The best train journeys in Asia
All around the world, trains are back and bigger than ever. From the expansion of night train networks to the resurgence of supremely luxurious rail routes, train travel is proving that alternatives to planes and cars aren’t just greener: they’re often much more enjoyable, too. When making a list of the best rail journeys in the world, it sort of makes sense that Asia features so heavily. After all, this continent is vast. It’s home to such a mind-bogglingly huge range of cultures and landscapes that it simply cannot help but also be home to an enormous selection of fab train journeys. So, without further ado, here goes: from luxury hotel rooms on wheels to legendary historical routes, these are the seven best train journeys in Asia. RECOMMENDED:🚂 The best train journeys in the world🚅 The best train journeys in Europe🚉 The world’s most spectacular train stations
Best pizza places in KL
There’s no such thing as bad pizza, so the saying goes, but making a good pizza requires patience, skilled hands and a generous amount of quality toppings. Here are some of the best pizza joints in KL to visit when you just need that slice of heaven.
Best durian shops in KL
The King of Fruits may not be everyone’s favourite, but those who love it can get a little too enthusiastic over the intensely pungent and bittersweet fruit, especially when peak durian season hits. When that time comes, head to these places to get your durian fix – just make sure you’ve stocked up enough mouthwash at home. RECOMMENDED: Find out how to pick the best fruit in our guide to durian
Best things to do in Kuching
With a history that stretches back to the early 1800s, Kuching has evolved to become a city that embraces modernity and old-world charm; a city where malls, restaurants and hotels are never far away from museums, street food, museums and cultural centres. We take a look at the best places to stay, visit and eat in Sarawak’s vibrant capital city. Where to stay Photo: Batik Boutique Hotel The Batik Boutique Hotel (38 Jalan Padungan. 082 422 845) is a 15-room hotel that combines the allure and hospitality of a boutique hotel with all the modern amenities expected of a luxury hotel – the silk duvets are a definite plus point. Another reason to stay here is its location on Jalan Padungan, which has some of the city’s best coffee shops, restaurants and pubs. Alternatively, The Ranee (6 & 7 Main Bazaar. 082 258 833) is a charming boutique hotel housed in refurbished traditional 19th century shophouses. Its 24 rooms are tastefully furnished with local traditional crafts and décor inspired by Sarawak's rich heritage and culture. There's an all-day dining and bar, and its strategic location at the waterfront in the heart of the town ensures there's plenty to see and do during your stay. If city life proves too busy for your liking, head over to Borneo Highlands Resort (Jalan Borneo Heights. 016 886 0790), an eco-resort that’s located about 60km away from the city centre. Parked atop a rainforest clad highland terrain, the resort has everything you need for a pampered stay – spa pool
Best cycling routes in the Klang Valley
Cycling isn’t the easiest sport to pick up when you’re living in the Klang Valley – the heavy traffic, bad road conditions and lack of suitable cycling lanes can often discourage and even intimidate anyone from taking it up more seriously. To deal with that, we’ve compiled a list of routes that are safe, scenic and offer a new way to explore the Valley.
Southeast Asia's best eco-retreat destinations
Southeast Asian capitals like Bangkok and Jakarta are known for their hustle and bustle – which is fine if you're into it. But when you're looking for the kind of peace and quiet only Mother Nature can provide, head out to these eco-retreats that are scattered across Southeast Asia.
Guide to oysters
There’s more to oysters than its supposed aphrodisiac properties; when eaten fresh, these hard-shelled molluscs are a bite of the ocean, and are brimming with nutrients such as zinc, iron and calcium. The thing about oysters, however, is that there are so many different types to choose from – for those new to the delicacy, it can be intimidating trying to figure out where to even start. To help you decide which to go for – and to show off your knowledge at the next fancy nibbles party – we’ve compiled a little guide to the various kinds of oysters found in restaurants across the Klang Valley. Gallagher Speciale oyster. Photo: Irish Premium Oyster Gallagher Speciales – Ireland The Irish have been eating oysters even before the ancient Mayans, with discarded oyster shell fossils dating back over 5,000 years being found on Irish beaches. They remain an important part of Irish culture – the Galway Oyster Festival is one of the most anticipated events in the Irish calendar – and it’s common to find bars that serve them with a pint of Guinness. One type of Irish oyster that can be found here in KL is the Gallagher Speciale, named after oysterman Edward Gallagher. These plump oysters are grown in a pristine stream in Donegal, Ireland, and are known for their meaty and sweet flavours that have a mellow and fresh marine taste. Those cultivated in Traghenna Bay even bear a slightly smoky taste thanks to the water that flow through the peats. West Mersea – England Grown in the cree
Guide to durian
Explore varieties beyond the Musang King. Durian novices are usually drawn to the Musang King, which is known for its sweet flesh, dry texture and less intense aroma; but given its ridiculous prices, it’s best to explore other options that might taste just as good, or even better. ‘I’d recommend the Black Thorn, which is one of the top-selling fruits,’ says Erik Ong (founder of the Durian King TTDI fruit store), adding that it might be priced about RM50 per kilo in KL, depending on what the supply is like. ‘It has a bitter-sweet flavour with a wine aftertaste – it’s not for your average Joe, but those who have eaten durians for a while will fall in love with it at the first try. The other durian I’d suggest is the XO, which costs about RM30-35 a kilo. It has a more bitter, alcoholic taste to it.’ Another underrated variety that deserves attention is the Capri, which according to Lindsay Gasik (blogger behind YearOfTheDurian.com) can be found at Eng Hoe Durian farm, north of Batu Feringghi in Penang. Identified through its unusually large and wide-based spikes, the durian has a pale white flesh (hence, its lack of marketability) that carries a distinctive whisky-banana rum flavour. Hardcore durian lovers will gravitate towards the Horlor, which sits pretty high on the bitter scale with a flesh that clings to the mouth like thick peanut butter. Keep an eye out for the Musang Queen. Expect durian sellers to capitalise on the Musang King’s popularity by hawking off the ‘Musang Q
Best hot chocolates in KL
Whether it's made with artisanal or the classic Belgian chocolate, with 51 percent cacao or white, a cup of the rich creamy drink at any of these places will hit the spot.
Interview: Sebastian Farias
Having been involved in the coffee industry since he was 15 years old, Colombian Sebastian Farias knows more than a thing or two about the progress of global coffee trends. Today, he spends most of his time shuttling between Australia and Malaysia as the business development manager of Cottle Coffee in Melbourne and KL, where he is involved in growing the brand of the family-owned roastery, spotting new business opportunities, and developing new coffee products like the Coventry Blend and Colombia La Esperanza, which won Silver and Bronze respectively at the Golden Beans 2017. It’s well accepted that Melbourne is one of the coffee capitals of the world. What is it about its coffee culture that sets it apart from others, and exportable to the world? It’s all about the craft and dedication – Melbournians are very conscious of sourcing their beans and take a lot of pride in doing things the very best that they can. And importantly, they have the volume of coffee consumption that unfortunately Malaysia lacks. Larger volumes equal more practise, of doing the same thing over and over again until it becomes perfect. Over in Melbourne, we’d be spending our Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 5pm roasting beans non-stop; but over here we’d get enough roasted beans for a whole month in one day. What makes the Melbourne coffee scene different from Sydney’s? The Sydney coffee scene is growing extremely fast – they stepped up and picked up on what Melbourne was doing, but they weren’t enjoying the
These five kitchen tools will change the way you cook
There's no doubt that cooking can be fun, and a shared home-cooked meal between friends and family is a priceless experience. But anyone who’s cooked up a family meal or a simple breakfast for two will tell you that doing it takes time and effort, especially when it comes to doing the prep work and cleaning up. Having the right kitchen tools, however, can save you all that hassle, and the time saved can be spent on the things that really matter: quality time with family and friends. Kenwood Mid-year promotion Enjoy up to 50 percent off on selected items from now until the end of June by getting them through Kenwood’s official vendors or its official store on Lazada Malaysia. In addition to that, the first 100 buyers of the Chef XL Sense Kitchen Machine during this period will also receive an additional Chef Sense Kettle or Toaster (worth up to RM399). Visit www.kenwoodworld.com/en-my/redeem-free-chef-sense-kettle-toaster for more information.
Guide to kacang putih
The history of the kacang putih (literally translated as ‘white nuts’) business goes back to the 1940s, when the British brought in migrant labourers from the Ettayapuram village in Tamil Nadu to Malaya. A few families settled down near the limestone hill in Gunung Cheroh, Ipoh – until 1973, when the residents were relocated to Teluk Kurin B in Buntong after a slab of limestone fell onto a longhouse, killing 42 people. It was in the new settlement that business kicked up. The new, larger homes allowed owners to set up retail storefronts selling kacang putih, as well as other fried Indian snacks like murukku and assorted fried nuts made using recipes from Tamil Nadu. Business was so brisk that the settlement’s unwieldy name was changed to Kampung Kacang Putih – and until today, remains as the heart of a growing kacang putih industry across the country. You won’t find kacang putih sold by the kacang putih manThe kacang putih vendor didn’t start by selling different types of murukku, fried nuts and potato chips – they just sold one thing: actual kacang putih, which are steamed lentils (also known as kacang kuda). But selling that alone wasn’t enough, especially as demand started to slow down and the burdensome steamer needed to keep the lentils warm made life difficult for cycling vendors. Eventually, they diversified their offerings to include snacks that were easier to carry around and had a longer shelf life – which is how we ended up with the modern-day kacang putih man sell
Listings and reviews (28)
The Rum Bar KL
With a centuries-long history that involves drunken sailors, sugar-cane labourers and uni students getting toasted on two-for-one daiquiri nights, rum has come to be regarded as little more than a party drink or mixing spirit. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a daiquiri, but if that’s all you’re willing to drink, you’ll be missing out on one of the world's most versatile and underappreciated spirits. Enter The Rum Bar KL, the latest specialty bar that stocks over 250 labels of rum from across the globe – the largest collection in the city; more than double the number stocked by JungleBird, KL’s other specialist rum bar. Owned by The Werner’s Group, which also operates The Whisky Bar, El Cerdo and Opium KL, the Changkat-based bar aims to elevate the rum’s rough-and-tumble image by presenting them in an elegant and classy setting, complete with premium cigars, lounge chairs and limited-edition rums proudly displayed in glass cabinets (if you have to ask, you can’t afford it). However, as you walk further into the space, what commands your view are the shelves filled with their impressive collection of rum. Browsing through the extensive menu, however, can be an intimidating experience for the first timer. While the menu sorts out the rums alphabetically and geographically, you’re better off asking the bartender, who’ll recommend you a few types according to your preference for strong, dry or fruity rums. Alternatively, you can choose to go with the For The Virgins f
As befitting a kiosk that proclaims to be Malaysia's first vegan ice cream bar, Kind Kones certainly feels and looks the part. The calm 12-seater dessert bar located on the basement floor of 1 Mont Kiara has a clean, almost stark-white look that invites curious passers-by to wander in and ask the obvious question: ‘Can vegan ice cream really taste good?’ Well, the short answer is yes, it can. But not in the same way that dairy ice cream tastes. To make vegan ice cream, Kind Kones creator and owner Serina S Bajaj needed to replace the dairy base with almond, cashew or coconut milk. This resulted in an ice cream that’s lighter and more delicate than dairy ice cream, with a curious (but pleasing) aftertaste depending on the base ingredient. Its dark chocolate ice cream, for example, has a lingering coconut flavour, while the cashew milk flavour carries through in the jackfruit ice cream. Aside from being vegan, the ice cream is made without refined cane sugar or corn syrup (it uses coconut sugar, maple syrup or agave instead), artificial preservatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers, colouring or other synthetic additives. This means that the shelf life of the ice cream is only three to four days, but on the other hand, there’s also way less guilt and calorie-counting when you’re going through a pint of it. Kind Kones has been in the works for over four months before its August launch, during which Serina developed over 20 flavours that include familiar favourites like dark chocolate,
Merchant & Sisters
Those wandering into Merchant & Sisters might find it a bit hard to define what the store is all about: aside from its selection of casual outfits, denim wear, accessories and bags, the store also houses a small café, a branch of The Tattoo Parlor, and The Burrow barbershop – all within a cosy upstairs shoplot on the corner of Jalan Batai. Co-owner Sunitha Petrus describes M&S (an unintended acronym… we think) as a modern take on the old general store, where people can feel relaxed, meet other people and be a part of a community. This is a boutique store where people and personalities matter as much as the goods and services sold. While the store features a mélange of goods, they all share a casually cool vibe, which isn’t dissimilar from Sunitha’s own style; the clothes and accessories are personally sourced by Sunitha and her sisters from their travels, and aren’t too elaborate or fussy. Among the brands spotted here are Radio Fiji designer swimwear, basket bags from Australian brand 2 duck, and accessories from France-based Taratata Bijoux. Guys will be pleased to see a corner dedicated to Nama Denim, a Japanese brand that sources its raw selvedge denim from the Okayama Prefecture, which is considered the mecca for denim heads. There’s also a decent selection of men’s hair products from brands like Gonzo, Reuzel and Bona Fide that are selected by Al Siew, the resident barber in The Burrow. The cosy café is well-thought out, complementing the store’s easy-going atmosphere b
Cielo Kuala Lumpur
With its multitude of mamaks alongside bars and clubs that blare out Top 40 hits, Changkat Bukit Bintang isn’t where you’d normally go for a quiet romantic night out – which is why Cielo KL is such a welcome addition to the chaotic nightlife hotspot. Taking over what used to be the gym and rooftop pool of Vida in Bukit Ceylon, Cielo KL is owned and operated by Werner’s Group, which also owns other Changkat mainstays The Whisky Bar, The Rum Bar KL, El Cerdo, Opium and Dining in the Dark. True to form, Werner’s never repeats the same trick twice whenever it tries its hand at a new venture. At Cielo, the group has placed its focus on providing a refined dining experience by using imported seafood ingredients, and creating an ambience that makes you want to linger on long into the night. No expense is spared in creating a romantic mood, from the retractable roof that opens up to reveal the night sky to the immaculately set tables and Bluetooth-controlled table lighting that changes as the evening wears on. A glance through the menu reflects the restaurant’s ambition of providing a classic seafood meal that gets the basics right first, and then some. Starters include pan-seared scallops with creamy celeriac mousse, tomato confit and green lentils (RM52); grilled octopus with red capsicum purée (RM78); and akami tuna tartare with mango salsa and wasabi tobiko (RM68). The combinations and flavours are nothing new, but there’s plenty to admire about the technique and quality of ingre
The Burnin' Pit
KL is no stranger to Texan barbecue joints with cult favourites Beard Brothers’ BBQ and Mom’s BBQ food truck, but The Burnin’ Pit dwarfs them in terms of scale and ambition. Occupying a prominent corner lot on Desa Sri Hartamas’s main strip, the two-storey restaurant is the lifelong dream of Kok Fung, who fell in love with the art of slow-smoked barbecue after spending a few years exploring the US and learning from local pit masters there. The restaurant is impossible to miss: even before stepping in, an always-working outdoor smoking pit lures you in from the street with its smoky aromas. Inside, large sharing tables, wide open spaces, heavy dark-wood furniture and an open kitchen carry the look of an upscale restaurant, but the restaurant is cosy enough to make you feel comfortable to eat with your bare hands if you feel like it. Upstairs is where you’ll find ‘The Pit Master’s Lounge’, a drinking space that opens from 5pm and is decked out to look like hunter’s lodge filled with all manner of Americana, including books about barbecue, a faux fireplace and a bourbon-stocked bar. On the menu is a variety of starters, sides, roast chicken, lamb and house-made sausages. The main attraction, however, are the beef ribs and brisket, which have been rubbed with salt and pepper before being smoked for eight to 14 hours until they’re completely tender and oozing with melted fat. Fung has also tweaked the Texan barbecue recipe with small, but significant gestures: the rub, for instan
Grano Pasta Bar
Restaurants that make their own pastas are nothing new, but few in KL, if any, claim to specialise in it. Enter Grano Pasta Bar, APW’s latest restaurant that aims to introduce KLites to a range of pasta that goes beyond the usual spag bol, aglio olio and creamy carbonara. And given that the person driving this is Meg Lee – the head chef responsible for making Proof Pizza + Wine one of our favourite joints for sourdough pizzas – there’s every reason to expect that Grano can be the city’s go-to place for pasta. The restaurant sets a casual yet expectant mood for something different than your usual Italian fare. Designed by pow ideas – whose work includes the neighbouring Proof, Pocket Park and Kaiju Bar – Grano is a seamless part of APW’s environs, complete with light wood furniture, abstract art pieces and modern Roman archways that give a subtle nod to its Italian roots without resorting to cheesy tourist photos of Venice. Despite the limited space, the restaurant manages to squeeze in two floors that seat about 30 people, while full length mirrors on the ground floor and a connecting doorway to Proof on the upper floor makes it feel more spacious than it actually is. The menu is compact but creative, featuring four classic and six gourmet pasta and risotto dishes. For those who crave a punchy pasta dish, opt for the creste di gallo lisce (RM37), where a short pasta shaped like a rooster's comb is coated with a sauce made from spicy Calabrian nduja pork salumi, capers, pear
KL’s most talked about bar at the moment is also the city’s scariest – or at least tries to be. Walking past The Deceased’s front door to head to the rooftop bar feels like going through a House of Horrors made by college students – audio recordings of ghostly whispers and groans play on loop, while on either side of the staircase are crimson-streaked walls, scrolls and an altar adorned with a black-and-white photo of a presumably dead woman – or a Willow-filtered Instagram selfie. But that isn’t the most intimidating part of coming here; that belongs to the reservation process, which requires you to book a seat via Facebook – preferably days, even weeks, in advance if you’re looking to come in on Friday or Saturday. No walk-ins are allowed, as you’d need a six-digit access code given only when your reservation is confirmed by an unnamed social media administrator. Spooky. The bar, which is part of Mingle Hostel, has a convivial atmosphere that betrays the eerie façade – the leafy alfresco bar is decked out with communal tables that encourage socialising, while speakers play what sounds like a Spotify playlist inspired by Cigarettes After Sex and The xx. Behind the main bar is a large apothecary shelf stocked with a number of cocktail ingredients – reflecting the shop’s history as a Chinese drugstore – while the bar top prominently displays large glass jars filled with gin and vodka infusions. Like a cheesy teen-horror flick, the drinks threaten to scare, but are made to ple
More than two years after it first opened in George Town, Penang, homegrown soft serve brand Urban Artisan have finally arrived in KL. Known for their photogenic and unique soft serve combinations, Urban Artisan is the newest kid on the block rejuvenating KL’s oldest streets with the same brand of hip nostalgia provided by the likes of PS150, Chocha Foodstore, Botak Liquor and Merchant’s Lane. Like its neighbours, Urban Artisan’s aesthetics bring together old- and new-world charms through exposed brick walls, slate-gray floors and minimalist light wood furniture, providing a cool contrast to the old neighbourhood, as well as an ideal Instagram background for their colourful soft serves. The man behind Urban Artisan is Joe Lim, who previously ventured in soya bean curd making before taking the leap into making soft serve ice cream for an increasingly health conscious Malaysian crowd. While no nutritionist would recommend soft serve as part of a healthy diet, Urban Artisan’s range uses less sugar than commercial brands, and is made from a mix of fresh milk and cream that results in a lighter and smoother soft serve than most. When it comes to flavours, his imagination runs wild. The flavours range from the familiar like Valrhona chocolate, coconut and watermelon, to Korean-inspired Binggrae banana milk, Hokkaido Lavender and Oceanic Sea Salt. The latter is a curiously blue-tinged soft serve made with a sprinkling of salt that brings out the natural sweetness of the cream, and
Stumbling onto Kohi Yatta, you might think that its owners might have missed a class or two about real estate investment. Located next to a Mazda showroom, surrounded by steel factories and auto repair shops, this pretty eatery isn’t located in an area you’d come to find floral-tasting pour-over coffees and have slow brunches with family and friends. However, its owners, Ethan Ng and Carol Wong, beg to differ. What they sacrifice in location, they gain in space: the showroom-large restaurant has space to host over 60 diners, while having enough space for a kids’ play area, baby changing room and an area for private parties. The restaurant keeps it simple with large glass panels and well-spaced tables to maintain its bright and breezy vibe, while at the centre, a coffee bar allows aficionados to chat with the barista about the latest beans that have just arrived from Ethiopia or Brazil. With a name that literally translates to ‘Coffee, Yay!’ in Japanese, this place isn’t shy about its enthusiasm in delivering food that’s fun and lively, while keeping their prices affordable. A glance at their menu says as much, with an impressive array of 60-plus Japanese-inspired dishes divided into starters, mains, all-day breakfasts and desserts. Not surprisingly, many of their favourites combine comforting carbs with moreish Japanese ingredients like the Salmon Steak Pasta (RM25) – a block of golden pan-fried salmon sits atop fettucine smothered in a Kewpie-like sesame seed sauce. Those w
Save The Date Fleur and Amore Espresso Bar
Flowers and coffee come together in TTDI’s Save the Date Fleur and Amore Espresso Bar, a shared space by two friends seeking to pursue their individual passions. The woman behind Save the Date Fleur is Vickie Chau, a Korean translator who fell in love with the Korean culture while was stationed there by a local bank. After taking a few courses in Korean flower arrangement, she came back to Malaysia and started her own online flower delivery service, Save The Date Fleur, which grew from a small, home-based business to one that now needs its own office space. This led Vickie to a first-floor shoplot in TTDI in September 2017. Much of the lot was left unused, however, which is why she roped in a friend, Angel Lim to open a café three months later, complementing her business and creating a conducive environment where she could carry on with her work and hold floral arranging classes. The result is a space – designed by Vickie – that combines Scandinavian sparseness and functionality; where IKEA furniture, grey industrial walls and flooring are punctuated by Korean-inspired flower bouquets, greenery and a pink neon sign oddly declaring ‘I Got A Crush on You’. The simplicity and quirkiness extend to Amore Espresso Bar’s menu, which features the usual range of coffee drinks – lattes, espresso, Americanos and the like – that are made using beans sourced from Toothless Coffee Roaster. For food, the café has a small selection of tasty rice bowls, sandwiches and cakes. The Japanes
Much has changed since the last time Time Out KL visited and reviewed The Point in 2014. The past couple of years have seen the restaurant undergo an extensive renovation and overhaul of its menu – where the first incarnation of the restaurant focused on modern European dishes that were upgraded with Japanese ingredients and techniques, this revamped restaurant and bar looks to Malaysian and European cuisines to inspire their new signature dishes. Visually, the most striking change can be seen on the second floor, where the casual beer and whiskey bar has been transformed into a wine-lover’s haven, complete with plush leather couches and a selection of over 350 labels of wine that are mostly French (with vintages that go as far back as 1934). Its curated selection even earned it Wine Spectator's sought-after Award of Excellence – one of only five recipients in the Klang Valley. On the restaurant floor below, Chef de Cuisine Kua Jinhao leads the kitchen and its efforts to revamp the menu. His experience in French and Italian cuisine is used to create a range of dishes like the Truffled Angel (RM35), a cold starter that marries the gentle flavours of chilled angel hair pasta, raw amaebi and avruga caviar, and spiked with a dash of yuzu sauce. If you’re feeling French, have a go at the Friend or Foie (RM48), where pan-seared foie gras is served on a buttery brioche with blackberry reduction and pistachio crumbs. The result is a balanced dish of contrasting sweet and savoury flav
Just when we were worried that the year’s F&B scene will be little more than a succession of safe-betting brunch cafés and comfort-food restaurants, up comes Beta KL with their bold venture into modern Malaysian cuisine. Formed by the same folks behind Skillet @ 163, Beta KL radically departs from its European-focused elder sibling by focusing on Malaysian ingredients and flavours, while maintaining the modern techniques Skillet is known for. Beta KL is divided into a dining area and bar that combine contrasting elements of a modern restaurant and a laidback hangout. In the dining area, cool blue neon lights, dark-coloured walls and an expansive floor-to-ceiling batik mural are set against the abundance of natural light, live tropical plants and bare concrete floors; while the bar is an equally intriguing mix of a high-end bottle service bar – complete with an elevated dance stage and cognac-stocked 12-ft tall bar – and a chill tiki bar that’s decked out with rattan chairs. Helming the kitchen is Chef Raymond Tham, who is also the executive head chef for Skillet. A former culinary instructor at KDU University College – alongside Dewakan’s Darren Teoh, one of the chefs leading the charge for modern Malaysian cuisine – Raymond has used his research of regional cuisine and ingredients to craft a menu that celebrates humble and familiar dishes in new and surprising ways. The starter dishes provide an insight to Beta’s novel approach to Malaysian cuisine. In Ox Tongue (RM27), r
JungleBird and Coley are among Asia’s best bars
The results for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 are in and KL has not one, but two bars in the list: JungleBird, which came in at 38th place, and Coley, at 46th. Announced at the Capitol Theatre, Singapore on May 3, the third edition of the awards was topped by Manhattan in Singapore for second year running, followed by Indulge Experimental Bistro in Taipei and Speak Low in Shanghai. One prominent KL bar that was missing, however, was Omakase + Appreciate, which was the only Malaysian bar in the list prior to this year's, landing the tenth spot in 2016 and 41st in 2017. JungleBird That blip aside, it's a big step forward for the Malaysian bar scene. JungleBird, which opened in 2017, is co-owned by world champion mixologist Joshua Ivanovic and international bartender Divyesh Chauhan (aka Divy), and under their guidance has gone on to become one of the go-to places for rum and rum cocktails (especially the KL-born Jungle Bird). The new Coley bar Coley, on the other hand, is known for its friendly vibes and list of ‘koktel’ drinks that use familiar local ingredients like asam boi, air mata kuching, barley water and coconut water in affordable RM25 cocktails. The man behind Coley is CK Kho, who’s known as one of the nicest bartenders in town, and also the bartender-owner of Pahit, which won our Critics’ Choice award in last year’s Time Out KL Food and Drink Awards. As a sign of its growing popularity, the bar recently moved out of its first home behind DR.Inc into its own s
Get your game face on at the Coco Game Center
It’s all about fun, games and beauty products over at the Chanel Coco Game Center, which is opened to the public until May 13. Taking over the spot where Wing’s Café used to be on Jalan Sultan Ismail, this arcade pop-up is similar to the other Coco Game Centers that have landed in Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore and Toronto, where visitors can enjoy both Chanel’s products and play customised arcade games like the claw machine, ‘Pong’ and a ‘Tap Tap Revenge’-like game to win sample products and button badges. ‘This pop-up was created to celebrate our new lipstick collection, the Rouge Coco Lip Blush; it’s something a little fun for people to discover a new side to Chanel – it’s currently happening in Singapore, and soon it’ll be happening in Taiwan and Thailand,’ said Lim May Lin, the head of communications for Chanel in Malaysia. To check out the centre, register yourself at chanelrsvp.my/cocogamecenter to choose your hour-long timeslot – each slot can accommodate about 100 people, ensuring that everyone gets a fair crack at the games. All the arcade games are free to play as much as you want, but claw machines require a token to play – each person is given a set of tokens upon entry, with additional tokens offered with purchases made at the centre. The games aren’t that difficult – you’re likely to win something after a couple of tries – and there’s no shortage of colourful backgrounds to snap a few #ootd posts. Aside from the arcade games, you can also try out a range of C
Holy moly, there’s a new place for Coley!
Fans of Bangsar-based bar Coley (us included) got anxious when they announced in March that they would close down while moving to an undisclosed location. We didn’t need to worry too long though: on April 13 – not even two weeks after their last day in Dr.Inc – they popped up a few shoplots down the road in an impressive new home and resumed service as usual. There’s plenty to admire about Coley’s new digs: as much as we loved the Nala-inspired motifs, dinky rattan chairs and intimate (read: packed) bar area, we adore the bar’s new grown-up look, starting from the circular entryway and new furniture to the cosy, cavern-like space created by the domed roof and earthy colour tones. Photo: John Lim ‘I wanted the new Coley to be different, a space that’s cosier and enclosed without feeling cramped,’ said owner-bartender CK Kho. ‘It was a collaborative effort between Karen from KERUSI, who took charge of the interior design, and Ernest, our plant artist who brought in the green plants that you see inside.’ Though it occupies a larger space, the new place has a smaller seating capacity. ‘I wanted more room for people to lounge around more comfortably, and the barstools will eventually be replaced by chairs with back rests,’ Kho said, adding that there’s now a dining table at the back and a small rock garden out front that reminds regulars of its former home. Photo: John Lim The prices and drinks remain the same, but there are plans to produce more experimental and seasonal co
Battle of the Dirty Buns
The past few weeks have seen KLites making googly eyes at zang zang bao, or ‘dirty, dirty buns’, a messy-to-eat trifecta of a chocolate-filled Danish, coated with molten chocolate sauce and covered in cocoa powder. It was first created by Beijing-based Bad Farmers & Our Bakery in early 2017, and within a year, the Frankensteinian chocolate creation was named by CCTV as one of China’s trendiest food items of 2017 as it spread to Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. To see what the hype was all about, we sought out five bakeries in KL selling their own versions of the dirty buns, queued up and stuffed ourselves to figure out which was the best. It’s a dirty job, all right, but someone had to do it. Photo: John Lim D’Croissant Appearance and taste: This bakery in Sri Petaling has come up with the ‘Dirty Dino Bun’, named so for its large size and rice crispies sprinkled on top. Given the name of the shop, we expected a dirty bun that had the light and crispy texture of a croissant, but it leaned closer towards being a Danish that had a bready and chewy bite. Verdict: It’s not bad, but it could’ve been better with a lighter pastry. It also didn’t help that we had to wait an hour before we could get our hands on two – the limit per customer. Best consumed within 20 minutes, or the outer layer gets a little soft. RM6.90 67 Jalan Radin Tengah, Sri Petaling (014 639 6393/fb.com/dcroissantmalaysia). Daily, 10am-8.30pm Photo: John Lim Lavender Bakery Appearance and taste: Lav
Beat the heat with Somersby’s Somertime, Anytime promotions in April
Cider lovers are in for a treat this April as Somersby’s 'Somertime, Anytime' campaign kicks off, offering a number of promotions in selected supermarkets, convenience stores, bars and restaurants across the country. Not only that, three bright and cheery Somertime Volkswagen Kombi vans will also be appearing in several cities, giving everyone a chance to sample and find out more about Somersby’s Apple, Blackberry and Rosé ciders. For more details, including a full list of participating outlets, van appearances and more, visit www.facebook.com/Somersbymy. Here’s a rundown of the promotions and activities happening throughout April. Free Somersby Blackberry with purchases of Carlsberg or Carlsberg Smooth DraughtFrom April 1-30, get one can of Somersby Blackberry with every purchase of a six-can pack of Carlsberg or Carlsberg Smooth Draught at selected supermarkets and hypermarkets. Half-off offers at convenience storesOn April 14 and 15, get a second can of Somersby cider at half the price at KK Mart and myNEWS.com outlets in Peninsular Malaysia (except Langkawi), as well as all 7-Eleven outlets across Malaysia. Early happy hour prices From April 1-30, you can enjoy a bottle of Somersby for only RM10 before 8pm at participating bars, while on weekends, selected restaurants will be offering a special Somersby brunch pairing menu from 11am to 3pm. Kombi van giveawaysVisit the Somertime, Anytime Kombi vans to receive a buy-one-free-one voucher that can be redeemed at selected
Table & Apron introduces Gather
Table & Apron have created a new space upstairs above their cosy corner lot and introduced a new dinner concept they’re calling ‘Gather’. Held once every other Friday night, Gather is all about giving the restaurant’s young cooks a way to flex their culinary skills in the form of a seasonal tasting menu. Photo: John Lim ‘The whole concept is built for our cooks to gather, collaborate and think about the food we cook,’ said Marcus Low, Table & Apron’s founder and chef. ‘A lot of the cooking we do up here is grounded in a “less is more” approach, which is difficult especially for young, ambitious cooks. Downstairs, the cooking is a lot more casual and restrained, and that mindset has helped our cooks tighten the dishes and focus on the ingredients.’ The dining room upstairs is kept simple, intimate and clutter-free – seating is arranged according to the number of bookings, so there’s never an empty table or a guest unfamiliar to the wait staff – with an open view of the chefs as they assemble the dishes. ‘Another new element we’re introducing up here is more interaction; we encourage the chefs to engage with the guests, to talk and articulate about the dishes being prepared,’ added Marcus. The trio of amuse bouche dishes served at Gather. Photo: John Lim The debut menu is a celebration of local producers Marcus has come to trust since the restaurant started as The Kitchen Table back in 2014. The six-course tasting menu kicks off with a trio of amuse-bouche inspired
It's all Goût
If there’s ever a day to get into French cuisine, it’s on March 21, when the annual Goût de France, or Good France, celebration takes place. First launched in 2015 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this global celebration of French cooking is inspired by chef Auguste Escoffier’s Les Diners d’Epicure, an event dating back to 1912 when one menu was served to as many guests as possible in one day. This fourth edition will see over 3,000 restaurants across 150 countries cooking up special degustation dinners to highlight the best of French cooking, with a regional focus on the Nouvelle-Aquitaine – France’s southwest region that includes the cities of Bordeaux, Cognac and Pau. Each restaurant will also pay a fitting tribute to the late chef Paul Bocuse by either recreating one of his signature dishes (like his Fish Filets with Potato Scales) or cooking up a dish he inspired. Fifteen restaurants in KL will be participating in the event on March 21. They are: 2OXCilantro Restaurant and Wine BarCocott’DC Restaurantenfin by James WonEspace Andre Cointreau at Le Cordon Bleu MalaysiaFrench FeastL’Orangerie at HELP CATMaison FrancaiseNathalie Gourmet StudioNook @ AloftSoleilSupperclubThe BrasserieYeast The dishes and menu prices vary from restaurant to restaurant, so there’s something for everybody. In Yeast, for instance, the lunch menu starts from an affordable RM56++ per person, and includes escargot, duck confit and crème caramel; while modern fine dining establishment DC Re
Take the Stout Challenge and get a free pint
If you're curious to find out more about what goes into making a great stout, keep an eye out for the Stout Challenge truck, which will give drinkers a chance to sample a mystery stout, find out more about its ingredients, and at the end of it, receive a coupon to redeem a full pint at a nearby bar. And did we mention it’s completely free? There's really nothing to lose by taking up this challenge. Throughout March, the Stout Challenge truck will be appearing at selected locations across the country including Ipoh, Penang and Johor Bahru. Over in the Klang Valley, the truck has been seen in Publika and Sunway Giza, and will be making its rounds in Puchong, TTDI and TREC from March 22 to 24. Visit stoutchallenge.com.my to find out more, including the exact locations and timing of the truck's visits.
Locker & Loft’s new menu and cocktail line-up
Damansara Kim’s friendly neighbourhood bar celebrated its second anniversary last month by launching a slew of new cocktails, tapas-style dishes and mains – a move that sees it evolving from a simple cocktail bar into a gastrobar serving up playful fusion dishes. ‘We’re constantly working on our menu, taking feedback we get from our customers, and removing items that aren’t moving. In coming up with the new dishes, we really wanted to showcase our mains – almost everything is new except for the smoked duck aglio olio and pork chop – and expanding our tapas menu significantly,’ said its Operations Manager Khai. In keeping with the bar’s focus on local ingredients and flavours, most items in the menu feature a Malaysian or Asian twist to popular bar snacks and pub grub. Among the 20-odd new tapas-style offerings are the Hainanese chilli chicken wings (RM25++), where deep-fried chicken wings are drenched in chilli-garlic sauce; sambal pork albondigas (RM23++), Mexican-style meatballs braised in tomato and sambal sauce; a Melaka-style Roti John (RM16++) made with an umami-rich trio of anchovies, sardines and bacon; and vegetarian tempeh ‘meatballs’ (RM15++) served with spicy tomato sauce. The new mains, meanwhile, feature a number of burgers, pasta and rice dishes like Bombay fried rice with rasam prawns and masala chicken (RM38++); Pasta Masak Lemak (RM26++), their take on nasi lemak with linguine cooked with coconut milk and served with bacon bits; pork chop served with curry l
Hilton Garden Inn opens in Chow Kit
After exploring KL’s iconic Chow Kit area for the day, rest and recharge in comfort and style by booking a stay at the newly opened Hilton Garden Inn. Taking over the building that was once the Cititel Express, this 265-room hotel – the first Garden Inn in Malaysia – doesn’t have all the frills of a full-service Hilton hotel (there’s no swimming pool, for one thing), but the rooms have all the comforts you’d expect of a Hilton-brand hotel, including a plush bed, complimentary WiFi and bath products from Crabtree & Evelyn. The prices are surprisingly affordable for a hotel bearing the Hilton name, with a 26-sqm standard room costing just RM160++ per night, while the 32-sqm deluxe room is RM190++ per night. Throw in an additional RM15 and you’ll get a slightly larger deluxe room with a clear view of the Twin Towers. When it comes to dining options, there’s the in-house all-day dining restaurant Garden Grille, but take our advice: don’t fill yourself up as the surrounding area has plenty to offer. Within walking distance is the curry laksa stall at Pasar Raja Bot, Ali Nasi Lemak at the Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman Hawker Centre, wantan noodles at Medan Selera Chow Kit, and Kin Kin Chili Pan Mee on Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman. Be prepared to loosen that belt! 449 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur. (03 2778 8888/hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com). Rooms from RM160++ per night.
The online Ministry of Wine goes live
Wine-loving couch potatoes rejoice! There’s a new way of getting a bottle of wine without leaving the house through the Ministry of Wine, an online wine store that’s set to compete with the likes of Boozeat and Wine Talk. This isn’t some a bolt-from-the-blue venture, however, as the site is backed by Focus Dynamics Group Berhad, the parent company that also runs night spots CHAZE, gin parlour MAZE and wine bar Lavo. Having just launched in early February, the site is building towards an inventory that will eventually feature more than 5,000 labels – the largest in the country – which you can browse according to region, price, grape variety and vintage. To help you sift through the massive catalogue is a 24/7 online chat support service, as well as ‘wine ministers’ who are available from 8am to 10pm to take calls and make personal recommendations. The prices aren’t too bad either; a cursory skim through the site revealed prices that are comparative to what you’d find on supermarket shelves. The wines can be delivered on the same day if orders are received before 3pm, and you can also, for a small fee, customise each bottle with a name, message or artwork through their engraving services. Visit www.ministryofwine.com.my for more information.
Get ginned up on MAZE’s new drinks and Gin Locker
Ever since it opened in April last year, MAZE hasn’t been shy about its reputation as the country’s best-stocked gin parlour. With over 200 varieties of gin (and counting), MAZE has the second-largest collection of gin in Asia, behind Singapore’s Atlas. But that mind-boggling selection can also prove to be a bit intimidating, especially for those who are new to the wide world of gin. Enter Adam Westbrook, the bar’s Head of Beverage Development and former gin distiller. He has recently reorganised the gin menu – dubbed the ‘Gin Locker’ – to make it more informative and easier to navigate, and also created a new range of gin-based cocktails for the bar. ‘I wanted the Gin Locker to be a road map into the world of gins; in it, you’ll find that each gin is accompanied by notes that will help you categorise and identify the various types,’ he said. Among the categories listed include the traditional London dry gins, modern dry gins, curiosities (‘the stranger, wacky ones like mescal and white truffle gin’), sloe gins and new region gins. Also making its debut are ten gin-based cocktails, five of which were created specifically for MAZE. These cocktails use Hayman’s London Dry Gin as a base (‘a simple gin that’s like a blank canvas, allowing other flavours to shine’), and incorporate Asian and European influences. One of them is the Dragon Boi sour (RM39), a twist on the gin sour and uses house-made dragon fruit syrup and an asam boi-infused gin. For those with a sweet tooth, there