KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — There are many delicious discoveries within 500m of the Pasar Seni LRT station. For starters, a bowl of flavourful beef noodles is just steps away once you descend the stairs to ground level from the elevated station.
Restoran Zhing Kong, a typical kopitiam offering numerous hawker fare, is a 52-year-old family business, now managed by its second generation. I found the soup base light yet tasty though uncharacteristically sourish for beef stock.
More hawker delights await another 100m away at Pusat Penjaja Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Here you’ll often find a queue for its yong tau foo, curry laksa and chee cheong fun. Fans of curry laksa would be happy to know there are three stalls offering this dish — my pick is the middle one manned by a sister and brother team.
Onn Loke Kopitiam and Ho Kau Hainanese Coffeeshop are two old school eateries that exude nostalgic vibes in spades. Uncle Lee runs the former, a pretty, refurbished two-storey shophouse within Penjaja Gallery in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Uncle Lee, formerly of Hotel Lok Ann on Petaling Street, is back after a hiatus and his regulars are thrilled to be able to enjoy his coffee again, brewed the traditional way and using the same coffee powder they all know so well and love.
Ho Kau may lose out on decor but wins big for its coffee. The full-bodied, potent brew is just excellent! Sustenance comes in the form of toast and eggs but there are also other options from its daily rotating menu including nasi lemak and fried noodles.
Not too long ago, Pasar Seni and its surroundings (including Petaling Street) were known for their wholesale businesses, hawker food and atmospheric Chinese restaurants. Now artisanal java joints are common and they come with WiFi, air-conditioning and a bright ambiance.
I was particularly attracted by Aku Cafe & Gallery for its cosy space, wonderful service, great initiative of book swapping and of course, coffee. The attentive staff took time to ascertain a patron’s preferences before offering their recommendations. I found that to be a nice touch.
Then there are Old China Cafe and The Canteen by Chef Adu, the best choices in this area if you are looking for an eatery with charm. Old China Cafe serves Peranakan cuisine and it is housed in a quaint old shophouse with old-fashioned decor and historic pictures. Over at The Canteen by Chef Adu, located in a colonial building, you will find delicious dishes cooked with a lot of heart and served with a smile too. I cannot emphasise enough just how much I love Chef Adu’s laksa Johor.
Last but not least, one can’t mention the Pasar Seni Station and not speak of Central Market. Amid the souvenirs, fashion and art shops, there’s Precious China which is a pork-free Nyonya dining establishment, while the Central Market food court on the second level offers everything from Indonesian fare to hotplate noodles and Thai to Western.
1. Restoran Zhing Kong
90, Jln Hang Kasturi 50050, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Once you leave the fare gates, take the Jalan Petaling/Jalan Sultan exit.
Walk on and take the stairs down to the street. Turn left and cross the bus platforms to the opposite side of the road. At the right corner in front of you is Zhing Kong.
2. Onn Loke Kopitiam
5, Jalan Sang Guna (Penjaja Gallery Jalan Tun H.S. Lee)
50000, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Same instructions as the above and when you see Restoran Zhing Kong, walk towards it. Take Jalan Sultan, the road beside the restaurant. Look out for Public Bank on your left and the opposite is the archway entrance into Penjaja Gallery Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Go in and walk on until you see the blue exterior of a tiny shop on your left. You have arrived at Onn Loke.
3. Madras Lane
Penjaja Gallery Jalan Tun H.S. Lee 50000, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Take Jalan Sultan, the road beside Zhing Kong. Stay on your left until you reach Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Take a left. Walk on until you see an Indian temple on your left. Cross the road to the opposite lane which is Lorong Bandar 22. You will see a carpark in front of you. Beyond it is the entrance to Penjaja Gallery Jalan Tun H.S. Lee.
4. The Canteen by Chef Adu
Malaysia’s National Textile Museum
26, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
50000, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Once you exit the fare gates, take the Pasar Seni/Kotaraya/Dayabumi exit. Take the stairs down to the street and walk on until you see the Textile Museum.
5. Old China Cafe/Ali Muthu Ah Hock/Bun Choon Eggtart
11, Jalan Balai Polis 50000, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Walk towards Restoran Zhing Kong and take the road beside it, which is Jalan Sultan. Walk along Jalan Sultan until you see Jalan Panggong on your right. Turn into it and turn left at the end. Old China Cafe, Ali Muthu and Ah Hock, Bun Choon Eggtart are on this row of shoplots.
6. Aku Cafe & Gallery
1st floor, 8, Jalan Panggong 50000, Kuala Lumpur
From the station: Take Jalan Sultan, the road beside Restoran Zhing Kong. Walk on until you see Jalan Panggong on your right. Turn into it and Aku Cafe Gallery is on the first floor among the shoplots on your left.