THE cities that never sleep aptly describe Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, food wise that is.
There is always a new offering in the food and beverage scene, right from the start to the end of the year, with restaurants, cafes and even clubs popping up to cater to the insatiable need for good grub.
In 2015, it was a case of out with the old and in with the new as the small but popular commercial strip on Jalan Batai unveiled a refreshing facade.
The Batai stretch’s independent supermarket Hock Lee, one of the most distinctive names in the row moved out, and for their grocery needs, denizens of Bukit Damansara and Damansara Heights could be seen shopping at the swanky and upmarket Ben’s Independent Grocer (BIG).
But what of the dining places? Drive along the back and a couple of restaurants come into view.
Yakitori place Torii is posh and inviting for its use of premium ingredients in the menu and bar for whisky connoisseurs.
Next door is the Yellow Brick Road cafe which is often busy with young folk catching up over coffee or tea, while savouring hearty comfort food.
Then there’s Sitka, a European-styled interior that opened in 2014 and serves up very appetising meals and Sam’s @ Batai, a chill-out place that took over from Cheers, and is a sister property to Sam’s in Plaza Damansara.
Occupying a prime location in Suria KLCC is award-winning chef Will Meyrick’s Mama San that took root in mid 2015.
With restaurants in Bali and Hong Kong, Mama San’s extensive menu of Southeast Asian dishes focuses on the use of traditional recipes, spice and herbs to feature the best of street food done with a touch of elegance.
The much-awaited opening of Nobu Kuala Lumpur was the talk of the town in May as the VIP list included globally acclaimed chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, his associates Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, who were joined by Tengku Zatashah Idris Shah, daughter of Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, and Tan Sri Syed Yusof Tun Syed Nasir.
Then in October, celebrity chefs Johnny Fua and Sherson Lian joined forces to unveil Hello by Kitchen Mafia in the Happy Mansion area much to the joy of foodies in Petaling Jaya.
Pince & Pints, a name imported from Duxton Hill in Singapore, known for its serving of lobsters took root on Jalan Telawi 5 in Bangsar Baru in October and more recently, the city welcomed Babe by Michelin-starred chef Jeff Ramsey.
Located at Work@Clearwater, Babe projects a “fun dining” concept with Ramsey’s “japas” or modern Japanese tapas and is making waves with gourmets far and near.
In early December, the Kuala Lumpur Journal, a new boutique hotel in the Bukit Bintang area, added two more destinations for food seekers.
The restaurants, Bounty and The Shack, are operated by the Hooked Hospitality Group. Hip restaurant Ruyi & Lyn is a hybrid place in Bangsar Shopping Centre that combines a restaurant, lounge and party area under one roof.
The much raved about Ruyi’s Sushi features bite-sized versions of Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak and mango sticky rice.
While it maintains certain elements of a traditional banquet restaurant, Ruyi & Lyn stands out on its own with its contemporary take on Malaysian and Chinese dishes, stylish setting and elevated dining experience.
Stoked Restaurant and Bar, which opened its doors in August, belongs to the Vintry Group of Wine Bars & Restaurants.
It specialises in food cooked using a charcoal oven, which the owners believe will elevate the flavours of the produce by infusing it with a kiss of char and smokiness, while sealing in moisture and essential flavours.
Meanwhile, Paradise Group Malaysia, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Paradise Group Holdings, started its first Thai restaurant in Malaysia called ParaThai.
Located at Mitsui Outlet Park, Sepang, the restaurant would appeal to travellers and shoppers looking for authentic and quality Thai dishes.
On the local front, the team behind Capriciossa and Morganfield’s opened Ong Lai – a fast casual restaurant specialising in porky local cuisine.
Ong Lai, a name that directly translates to “luck comes”, is an all-day dining restaurant in Sunway Pyramid that serves meals from breakfast to supper.
Several American brands also unveiled their Malaysian stores this year.
Slappy Cakes is a popular pancake restaurant from Portland, Oregon, that allows diners to make their own pancakes at their tables, while South California-based Caliburger offers milkshakes, fries and burgers that are cooked to order.
Nathan’s Famous is a New York brand known for its frankfurters. It is also renowned for its annual hot dog-eating contest which takes place every fourth of July at the original Nathan’s Famous outlet in Coney Island.
Next year, Malaysian foodies can look forward to the opening of Michelin-starred eatery Mak’s Chee Authentic Wonton at 1 Utama Shopping Centre.
The quick casual restaurant serves authentic Hong-Kong-style wonton noodles prepared by master chef Johnny Yu, using a nearly 100-year old recipe from the Mak family.
With gentrification stepping in, it is obvious that Klang Valley’s dining scene will continue to evolve as contemporary restaurants and cafes keep cropping up, regardless of how hard hit the ringgit may be because food is a way of life.