16 October 2011

A KL institution

It's fair to say that under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have looked twice at this cafe, much less have gone in.  You can see why - from the outside it looks like it wouldn't be out of place in an old black and white Western - well, with the possible exception of the very Arabic-style script above the door!

As for inside - well, let's just say that it hasn't seen even a single lick of paint for quite some time.  If Dulux were to launch this colour, it would have to be called hint of nicotine.  It's the sort of place where you walk in and feel you should be ordering a pint of stout.

But this, ladies and gentlemen, is a Kuala Lumpur institution, which has been entertaining visitors to the city since 1921, when it used to cater to planters and tin miners.  Author William Somerset Maugham has stayed here, and Malaysia's first prime minister was an early patron too.

Ninety years later, it is still renowned for its good food, from steak or fish and chips to more Malaysian dishes.  I'm told that at weekends it's packed.  On Thursday morning, when I and seven other new-to-KL expats were introduced to it, there were very few people in there.  Saturday lunchtime I returned, with Alex and Caitie in tow, and it was definitely busier.  The vegetable spring rolls were delicious, as was the fried rice Alex had.  Caitie was less adventurous and stuck with French Fries, but they too were tasty.  All were served piping hot and with astonishing speed by the long-serving waiters, some of whom have apparently worked their all their lives, and should now really be drawing a well-earned pension.

Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in this neck of the woods.