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Saturday February 1, 2014 MYT 8:30:00 AM
Saturday February 1, 2014 MYT 12:51:35 PM
by jarod lim
AFTER 56 years of independence, Kuala Lumpur, as Malaysia's capital, has grown in leaps and bounds.
First declared a city 40 years ago, it has seen its skyline evolve with more and more skyscrapers dominating the view.
Through the years, development has taken its toll on some residential areas and heritage buildings, while others have been preserved as reminders of the past.
Older residents still have fond memories of iconic eateries or favourite hang-outs that are no longer in existence. However, some still remain and are as popular as ever.
StarMetro visited some of these old establishments that have stood the test of time to find out more about their heritage.
One not-to-be missed venue is Yut Kee restaurant in Jalan Dang Wangi, which has borne witness to the city changing around it since it began operations in 1928.
Owner Jack Lim, the second generation of the family to run the outlet, said Kuala Lumpur had gone through many changes since he took over the business in 1970.
"I still recall that this part of Kuala Lumpur was on the outskirts of the city back then. There were a lot of houses behind this shop, where Kampung Doraisamy was located.
"Most of the wooden houses were removed and destroyed due to floods and a fire before the 1970s and that was when new buildings were built.
"Back then, our customers were mostly nearby residents but now, workers make up most of the customers," he said.
Lim said there was a theatre, restaurant and a hotel in the area before Capsquare was built.
"Those were the only forms of entertainment back then, aside from the Bukit Bintang Park.
"There was a race course where Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre now sits, but it was relocated to Sungai Besi.
"The 77-year-old Le Coq D'or restaurant, better known as Bok House, is now demolished because it was said to hold no historical value," Lim said.
Lim has relocated his business to a shoplot behind the current location in Jalan Kemunting as the building is scheduled for redevelopment.
"There is a lot of nostalgia attached to this restaurant. However, I plan to preserve as much of the traditional physical elements as I can when I move to the new premises," he said.
Not just restaurants
Some of the notable landmarks in Kuala Lumpur include the country's first hotel, Federal Hotel, and one of the earliest shopping malls, Sungei Wang plaza.
Sungei Wang Plaza marketing communications manager Carina Chow, who has worked with the mall for more than 35 years, said some of the iconic landmarks around the mall that had vanished were the Bukit Bintang Girl's School (BBGS), Pudu Jail and the Bukit Bintang market.
"It was rather a different lifestyle in Kuala Lumpur back then as there used to be squatter houses along Jalan Thambi Dollah and the residents would usually hang out in the market or in Sungei Wang.
"Another iconic landmark is the Federal Hotel with its rotating restaurant," she said.
When tourism started picking up in the early 1990's, the number of tourists frequenting Kuala Lumpur also increased.
"The tourism authorities did not work much with shopping centres in the beginning but it started to bloom in mid 1980s and early 1990s.
"We will be supporting the Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism (MCAT) this year and will collaborate with a college to promote art from July to September," she said.
Located along Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Hong Ngek Restaurant has also experienced its fair share of change and owner Liew Hing Ling said one of the notable developments was the growth of transportation.
"Although the old buildings surrounding the restaurant did not change much, the accessibility definitely increased.
"There was less traffic then but now, with the construction of LRT and MRT, more people are being channelled to the city centre," she said.
The restaurant started operating in 1950 and the business was passed down to Ling in 1984.
"This area was predominantly a Chinese community in the past but more and more foreigners have started frequenting the area.
"With the country focusing more on tourism, there are also more tourists on the streets," she said.
Ling added that the days of people riding on trishaws at dawn to wait for her shop to open just to buy steamed buns for breakfast, were long gone.
"Those days have been replaced by development and the charm of the relaxed, easy lifestyle has slowly diminished," she said.
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