Cover Reflective silver surfaces and sculptural shapes make up the aesthetic at Orito, a new desserts café in Hartamas (Photo: Orito KL)

A saucy speakeasy and a sous vide steak house are new to KL's dining and wining sceneCheck out part 1 and part 2 of this series

1. Chica Bonita

Emboldened by the success of their first Mexican eatery in George Town, Penang, Holy Guacamole's founders opened a sister restaurant at The Square in Publika. With so much going on—think floor-to-ceiling murals, sugar skulls, tiffany lamps, and a spooky mannequin sporting a sombrero—in this neon restaurant, you really can't miss it.

Foodwise, the pork-free menu runs the whole gamut, from antojitos (appetisers or small snacks) to postres (desserts). Less Mexican and more Tex Mex items include the chipotle-spiced burger and a pizza slathered with refried beans.

Chica Bonita | Lot 34, Level G2, Block C5, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur | +6017-405 2279 | Daily, 10am - 10pm

See also: The Best New Pizzerias In KL: Heritage Pizza, Phil's Pizza & WOP

2. G String

Taking cue from the undergarment after which it was named, G String sets itself up to make women feel sexy and confident—VPL be gone!

Floor-to-ceiling murals of pouty women and pink neon lights complete the look at this new speakeasy in Chinatown, which serves a Nutty Negroni with caramel undertones, a vodka-based beverage called Bubbles & Panties, and a whisky libation dubbed Licking Sunshine.

Good for a giggle, some of the bar snacks are too risqué for print; take, for instance, the dish of crispy fuzhok with cream sauce that rhymes with "drum on my base".

G String | 147, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, Kuala Lumpur | +6010-270 3233 | Daily, 4pm - midnight

ICYMI: Where & What To Eat: New Openings In Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown


3. Orito

Whether you have a watertight or a porous relationship with sugar, Orito is worth checking out if you happen to be in Hartamas. We're fans of the compact but well-curated menu, which sees fluffy doughnuts, dastardly chocolatey cookies, shell-shaped madeleines and rum-spiked canelés. But it's the choux pastries that take centre stage at Orito; these airy confections come stuffed with vanilla mousse, capped with citrus meringue, or laced with umami matcha.

Redolent of Isamu Noguchi's artistic landscapes, Orito's interior is outfitted with curved stone benches, exposed concrete and reflective silver surfaces that warp customers' reflections.

Orito | B05, Plaza Damas 3, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur | Tue Sun, 10am - 6pm

See also: 5 Classic Pastry Doughs & Their Uses


4. Small Shifting Space

Befitting its nomenclature, Small Shifting Space (SSS) celebrates fluidity over fixedness. Chinatown's hottest new arrival is non-committal about the future, but identifies as a coffee (from dawn) and wine bar (come dusk) at present.

"We're gradually diverting the emphasis onto SSS as a natural wine bar rather instead of a sit-down dinner venue," explains co-founder Lee ZT.

In other words, expect small sharing plates and a well thought out wine list. Our first hand experience dictates arriving hungry but not starving—these are dishes designed for teasing out the subtleties of a sparkling Vouvray or an orange wine with oolong notes, not upstaging them. If they're still available, get the cardinal-red Carabineros in a highly concentrated head-sauce, the beets roasted over coffee beans, and the moist red dates cake served with chrysanthemum granita. Mildly awkward but affable, as is often the case with artistic souls, Chef Chin Wong has contributed to the kitchens of many a Michelin and World's 50 Best restaurant.

SSS's silver facade on Jalan Petaling is impossible to miss. Reservations are recommended.

Small Shifting Space | 141 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur (above The Soybean Factory) | +6017-440 5591 | Thu - Sun, 6 - 11pm

5. The Cabinet 2.0

We’ve often thought a good bar is a bit like a good book; a cocoon in which you can escape the outside world. This is definitely the case at The Cabinet 2.0. "It’s easy to lose track of time in here, especially with the window blinds and the soothing jazz," says bar manager Alex Byrd.

While some frequent The Cabinet 2.0 for cigars you can chew on, we're most keen on the cocktails that have been organised by course. 'Appetisers' include the Nachos Sour, an appetite-inducing libation with pickled-infused Tequila Blanco and agave syrup, while a popular 'main course' is the Jacky Joseph with Irish whiskey, aromatised wine and jackfruit lotus tea cordial.

The Cabinet 2.0 | 80A, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur | +6011-3322 4053

TATLER TIPAngel Ng, who can be accredited with PS150's popularity in its heyday, is consulting at The Cabinet 2.0.

6. The Swimming Cow

The Swimming Cow's tongue in cheek name alludes to their speciality: sous vide meats. "We do not offer well-done steaks here," huffs a waiter at the mere suggestion. "It is impossible because of our cooking method." (It looks as if Trump will have to get his steaks elsewhere then.) Some might sneer at the concept—after all, cooking in plastic bags doesn't exactly scream sexy—but after giving it some thought, we decided, why not? If the asados of South American are celebrated, what makes another cooking technique lesser?

Outfitted with a BBQ smoke extractor resembling a copper slinky, the open kitchen has the quality of decadent espionage, which makes it easy to observe your Wagyu MB6 being prepared from scratch. But it was the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu, a cheese and turkey ham-stuffed roulade coated in golden breadcrumbs, that blew us out of the water.

Swimming Cow | 29, Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya | +603-7732 1191 | | Tue - Sun, 11am - 3pm, 6 - 10pm

ICYMI: Modesto Marini Of Marble 8 Demystifies Steak Jargon

7. Willow

For most of 2020, stillness filled the space that was once Saint Pierre Kuala Lumpur, but life has returned to the revamped restaurant. Named for the willow warbler, a bird of open woodlands, Willow is located in W Kuala Lumpur, but operates as a standalone restaurant under Tropicana Corporation.

A graduate of César Ritz Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland, Chef Lroy Lim oversees the kitchen which turns out the likes of chawanmushi with XO sauce, beef shortrib so tender it parts under your knife like the Red Sea, and goat cheesecake crowned with brûléed figs. 

TATLER TIP: Take advantage of Willow's executive lunch deal, which is a steal at RM95 for two courses and RM125 for three courses.

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.