Cafes are popping up here and there like mushrooms, and there is no stopping them! A certain theme has popped up in recent years, where cafés are catering to the consumerism of the ‘hipster’ needs. This is no stranger to those who are always seeking for a good Instagram picture but the definition of these hipster cafés extends to not just their layout of bricks and bones, but also with their delicacies.
For those who are going out of the country for their travels, especially Kuala Lumpur, I recently had the chance to go on a foodventure searching for these Instagram worthy cafes. I had a full list from researches, but I only had the opportunity to go to a few of them. And let’s just say, there are no others like it.
At first, I didn’t know what I was searching for but then I saw the sign, ‘VCR’ on top of a post. The café is hidden at the end of a series of colourful semi-detached houses clouded by huge thick trees. The house is painted in monochromatic black surrounded by luscious green grass and a stone pathway leading to the door, where another sign is put with cats seen roaming the precinct.
The smell of coffee wafted through the room once I entered and on the left, choices of desserts can be seen at the counter, where I made my due. I opted for the most popular dish, which happens to be my favourite, the softshell crab burger. And since I don’t drink coffee, I went for the basic lemonade to flush my tiredness away.
I went to the first floor to get a better seat, as the ground floor was packed with people (note to self: don’t come here during peak hours). Luckily, I was able to find a seat near the fully glassed window isle beside the stairs fully furnished in wooden exteriors. The outside view was spectacular overlooking neighbourhood on the rooftop, however, it would be a bit selfish for me to hog tables for four all to myself. There is another room further down the window glass isle which was full of people, but hold itself a darker and more rustic vibe. VCR is a very quaint and chill café, optimal for a group of friends to catch up after work or on a Sunday morning vibe. I would say, it’s very ‘High Frequency’.
The deep fried soft shell crab was crawling from its buttered grilled buns, it had a nice deep brown colour which looked just like a regular fried crab without the hard shell! The crab meat was plentiful, and the soft shell was crispy and crunchy to the bite. The details were everything, to the eyes and even small pincers! They also embedded a beautiful sunny side up topped with furikake which made it very earthy, but also very good. The pickled kyuri especially gave a refreshing aftertaste.
The lemonade was refreshingly sour and tarte, giving a nice twist with a hint of ginger. Its cold and hot features gives the drink a lovely charm. Although it might not be enough to wash down everything after, a second glass is definitely needed.
Merchant’s Lane Café
I went to Merchant’s Lane right after snacking, so I was quite full, to begin with, but I couldn’t pass up going to this particular café. Especially when everyone is raving about the interior and dessert. Unfortunately, it was raining so there were some parts of the café that were closed for safety.
Merchant’s Lane is placed in between high busy bustling buildings but it’s striking blue door is the entrance to the wonders inside. After climbing through the red stairs, a very rustic open space can be seen. We (I went with my sister) passed through the counter and made our way outside, where the walls are covered in greens and the cold rain glazed the grey concrete walls. Tables and chairs on the right were folded as rain dripped from the partially open ceiling, while the other side was under a fully covered ceiling surrounded by potted plants along the walls with a low raised table occupied with customers drinking coffees.
At the other wing of the cafe was a mesmerizing sombre yet stunning room. I call it the ‘Red Room’ only because it was dimly lit in orange/red light and two huge paintings of flowers covered the statement wall. We sat at the corner where it was better lit and played with the swing chair beside us. Everything about it reminded me of the traditional village vibes with a modern turn. The café had a warm and friendly ambiance, suitable for large family gatherings as well in the open space room near the counter.
We ordered hot Earl Grey tea to warm us from the rain. I chuckled looking at the menu because everything was cheeky and original. We ordered the ‘Better than Sex’ deconstructed kuih jala and it was definitely something. It was definitely good for two, we couldn’t even finish it. It had the hot traditional pandan kuih jala layers folded and drizzled with gula Melaka and their signature kaya toast ice cream. They added a twist of tart strawberry, savoury cheese, and crunchy almond slices into the dish, which balanced out the sweet and soft taste. I only wish there were more gula Melaka in it.
This little place was definitely the highlight of our stop. They have a huge mural of their trademark tiger, Chombi in a jungle. The moment we arrived, we took countless pictures even before going in. The café has an all window in one of the walls overlooking the road which brings natural light in. They have a bright interior and well-spaced to accommodate a huge number of customers. A+ for large families.
On the other end of the mural, there is another scene stealer. They have their name painted large across a white wall and surrounded by potted plants to ensure the Rimba theme. They also have a patio in front of the main entrance, engulfed in plants and greens.
We had multiple dishes which warrant for multiple praises! (and a couple displeasures) Everything was aesthetically pleasing and tasted amazing.
I had the Beef Aglio Olio, enough to say I was not that very pleased with it. The Aglio Olio didn’t have enough garlic taste to it, and the beef was overpowering. What is more, the olive oil was too much that the pasta was very extra greasy to taste. And I’ve tasted other Aglio Olio. It seemed as if Little Rimba is amazing with traditional dishes but this.
Both my sisters could not resist a soupy meal. The Laksa Nyonya Samba Ria broth served a good mix of a dreamy coconut cream and curry with a satisfying strong prawn sambal. The Uncle’s Assam Laksa was a winner as well. The broth was very delicate, it was sour and spicy (and sweet with pineapple chunks) just the right way and the use of vermicelli noodles harmonize with the broth inside the mouth. They incorporated plentiful condiments inside the broth like fishball, fresh prawns, dry shallots and mustard leaves you name it.
I love love ayam goreng berempah and when my brother and nephew ordered this dish, I knew I had to have some from their plate. The Nasi Lemak Cinta with Ayam Goreng Berempah definitely earned a point from me. The crispy chicken was succulent and the spices were the right balance and did not come off too strong. It mixed well with the creamy rice and fresh cucumber. The sambal was especially not spicy at all (I can’t handle spicy) so that might be a turn off for some people. Another chicken dish was the Nasi Ayam Abu Suhaimi, and it was soft and well-seasoned, especially with the sauce it came with. It paired well with the chicken rice. It’s a typical Nasi Ayam but it was fulfilling in its own way.
The Cendol Nangka on its own was very original and for someone who loves desserts, it was not sweet or creamy enough like a cendol. Although the nangka (jackfruit) was a plus. It would be better if it was on the sweeter side.
The Stellar Nutella French Toast was definitely something that you should not miss. They take a timeless Nutella sandwich and turn it into a French toast and behold a buttery golden toast with melted Nutella chocolate inside. A sweet and savoury dessert that has to be reckoned with!
Here’s a bonus, I also went to a couple of dessert cafes to quench my sweet tooth. Definitely a must!
Brownies Bar by The Accidental Bakers
These ginormous sized brownies are a must stopover. It’s a small place underground with white aesthetics and black frames. You can buy your brownies and eat in the little white table by the corner to enjoy every bits of it.
The dark chocolate is my favourite so far. It’s sweet from the chocolate and bitter from the dusted cocoa on top. Can’t have more than one of these though!
My family opted for the Salted Caramel Brownie. The creamy and milky salted caramel balanced the sweet and soft brownie. It would be better if the brownie was drowning in them.
We also tasted a few other flavours as well, such as the Nutella and Gula Melaka brownies. They used the same foundation as the dark chocolate and added swirls of Nutella and gula Melaka prospectively into them. A classic arrangement which sparks fireworks in the mouth.
Molten Chocolate Café
For our final day, we had to stop at Molten. They have a few branches all over KL, but we went to Lot 10 as it was closer to where we were staying. The café has an all-glass wall, letting bright natural lights shone on the beautiful chocolate fountains at the counter. The café emitted a modern and clean diner vibe, with gold and dark brown furnished exteriors. Suitable for an all chocolate bar serving the chocolatiest dish you will ever see. We went crazy with our menu selection.
For drinks, we had the Turkish coffee and the Molten Planet. The coffee (in photo with Crunch Chocolate Rice) had a bitter and burnt aftertaste which compliments well with the sweet chocolate dishes. Definitely an acquired taste. The Molten Planet was very chocolatey and gooey. It was like a chocolate milkshake but without the thickness of one. Imagine a two-whole chocolate bar melted into a drink – hence the name.
For desserts, we had the Sushi Banana Crepe, Campfire Marsho, and the Crunch Chocolate Rice. The traditional rice Krispies masked in melted chocolate and topped with marshmallow stole our heart. The combination of marshmallow and the sticky rice chocolate soup was perfect in every way.
My nephew enjoyed the small slices of banana covered in crepe and drizzle with chocolate slathered in vanilla ice cream. Nothing could go wrong with the classic combination of chocolate, banana and ice cream!
The Campfire Marsho was a twist for S’mores. Melted chocolate based covered with marshmallows and bits of brownies served in a pan and crackers. It was so delicious that we nearly ordered another one. It sufficed to say that we left fully satisfied and sugar-crashed well afterward.