Your cheat sheet to all the best restaurants, shops and things to do in the main areas of the city centre including Bukit Bintang, Petaling Street and Pudu.
KL City Centre
Galeri Petronas offers an active programme of exhibitions. Since its establishment in 1993, the gallery has hosted many exhibitions of art and design promoting broad awareness and appreciation of both traditional and modern artistic expressions. There is also an Art Resource Centre which houses a collection of art books and audio-visual material for the use of students.
ILHAM is committed to supporting the development, understanding and enjoyment of Malaysian modern and contemporary art within both a regional and global context. ILHAM plans to engage a diverse range of audiences through both their exhibitions as well as through education and public programmes that seek to bring society closer to the art and the artists behind them.
On the ground floor of ViPod Residences, off Jalan Kia Peng, is Oribe Sushi, helmed by arguably KL’s most lauded sushi master chef, Chef Hideaki Oritsuki. Formerly of the illustrious Sushi Hinata, Chef Ori brings his expertise and vision to Oribe, where the limited menu is devoted to showcasing the produce of the sea. Seafood is brought in thrice a week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) from Osaka and Fukuoka. Grab a seat at the sushi bar to witness Chef Ori at work.
Deceiving as the restaurant’s monotone façade may be, what lies inside compensates in brilliance. While the founding chef Hideaki Oritsuki has left Sushi Hinata to open Oribe, fear not, for Sushi Hinata remains in the upper echelons of Japanese dining in the city. Now helmed by Chef Yoshiki Yamada (hailed as the best sushi chef amongst all three Sushi Hinata outlets in Nagoya, Bangkok and KL), Sushi Hinata maintains the highest standards for Japanese fare, using freshly ground mazuma wasabi from Shizuoka, home-pickled ginger with red vinegar, and fish flown in thrice a week from Tsukiji fish market and Fukuoka market. Awards Food Awards 2013 Sushi Hinata was shortlisted Best Japanese 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. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Popular with bookworms, Kinokuniya offers a large selection of books catering to almost every type of reader here. It's rare that you can't get the book you want, but the efficient staff is always on hand to assist with orders. With two floors, the upper level is specifically dedicated to art and design books and magazines, with a cosy cafe in the corner too.
RGB & The Bean Hive
Probably so as to blend in with the surrounding houses, its nondescript white façade doesn’t do much to attract new customers, so you’d be understandably hesitant about going in. But step through its doors and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee will be more than enough to convince you to stay. The ambience and cosy furnishing provide the extra touch to make you feel right at home.
The next time you’re at KLCC, drop by Châteraisé Patisserie for Japanese pastries such as fresh strawberry cream cakes (yes, like the emoji), cream puffs, lemon cakes, delicate honey mille crêpes, matcha pound cakes, bear-shaped chocolate desserts and more. With more than 460 outlets in Japan, the Yamanashi-based patisserie uses only the best ingredients (water from the Southern Alps of Hakushu, milk from the highlands of Yatsugatake, strawberries from Tochigi – we're not making this up) for its baked goods, all imported thrice a week.
Nasi dagang supersedes all at this corner restaurant, which has been around since 1989. The variety of curries and meats is easy to get lost in, but we prefer to kick back with the classics – nasi dagang (firm and sustaining its bite) and gulai ikan tongkol (salty, unattractively grey but delicious). The kuih stand is also popular – lompat tikam (a layered East Coast kuih resembling tepung pelita) and cek mek molek (sweet potato and sugar fritters) fly off fast. The pulut mangga too is seen on most tables – a large slab of sweet mango is dunked into coconut milk before all is topped with glutinous rice and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
This Kampung Baru institution packs in the crowds at night, and for good reason. Rosdet serves everything from Thai-style chicken, beef and fish to your typical nasi goreng and noodle dishes, but it's the namesake tom yam that keeps us coming back for more (be warned that it can get very spicy). The ikan siakap kerabu mangga (barramundi with Thai mango salad) also comes highly recommended.
Nasi Lemak CT Garden
Needing little introduction, Restoran CT Garden is a household name for late night nasi lemak. Rice is packed into small canteen-style banana leaf wrappers that contain the bare minimum of a quarter boiled egg, sambal and a tiny smattering of ikan bilis. It’s the sides that draw you in – crunchy sambal tempe with kacang, chilli fried potato, quail eggs in sambal, and spicy beef rendang with a faded background of santan. For as long as the 30 years the restaurant has been operating, we can’t think of a 3am nasi lemak joint as rewarding as CT Garden. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa Kampung Baru
Being one of the most recognised nasi lemak establishments in KL, they serve a basic helping of nasi lemak consisting of rice, a half boiled egg, ikan bilis and cucumber. You are then allowed to choose your preferred 'lauk' that includes sambal sotong, ayam rendang and several other unique flavours to excite your taste palettes.
Taps Beer Bar
Craft brew institutions have come and gone in this city of ours, but Taps Beer Bar is showing remarkable tenacity in the face of our love for the big branded breweries. Like most niche businesses in KL, Taps came about because there was a clear absence of a dedicated craft brew bar – an absence that a particular group of cousins felt quite keenly. ‘We just couldn’t get good beer in town,’ says Mili Lim, the only girl in the gang of five. ‘And we drink a lot of beer.’ So the cousins opened their own bar. Mili and her brother Alvin manage the day to day operations, but all five of them (including cousins Aaron, Adrian and Brian) partake in the most strenuous part of the job: choosing the beers. The five are regular travellers and pick up beers on their way around the world, scheduling dedicated beer trips throughout the year – England one month, Japan another. Two of the cousins are based in Melbourne and so have the pick of some of the world’s most interesting breweries. The space is a low-key, friendly one: bare cement floor, exposed brick walls, a moveable performance space and a whole load of empty beer bottles along the wall (‘We get through that much in a good weekend,’ Mili says, gesturing to a section of the wall). At any one time there are 14 beers on tap; when one runs out, it’s replaced by something new and different. A large blackboard is chalked up with what’s on offer at the moment, and if you can’t decide, you can get a couple of tasting portions (but don’t pu
Tucked behind the Indonesian embassy in KL, Al Andalus remains a well-known secret to Middle Eastern food fans. Cooking up a storm of Arabic, Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine, its lamb mandi – tender lamb pieces served with rice – is a particular favourite here. Indoor and outdoor dining are available in its Moorish style compound with regular sports screenings. A shisha paradise at only RM6 an order, Al Andalus is open till the wee-mornings, adding to its leisurely atmosphere. Awards Food Awards 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Al Andalus was shortlisted Best Middle Eastern in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance is rewarded.
The Bean Belt
A café from Indonesian-based coffee company Degayo, The Bean Belt is one of the better cafés in the city centre. For one, they’re in charge of every process in their coffee trade: Coffee is harvested from their own highland farms in Indonesia and they have their own roastery. On our visit, we had their house blend, which mixes beans from Aceh and Bandung, and we loved it – it was well-rounded and smooth, with a bright fruity finish. For food, the selection isn’t huge but you can expect sandwiches, salads (think wholesome options such as cauliflower rice, quinoa and more), cakes and pastries. There are also brunch offerings, namely pastas, wraps and fry-ups. The breakfast sets (7.30-11am) are a good deal; starting from only RM9, each set comes with a drink. The café itself is bright, airy and calm, and we particularly like that it faces a courtyard – the open space is a nice respite from the crowded city centre.
A karaoke joint offering a mix of English, Mandarin and Canto-pop as well as J- and K-pop tunes, Neway is a good place if you like to karaoke in a clean, spacious environment with a good sound system. While it is quite pricey at RM56 (not including the RM15 tidbits fee), the buffet spread included in the fee fits the value. The buffet features fresh made-to-order sushi, desserts and even chocolate fondue among others. Visit the website for more info on daily rates and happy hours.
Dining In The Dark
Located above Ten on Changkat, Dining In The Dark – a new concept restaurant by Werner Kuhn who also owns El Cerdo – opened on the last week of November 2012. Led by blind staff, the restaurant requires diners to sit in a pitch-black restaurant. A preset menu is served and the menu will only revealed at the end of the meal. To see how we did, see feature.
The uncorrupted deliciousness of meat on a spit is glorified at Tarbush’s express kiosk, where aromatic lamb and chicken spin on metal rods in grease and char for Tarbush's signature shawarmas. Meat is shaved off, stuffed into crispy pockets of pita and squirted with creamy yoghurt-garlic dressing. It’s debauchery on a plate – exactly how we like our lazy Friday lunches.
One of KL's most good-looking cafés is perched on Jalan Galloway, a curiously unusual option for a contemporary coffee spot. The café is remodeled from a building on-site, while much of its original charm and old-world feel are retained. On the ground floor is a dim, narrow seating area where coffee machines whiz, baristas chatter and tempting cakes parade. Climb up the steep stairs to the first floor for an airy, breezy, rattan-chaired setup. Coffee wise, the folks here don't believe in house blends. Instead, single origins rotate fortnightly, save for the Valrhona hot chocolate that retains a permanent slot on the menu. Cakes here are bang on form with the most indulgent being The King Cake, banana cake layered with peanut butter frosting, banana slices and chocolate.
When it comes to pulling off a nondescript bar entrance, trust The BIG Group to execute it with class and subtlety. The group’s newest opening, Barlai, has inconspicuously sneaked into the corner of Jalan Sin Chew Kee, taking over the ground floor of Ng Sek San’s Sekeping Sin Chew Kee. It’s an exceedingly charming space with decaying walls, bamboo blinds, naked bulbs and white Ipoh-style window panes for a one-way trip to yesteryear. Wooden picnic tables make up most of the bar while old road signs hang on the wall to preserve the heritage allure of Sek San’s eco-friendly retreat. At the bar’s entrance, gangly trees sprout around the narrow stairs that lead to the mezzanine floor, where gigs, readings and exhibitions take place upon request. Tread carefully and you might end up in the ‘secret’ room where comfy beanbags are accessible by a double-decker-style climb. Barlai screams ‘hidden gem’ – a scruffy nook for the rarely peaceful after-work drink, or a sensible recommendation for the visiting backpacker. Cocktails here are as old-world as the space itself, with tributes to local ingredients in the Milo Kaw (Irish whiskey, hazelnut liqueur and Milo), Siam Mojito (rum, calamansi, kaffir lime leaves and mint) and the Barlai Pina Colada (like the usual but with a dash of pandan syrup). On the occasion you have more than three, you might want to avoid taking those steps up to the ‘secret’ room. Trust us.
When the wantan noodles arrive here at Restoran 168, you’ll thank us for your enforced restraint. The perfectly al dente but surprisingly plump noodles are coated with the white pepper and sauce with meticulous thoroughness, making it very difficult for you not to go for a second delicious round. If that’s the case, you should, like we do, adopt the philosophy that in order to justify the arduous efforts you’ve invested to get there, the only reasonable ROI you should settle for is a second bowl. It’s only fair.
Pudu Wai Sek Kai
Jalan Alor may be the mecca of KL street food but Pudu’s Wai Sek Kai is a TV producer’s dream. Hawkers ply their business under the glare of street lights while patrons work their chopsticks furiously away, digging into Tai Bu Mee (Hakka noodles), pork intestine porridge, fried radish cakes and seriously addictive fried chicken. All this takes place against a backdrop of decades-old Pudu flats and shophouses – it’s a raucous scene that looks straight out of an Anthony Bourdain food documentary. A single measly plate of grilled fish will easily cost you RM50 on Jalan Alor. In Pudu? That would buy you ten satisfying, tasty bowls.
Unsurpassed consistency and perfect execution of Cantonese fare put Sek Yuen in the upper echelon of Chinese dining in KL. Yes, the restaurant has been around for more than half a century but where else can you find a kitchen that still uses 100 percent wood-fire in its cooking? Old-school stalwarts like Sek Yuen just don’t exist anymore. Food here is punchy, with requisite use of garlic, oyster sauce and siu heng wine – all to warm you up from the inside. The four-season platter here will immediately remind you of Chinese banquets in the olden days. It’s hard to find a restaurant that perpetuates both quality and tradition, but Sek Yuen is, after all, legendary. Awards Food Awards 2013 Sek Yuen was shortlisted 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.
Kedai Kopi Yuyi
This charming kopitiam is famed for its pork noodles, but patrons unwilling to endure the lengthy preparation time for the popular dish could do worse than opt for the equally enticing char kuey teow. Topped with a fried egg, it’s a tad wetter and sweeter than your run-of-the-mill char kuey teow.
The scenery here is not the most appealing – you basically share a dining space with a fruit stall, an abandoned construction site and a few derelict shops. Half the fun of eating at Sulaiman’s stall is watching him shave a large block of ice into tiny bowls of iced cendol, and plying his business in fluent Cantonese. The combination of Sulaiman’s cendol – perfect portions of kidney beans, corn, fragrant gula Melaka and slithery cendol – far exceeds the sum of its seemingly humble parts. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
Syarikat Kemajuan Penternakan Kong Seng
This generic, grey-walled shop is one you’d walk right past until you hear the gentle chirping of baby birds. Fluffy yellow chicks are kept in cages for sale, and it’s difficult to resist leaving the shop without cupping one in your hands. Pet kibble and other chick-related needs are also stocked here.
Established more than half a century ago, this wet market is one of the most comprehensive in the city, offering a plethora of vegetables, meat, clothing and even pastries. Food lovers are in for a treat: Indian kuih, putu mayam, chicken rice and assam laksa can all be found here under one roof.
Sung Poh Trading
A visit to Sung Poh joss stick shop will see effigy maker Mr Thong huddling over piles of shaved bamboo sticks and a huge pot of glue every morning. The 50 year old twists and tweaks every stick by rote, churning out colourful papier-mâché horses for praying purposes, and supplying them to temples across the city. ‘It’s a dying craft,’ admits Mr Thong. His mother runs a feng shui and face-reading service next door – she’s a well-sought-after master face reader, and can easily tell your past life and future with just a quick glance at your features. If you want to keep your secrets safe, look away.
Lee Ying Hair Dressing Salon
Ever wondered how your grandparents went about getting perms, shaves and haircuts back in the day? Probably somewhere like Lee Ying Hair Dressing Salon, the go-to place for a retro hair salon experience. Kitted out with antique barber chairs and a vintage towel steriliser as ancient as the shop itself, this twee, old-fashioned establishment has been a Pudu stalwart since 1955.
Omakase + Appreciate
We like Omakase + Appreciate for many reasons. First, it’s a speakeasy bar. Although liquors and drinking are absolutely legal here, its secretive entrance and location make things a little more interesting. Once you find the place, indulge in cocktails served by award-winning mixologists, Shawn Chong and Karl Too. Since they practise a ‘omakase’ format, which means ‘I'll leave it to you’ in Japanese, the mixologists are more than happy to create a cocktail just for you. And like any other speakeasy bar, the place is tiny, so best come with a friend or two and have a great, intimate night out.
This restaurant near Lebuh Ampang may look a bit camp for a first-timer, but it’s the food that does the talking. Owner Mr Tan is passionate about bringing the fearless flavours of the Philippines to KL and he does so by placing (lots of) trust in the hands of the pig. Go big with the crackly pork knuckle or go home.
Soong Kee is easy to find – spot the tinted glass door and you’ll find crowds crammed together behind the entrance. The slurping sound is unmistakable; Soong Kee’s beef noodles are indeed, exceptionally toothsome. The fresh beef tripes and tenderloin meat undergirds the soup, which turns out flavourful and refreshing. Beef balls are meaty and firm but it’s the juicy minced pork that leaves an impression. It coats every width of our noodles, and releases a sautéed fragrance every time we spoon it into our mouths. After 67 years in business and helmed by two generations, Soong Kee still lives up to its standards.
Burmese sisters Coral Theint and Xiang Xiang have been operating this second-floor business for seven years. Specialities include fried pork with pickled mustard greens, Shan chicken noodle soup, hot and spicy fish curry, preserved duck egg salad and fried chicken with sour fruit.
KL City Restaurant
Forgive the generic name of this 20-year-old Lebuh Ampang gem but we promise you the food here is anything but. The Chettinad-style food here doesn’t hold back – most of the meats are cooked in a heavy dose of spices and herbs, which can be a good thing if you’re booked in for a nap but not as pleasant if you’re heading to that 3pm office meeting. The homemade biryani is a speciality – unlike the Hyderabadi-style in many of our Indian restaurants, the biryani at KL City is milder, earthier, chunkier and far less fluffy. An excellent pairing with the mutton or fish curry at hand.
May 2013 There’s a reason the area around Lebuh Ampang seems like a foreign country to me, and that’s because I have never walked through it. But a recent involuntary trip resulted in the happy discovery of a Chettinad restaurant I would otherwise never have stumbled across, located on the first floor of a series of Indian retail stores and eateries, each one apparently as anonymously homogenous as the last. It’s obvious however that a lot of care was invested in the décor of Betel Leaf, and the gurgling water features and powerful air conditioning are particularly efficacious in salving frayed nerves and reducing the madness of the road outside. The desire to please extends to the menu, where a mammoth variety of Chettinad cuisine from north and south India means that ordering can become a hazardous task, especially if you’re hungry and indecisive. Because dishes are all cooked a la minute, don’t expect your food to appear at the table two seconds after you’ve ordered. The adroitly named chicken lollypop is juicy in a way that only meticulously marinated meat can be. Because coconut milk isn’t prodigiously employed, the focus remains on the spices instead, and that serves to yield flavours that are intensely aromatic and dangerously more-ish. Instead of the bog standard butter chicken masala, try instead the rabbit masala for a leaner, cleaner option. The rabbits – together with goats and fish – are bred on proprietor C Mohan’s farm in Mantin, as are the vegetables that a
Restoran Bunga Raya Indah
One of the best banana leaf experiences in the city hides within a dim first-floor lot along Lebuh Ampang. In 1962, the operation moved from Malacca to KL and has been a favourite of blue-collar workers in the area. They come in large groups and sit on long communal tables for (cheap) double helpings of rice and meat, a culture that’s still apparent these days. This mess concept here goes hand in hand with the Chettinad-style food promoted by owner SS Bharathi Rajah and his team. Not for the faint-hearted, the kudal (goat intestine) and mutton head curries are something of a legend in these parts, but if you’d prefer something tamer, the dry chicken varuval and thick, aromatic crab curry are just as outstanding. Be wary of the lime pickle; it packs a fiery, sour punch that’ll hit you in the gut if you’re not equipped with a glass of chilled mooru (spiced buttermilk) on the side.
Lai Foong Restaurant
With a large sign in English that reads ‘Lai Foong Restaurant’ facing the road, you’ll find it hard to miss this decades-old coffee shop. Inside, the hawker-style restaurant consists of a cluster of stalls selling its signature beef noodles (the station is managed by the owner of the place himself), char kuey teow, Penang fried kuok teow and other Chinese favourites.
Formerly a wet market, Central Market has undergone extensive refurbishments. It has been designated a Heritage Building and is now a Centre for Malaysian Culture, Arts and Handicrafts. A hub for local artists and a perfect place to experience and bring home a bit of Malaysia. Buskers, martial artists and dancers perform by the street outside the market every weekend and the Annexe Gallery located within the precinct acts as a hub for all local contemporary art-related activities (with its efforts garnering a feature in The Wall Street Journal). As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
Onn Loke Kopitiam
Hotel Loke Ann and its dearly missed kopitiam has been gone for about three years but Uncle Lee who ran the kopitiam is back in business. The kopitiam is now located in Petaling Street near the Madras Lane wet market. If you have a hard time finding it, look for bright blue walls and you've arrived. Tables here are limited, and by limited we mean five. The roti bakar is toasted in a mini oven and slathered with just the right amount of butter and homemade kaya.
Located in Chinatown, what was previously a brothel, house and warehouse (in no particular order), is now PS150, a cocktail bar headed by famed bartender Angel Ng. PS150 may still maintain much of its pre-war building’s character, but make no mistake – this isn’t a speakeasy bar.
This calm little hideaway is located above an old shop next to the Advance Tertiary College building. Inside, the café uses a teal and pink colour scheme on their counter and display cases – a nice pop of colour from everything else in the shop that sports a rustic look. However, it’s the outdoor area that really shines with the building’s original design.
Hokkien mee is hawker staple where everyone has a firm and personal idea of how it should taste. Do you like it heavily coated in dark soy sauce, springy and slightly wet? Lian Bee, hidden in an alley next to Lai Foong Restaurant, is all that and more – their noodles arrive with a sprinkle of glistening fried lard, begging you to admire first, and then dig in with a side of homemade belacan. After the original owner passed away his son stopped using charcoal-fire in his cooking but each plate of Hokkien mee is still imbued with fragrant wok hei. A Hokkien mee shack ought to be a bit tumbledown, rowdy and possibly fronted by a kitchen that’s been operating since the ’50s. Lian Bee is exactly that.
Lucy in the Sky
Setting up a café in Old KL can only mean one thing: This is a comfy space for vagabond freelancers, students and backpackers. Lucy in the Sky is a rustic, spick-and-span café with substance. Set in a pre-war shophouse, the café is decked out with cement walls, a long coffee bar and a sun-lit alleyway that encourages lingering. The menu features brunch staples – pancakes, burgers, sandwiches and pastas – but the chef retains some old-school touches, as demonstrated in the French toast fashioned from thick Hailam bread. Coffee here has a velvety depth, which goes down well with a slightly greasy American or English breakfast set.
The Attic Bar
While The Attic Bar doesn’t claim to be a speakeasy, it certainly has the attributes of one. It’s located discreetly on the rooftop of the Travel Hub flashpacker guesthouse, with no signs on the street level indicating its existence. To get here, you need to be buzzed into the first floor guesthouse, head to the back and then take the spiral staircase two floors up – where you’ll find a cosy, relaxed little space, complete with sofa and beanbag corners.
Walk into the Petaling Street Art House (first floor) on Jalan Sultan and you’ll find a café next to it with a name more appropriate for an Italian coffeehouse. To be fair, there are many things to ‘love’ about Coffee Amo. The owners – Kong and Chung – have made no effort to hide the building’s age, other than sprucing the space up with recycled furniture, several bookshelves and a fresh coat of paint. The café doesn’t serve hot food but you’ll be easily sated with the hand-brewed coffee (Panama Geisha and Jamaican Blue Mountain) and Nutella moist chocolate cake.
Restoran Kim Lian Kee
For more than 80 years, KLites have sought comfort in the city’s best hokkien mee at Kim Lian Kee – how can any noodle stall rival the birthplace of this hawker staple? You may have dined at its outlets across the city (including Lot 10 Hutong) but only this original stall at Petaling Street opens until wee hours in the morning. A slurp of these thick noodles – coated with dark soy sauce, glistening in lard, and imbued with charcoal-fire wok hei – is all you need to sate that midnight hankering.
Madras Lane Assam Laksa
No, this asam laksa isn’t as good as what you’ll find in Penang. But we’re not in Penang, are we? A serving includes the usual garnishes (fresh mint leaves, shredded cucumber and pineapple, sliced shallot) as well as two meaty canned sardine fillets, added right before broth is poured over.
Lee Wah Florist
One of the oldest names in the business, Lee Wah has been plying the flower trade on Jalan Tun HS Lee for decades. The store itself is not glamorous – buckets and buckets of cut flowers line a cement floor, and service is efficient but not overly friendly. You can buy your flowers here wholesale or just a few stems, and half the joy of shopping is watching the many and varied customers popping in and out of the shop to grab what they need. It’s as unpretentious as it gets. Plus, when Chinese New Year rolls around, this is one of the best places to source supplies.
Located on the fourth floor of an inconspicuous shoplot along Jalan Panggong, Findars is a hidden gem that has truly stood the test of time. Although it predominantly plays host to an eclectic catalogue of avant-garde art exhibitions and indie film screenings, this charming café-space has also been a regular stomping ground for experimental musicians since its days in Wangsa Maju and Central Market (when it first opened its doors in 2008). So expect anything from an improv jam session to audio visual displays when you drop by this quirky performance venue.
Old China Cafe
One of the oldest restaurants in KL, spicy food has a starring role at this eatery although the less spicy options such as soya bean and tamarind are more than pleasant for diners who don’t enjoy a burning mouth. Highlights include the fish head curry, devil curry chicken and an outstanding (we don’t use this word lightly) beef rendang. Diners have their meals surrounded by art at this charming nook. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL Awards Food Awards 2012 Old China Cafe was shortlisted in the Best Malaysian Restaurant category of the Time Out KL Food Awards 2012. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance is rewarded.
White washed walls and bare cement floors dominate the simplistic interior of this self-managed alternative gallery that champions innovative artists who challenge the mainstream culture in their experimental pieces and performances. Lostgens’ began in early 2004 by a collective of artists as a private project to host the indie arts scene but later evolved into a public platform. Exhibitions see contemporary artworks adorn the modest, minimally furnished space while talks and workshops conducted here are casual events that will have you seated on the ground or in mismatched chairs around the speaker.
Aku Café & Gallery
The owners of the prewar Old China Café have ventured into a more contemporary project – a nifty little café along Jalan Panggung. The space is a bit like your nanna’s house meets hip coffeeshop with wooden chairs, mahogany coffee tables and a stand fan. Try the hand-drip or siphon-brewed house coffee blend featuring a merging of local and international beans, which you can sip alongside a slice of their signature coffee cake embedded with walnuts and chocolate chips. Both a café and art gallery, this new joint lets you order a cup of coffee and enjoy art at the same time. Visit their Facebook page for info on upcoming exhibitions
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Chow Kit
Amid critics who claim Yut Kee to be overrated, one cannot dispute the charm of its old Jalan Dang Wangi premises. The walls were literally fading, the mosaic tiles were fatigued beneath the clatter of feet since 1928, and thin slithers of sunshine would splash on the marbled tables as regulars soak sticks of toast into soft boiled eggs. It was one of KL’s few places to visit for when you want to fade into oblivion. It came as a shock when we were revealed of Yut Kee’s closing propelled by the high cost of ownership. When we spoke to current manager and grandson of Yut Kee’s founder Mervyn Lee last April, he said ‘the landlord of the shop was forced to succumb to these rising costs after the price of ownership outweighed the rent they were charging.’ This forced Mervyn to grudgingly seek out a new location. Yut Kee’s shiny new lot is a residence-turned-shop on Jalan Kamunting just around the corner from their old shop. Mervyn engaged a designer to recreate the old-world appeal which resulted in the shifting of their old fittings (the iconic menu board, mirrors and photographs have been moved here) and a similar colour theme. The space is bigger now and seats 50 percent more people but we suspect you may still have to share tables with strangers on the weekends. No matter the effort and customer improvements that Mervyn so carefully curated, we cannot help but miss the creaks, groans and yellowed wash over of the old shop. However, the best part about the reopening is the sent
Yellow Kombi Vintage
Come weekend, opt for a good rummage amid the treasure trove of clothes and curios at the first floor of Campbell Complex, home to a dozen over bundle and vintage stores (you’re welcome). Yellow Kombi Vintage is an eccentric enclave of antiques, collectibles as well as retro and recycled fashion; prices start from RM5.
Sin Hua Bee bakery
The atmosphere bears no difference to a dusty old Chinese medicinal store, but the happiest sight at Sin Hua Bee is watching devoted chefs make ga lui beng (traditional Chinese wedding biscuits) from scratch, while newlyweds walk in to buy them in bulk. We’ve savoured them and they taste just as sweet as marriage would promise. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
We’ve had tons of other bars call themselves ‘institutions’. But having been around since 1921, Coliseum is one place that would turn around and say that it practically invented the term. You enter the bar through its original wooden swing doors. Inside, it’s a bona fide blast from the past, as its appearance hasn’t changed much in its 90-over-year existence; most furnishings have been here since day one, and only a handful of pieces have had to be retired in case some unwitting patrons fall flat on their rear end. Still, it’s a simple setup here, with just some seats by the bar and some retro tables and chairs scattered around. And as far as their bar offerings go, first impressions are heartwarming – if you can call a Black Russian that. Indeed, it’s Black Russians and other classic cocktails like Rusty Nail and Pina Colada which are on the menu, and after cooing over their unbelievably retro drinks list, what you’ll notice are the retro prices – not one cocktail costs more than RM15.90, making Coliseum one of the cheapest places in the city centre to go out on the lash. Not that you’ll be doing much of that here. Its heyday as the hippest joint in town is long gone. Today, Coliseum attracts an older set of regulars, who still pop round everyday. Weekday nights see a steady afterwork crowd that come in for a few beers, whilst weekends are unofficial ‘family day’, where the bar’s previous hardcore drinkers now bring their grandchildren and extended family in for a meal. T
Sogo, which is situated on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, has become a major landmark along the street. The modern department store is well patronised for the quality of goods that the complex provides. The mixture of stores includes fashion boutiques, household furniture, travel agencies, shoe stores, gift shops, and many more.
League of Captains
The guys behind Pestle & Mortar amp up their cool factor with the opening of their first café/boutique on Jalan Doraisamy's The Row, so now fans can drink coffee in the company of their favourite clothing label. Taking up two floors, League of Captains has that industrial chic look down pat with bare cement floors, metal bar stools and glass displays doubling up as dining tables, while the upstairs alfresco area is perfect for lingering. The hanging green vines add a calming touch to the outlet's glass-heavy façade. The beans here are sourced from Sprezzatura Coffee and for food, there are sandwiches and Crzypuff empanadas (which are like giant curry puffs) as well as cakes by The Accidental Bakers (try the coconut brownies and blueberry zucchini lemon buttercream cake). If you're here to shop, the boutique upstairs carries a small selection of clothes and accessories by Pestle & Mortar Clothing, Bellroy, Hypergrand, ICNY, Dr Denim, Raised by Wolves and Publish. League of Captains is also connected to Slate, The Row's new event space poised to become a major spot for gigs and parties. Seeing as how Pestle & Mortar have hosted quite a number of parties in the past, it's only safe to assume that Slate might be their venue of choice in future.
Timbre @ The Row
Make Timbre your new hangout spot for weekend nights or afterwork gatherings – this is one more place you can add to KL’s growing list of music venues. Singapore’s live music giant, the Timbre Group has opened its first regional outpost at The Row, one of the city’s hippest new addresses. Decor-wise the restaurant and bar maintains its signature wood-accented interior from its Lion City sibling, while the menu boasts some of Timbre's all-time favourites including thin-crust pizzas, tapas and a wide range of pastas. That's your hunger satiated during live music performances. Timbre has always been about championing homegrown talents (they even have a music academy back in Singapore), so it comes as no surprise that Timbre @ The Row would be following in the same footsteps. Aspiring musicians can look forward to the open mic nights every Monday (curated by Shaneil Devaser) and the Malaysia Originals series happening every last Wednesday of the month. The venue will also have resident musicians comprising local acts IRIS Band (Wednesdays), Eezee-E and Nick Yungkit & Band (alternate Thursdays), Timbre Culture Club (Fridays) and EFFY (Saturdays).
From the team behind Maison Française comes French bistro and bar 2OX. Headed by Chef Thierry Le Baut, the restaurant on the Doraisamy stretch goes for a casual Parisian vibe with its elegant setting (white-tiled walls, leather and wood furnishings, a fine wine list) and classic French fare (duck rillette, toasted goat’s cheese, coq au vin). Go for the three-course sets that start from RM88++.
Limapulo: Baba Can Cook
Limapulo has finally moved to its dream location on 50 Jalan Doraisamy, leaving behind its bare, former premises at lot 26 for a retro, Instagram-worthy interior (think old typewriters, vintage posters, rusty metal chairs and more charming old-school props). It's also now next to Pestle & Mortar's League of Captains and Butter + Beans at the heart of The Row, a new development of F&B outlets and stores set to make Jalan Doraisamy cool again. What hasn't changed are veteran Nyonya cook Uncle John's family-guarded recipes and well-executed food: shrimp and petai cooked in a fiery sambal that never overplays its strength, ayam pongteh that warms you up like a stew, and creamy curry noodles studded with a madness of ingredients, are all testaments to Uncle John’s impressive culinary résumé.
Butter + Beans at The Row
If this fourth Butter + Beans outlet is of any indication, cafés in KL are finally growing up. Instead of the usual junk store/vintage chic interior, this roomy shophouse café, located along the revamped Jalan Doraisamy (now known as ‘The Row’) is sleek, modern and cosy. There are the usual tea and espresso-based coffee offerings, along with a small selection of cakes and pastries; we highly recommend the salted caramel almond mille crepe. And if you’re planning to get some work done, you’d be glad to know there are ample plug points here. The WiFi is fast and the music (down tempo chill) is good, too.
Designed by Singaporean design firm FARM, boutique co-working space The Co. does double duty as an event and community space for freelancers and tech start-ups. If you don’t want to work at home in your pyjamas, come here to work with like-minded folks. Guests are welcome to get a feel of the place through one-day trials, but for more permanent arrangements, ten-day passes and monthly memberships (which include access cards, high-speed internet and free flow of coffee and tea) are available.
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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.
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.