Where & What To Eat: New Openings In Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown
Cheeseburger dumplings & chicken rice, two popular orders in Chinatown aka Petaling Street, say a lot about the juxtaposition of new & old in the neighbourhood
Our discovery of Concubine began with a 'Secret Wine Party' publicly listed on Facebook. As anticipated, confidentiality has its allure—those who arrived late to the party had to make do with standing room instead of seats. Popular since day one, the back-lane bar and restaurant has literally evolved before our eyes, going from crumbling construction site to chic nightlife venue. Few might think to swing by earlier for dinner before drinks and dancing, but you won't regret it. In fact, the kitchen's speciality—Cheeseburger Dumplings that taste uncannily similar to McDonald's—have achieved their own celebrity status.
Tatler Tip: Explore the back alley to drink in a plethora of hand-painted murals, including one of Kung Fu Hustle's infamous Landlady character.
Like papier-mâché projects, businesses in this part of town have layered histories. Kafei Dian, for instance, served as a century-old post office in its past life. But the address on Theatre Street has traded in envelopes and stamps for eggs and kaya toast. The modern kopitiam sees a semi-outdoors space with exposed brick, mismatched furniture, and a laidback vibe. What's there to eat? All-day dim sum, local noodle/rice dishes, Hainanese chicken chop, and cooling 'tong sui'.
Tatler Tip: If you hate the feeling of beads of sweat rolling down the small of your back, swing by in the morning or the late afternoon, as air-conditioning is absent from Kafei Dian.
Kafei Dian | 80 Jalan Panggong, Kuala Lumpur | Daily, 7am-5pm
Liao Fan Hawker Chan
Soya Sauce Chicken Rice. Photo: Liao Fan Hawker Chan
Roasted Pork Noodle. Photo: Liao Fan Hawker Chan
When Michelin pinned a shiny star on Chan Hon Meng's chicken rice stall in July 2016, the world craned its neck to learn more about the Ipoh-born poultry farmer turned chef. Chan initiated his homecoming by opening a store in his hometown in Perak in February 2019, but few anticipated the expansion reaching KL in December 2019.
So is all the rah-rah justified? When T.Dining visited the self-service establishment, we found the Hong Kong-style soy sauce chicken to be tender and flavourful, the rice fluffy and fragrant, and the chilli sauce watery but with a surprising kick. Unlike Hainanese-style chicken rice which is more widely eaten here, Hawker Chan's comes with a side of stewed soy beans.
Less tasteful are the blown up newspaper snippets—'Hundreds queue in London for a taste of Hawker Chan', 'Singapore’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal goes to Melbourne', et cetera—on every inch of the walls; it all feels a bit 'in your face.'
Tatler Tip: Ask for more sauce to be ladled over your rice for extra oomph.
Chocha Foodstore and Merchant's Lane paved the way for Chinatown's café scene years ago, attracting new neighbours such as Luckin' Kopi. The last of these would be indistinguishable from the other salvaged shoplots in the area if not for their signature dishes. Taking cue from Alpine-style raclette, Luckin' Kopi's specials—a chicken dish with a side of fries and Indo mee crowned with an egg—are served in pools of melted cheese and presented on hotplates to prevent the cheese from coagulating.
Tatler Tip: Take advantage of Luckin' Kopi's unlimited refills of 'kopi kaw'.
Snowberry Ice Cream Cake. Photo: Whey Chillin'
Matcha Ice Cream Cake. Photo: Whey Chillin'
Matcha Ice Cream Cake. Photo: Whey Chillin'
Despite its odd opening hours, we've had good feedback about Whey Chillin', especially from members of the older generation who have sworn off sugar. Whey Chillin's naturally sweetened ice cream comes as scoops served in their signature blue cups, ice cream cakes, and chocolate-coated bites. Have a catering request? Reach out to them via email.
Tatler Tip: Whey Chillin's elusive seating area is up a short flight of stairs.
Dark braised short ribs. Photo: Wildflowers
Glowing like beacons in the gloom, Wildflowers' neon pink lights beckon to curious passersby. Its prime location on the intersection of Petaling Street and Jalan Balai Polis and iridescent bar convince many to take a second gander. While the execution of dishes on their Asian fusion menu has room for improvement, we've fans of the friendly servers. The patio is also wonderful for enjoying a cocktail or two while lighting up a smoke.
Tatler Tip: Planning on going on a bender? Avoid drinking and driving by taking the MRT. Pasar Seni Station is just a hop and a skip from Wildflowers.
Also In The Area:
REX KL and Four Points by Sheraton boast plenty of F&B options, but both buildings deserve their own lists—stay tuned.