To say that Petaling Jaya (aka PJ) is huge is an understatement. Divided into several areas and neighbourhoods (better known as 'seksyen'), there are your oldies like Jalan Gasing and PJ Old Town to newer, flashier areas like Damansara and Aman Suria. For non-PJ folks, wrapping your head around the many sections can be a bit of a nightmare, so to help you out, we explored the area to come up with this cheat sheet to some of the best restaurants, cafés, shops, bars and things to do in PJ. Got a favourite PJ spot not listed here? Let us know in the comments.
Goreng pisang SS2
‘Pisang goreng’ or ‘goreng pisang’? The triviality of semantics is thrown out the window when faced with a crisp, fresh-from-the-oil batch of banana fritters supervised by 57-year-old Madam Ong. The pisang, of the more premium raja species, shrivels slightly when dropped in oil and forms a gooey, caramel-like centre. The batter is light, evenly crisp and shimmering in goldenness. There is no sign of the dreaded sheen of oil that coats the palate; just crisp batter against sweet, gooey banana. It’s science made delicious.
SS2 food street
Established since 1991, this short food street is sparsely populated due to its relatively obscure location between the Kelana Jaya and Taman Bahagia LRT stations. A current total of seven stalls easily satiate the locals with porridge, prawn noodles, ais kacang and mamak offerings. Garnering the longest queue, however, is the mother-and-son stall near the end that sells vegetarian mee jawa, assam laksa, mee diao and an assortment of Chinese delicacies like steamed and fried guan chiang (bean curd roll), vegetarian dumplings, red bean soup and barley wheat tong sui.
Need secure playpens? How about neck floats for water babies? Washable crayons from Crayola? Babyland has more than thirty years of experience in catering for tiny tots (as well as the bigger kids), and it shows in their impressive variety of baby equipment. There's even school uniforms, books, toys, organic snacks and more.
'Smokin' hot' is the only way to describe Smoking Hog, SS2's ultimate bacon haven where the porcine delight is king. Go for the all-day 'bacones' (crispy pork bacon cones stuffed with scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and baked beans, served with Smoking Hog's excellent tomato sauce) or Dutch Babies (puffed pancakes served with savoury or sweet condiments such as pork sausages or cornflakes and ice cream).
It's got nothing to do with that infamous Cecilia Ahern romance novel, but PS Tokyo is a love letter to Japanese flavours and culture. Decidedly minimalist, the dessert shop at SS2 goes for industrialist design in a big way: think naked light bulbs strung chandelier-style, simple wooden tables with pitch black stools and cushions, and walls devoid of wallpaper or paint (we spotted a large space at the back perfect for #ootd shots). While you’re at the counter, tip the little No-Face figurine with a 50 sen coin. PS Tokyo's claim to fame is its soft serve ice cream, specifically the hojicha and matcha flavours using tea imported from Uji, Kyoto. You can also add toppings to your soft serve for RM3 each, but you're better off enjoying the ice cream on its own to savour the rich tea notes. Aside from soft serve, PS Tokyo offers a range of cakes sourced from Project C, and you really shouldn't leave without trying the tofu cheesecake with ginger syrup. Other cake flavours include hummingbird, rosy mango, matcha milk chocolate and black sesame tofu cheesecake. At the moment, the menu may be quite sparse with only soft serve, cakes and Japanese-imported drinks and snacks like canned UCC Coffee and banana milk, but expect an expanded menu with waffles and affogato in future. There may even be new soft serve flavours like sakura, wasabi and squid ink added. No café is a trend-worthy one without its Instagram edge, and PS Tokyo has it. Take a pic on your visit (this can be of anyt
Restaurant Lorong Seratus Tahun
Take a seat at Lorong Seratus Tahun and you’ll see why the humble restaurant with its Penang hawker stall roots now has four outlets in the Klang Valley. People flock here for its Penang curry mee and char kuey teow, the latter topped with cockles, springy prawns and the essential wok hei. If you’re looking for places that serve good char kuey teow, you now know where to go.
This neighbourhood PJ coffee bar hopes to challenge the onslaught of mediocre cafés by providing what few remember to – quality. Couple the inconspicuous location with a top-notch single origin from Papua New Guinea, Standing Theory is a potential success story. The current house roast will not stick around too long as owner Perng is of the opinion that coffee should rotate. Look for in-house coffee scientist Jimmy to pour you some of the best cold brews in the city – steeped for 48 hours, served on the rocks and tasting of bourbon. If you bounce off the walls, order a waffle topped with house-cured pork bacon.
PJ Junk Store
Schedule your secondhand furniture hunt on a Thursday to time it with the excellent SS2 pasar malam located right by PJ Junk Store. At this secondhand furniture stalwart, one can find cabinets, bed frames, stools, some ancient video recorders, dusty pewter tankards, and even the odd piano in need of a tuning.
Mr. Wolf has brought with it two things PJ needs: A cosy lounge bar, and a stylish restaurant serving Asian fusion cuisine. Its name beckons as you drive along the LDP, plastered on the façade of the building that faces the highway. The ground floor holds the restaurant, clean and spacious, furnished with simple wood furniture. Decoration is kept to a minimum, save for posters with inspirational quotes and quirky images. Tucked in a corner of the restaurant are garden swing chairs – perfect for lounging on. There’s a little window at the back of the restaurant for guests to watch as the kitchen plates up its elegant dishes. Young chef Bryan Tan isn’t afraid to use bold combinations, with pairings like sous vide miso pork loin with apple coleslaw, and the crab ravioli with pickled mango and papaya salad gracing the menu. Though it’s a relatively small menu, it has a solid variety of flavours from their seafood and poultry dishes, cold selections, sides and desserts. The bar upstairs is definitely worth a stop, even if it’s to nibble on snacks like pork skin nachos over a drink. The space is decked out in colours of metallic gold and dark brown, giving off a warm and inviting vibe. Three VIP corners are also available for those who want some privacy. The bar has a wide collection of spirits ranging from whisky, wine, champagne, saké, cider as well as Guinness and Tiger on tap, while the cocktail menu features drinks like the Lady Hound, a combination of tequila, Cointreau tri
Thai cuisine may seem like it’s culled from a hodgepodge of ingredients (just look at the classic tom yam), but the trick to perfecting every dish lies in the juggling of disparate elements, like this khao kha moo comprising of chunks of stewed pork trotter, vegetables, pickles and a hard-boiled egg. Sounds simple but it tastes complex – long hours in the stock renders the pork fork-tender, while the melting fat adds to the richness of the gravy. Dip the meat into the accompanying chilli sauce and you’ll have a thrill ride for the senses. These are flavours to lose yourself in, when homecooked simplicity (and cheap food) is the order of the day.
Local indie publisher Fixi finally opens its own brick and mortar store, so if you’ve missed their festival rounds, just head over to Jaya Shopping Centre. After scouting around for possible locations, the guys decided on Jaya Shopping Centre as it signifies the Fixi spirit – in that Jaya Shopping Centre is both old and new. Keeping the whole ‘support local’ spirit alive, you can also find other local publishers here such as DuBook Press, Lejen Press and graphic novel publisher Maple Comics. Look forward to launches and other book-related parties happening at the store in the future. For more on Fixi, see the top five books to get at Kedai Fixi.
Digital Mall PJ
Standing four-storeys high, Digital Mall is a medium-sized commercial centre in PJ that is a one-stop retail address for IT, electronics and electrical products. Currently it has an impressive 100 per cent occupancy and has become quite popular amongst the locals in the area.
Calling itself a Hyperoffice, Jaya 33 is a five-storey commercial development that consists of two floors of retail space. It is home to a few franchised coffee shops and fast food outlets as well as a handful of spas and beauty salons. Its most notable amenity is its massive swimming pool belonging to its 70,000 sq ft fitness centre.
Against all odds, Gerakbudaya continues to thrive. Pak Chong’s bookstore isn’t just a bookstore, but a cherished community hub, a creative borough packed with a solid, wellcurated selection of books by local and regional authors with a slant towards social sciences and Southeast Asian studies. Gerakbudaya – literally ‘movement of cultures’ – is the gathering spot of choice for the informed and the intellectuals; it frequently plays host to forums and stimulating discussions.
Seksyen 17 and Seksyen 13
Jump Street Asia
Located in a warehouse behind Jaya One, this indoor trampoline park is made for people of all ages. The park is divided into several sections: a main court featuring over 9,000 square feet of interconnected trampolines, two dodge ball courts, a foam pit, basketball and kids' courts, a high performance area with six Olympic-spec trampolines and vertical running walls of different heights. Want to practice your aerial moves? The Big Bag – a massive seven- by ten-metre airbag – provides the ultimate soft landing. After you’re done jumping, you can relax at Jump Café upstairs. You can even host a party in the dedicated party rooms. Take note that upon entry, you're required to purchase and wear the Jump Street grip socks (RM4.50) for safety reasons.
The team behind Section 17's The Humble Pie Co. have made a notable expansion in the form of Yellow Apron not too far away in PJ's Section 13, breathing some life into the office- and warehouse-dominated street behind Jaya One. On the inside, Yellow Apron fulfils the criteria of today's sought-after cafés (a clean, minimalist interior with plenty of natural light coming in). It's also very spacious, making it a suitable spot for families with young children. Currently, the menu at Yellow Apron features burgers, sandwiches, pastas and even some rice and noodle dishes, with plans of introducing a dinner menu of Malaysian-style tapas (or 'mapas' as they're calling it) soon. In the meantime, standouts include 'The Big Bold Beef Cheese Wasabi Sandwich' (like a roast beef sandwich but with wasabi in a pretzel bun), 'Curry Lamb Bam, Thank You Mam' (lamb shoulder curry with basmati rice), 'The Fantastically Fusion Fried Chicken Burger' (boneless buttermilk chicken thigh with sambal belacan), and 'Dancing Prawns, Swimming Chicken Fried Yee Mee Noodles'. At this point, you should know that Yellow Apron likes long, funny names. Other than black coffee by Papa Palheta and a selection of teas, Yellow Apron also serves sangria and bottled beers as well as a range of mocktails. For dessert, there are (obviously) pies and cakes by The Humble Pie Co, including its famed banoffee pie and Musang King pie.
Hello by Kitchen Mafia
The newest kid on the Happy Mansion block is helmed by celebrity chefs Johnny Fua and Sherson Lian. Unlike other booming areas in town, Happy Mansion has been growing slow and steady, one restaurant at a time. So if you’re not in the mood for Thai or coffee, swing by Hello by Kitchen Mafia – but know that the place gets packed easily during peak hours, so plan ahead and make reservations. Besides appearing on television, the duo was previously with Elegantology. If you recall the restaurant’s fusion twists on French-Asian dishes, expect to see similar takes but in a different setting. The restaurant makes their own pasta and experiments with their ingredients, churning out green tea fettuccine for example. Start your meal with tapas like the drunken chicken liver pâté or with soup of the day; ours was the duck kut teh. Some of the restaurant’s popular main dishes are sake mirin grilled chicken, salted egg buttermilk pasta, Ah Pek fried rice, and the insta-worthy Pak Johnny mee rebus which requires you to pour the sauce from a tea pot. Finish up your meal with their home-brewed tuak, or if you’re not feeling experimental, wine, sake or craft beer.
Jaya One has an impressive collection of retail outlets including the vibrant PJ Live Arts group, a non-profit organisation that uses art as a platform to raise funds for local charities and community outreach projects. For those looking for the new ‘it’ café, there is The Bee, where hipsters eat Guiness-flavoured ice cream and local indie acts perform at its open mic nights.
Nestled in a tiny corner of Section 17 Happy Mansion apartments is one of PJ’s best kept secrets. Unpretentious and cosy, Food Foundry serves a good mix of pasta, Western dishes, tapas and local fare with their mille crepe cakes being the obvious tea time/dessert favourite among regulars.
Butter + Beans at Seventeen
Section 17 is fast becoming the centre of nifty food outlets with the addition of Butter + Beans at Happy Mansion (along Food Foundry). Coffee and pastries currently dominate the menu, but we reckon its strength lies in the quaint setting. The café is dreamily fitted with teal-coloured hangings, a rather intriguing chalk-drawn portrait of a bear, and wood-heavy furniture.
Robert's Char Kuey Teow
Named after Robert Khoo, the man behind the wok, the char kuey teow here comes loaded with prawns, Chinese waxed sausages, bean sprouts and crunchy pork lard. Don’t speak Chinese? No worries; you can breathe easy and make your order to the English-speaking Robert (usually seen frying at the Damansara Kim outlet).
Pasar Tani Mega
The fourth farmer’s market in Selangor to earn the Ministry of Agriculture’s ‘Mega’ status takes place every Thursday morning along the road that also houses Tuesday night’s pasar malam. Section 17 residents have long endured a love-hate relationship with this bustling, sprawling farmer’s market – the rush hour traffic congestion that arises from errant parking has been plaguing the neighbourhood since the market first opened for business more than 20 years ago. But that mild inconvenience doesn’t stop steady streams of old folk with trolley baskets and Jaya One’s white-collar workers from taking their pick of affordable fresh produce, meat, seafood, fruits, household items, spices, clothes, crafts, herb plants, traditional medicine and predominantly Malay food. Most vendors arrive to set up shop as early as 5.30am and subsequently move on to Kompleks Sukan FAMA Kelana Jaya (Saturday) and Shah Alam Stadium (Sunday) following their weekly Section 17 excursion. With a smaller-scale morning market operating daily at the nearby Section 17 Sentosa area, residents here are never short of options for dried and fresh produce, but this crowded pasar tani wins on sheer variety alone.
The Humble Pie Co.
Finally, a café that recognises our city’s dire lack of pie. Founders Eugene and Angela are devoted to pie-making whether in iterations like banana-toffee, strawberry or durian, all of which use slightly salted biscuit bases. The savoury food menu promises punch with weeknight favourites like pesto pasta and whole roasted chicken, boosted by an unadulterated New York cheesecake. But when in need of an instant pick-me-up, always opt for the banoffee pie: buttery biscuit shells filled with gooey banana, flowing dulce de leche and billowing clouds of vanilla-scented whipped cream – who says life isn’t fair?
Coffee Collective roasts and supplies specialty coffee beans to some of the city’s top cafés: Their Ratawali beans from Sumatra, with distinct dark chocolate notes and honey-like sweetness, are popular among cafés to use in espresso drinks. If you manage to locate this boutique roaster, hidden in the labyrinth of industrial warehouses in Section 19, we highly recommend the Cambara from Brazil for its almond notes and vanilla aftertaste, or the Ethiopian Mormora with its creamy body, berry notes and clean finish. What really stood out for us, besides its lofty warehouse space, is that Coffee Collective goes beyond just roasting coffee and pulling shots. Its founders, Barrie Nasim and Hashraf Hashim, are regular figures in the coffee industry: Barrie founded Bellboys Coffee Crafters in London while Hashraf is a director at Mollydooker’s Coffee Bar. Zulkefle Yup, a roaster at Coffee Collective, also founded Brew Platform, a community of coffee traders, roasters and baristas that aims to promote our local coffee culture and elevate the skills and knowledge of everyone involved. Together, they organise latte art throwdowns and coffee brewing workshops that sometimes travel to other cafés in the Klang Valley and beyond. Onsite at Coffee Collective, watch out for their twice-monthly cupping sessions. You’ll be tasting four to six beans, but more importantly, these sessions are a sensory experience that will also help you develop your tasting skills and palate – perfect for coffee
If feasting on quality durian over the blaring of police sirens by the roadside is your idea of fun, then Donald’s Durian is a must-visit. The durian buffet deal goes for RM15 per person, where selected D30s are continuously sent to your plastic table. Other durian variants, like the much vaunted D24, are subject to availability. The durian season typically starts in the middle of the year. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
Appu Curry House
Uncle Appu Curry House has slowly made a name for its curry fish head. Using the heads of kurau (threadfin), ikan merah (red snapper) or jenahah (golden snapper), the gravy has a nice balance of curry powder and spice. It is rich in flavour but not too heavy, and despite all that, you can still taste the freshness of the fish. The sourness from the quartered tomatoes gives the curry a nice appetising lift while the cabbage, taufu pok and green chilli lend a nice crunch in your bite. Tamil movies were showing on TV when we visited and the service was attentive and friendly. And they serve banana leaf rice too, with all the deep fried meats to boot.
Super Pharmacy Megastore
This is where you should go if you’re buying toiletries and pharmaceutical products in bulk. Besides being a pharmacy warehouse, the store also regularly hosts talks about personal healthcare from time to time. If you don’t want to get distracted by the myriad of products available, you can also shop online.
PJ Old Town and Jalan Gasing
Sri Ganapathi Mess
Fast becoming an open secret, this place is housed in an actual single-storey corner lot home. The porch area, unusually, has shelves of pottery on sale but don’t let that distract you. Head straight to the ‘converted’ rooms (past the friendly grandma with her wok of boiling oil) for your banana leaf fix. The decor is basic but you’re not here for the ambiance. You’re here for the steaming curries, fluffy parboiled rice, crispy, crunchy fried seafood and chicken and the tonguetingling crab rasam. Have one helping, rest for a bit, and have another. In case you can’t find the restaurant, it is located opposite Sekolah Kebangsaan PJ at Jalan 1/10.
This newbie is one of Klang Valley’s most unique thanks to its no-fuss industrial DIY setting. Opened by writer and musician Brian Gomez, it’s a venue for 100 percent local and independent art be it music, spoken word or comedy. The cover charge concept is something Brian tries to avoid, as he’s determined to keep ‘art affordable’, so chances are you’ll stumble upon a good local band on a Tuesday night without spending a dime. Lo-fi acoustic music is common here, but genres vary from folk to jazz. (We once heard a sweet Beatles cover by a bedroom singer.) Things like rules and censorship are lost on Brian, so if you want to belt a song about your cat or read a poem about an ex-PM, Merdekarya is just the platform you need.
Like a little known secret, Caffeinated Cabin is charming and hushed; it’s hidden among a mish mash of bamboo blinds and potted plants, secluded in its lack of signage. There’s yet time to sip a cup of coffee at one of the greenest-slash-industrialinspired cafés in the city – but what juxtaposition. Inside, the cement walls are grey and painted on with murals, bathed in natural sunlight streaming through the glass; the floors are left bare; chairs and tables are metal and wooden; while light fixtures hang low from the ceilings. For the peckish, breakfast is served all day, along with a selection of bagels, pastries and snacks.
Cherry Cake House
The humble, old-school cake confectionary in Petaling Jaya has no airs, no beautifully arranged bakes on antique plates and saucers; it’s just fine, fresh cakes, loaves and pastries. Think chicken floss buns, durian cream puffs, ice cream cakes and dozens of other carb-heavy and crusty offerings. The store, over two decades old, still serves a steady stream of elderly aunties, gabbing over hot coffee, and office workers grabbing a quick lunch from the set menu – like assam laksa on Mondays.
Taman Paramount, SEA Park and Taman Bahagia
Nasi Lemak Bumbung
Tummies can’t help but rumble at the pervasive scent of sambal tumis at Bumbung Nasi Lemak. The portions are normal but the food is a celebration of intense and savoury flavours. Despite its obscure location, hidden in a narrow alley, patrons can get their nasi lemak fix at lightning speed – within five to ten minutes, even during peak hours.
Porcine-heavy Ticklish Ribs & ‘Wiches dishes up everything pork – sandwiches, messy fries, and of course, ribs. How it works: Place your order at the counter, wait for the last four digits of your receipt number to appear on the screen, go pick up your order. Ticklish is a fun restaurant with plenty of graffiti (we spotted some works by local graffiti celeb Kenji Chai), porky puns on the walls, and a stage for comedy nights and fortnightly acoustic sets on Fridays. Custom-made rattan lights, chairs made from chopping boards and a metal cage section for private parties – they all work with the piggish theme. Spot the bank robbery wall art (Ticklish Ribs is just next to Maybank Seapark).
If we’re to go by the old adage of ‘we eat with our eyes’, a plate of brown like this Japanese curry rice isn’t going to score very high on the appetising chart. Wait until you taste it though – this thick roux, glopped over a golden piece of deep-fried breaded chicken, is the stuff you bust out on a rainy day. If there’s one thing better than a curry that’s rich and imperceptibly peppery, it’s when it also comes with a mount of perfectly cooked short-grain rice and a side of pickled ginger. And should you dislike chicken, the options at Shokudo run the gamut from deep fried pork loin cutlet to fried prawn. But the deeply satisfying curry – even on its own – will leave you ravenous for more.
Having set up shop since 1995 in front of a 7-Eleven at Sea Park, this food truck caters more for takeaways due to its constricted space next to a busy road. Despite the inconvenient venue, Zainal Abidin – whose son is working alongside him in the family business – has no trouble getting customers.
Penang Chee Cheong Fun stall
Used heavily in Penang food (rojak and laksa, for example), the thick, dark brown har gou is the defining characteristic of Penang-style chee cheong fun. The pleasant contrast between the sweet, umami gooey har gou sauce and smooth rice noodles makes for a strangely addictive dish that’s a testament to the versatility of the chee cheong fun. Try the dish at the Penang Chee Cheong Fun stall at O&S Restaurant in Taman Paramount. Manning the stall is Alor Setar native Chew Sing San, who learnt to make chee cheong fun from his Penangite uncle. Now in his sixties, he has been honing the craft for more than 30 years. Chew says that he imports pots of prawn paste from Penang, but the key lies in the adjustment of the taste and texture of his har gou using a personal family recipe.
Cendol & Rojak Taman Bahagia
If the prospect of an icy bowl of cendol on a hot afternoon is so deeply entrenched in our culture, it’s no wonder this mobile operation in Taman Bahagia is still thriving after 30 years of business. Run by 54-year-old Ayub, the truck buzzes on weekends, attracting long queues of parched PJ residents. The novelty factor of Ayub’s location is the convenience of park tables and benches beneath the shade of trees. One can choose to eat in the park within the company of sparrows, or stand around and chat with Ayub and his always-enthused business partner, Kamal.
Kedai Makanan O&S Restaurant
Operating daily from the break of dawn, O&S churns out some of the best local fare. Located in the vicinity of Taman Paramount, this kopitiam is home to many stalls selling Penang-style hawker fare, including prawn mee, curry laksa, char kuey teow and har gou chee cheong fun. The asam laksa – complemented with thick broth, generous chunks of mackerel, cucumber strips and a spoonful of sweet shrimp paste – is the star. Awards Food Awards 2014 Kedai Makanan O&S Restaurant was voted Best Cheap Eats in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2014. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
Awesome Canteen – operating in the less travelled constituency of Taman Paramount – has had booming success since its opening late last year, mostly down to simultaneous gushing from food bloggers and its penchant for displaying vintage paraphernalia. I love a restaurant that milks my buckling weakness for nostalgia, and Awesome Canteen does it all too well. Restaurant fill-ins are meticulously salvaged and reworked from memories of yesteryear; brass lampshades, an old typewriter, canteen-style metal stools and wooden displays are common sightings. Indoor plants add a flush of brightness to the browns. Alas, I am not just here to take a sepia-filtered photo of old Chinese medicine drawers (believe me, I wish I was), but to try the restaurant’s much-talked-about paleo menu. A little education for us rice-eating lot: The paleo diet emulates that of our Paleolithic ancestors and eliminates processed food like grains, dairy and legumes. Believer or sceptic, it’s bold for a restaurant like Awesome Canteen to dedicate a large chunk of their resources to fine-tuning a paleo menu. And for the large part, it looks good on paper. The pucuk ubi kayu salad is an exhilarating prospect (if only because tapioca shoots are severely underrated) but the leaves are shamefully overcooked into lumps while the egg yolk in the centre only adds slime. The chunks of tapioca beneath the leaves are left cold, an odd kitchen decision that is present a few too many times throughout dinner. The fried coco
Book-lovers and bargain-hunters are all familiar with Book Xcess, the bookstore that undercuts all the major chains and brings forth hordes of readers every year with its Big Bad Wolf sale. It’s not the prettiest store, and stock can be unpredictable, but you’ll find fiction, hardbacks, reference works, children’s books and even games for at least 50 percent off (and sometimes up to 90 percent).
ANZGAM Club House
PJ folks, there’s a new banana leaf joint in town. Formerly at Universiti Malaya Academic Club (UMAC), Kumaren and his crew have moved their banana leaf operations to a tiny bungalow on Lorong Utara B. Located within walking distance from the Asia Jaya LRT station, the unassuming ANZGAM Club House is right opposite the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital, sandwiched between the German School of Kuala Lumpur and Istara condominium. The building, which is owned by ANZGAM (Australia New Zealand Graduates Association of Malaysia), has been in disuse for 20 years. After some sprucing up, Kumaren opened up ANZGAM Club House as a small restaurant offering banana leaf meals during the day and a western menu at night. The space is homey, sparsely decorated with ANZGAM relics, a map of Australia, and large windows to let in the afternoon breeze. During our visit, we spotted quite a few professors from Universiti Malaya and some college students. (PSA: College kids, you guys get RM1 off, which means you can get your vegetarian banana leaf fix for only RM4). Taste-wise, it’s the same flavour and generous ingredients from its UMAC days. The food arrived piping hot, and we counted no less than 13 types of vegetables and miscellaneous add-ons (poppadums, salt-dried chillies, various pickles) arranged on the banana leaf. Plus, there were tiny metal cups of rasam and payasum (a sweet dessert-like soup) to end the meal on a sweet note. Interestingly, you can have beer as well. According to Kumaren,
PJ Palms Sports Centre
A five-minute walk from Taman Jaya LRT station, this sports centre houses two clean, well-kept pools: a 50m with eight lanes and a kiddie. Towel and swimwear rental is available. After your swim, fill your stomach at Jam & Kaya Café, which is just next to the pool.
Hard Graft Records
Hard Graft Records is grey walls, no fuss: a few chairs, a water dispenser and a formidable, well-curated stock of new and old LPs, which touches on metal, hip hop and rock. Stay for a bit and speak to owner Nick Mun about the vinyl experience; among other things, he’ll tell you that ‘an LP is a cultural artefact’.
The man behind the name, Joe Rozario, is just as famous as his extensive vinyl store located in the basement of Amcorp Mall. What used to be a humble (but popular) stall in the mall’s weekend flea markets is now a bona fide shop of its own. Vinyl devotees flock there to peruse a mix of classic and contemporary vinyl, starting from a very reasonable RM5. Joe’s Mac also carries a selection of musical equipment, posters and antique paraphernalia, but the real draw is the music.
Bake With Yen
Bake With Yen opened its doors more than two decades ago in 1987. It has since been a staple in providing an extensive range of quality baking products and ingredients, including flavours, fillings, premixes, emulsifiers, cookie cutters and bread moulds. One of the largest provider of baking supplies today with outlets in PJ, KL and Ipoh, this brand also offers technical expertise as well as baking classes at certain branches.
Restaurant Fatty Crab
Fatty Crab offers a variety of seafood dishes, but most people just flock here for their speciality. Fatty Crab’s signature dish is their sweet and sour crab which many choose to eat with a portion of bread to soak up the gravy. Awards Food Awards 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Restoran Fatty Crab won Best Seafood in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. It was shortlisted in the same category in 2010. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
This new PJ mall has a decent selection of brands such as M&S, Dorothy Perkins, and Zara. Fashionistas will be pleased to hear that H&M has its third Malaysian outlet here. If you’re hungry, you can find the usual T.G.I. Friday’s, Chili’s, and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf as well as some quirkier offerings like Cielo Dolci or Pasta Zanmai.
Restoran Sri Suria Curry House
Kelana Jaya’s new banana leaf opening is generating buzz for its spice-laden Chettinad food. It seems trivial to compare the restaurant against veterans Vishal’s in Brickfields, but Sri Suria seems to have it figured out so far. The chicken biryani is a special here, served in claypots with thick hunks of chicken and carrying a pretty yellow tinge from turmeric. Chicken and mutton varuval are also favourites while the fried-to-order seafood and meats are dominated by the mackerel. Subdue the spice with a cup of fresh cow’s milk coffee. Awards Food Awards 2013 Restoran Sri Suria Curry House was shortlisted Best Cheap Eats and Best Indian 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.
Tunku Hadi, the founder and master barista at Aitch micro roaster, strongly believes that a good cup of coffee starts right at the beginning – the farms. As such, he gets his green beans from a reputable supplier in Sydney who educates and works directly with the farmers to not just improve their quality of life but also the quality of the crop. With these specialty beans, Hadi experiments with every batch to discover new blends and roasts. He now supplies to some of KL’s most popular cafés, namely Thursdvys, Sudo Brew and Yellow Brick Road. Moving forward, he’s considering going all molecular on coffee, fuelled by his fascination of how different types of water can affect the taste of coffee. Tucked away in a nondescript shophouse in Mutiara Damansara, Aitch has a casual, lab-like vibe. The roaster sits in one corner, operating three times a week; the huge coffee counter is the focal point, placed at the front of the shop next to a small vinyl collection; there’s a temperature- and humidity-controlled room at the back, where the beans are stored. Aitch is also a gallery of sorts; it has hosted several small, indie art and design events in the past. For coffee, we suggest the clean-tasting Ethiopian Adado (if available) – better yet, inform the barista about your preference (fruity, floral, dark and chocolatey, etc) and go with their recommendation. It’ll be a great education process. You’d also be glad to know that Aitch plans to organise public cupping sessions in the nea
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.
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.
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.
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
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’ –
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.
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.
Café and coffee roastery Cream is exactly what its name implies: a serene space, airy and light-filled, swathed in palettes of pale wood and off-whites. It’s almost too zen for a coffee roastery – but that’s only because all the action takes place in a room closed off behind the coffee counter, where the machine is located. Cream is an evolution of The Roast Things, one of the city’s earliest micro-roasters, founded and run by Chiam Tow Jin and Ving Lim. Ving, an expert at pour overs and siphon brewing, is the lead roaster while Jin is the resident cupper, buyer and a certified coffee judge. Like all specialty coffee roasters, the beans are roasted medium to medium dark to avoid burning their natural flavours, a quality best sampled through Cream’s innovative way of serving filtered coffee. There will be two versions of your drink, hot and iced, and you’d be surprised how the temperature can highlight the different characteristics of the beans. It’s a testament to the roasters’ craft and skill that they’re able to bring out those nuanced flavours. Here at Cream, their roasts are a good balance of fruit acidity and sweetness. For filtered coffee, you can choose from a selection of single origin beans. Highlights include the Tanzania Kanji Lalji Peaberry, which has a dense body with hints of blackcurrant, and the Kirinyaga Kiangoi from Kenya, noted for its crisp acidity. While filtered coffee might take on an almost tea-like body, go for the espresso-based coffee if you prefe
Patty & Pie
Located in Aman Suria Damansara, Patty & Pie is a café whose menu centres on burgers and pizzas. Brit owner Nadal Murray used to flip burgers and worked at a pizzeria in the mountains of Canada, and now he is on a mission to make seriously good burgers and wood-fired pies in KL. Brioche buns are delivered daily from a bakery opposite the café. Almost every ingredient on the menu is made in-house, such as their pickles, salted beef and smoked aubergine for the baba ganoush pizza. Try the cheeseburger.
Attention, admirers of Japanese aesthetics: All that is form-meets-function, modern minimalist and with a wash of the whimsical can be found at Koncent, the Tokyo-based Japanese zakka outpost that’s the retail arm of design consultancy H Concept. The breadth and depth of the country’s contemporary consumer culture is reflected in the diverse, uniquely Japanese curiosities available in-store: There are the little details, such as animal-shaped cable holders; home decor accents, like furry stools, sleek table racks and handmade Japanese zabuton cushions; and the weird, most notably Cao Maru stress balls in the shape of human heads. There’s something for everyone and their foodie friend – by that, we mean there’s a café corner that serves green tea, coffee and cakes, complemented with books, magazines and titles on design and travel.
Gastro Bar, By Burgeon
Both Seth Chong and his partner Ray Lim had a vision to start a brand that speaks through food, with the ultimate goal of attaining Michelin stars. You might have heard of their first endeavour, Ribs At The Burgeon, a barbecue-themed restaurant which they eventually closed as they felt it limited their opportunities to venture into more adventurous cuisine. After much thorough research and development, Gastro Bar, By Burgeon was born. It’s actually more of a concept change, really. Located in what was previously Ribs, the space is now darker and more intimate. The bar takes up an entire wall and is stocked with bottles of whiskies. The colours black and gold are used abundantly throughout the place, with contrasting pops of colour from the cushions. The decorations are kept minimal with hanging lights fashioned out of glass bottles and neon lights that glow on the walls, leading towards the bathrooms and kitchen. The cocktails on the menu were all created in-house. For the sweet tooths, the Strawberry Cheesecake (RM48) is a cocktail you can both drink and eat. It has strawberry, yoghurt, oolong tea, Scotch whisky and their house-made cheese-infused whisky. It’s sweet and it has crunch – just like a delicious cheesecake. A refreshing choice would be the Genesis (RM42) which has Sarsaparilla, yuzu, cilantro, sour rhubarb liqueur and gin. For fans of the Harry Potter series, Gastro Bar, By Burgeon has concocted their own version of the Butterbeer using whisky. It tastes magica
This professional yoga and pilates centre has a dedicated team of professional instructors and a big range of classes for the whole family. Prenatal and kids' yoga classes join the roster of specialised yoga and pilates classes for every level. There's also a juice and salad bar for healthy post workout snacks.
1 Utama Shopping Centre
Zoned into sections catering to almost all of your needs, 1 Utama’s many accolades are well-justified with its ability to thrill even the most jaded shopper. In addition to its many shops and eateries, it also houses Asia’s biggest indoor rock-climbing gym, a baseball softball centre, a scuba diving centre, a 13-screen cinema and a rainforest feature within the building allowing diners to savour their meals amongst lush greenery. There is also an official BookCrossing zone on the ground floor where books are exchanged for free, while most of the child-friendly attractions are located on the second floor.
It's a Hit! Batting Cages
It might be new but baseball is catching on in Malaysia. If you want to work on that Babe Ruth homerun It’s A Hit! Batting Cages is the place to go. It’ll take some time to get into the swing of things but persevere and soon you’ll be thwacking balls like a pro.
The Roof is one of the most exciting openings this year. This nightlife hub in PJ houses five outlets all under ‘the roof’. It’s also the only one of its kind in town. The best part is definitely Stratosphere (012 691 0628. Wed-Sat, 6.30pm-2am) – the first and only bar on top of an infinity, grassed helipad in Asia. Needless to say, the views are spectacular. Moving on to Signature (016 229 1505. Daily, 12noon-2am) , a gastro-lounge where you’ll find outstanding cocktails and fusion cuisine. It’s a casual hang out for social gatherings. Read: birthday parties, anniversaries, stag nights and such. For those who want to dance, you can do it at Play (013 270 3111. Wed-Sat, 10pm-3am), a designer super club with thematic design, staging, audio and visual. Famed rapper Lil Jon recently had a gig here. Sports enthusiasts can head to Score (012 691 0628. Daily, 5pm-2am) to catch live telecasts of major sporting events while chugging a pint. Styled like a gentlemen’s club, Malt & Leaf (017 908 5766. Daily, 5pm-2am) is for the cigar lovers and whisky enthusiasts, and from the interior you can tell it’s a little more exclusive here. So far, The Roof looks really promising; it is certainly a destination you’ll be planning your social calendar around. Ian Loh
Costume World is all about variety. From period attire to animal costumes to superhero outfits, every category is decked out in several versions or styles to cater to various body shapes and personal preferences. So if you and your friends all want to be Cat Woman without wearing the exact same costume, it's possible.
Roast Factor Glee
Roast Factor Glee wins on account of being a micro-roastery – a feature that enables owner Tan Shyue Chin to control the darkness of her roast. Always go for the washed Rwandan Inzovu that carries a green apple tartness, black tea and plum notes as well as a floral aroma all at once. If there was an award for the most complex of all cold brews in KL, we reckon the Rwandan would take it.
Whisk Espresso Bar & Cake Shop 1 Utama
June 2011 Whisk is a tiny hole in the wall in Empire Subang, comfortingly informal when you step inside. The menu is limited, but this is not a bad thing – it leaves space for the cooks to focus on what they do best (these skills are outlined in the name of the shop). There are a handful of savoury items on the menu but precedence is given to the many cakes that cover the counter, and the solid coffee menu. My lunch partner and I were there ostensibly for our midday meal and too shy to make a lunch out of cake, more’s the pity. First to arrive was the hazelnut latte, which my lunch partner crooned over between sips. The hazelnut flavour was not too overpowering, the milk silky and the coffee superior. (Whisk uses beans from Oriole, a Singapore-based coffee company.) My beef cottage pie arrived somewhat unceremoniously in its foil case on a plate without any garnishes, but was warm through and crispy-topped. A cursory side salad wouldn’t have gone amiss and neither would the removal of the foil case, but the pie itself was good with a moist and flavourful filling of minced beef. The lamb and mushroom puff likewise came unadorned but fared much better than the cottage pie – the pastry was golden and flaky and the filling steaming and piquant. But the main event was definitely the cakes. We loved the Granny’s cake – a light, tiered apple cake sandwiched with layers of cream cheese icing and butterscotch and flecked with tiny chips of apple. The crumb was moist without being h
Centrepoint Bandar Utama
Not as busy as the popular 1Utama, Centrepoint is a favourite amongst residents within the vicinity. A new wing has recently been added to Centrepoint with retail outlets such as a DIY shop, Starbuck Cafe, Manhattan Fish Restaurant, a Thai Restaurant, a clinic and a hair saloon.
Baan Kun Ya
A dinner at Baan Kun Ya will almost certainly end with you meeting your threshold for coconut milk. I leave the restaurant with coconut milk running through my veins, my heart pumping the stuff with both vigour and regret. This is mainly the doing of one main, a curry with all the creaminess you can imagine of coconut milk. Let’s rewind a little bit. It’s a Thursday night and Baan Kun Ya in Bandar Utama smells like jasmine. The restaurant is standard in all the ways a Thai restaurant in a mall is – unceasing choruses of ‘sawadee ka’ by smiling staff, the token pandan and lemongrass drink, the families and couples. I’m a sucker for all of those things. What catches me off guard are the prices. A plate of spring rolls to start with is RM28, a bowl of seafood tom yum begins at RM38, a green curry with chicken is RM36, and a stir-fried beef dish is RM42. I’d take these prices at a restaurant like Erawan, where coconut milk is tediously hand-squeezed, seafood is coddled as one would a new Apple device, and fruits and vegetables are carved into collectors’ items. But at Baan Kun Ya, a restaurant that is parallel to myELEPHANT, these prices are unsettling. In my refusal to partake in RM28 spring rolls, I order the pandan chicken instead. Because the chicken is cut two sizes up from bite-sized, the aroma of pandan from the leaf wrap doesn’t cover the entirety of each piece. Otherwise, the chicken is cooked very well, while the bird itself is unmistakeably fresh. I am also thankful
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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.