If you’re all about discovering and taking pretty photos of cool cafes and hip bars for your Instagram feed during your travels like me, then you’re in for a treat! From a cute, humble breakfast joint to gorgeous, rustic design cafes set in historical shophouses, I have rounded up a few Insta-worthy cafes and bars in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia you definitely do not want to miss. Because let’s face it, it’s not enough to have food and drinks that only taste good these days, ‘where’ you eat has to look and feel good too.
Here is my list of some of KL’s best cafes and bars that are perfect for all your #instacafe #cafehop to even #OOTD posts. Enjoy!
A.Toast Breakfast & Juice Bar
If you search for popular breakfast spots in Kuala Lumpur, you will probably come across A.Toast Breakfast & Juice Bar a few times. Located under the skywalk of Jalan Pudu, this humble little breakfast joint is pretty hard to spot out among other shops and food joints along the main road, unless you are specifically heading to the place. To be honest, when I saw this place from afar I had my doubts. But once you’re there, you’ll know right away that this breakfast joint definitely has something good going on. When I arrived, almost all the tables were taken, and for those who had no tables, they didn’t just leave. They all patiently waited.
With a self-service concept, customers at A.Toast Breakfast & Juice Bar can order and collect their food at the bar. The food and drinks menu here is pretty straight forward, with choices of juice combinations such as papaya+carrot+orange, banana+grape+apple, and lemon+orange+sourplum. But if you’re more of a coffee person, they also serve black coffee, milk coffee, and mocha.
Must try: Wholemeal Toast w/ Cheesy Hash Brown
Charcoal Toast w/ Scrambled Egg & Cheese
As for the food, the highlight is definitely the sandwiches. I totally recommend you to try the Wholemeal Toast w/ Cheesy Hash Brown – the bread is perfectly toasted, and the crunchiness of the slightly salty hash brown really adds a thrill and special flavor to this classic dish. There are two other sandwiches that look just as good – the Charcoal Toast w/ Scrambled Egg & Cheese and Black Sesame Toast w/ Sunny Side Up Egg.
If the perfect breakfast combo for you is ideally a good cup of coffee and a killer sandwich to help boost your energey, then I’m sure this place will be a hit for you.
Location: 291, Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 06:00 am – 15:00 pm, Sat-Sun 09:00 am – 15:00 pm
Located in Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street in Chinatown, Merchant’s Lane is a must-visit cafe for Instagrammers who are into beautiful and atmospheric shots of coffee shops. Actually, Jalan Petaling has a pretty great cafe and bar scene, and Merchant’s Lane is definitely one of the main highlights (more on other cool places in Jalan Petaling below). Look out for the light teal colored doors, and you’ll find steps leading up to this hidden gem. The cafe is located on the first level of a spacious old shophouse that was once – you probably wouldn’t have guessed it, a brothel.
Inside, you’ll be greeted with beautiful rustic interiors, textured walls, and the lovely contrast of teal and pink color scheme with a pop of gold here and there. Not to mention the outdoor area with nice natural light that is also connected to a more secluded dining room towards the back. This room is decorated with gorgeous flower paintings hanging on the wall, and a crafted wooden swing hanging from the ceiling in one corner. All of these plus a kind of old-world charm atmosphere that is not common to find in modern day cafes, I’m not surprised to see why Merchant’s Lane is packed with all types of customers – from friends and family groups, young couples, tourists, and of course, Instagrammers who come here to get those killer #cafehopping and #OOTD shots.
As my husband and I already ate before we got to the cafe, we only ordered dessert and a hot americano. Once we read the names of the desserts, there was one in particular that we knew right away we just had to try. The name of this dessert is called Better Than Sex.
This dish consists of pandan roti jala with melted cheese served with kaya toast flavored ice cream and a drizzle of gula melaka sauce. Frankly, I’m more of a savory person, but I have to say that this dish is a unique and fun dessert with an interesting combination of traditional and modern flavors. If you have a serious sweet tooth, you would totally give in to the fragrant and chewy pandan roti jala, the rich texture of the ice cream, and the melted mozzarella cheese. As to whether it is better than sex, well that would be your verdict!
Location: 1st Floor, 150, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Fri 11:30 am – 22:00 pm, Sat-Sun 09:30 am – 22:00 pm, closed on Wednesdays
Leaf & Co. Cafe
Situated in a historical century-old colonial building that is now reincarnated into a boutique hostel and cafe, Leaf & Co. Cafe is also a popular spot for cafe enthusiasts. What is most striking about this place is definitely its battered, old rustic appeal, from pieces of original furnitures used, including kopitam round table and chairs giving major throwback vibes of neighborhood folks sitting together, chit chatting over a cup of coffee in the early days, to torn wall paints, and bare, concrete walls and ceiling wood planks with traces of faint marks and stains. However, the cafe has a calm and relaxing vibe, with a mini courtyard in the center that lets natural light shine through from an open ceiling, giving the cafe a nice warm touch.
I can’t really say much about the food here, since my husband and I only ordered a pot of hot tea during our visit, but I read that they do Western dishes with Malaysian twists in big portions and Instagram-worthy presentations.
Location: 53, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10:30 am – 22:00 pm
Let me tell you, Jalan Petaling is heaven for cafe hoppers, coffee enthusiasts, drinkers and cocktail lovers. This popular street in KL’s Chinatown has no shortage of impressive cafes and bars, including this visually stunning dining establishment, Chocha Foodstore.
Located just a few steps away from Merchant’s Lane, Chocha Foodstore is housed in an old rundown building formerly known as Mah Lian Hotel. My husband and I went there one evening for a drink, and I instantly fell in love with its raw, authentic-style interior and charming, retro atmosphere. It was like I just stepped into a set of Wong Kar Wai’s movie. The cafe felt really cozy with its dimly lit lights, and the contrast between the pastel pink wall and teal colored tiles were simply wonderful.
Walk further inside and you’ll be greeted with more private seatings and a center courtyard decorated with leafy potted plants.
Every inch of Chocha Foodstore makes a great Instagram shot, especially if you come during the day. If you’ve seen photos of this place during the daytime, you’ll know what I mean. It makes me kind of regret that I haven’t visited this place sooner!
As for the food, I read that they do Malaysian-inspired comfort food, and by the looks of what I’ve seen in pictures and from what the table next to me ordered, every dish here looks mouth-wateringly delicious!
Location: 156, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 11:00 am – 23:00 pm, closed on Tuesdays
The Berlin KL
Moving on to bars, if you fancy a good cocktail drink to quench your thirst while in KL’s Chinatown, you’re in for a treat. Look out for a plain red door on Jalan H.S. Lee, and behind it you’ll discover The Berlin KL, the edgiest and photogenic hidden bar in KL’s Chinatown…heck, in KL, period.
Once you push open the red door, you’ll be greeted with a bright neon red sign that says, ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’. I have never been to Berlin, but it’s apparent that this bar takes heavy inspiration from the grit and glitz of the German capital, featuring atmospheric dimly-lit neon lights, graffiti tags galore, black and white photos of Berlin’s past, as well as film posters from the 1940s like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and Maltese Falcon. Every inch of The Berlin KL is crazy cool and charged with a wonderful, edgy vibe that I almost forgot about my drink, because I just couldn’t stop looking around!
Berlin Mule cocktail
For cocktails, my husband and I ordered Malaysian Long Island (a Merdeka special) – a mix of vodka, gin, local rum & tequila mixed with orange liqueur, lime juice, topped with Coca Cola, and Berlin Mule, a refreshing, zesty classic cocktail from the freshly squeezed lime mixed with vodka, cucumber and ginger beer. But if you want to go for their signature cocktails, then you can pick between The Berlin Wall, JFK, The Bradenburg, or Lustgarden (their best seller), which are all named after Berlin’s famous landmarks.
Location: 208, Jalan H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon, Wed, Sun 18:00 pm – 02:00 am, Thu-Sat 18:00 pm – 03:00 am, closed on Tuesdays
Nestled between Merchant’s Lane and Chocha Foodstore, PS150 is another stunning hidden cocktail bar that you simply HAVE TO visit when you’re in KL’s Chinatown. This place takes the concept of a speakeasy bar quite seriously, as the entrance to the bar looks nothing more than an old school toy shop, with no hint whatsoever – except for a plain looking sign that says PS150 stuck to the wall – that behind the closed door lies an exotic and magical watering hole like no other.
This bar is divided into three sections, which takes inspiration from the Post-War era. The first section called Opium Den, is an intensely atmospheric corridor space with dimly lit crimson lights shining through Chinese umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, private seating booths cloaked with beaded curtains, and old photographs from the bygone era adorning the wall. This room gave me serious WKW’s ‘In The Mood For Love’ vibe, as well as a kind of sensual air around it, hinting us back to the days when this space used to be a brothel.
The second section is called Tiki, and open-air courtyard area with plush leather chairs and low wooden tables great for group gatherings.
Last but not least is the main bar area that oozes a romantic and mysterious feel with warm, dimly lit lights, faded brick walls, dark leather chairs, red lanterns, and a handsome bar with rows and rows of hard to find alcohol bottles reaching all the way to the ceiling. I forgot the names of the cocktails we ordered, but they were both really delicious! If you want a good table at this place, then I highly recommend you to give them a ring to make a reservation.
Location: 150, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 18:00 pm – 02:00 am, Sun 16:00 pm – 23:00 pm, closed on Mondays