A heady mix of drunken noodles, Miu Miu & spicy mojitos in a city slick with urban cool.
Trading one big city for another, we escaped Mumbai for a weekend in Kuala Lumpur, complete with shopping sprees, Starbucks coffee, and dazzling views of the Petronas Towers. But even surrounded by massive malls, drowning in flavourful ramen soup and dizzy from the heady pleasure of shopping at Dior, we didn’t forget about you. Here are our recommendations of what to do in KL, a metropolis slick with oil money and urban cool.
KL features a ton of international chains, including Chili’s, Burger King and – lo and behold! – California Pizza Kitchen. But the city’s indigenous food scene is just as vibrant. Street corners all over the city have local kopi tiams or coffee shops that serve like Nasi Gorang and drunken noodles, fast and on the cheap.
Little Penang Kafe at KLCC is more upscale, and offers yum Malay coastal cuisine. We loved the Penang Rojak, a confection of squid, mango and cucumbers, all smothered in a treacly, deeply flavourful sauce. You should also try the (really) spicy beef curry, and not leave without a helping of traditional shaved ice dessert. They do customised dishes for vegetarians as well.
Beef lovers will also love Ninja Jones, a Japanese restaurant specialising in (relatively reasonable) Wagyu beef cooked many different ways and served with a side of amusing gimmicks, including waiters in ninja uniforms.
Getting there: Little Penang Kafe, level 4, Surya KLCC Mall, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, call +6021630215, approximately 80 RN for a meal for two; Ninja Jones A-G-5,ground floor, Northpoint, Mid valley City, No.1 Medan Syed Putra Utara, call +60 22881646, approximately 100 RN for a meal for two.
KL is a mall town, a fact that probably owes a lot to the brutally hot weather and sudden showers of torrential rain. Most retail malls are concentrated in the city centre, including the Pavilion and Surya KLCC, which occupies the bottom six floors of the Petronas Towers. Everything from Top Shop to Miu Miu can be found here, although at higher prices than in Europe and the States. We were transported straight to retail heaven when we spied a collection of Desigual at Parkson in the Pavilion, a Spanish label popular for unapologetically colourful clothes that are refreshingly different and still easy to wear. Look out for the anime screen-printed jersey dresses and t-shirts with billowing chiffon sleeves. Local fashion, alas, is hard to find.
Getting there: Surya KLCC Mall, Kuala Lumper City Centre; Pavilion Shopping Centre, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
7atenine is the quintessential urban-Asian bar: poppy, posh and cute all at the same time. The decor is all white, featuring chairs upholstered with plastic “massage bubbles” and multi-coloured laser beams; the crowd is young, stylish and predominantly expat; and the DJ loves Britney Spears. The menu, however, is far from frivolous – it’s astonishingly comprehensive, featuring among other drinks, seven kinds of caiproskas, at least 30 different wines and eight mojitos, including a spicy mango version that rather than being cloyingly fruity was subtly flavoured, well-spiced and came with a sprig of spring onion. The mojito at La Bodega in Bangsar too, is super delicious; the tapas bar also boasts a great collection of international beers, wines and single malts, along with fun late-night munchies.
Getting there: 7atenine, Ascott Kuala Lumpur, 9 Jalan Pinang, call +60321627789, 30 RN for a mojito; La Bodega, 16 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, call +060322878318, 35 RN for a mojito.
Ready to rock and roll, we decided to go try our luck at the casinos of the Genting Highlands Resort an hour out of KL, and came away unimpressed with the lacklustre spaces, overtly tourist vibe and largely amateur crowds. We suggest you get your thrill instead by Go Karting at the Sepang Karting Circuit right next to the international airport. Here, you get to navigate a miniature of the Malaysian Formula 1 track. Beware: KL weather means that you’ll probably have to drive part of your race in the pouring rain; all the more challenging. Ready, set, go!
Getting there: Jalan Pekeliling, 64000 KLIA, Selangor Darul Ehsan, call +60387782200, approximately RN 60 for 15 minutes.
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