A Foodie’s Guide to Chinatown
Curated by a foodie, for a foodie. Read on to learn about the myriad of eateries we love and appreciate at Petaling Street. Enjoy!
BY HIRANMAYII AWLI MOHANAN
Tucked away in the touristy Petaling Street, Da Bao is a contemporary restobar that doles out everything bao. Despite having a menu that centres around bao, don’t be fooled because they don’t serve the traditional red bean and char siew bao. Instead, Da Bao adds a their own twists and tricks into it. Could you have imagined a bao could be elevated to the heights of something as interesting as the sake- braised pork belly with lemongrass, roasted peanuts, and pork lard? We couldn’t either. Another delicious and unique dish is a take on a local delicacy called Lamb. Flavoursome mutton rendang topped with kaffir lime leaves, pickled Bunga kantan, caramelised nangka and fresh coriander sandwiched between a soft and fluffy bao. Brilliantly executed, this flavourful dish certainly appeals to the local palate and hits the spot at all the right places.
Da Bao, 145, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.
THE HUNGRY TAPIR
A vegan joint with aesthetically-pleasing interior, The Hungry Tapir is where you want to relax and indulge in good food. The menu is an amalgamation of East and West, with an emphasis on championing local ingredients, heritage and flavours through dishes like nasi lemak, yellow masak lemak, rainbow ulam fried rice and many more. Our favourite, Mama’s Satay uses hedgehog mushrooms for consistency resembling chicken which is then lightly fried and grilled, skewered and served with an addictive peanut sauce that exudes a beautiful harmony of spiciness, sweetness and nuttiness. You can’t go wrong with the tried and true Pink Bombshell Burger — a mammoth burger that will keep you satiated for the rest of the day. It’s served on a wooden platter alongside pea shoots tossed in a seductive chilli vinaigrette and sweet potato fries. Sandwiched between the buns is a thick and sizeable homemade patty, layered with caramelised onions, lettuce and tomato and slathered with homemade vegan herb cheese.
The Hungry Tapir, 135 (1st floor), Jalan Petaling, Chinatown City Center, 5000 Kuala Lumpur.
OLD CHINA CAFÉ
Go through saloon doors into Old China Café — a time capsule of Old Malaya. Inside, an old gramophone playing Chinese opera songs and antique light fixtures as well as family photographs, calligraphy scrolls, delicate porcelain tiles and two large traditional mirrors facing each other to perpetually reflect good luck embellish this classic restaurant. Here, authentic Peranakan fare is celebrated and its recipes probably passed down through generations. A wave of crowd-favourites arrive, starting with the Pie Tee or Top Hats. Six crispy, hat-shaped cones crafted from rice flour is filled with a medley of minced chicken, sweet turnip and carrot. To truly enjoy this, add a pea-sized dollop of chilli sauce — divine. Next came the Ayam Pong Teh braised in a unique gravy of brown bean paste, shallot and garlic with mushroom and potato. Smothered in local spices, this dish pairs perfectly with fragrant Coconut Blue Pea Rice to lap up all the gravy.
Old China Café, 11, Jalan Balai Polis, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.
THE CRANE KL
Crane KL is nestled in a historical four-storey Selangor Grocer’s Guild building which exhibits a neoclassical facade complete with
a curved baroque pediment. As you enter the premise, shades of green greet, with ubiquitously-placed plants, huge white paper lanterns adorned with Crane KL’s logo and behind the counter or bar area, are recycled tins painted in a turquoise shade and filled with various goodies. Crane KL boasts a Western-Asian fusion menu that serves up deliciousness and creativity on a platter. Upon ordering,
a ramekin cupful of biscuits takes customers down memory lane of their childhood — a beautiful start to the gastronomic experience. For starters, be sure to try the Nasi Lemak wonton, an intriguing dish that encapsulates the ‘lemak’ rice and egg in a crispy wanton and served with homemade sambal on the side. Another fusion rendition comes in the form of Japanese Udon in Curry Laksa Gravy, an ingenious dish featuring udon noodles with prawns, calamari, cucumber and poached egg in a laksa gravy.
Crane KL, 78, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.
MARY JANE KL
Mary Jane KL has lured many to its eatery with its beautiful, Instagram-worthy aesthetic, with a trope of florals and pink hues throughout the restaurant — a feast feast for the eyes in every nook. With an extensive menu for brunch, dinner and drinks, there’s something for everyone to dig into. If you’re late starters to the day like us, Mary Jane KL offers decent brunch offerings such as the French Toast, dusted in powdered sugar and boasts a crispy texture complemented by the richness of Nutella, banana, coconut cream and honey. For something on the heftier side, Breakfast at Mary Jane will keep you well satiated with its farm eggs cooked to your liking (scrambled, poached, sunny side up or omelette), sautéed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, beef bacon or chicken sausage, baked beans, hash brown, bun and roll and Italian truffle butter. Then, the likes of the Kam Heong Clams will speak to seafood lovers, tantalising with its aromatic and bold East meets West characteristics.