Published in the SCMP 27 July 2005
Bangsar is where Kuala Lumpur’s chic and trendy come to be seen, where high-margin businesses have pushed out the small family-run provision shops and mini markets of yesterday.
Now one of the city’s more prestigious suburbs, it is the quintessential party town and woe is he who tries to find a parking spot on a weekend night. Drinks flow freely and foodies are spoiled for choice here – there’s Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Lebanese, fusion, Malaysian and, heaven forbid, even fast food.
La Bodega Tapas
If you miss the Mediterranean, the terra-cotta floor tiles, dark wood furniture and South American music of this place might help soothe those homesick blues. A popular choice for meeting up with friends, the menu includes button mushrooms sautéed in garlic and olive oil (RM10), grilled lamb cutlets gratinated with garlic mayonnaise (RM9), tiger prawns sautéed in olive oil and garlic (RM14) and eggplant with olive oil, chili and herbs (RM8). For the seriously hungry, there is the paella with prawns, chicken, mussels and clams (RM36 for two). Over the six years it’s been in Bangsar, La Bodega has spread its tentacles to also include a Lounge, a Deli and a Dining Room (for fine dining) all in the same vicinity. La Bodega Tapas, 16 Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, tel: +6 03-2287 8318
Restaurant Fu Yu
Reminiscent of a typical Chinese noodle house, Fu Yu recently evolved from a basic coffeeshop into a modern, air-conditioned restaurant. People generally still arrive dressed down to this one for casual dining and lots of beer. Fondly dubbed ‘Cheap Charlie’ by its regulars (just tell any KL taxi driver “Cheap Charlie in Bangsar”), Fu Yu serves such Cantonese delectables as roast pork rib (RM16), lemon chicken (RM19), butter sea prawns (RM36), house special bean curd (RM14) and a Malaysianised assam steam fish (RM42). All prices indicate dishes sufficient for 5-6 persons. Restaurant Fu Yu, 14 Jalan Telawi 4, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel +6 03 2282 0009
Update: Restaurant Fu Yu has since closed. In its location is now Devi’s Corner which has moved out of the corner shop in 69, Jalan Telawi 3.
Don’t let the simple, unassuming façade fool you. Inside the Talk, dishes such as sizzling oysters (RM32), sizzling salmon (RM28), black pepper kobe beef (RM95 for 100 g), reverse soft shell crab maki (RM32) and sashimi mix for two (RM48), all air flown from Japan, await. Upstairs is a two-storey art gallery, owned by the same people, that promotes young, up and coming local artists and a few art pieces regularly find their way downstairs to grace the walls of the dining room. The Talk, 22 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL, tel: +6 03-2284 3242
A standing Buddha with palms pressed together and the soothing sound of running water greets you at the entrance to Planter Jim’s. The food, served amidst artifacts from Bali, India and Thailand, leans toward Thai, with appetizers like mieng kum (RM16 for two) and aromatic crispy duck (RM25); mains like grilled beef red curry (RM20) and chargrilled king prawns (RM40) and desserts like mango and sticky rice (RM8). A big TV screen at the bar captures the action on football nights and there is a private area for those who want quiet. Planter Jim’s, 6-8 Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL, tel: +6 03 2282 4084
In the cheap, filling, and good category is Devi’s Corner, a South Indian eatery that is open 24/7. Busy all day long, it is the saviour of early morning boozers in search of sustenance. Service is efficient and unpretentious – a dozen or more curry dishes are laid out buffet style. Rice with a meat and two veg is about RM5.50. There is also an assortment of breads, including roti chanai (80 sen), thosai (RM1), chapati (RM1.20), puri (RM1.50 for 2). Restoran Devi’s Corner, 69 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL, tel: +6 03-2282 7591
From the ‘70s and still going strong is the family-owned and run Rocky Restaurant. This is a classic Malaysian coffeeshop offering such local favourites as nasi lemak (RM3.50), fried kueh teow (RM3), hokkien prawn mee (RM3.50) and ice kacang (RM2.50) for breakfast and lunch. Rocky Restaurant, 15 Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL, tel: +6 03-2284 4203