Your arrival at Malaysia’s highly acclaimed Kuala Lumpur International Airport will just be the preview and beginning of your escapades in this developing country. Known to be a Muslim nation, travelers and tourists may be surprised to see the rather receptive and diverse local culture in this single country. Nothing will be more evident to that fact than right after you step foot into the bustling and vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur which can be quite an unseeming sight for first timers. For starters, the city center’s vibes are very close to major capital cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and those alike. Kuala Lumpur is just much smaller and compact. Malaysia’s location at the equator explains the (sometimes too) humid and hot weather and thus, your body odour becomes very real. Kuala Lumpur is the very definition of an urban heat island in Southeast Asia. On top of the (very) fast paced lifestyle which contributes to the impatience of locals and lack of law abiding drivers, these attributes also make Kuala Lumpur a very exciting and adventurous city to discover.
Malaysia may be thousands of miles away from the Western hemisphere but today’s internet culture spreads trends just as effectively as did our forefathers traveling through seas and spreading words by mouth- only of course, the Internet is way faster. That being said, Kuala Lumpur has been undergoing a rapid influx of Western cafes in recent years. For those of you coming from other continents, I understand that Malaysian cuisine may not be your everyday choice of meal due to the rather spicy and hot flavors that most people outside of Asia are not accustomed to. Don’t get me wrong– Malaysian food is amazing but we all need variance in our lives. So fret not, fussy eaters and/or homesicks, as Kuala Lumpur is also home to various awesome cafes that take influence of cross-border cultures. Here are the top five must-go cafes in Kuala Lumpur.
Located at Chinatown in central Kuala Lumpur, Merchant’s Lane is one of those cafes that is difficult to imagine unless you witness it with your own eyes… which is why you have to! The cafe replaced a former brothel and offers patrons indoor and outdoor seating in a retro-vintage setting that emulates the heritage and originality of the former inhabitant, and it is a setting that is like no other. The kitchen team whips up various specialty dishes that are inspired by both Malaysian and Western European origins. For example, the Italian Chow Mein consists of aglio olio spaghetti with Malaysian chicken rendang while Eat Die Me is a spiced up platter of an English-American breakfast. Make sure your camera is fully charged because you are going to want to photograph every corner of this bona fide cafe.
Address: 150, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Check out Merchant’s Lane Facebook Page.
Acme Bar & Coffee
ABC in acronym, Acme Bar & Coffee is a vibrant and modern cafe that is surely not short of daylight. Situated a stone’s throw away from Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Twin Towers, ABC is often crowded with ongoing queues. Its menu comprises of very cool things that tourists may find somewhat bizarre, such as the Salted Egg Yolk Chicken Strips. It is a bestselling dish aside from the more globally accepted Sizzling Brownie. If you’re looking for a cafe with flare, look no further.
Address: G1, The Troika, Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Check out Acme Bar & Coffee’s website.
The Red Beanbag
Known to be the pioneer of Malaysian cafe culture, The Red Beanbag is an Aussie-inspired one that offers a variety of classic breakfasts such as the Eggs Benedict and Eggs Atlantic. Often crowded, the wait will be worth it once your orders make it to your table. The same notion of the effort of getting up on those stairs that you don’t necessarily need to climb (there is an escalator nearby). Those who prefer mains instead of breakfasts and brunch will be pleased to find out that The Red Beanbag also serves burgers, meats and pasta amongst others.
Address: A4-1-08, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Check out The Red Beanbag’s Facebook Page.
Tucked in a more quiet corner of the central city, VCR Cafe is hip and humble in size but pack punches of legitimacy and credibility nonetheless. Coffee is a must-have here as VCR has been repeatedly voted by locals and fellow netizens as one of the best coffee makers in town. Kitchen food is limited but rest assured that all plates that leave the kitchen are fancied up with unique elements and combinations that certainly set the cafe apart from the rest.
Address: 2, Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang, 50150 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Check out VCR Cafe’s website.
Huckleberry Food & Fare
A more recent establishment, Huckleberry Food & Fare Cafe is located 15 minutes away from the central city. Just like the other cafes in this list, Huckleberry is no stranger to locals and expatriates. You may find yourself in a waiting list that could easily set your hunger back but trust me, it will be worth it. If you happen to visit the cafe on a growling and unforgiving stomach, you could easily grab a pastry off the display counter while waiting for a table.
Address: 2G & 4G, Plaza, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Damansara Heights, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Check out Huckleberry Food & Fare’s website.
What are you even waiting for? Create your checklist right now!