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Where to Go on Your Next KL Bar Crawl

A trio of new bars in Kuala Lumpur pours generous cocktails, with splash of Oriental charm. By MARK LEAN.

Published on Aug 21, 2017


COCKTAILS FLAVORED by spices from a Nyonya granny's garden. A dance floor in a neo-Japanese subterranean bar. A lounge with Chino-Latino flare to spare. KL now has a crop of Asian-themed bars on its radar, encouraged by enthusiastic barmen inspired by the spices, produce and art that surround them.

Shelley Yu's
This Peranakan bar and restaurant is a charmer, matching Straits Chinese culture with a dash of irreverence. The gin-based cocktails steal the show, peppered with fruits and herbs that wouldn't look out of place in a Nyonya grandmother's spice cabinet: salted pineapples, dried sour plums and jackfruit leaves. Try the Roselle Spritz, squeezed from the roselle plant typically grown in Malaysian gardens. The drinks are creative, but when it comes to cuisine, Shelley Yu's sticks to classic Malaccan Nyonya fare—still on-theme, and equally delicious.; drinks for two RM60.

Shelley Yu's
Peranakan style with an irreverent twist at Shelley Yu's. Courtesy of Shelley Yu's.

Mr. Chew's Chino Latino Bar
At this crayola-colored penthouse atop the WOLO Hotel, owner Eddie Chew has forgone the practiced sophistication of his other bars (Coppersmith, Claret) in favor of a louche, anything-goes vibe. A blend of Christian Lacroix fabric prints, imposing murals above the bar, and a champagne bathtub, the interiors are part Manhattan loft, part Cuban residence, and anything but dull. Bartender Rick Joore's drink creations—like the Chew's Daiquiri, a blend of rum, hanoho ziso flowers, lime, grapefruit and a plum wine reduction—evoke lazy Havana afternoons spent in the sun.; drinks for two RM80.

Mr. Chew's Chino Latino Bar
Bartender Rick Joore brings the heat at Mr. Chew's. Courtesy of Mr. Chew's.

This nightclub in the Mandarin Oriental has all the ingredients for a killer party: beautiful people, oodles of champagne, a strict door policy (a RM 40 cover charge), and a pedigree in Singapore, where the original club had enough DJ-cred to launch a record label. A subterranean energy dominates Kyo (the dance room) and Ren (the cocktail lounge), both decked out in wood panels from tugboats in Port Dickson. Art by emerging talent depict tropes from Japanese anime and 90s movies, which speak to the club's affluent millennial clientele. On the decks is a roster of local and regional DJs spinning a mix of blistering house, Afro, disco, hip-hop, funk, R&B and lounge tunes.; drinks for two RM100.


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Bartender Rick Joore brings the heat at Mr. Chew's. Courtesy of Mr. Chew's.
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