8 Chinatown Cafes to Check out in KLSean Yoong
October 29, 2014
1. Einstein Café at Jalan Sultan
Many of the new cafes that have blossomed in recent years on the streets that make up Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown are gorgeously atmospheric; Einstein Café is no exception. Abstract paintings by a local artist hang on the walls at this venue run by a maths tutor who specialises in vegetarian meals prepared with a lot of heart. Don’t skip the “Four Seasons Pizza,’ with a crispy-fluffy ‘roti canai’ crust crowned with mock meat sourced from a family friend, green peppers, black olives and mushrooms.
2. The Front Door at Jalan Sultan
Come for the old-world charm, stay for the fantastic open-face sandwiches: The Front Door made a modest entrance this year into Chinatown, tucked inside a nearly century-old, three-storey building that was formerly occupied by Cantonese-speaking retail traders and now houses the Grocer’s Inn backpackers’ retreat. It has since made a major splash, attracting fans of hidden cafes to a place where pilasters, floors and other neo-classical elements remain entirely unchanged, preserving the strong sense of history here. Inventive toasts here come topped with the likes of beef bacon with honey, cheddar and strawberries – a supremely satisfying sweet-savoury combination.
3. Coffee Amo at Jalan Sultan
There’s a sense of respect at Coffee Amo that’s palpable, including respect for the city’s heritage and for the art of making coffee. Patrons can savour single-origin Panama Geisha or Jamaican Blue Mountain No. 1 coffee or brave the equally enticing Ocean 11 and Rose Garden coffee concoctions, one fragrant with tangerine and the other with rose.
See Also: Coffee Amo at TTDI: Restaurant Review
4. Aku Café & Gallery at Jalan Panggung
A soothing sanctuary for stressed-out souls, this hidden hideout’s not exactly a hipster hangout: Aku exudes Chinatown charm, reflected by its blast-from-the-past furnishings. This isn’t a cafe that could have existed in the 1980s, but its historical inspirations lie in plain sight.
5. Moontree House at Jalan Panggung
Moontree House has sometimes been described as a “feminist’s book cafe,” reflecting the sensibilities of its owner, who’s a writer and poet. Not interested in browsing through mainly Chinese-language publications on gender studies? Homemade “zakka” goods _ puppets, bags and assorted accessories _ created by Malaysian female artists are also available for purchase. Intriguing snacks here include otak-otak with handmade mantau steamed buns.
See Also: Moontree House at Panggung: Cafe Review
6. Findars at Jalan Panggung
Hand-brewed coffee and hand-painted craftsmanship collide at Findars, a Chinatown space that’s both a cafe and an art gallery. This is also a venue for Monday movie nights, Friday music performances and more. At other times, come for meticulously prepared single-origin coffee, paired with raisin cereal cookies.
See Also: Review: Findars at Panggong
7. Lucy In The Sky at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
KL’s former High Street won’t run low on caffeine, thanks to Lucy In The Sky, which has soared in the popularity stakes over the past year. This easy-going hangout, surprisingly spacious inside, is a magnet not only for backpackers but nearby white-collar workers on weekdays and cafe-hoppers on weekends. Lucy In The Sky promises relatively healthy cooking, relying on organic ingredients whenever possible.
8. Peter Hoe Beyond at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
A Chinatown shopping hot spot on the Lee Rubber Building’s second floor, with a comfy corner where customers can rest their feet and replenish their energy with tasty treats. Quiches and pies dominate Peter Hoe’s display counter, but it’s worth trying specials of the day like the seafood spaghetti. After eating, check out Peter Hoe’s wares, including furniture, linen and jewellery. It’s like a fantastic flea market.