Four Bistros in Kuala Lumpur
A wave of casually stylish eateries is livening up the city’s dining scene. By ROBYN ECKHARDT
Published on Apr 2, 2010
THE SCENE Seaside motifs and predominantly white décor lend Bijou a bright and beach-like air by day. Come sunset and an urbane ambience prevail, with flickering votives illuminating intimate dining nooks sheltered behind sheer pink curtains. “Really good food without the ponciness,” is what restaurateur Debbie Lee had in mind when she opened the eatery in Mont Kiara, a booming new town about 15 minutes from downtown Kuala Lumpur. Amiable servers, diners attired in shorts and flip-flops, and a pool view from the patio keep the vibe relaxed.
BEST BETS Scrumptiously straightforward dishes like chicken liver parfait capped with a layer of goose fat and served with slices of toasted brioche, crispy-skinned duck in a pool of cardamom-infused sauce, and seared mackerel accompanied by zesty Dijon mustard and horseradish-dressed potatoes. Desserts, sourced from a bake shop owned by the same proprietor, are stupendous: don’t miss the ethereal banoffee pie—layers of banana slices encased in caramel, dark chocolate and cool espresso mousse on a digestive biscuit base. A well-traveled wine list includes old and new world labels.
Ground floor, Damai Sari, 3 Jln. Kiara 2, Mont Kiara, +603 6201 2131
+ THE PINK SAGE
THE SCENE Named after a blossom common in California, this classy take on the American diner is a rarity in these parts, serving updated versions of stateside classics amid contemporary décor. A stainless steel bar fronts an espresso machine and tall leather banquettes are soothingly cream-colored. Its location on a quiet midtown side street makes its outdoor tables and lounge chairs the perfect spot to enjoy an aperitif. But go early—doors shut at 7 p.m.
BEST BETS If you’re ravenous, dig into hearty burgers, barbecued chicken or the sumptuous mac ’n cheese. For smaller appetites, the menu also offers refined mains such as baked dory with a refreshing fennel salad and a vegetarian-friendly, fresh-from-the-garden ratatouille bake. Takeaway sandwiches and salads are available during the week, while on the weekends, all-day breakfasts are on offer. Don’t overlook the well-crafted desserts, like the moist yellow cake sporting a wonderfully tart lemon rind–flecked glaze.
Ground floor, Wisma RA, 12 Jln. Dang Wangi, +603 2693 5002
THE SCENE On weekend mornings, KL-ites head to this sweet café in Bangsar’s newest shopping center for its extensive breakfast selection comprising favorites like pancakes, wholesome muesli and the full English fry-up (eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, mushrooms, baked beans and tomato). With its polished cement floor, colorful wall murals, picture windows framing a view of the greenery outside and beadboard wainscoting, the café eludes the cookie-cutter feel of many mall eateries. If you want to avoid the morning crowds, come in the afternoon, grab a few magazines from the selection arranged around a center table’s tall vase of gerbera daisies and kick back with a long flat white and a slice of old-fashioned carrot cake.
BEST BETS You can’t lose with breakfast. After 12 p.m., the kitchen churns out a delectable selection of salads, quiches, pastas and gourmet sandwiches (including chicken char siu with pear, chili and ginger jam). Order the basil-flecked avocado-and-egg salad that fills an inspired Lebanese wrap, and wash it down with one of the café’s freshly made juices.
1st floor, Bangsar Village II, 2 Jln. Telawi Dua, Bangsar Baru, +603 2282 8301
+ THE APARTMENT DOWNTOWN
THE SCENE High exposed ceilings, square support pillars, and track and chandelier lighting give The Apartment Downtown in the upscale Petronas Towers–attached KL City Center mall–the feel of a Manhattan loft. Three dining rooms spread over two floors boast well-spaced tables and lounge seating, and walls of glass and a fan-cooled patio offer a view of the adjacent park’s fountains. Tourists, spent shoppers and corporate types pack the tables breakfast through lunch; in the evening, the bistro’s extensive cocktail list keeps a buzzy crowd hanging around long after the plates have been cleared.
BEST BETS With its emphasis on simplicity and fresh ingredients, the wide-ranging menu is an unabashed ode to Jamie Oliver. Eye-openers include eggs benedict and French toast, while chili jam–dressed squid and crispy red mullet salad are must-have starters. For mains, you’ll happily polish off the slow-roasted duck-and-red-wine ragù or the wild mushroom-stuffed tenderloin. Local flavors come to the fore in desserts like peanut butter–filled crepes embellished with kaya.
Lot G48 and 139, ground and 1st floor, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Center, +603 2166 2257