a brown, black and white colour palette, and an eye-catching colourful mural painted by a host of local artists that commands your view as you walk into the dining area. There’s also an alfresco area where you’d dine on a patio overlooking a garden, high chairs for the little ones, and long tables and chairs suitable for group dining. The kitchen cooks with a custom-made wood and charcoal fire oven which gives the dishes a distinct charred aroma and taste. To get your appetite going, try the pana de casa, which is bread toasted in the fire oven and served with a side of dried fruit butter. For poultry lovers, the baby spring chicken – infused with Cajun and local spices – is a good pick. And if you prefer fish, Bonfire cooks up a mean red snapper, grilled over a wood fire and served with a side of sweet basil and coconut beurre blanc. Other dishes in the meat-heavy menu include wagyu, ribs and lamb, as well as a small selection of seafood like soft-shell crab and fish. You can also add side dishes to complement your meal. One standout side dish is the refreshing baked watermelon and pomelo salad dressed with house-made vinaigrette – think sour, sweet and charred flavours jam-packed into one bowl. At Bonfire’s front house is the familiar Lou Shang Bar (previously locat
The Great Beer Bar
The Great Beer Bar is very easy to like, not least because it has on rotation up to eight craft beers on tap at any point in time. More importantly, a majority of the specialty beers on the menu are in the RM20 range. The space is simple, modern and very casual, with long communal tables set up in a minimalist space dominated by exposed bricks and bare cement walls. The fridge carries more variety from craft breweries such as The Wild Beer Co, Beavertown, Stone Brewing Co, Crew Republic, Buxton Brewery and Anderson Valley, to name a few. This bar is the next step in the evolution of Ales & Lagers in Solaris Dutamas; so yes, they are both by the same owner. Food is limited to a small selection of interesting bar snacks, and the kitchen is shared by Coolinary Ronins (Fridays and Saturdays) and Curbside Cantina (Sundays to Thursdays).
Finally, another speakeasy in KL – well, in PJ to be precise. Andrew and Caroline of The Good Batch are the duo behind this new joint. It’s hiding on the second floor behind a black sliding door, which makes it feel like an early ’20s speakeasy – it seems like something out of ‘The Great Gatsby’. The interior looks classy with its marble-topped bar and comfy cushioned seats, and there’s classic jazz playing on the speakers. It’s stylish, but not overly so; Andrew tells us you can just be yourself here. Did we mention they also have a secret room that fits eight to ten people? Definitely good for groups that want some privacy. They currently have over 100 drinks on the menu with the finest selection of champagnes, wines, single malts and your usual liquors. As for the cocktails, they have the classics as well as some modern twists. The Old Fashioned served with an ice ball and dehydrated orange is a winner – it’s manly and smooth, and the bourbon gives it just the right amount of kick. The cocktail menu changes regularly so you’ll get to taste something different every time. It’s not too crowded at the moment, so if you want to avoid busy places, Hyde is the answer.
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