KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 ― This assignment brought me back to the iconic Ampang Park shopping centre for the first time in years. And what a treat it was getting myself reacquainted with the 44-year-old mall — one of the oldest in the country — and unearthing worthy eats around the area.
Like most malls, this one houses several food outlets but it was Patisserie Yusuf Usta that caught my eye with its enticing display of Turkish breads and desserts. The baklava was amazing — flaky, tender and not overly sweet. I also tried “künefe”, a crispy, cheese-filled dessert made with wiry shreds called “kadayıf”. I left much more informed as well, thanks to Chef Yusuf, who graciously answered all my questions during my meal.
Just opposite is The Intermark Mall. Here, Fresco (which is part of Jaya Grocer) is a popular choice. Also a favourite is The International Food Hall. The former runs on a “grocerant” (grocery and restaurant) concept where diners can select their choice of meat or seafood from the supermarket, pay for it and get it cooked for a nett fee of RM8.
Too much effort you say? Then head over to the ready-cooked food counter and take your pick of any of the dishes on display from lamb, beef lasagna and roast chicken to an assortment of pies. The food hall is divided into halal and non-halal zones.
The Intermark shares the same building with DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel so if you’re looking for a watering hole or a good place to eat, you won’t go wrong with Cellar Door and Makan Kitchen. Tosca is recommended for casual Italian dining and it offers an inviting view of the hotel’s pool as you tuck into tasty pizzas and pastas.
Over at GTower, pocket-friendly meals can be found at FoodHive where a cluster of food outlets offering local and international cuisine are located on the lower ground floor.
For sky-high wining and dining, go to the 28th floor. Luxuriate in sophistication and enjoy contemporary, seasonal cuisine in Tanzini and Tanzini Upperdeck.
Troika Sky Dining is another multi-concept, upscale dining venue. The space is segregated into Cantaloupe (French restaurant), Strato (Italian), Claret (wine bar), Fuego (South American) and Coppersmith (craft cocktail bar). All five outlets offer inventive menus, beautifully presented in stunning interiors with a palpable posh vibe.
There are two options for pork-free dim sum in the vicinity — Tao at InterContinental Hotel and MinMax Restaurant at PNB Darby Park. Tao offers Chinese fine dining within an opulent oriental space. Fine ingredients and attention to detail are the hallmark of the dishes here and its weekly dim sum buffet is one of the most popular in the city.
The ambiance at MinMax may be simpler but the food here is pretty good.
Dazzling restaurants and air-conditioned venues aside, the streets in the area have their fair share of hawker favourites. The food trucks and hawker stalls in Jalan Mayang Sari do roaring business at lunchtime. In the evenings, over at Persiaran Hampshire more than 20 food trucks would congregate at the Tapak Food Truck Park.
Patrons are spoiled for choice with rice and noodle dishes, pastas, burgers and grilled meats, with most priced under RM15. A dining space with tables is available for those who choose to eat there.
At first glance Pak Long Ikan Bakar at Menara Atlan is like any other Malay rice stall, with its wide variety of reasonably-priced dishes. But upon closer inspection, you’d find, as its name suggests, lovely grilled seafood with addictive accompanying sauces that draw a consistent crowd daily.
But my favourite spot for lunch in this area is the vegetarian canteen at Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery. I love the clean flavours of the food, the variety, uncluttered space and the palatable prices. It didn’t hurt too that the vibe here is peaceful, probably due to its proximity to a temple.
1. Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery
161 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
From the station: Take the Jalan Binjai/InterContinental Hotel exit and escalator up to the street level. Ampang Park is to your right, on the other side of the road. Stay on the same side and walk towards Citibank. Walk for 400m and the temple is on your left.
2. Patisserie Yusuf Usta
Jalan Ampang, KL.
From the station: Take the Intermark/Jalan Tun Razak exit. Take the escalator up to the street level. Ampang Park is on your right.
3. Pak Long Ikan Bakar
161B Jalan Ampang, KL.
From the station: Take the Jalan Binjai/InterContinental Hotel exit and escalator up to the street level. Walk towards Citibank for about 400m and Menara Atlan is on your left. Walk to the back of the building and look for the open air food area.
4. Intermark Mall (Food Hall, Red Lobster, Fresco, Beast)
The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Tun Razak, KL.
From the station: Take the Intermark/Jalan Tun Razak exit and the escalator up to the street level. Ampang Park is on your right. Walk towards McDonald's and take the pedestrian bridge to Intermark Mall.
5. GTower Hotel (FoodHive, Tanzini, View, House Restaurant)
199, Jalan Tun Razak, KL.
From the station: Take the Jalan Binjai/InterContinental Hotel exit and escalator up to the street level. Turn left towards GTower.
6. Tapak Food Truck Park (available lunch and dinner)
2, Persiaran Hampshire, Hampshire Park, KL.
From the station: Take the Intermark/Jalan Tun Razak exit and escalator up to the street level. Walk for 300m and past Bank of China. Then turn right.
7. PNB Darby (MinMax Restaurant) and Troika (Strato, Claret, Cantaloupe, Fuego)
Tower B, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, KL.
From the station: Take the Jalan Binjai/InterContinental Hotel exit and escalator up to the street level. Stay on the same side and walk towards InterContinental Hotel. Turn left on Jalan Binjai and walk until you see Troika on your right and PNB Darby on your left.