*Disclaimer: This article features a halal restaurant and cafe
Initially, before months of lockdown, we wanted to go to two different places. But we found out (at the last minute) that one of them was currently under renovation and the other was closed every Monday. And so, we went over a list of other places as backups, but the answers we got were all the same: they’re closed on Mondays!
If anything though, we were extremely grateful and over the moon, even, that we chose these two places. Now, let’s take you through in the first place, shall we?
In the heart of KL: Kafe Kleptokrat
Located just a stone’s throw away from Chinatown, Kafe Kleptokrat is nestled among rows of old, colonial-looking buildings. Due to its unlikely location, as it is also along one of the busiest roads during rush hour, you would probably miss this place if you travel by car.
Nevertheless, Kafe Kleptokrat is arguably popular among foodies and Foodstagram folks!
*Check out their page at @kafe.kleptokrat if you’re curious!
With that being said, this place can easily host long waiting lines if it’s during office lunchtime and the weekends. So when we got there, we had to wait for a bit.
But good things come for those who wait, right? Exactly!
As we were ushered inside, the first thing we noticed was how the interior’s aesthetic made it seem like you’re in an authentic, Malay kampung (village) house BUT with a twist of making you feel like you’re on a vacation. From their classic, colorful, glass window panes to a few vintage pieces i.e. mechanical sewing machines and old portraits placed throughout the restaurant, to even some familiar beach/poolside furniture, we were SO happy that we got here.
Meanwhile, for the seating arrangements, they have a concept of indoor-to-outdoor setting and, depending on the weather and the crowd, you can choose to sit in either area. There is also a pool in the middle of the cafe, where it will make you feel like you’re on a vacation— another noteworthy feature to look for when you’re there!
Kafe Kleptokrat offers a fusion menu, though most of it consists of Malaysian dishes some of us are already familiar with. But because we wanted to savor the Malaysian cuisines and also save up some space in our belly for our next cafe trip, we ordered:
Soto Ayam with Begedil (RM24), a chicken/meat-based soup with fried vermicelli noodles, shredded chicken meat, some ketupat (packed rice) cubes as well as some bean sprouts and ground peanuts, whereas begedil is essentially a deep-fried potato patty. Don’t worry, there is even a vegan option for this dish!
Growing up, I remember this is a classic, comforting dish I’ve had, especially during festive season and/or when I attended someone else’s wedding reception. Seeing this on the menu, I knew I must order this. So when the food comes piping hot, I was delighted at the familiar components laid gloriously in a medium-sized clay bowl.
When I tasted the soup, it lacked some balanced seasonings, but the rest of the dish was okay.
*Fun fact: Soto is a traditional Indonesian dish but is also popular in Singapore and Malaysia!
Next, we got ourselves Laksa Johor (RM32), a spaghetti dish with a thick fish-based gravy and some ulam (chopped veggies) on the side.
Generally, finding a good Laksa Johor is rare, as Johoreans are usually the expert in creating this dish. However, a good Laksa Johor can be distinguished by their rich gravy, which usually incorporates some spiced curry beef, a variety of other herbs such as lemongrass and blended chili, as well as ikan parang (wolf-herring fish), or ikan tenggiri (a family of mackerel fish) that are boiled until it is extremely tender before everything is blended together to form the gravy that is uniquely Laksa Johor.
However, their version of Laksa Johor lacks the ‘oomph’ factor, especially with its gravy, which is a bit on the watery side. Fortunately, its large portion did make it up for its price so, all is forgiven.
*Another fun fact: Laksa Johor originates from Johor, a southern state in Malaysia, and is typically served during the festive season, which is the Hari Raya Puasa celebration!
Last but not least, we went for THE classic national dish that is the Nasi Lemak dan Ayam Goreng Berempah (RM21), which is fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, topped with spicy, red chili sambal (paste), some slices of cucumber, a boiled egg, fried anchovies, and ground peanuts. Plus, we ordered Ayam Goreng Berempah or ‘spiced, herb blended fried chicken’ as an additional protein.
The fried chicken and sambal were arguably the saving grace of this dish. The spiced blended fried chicken had that familiar savory yet, a slightly fragrant note from its herb marinate. As for the sambal, it was well-balanced, yet it is a bit on the spicier side. But hey, if you’re Malaysian, a little spice is absolutely mandatory and it’s something that we are used to!
Unfortunately, the fragrant rice didn’t live up to its expectations even though a good, classic nasi lemak should have both the spicy, well-seasoned sambal and the fragrant coconut rice. Good effort though for making the nasi lemak look visually appealing.
*Okay, final fun fact: A classic nasi lemak originally did not have Ayam Goreng Berempah but people began incorporating a variety of unique side dishes including this fried chicken a few decades ago!
As for the drinks, we ordered one Kamal Sutra (RM15) with wild mint, lemon juice, and lime wedge. This is a perfect drink for when it is scorching hot outside, as the refreshing tinges of mint, lemon, and lime will make you go “Ahhhh”. Lest we forget, we also ordered a Little Princess (RM15) with a passion fruit puree, lime juice, and wild mint.
You can think of this drink as the sweeter cousin of Kamal Sutra, with the same refreshing element as the former, yet as it travels down your throat, it leaves a sweet note from the passion fruit puree.
All in all, I still loved the overall aesthetics and ambiance of this restaurant. By the time it was late afternoon and the crowd was long gone, we then went up to the second floor for some pictures— and yes, you shouldn’t miss this session because I guarantee you, your Instagram posts will look BOMB AF!
- Food: 6/10
- Ambience: 7.5/10
- Price: 6/10
- Accessibility: 8/10
- Service: 10/10
But of course, this is still a MONCH approved place to visit!
Address: 22, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Photos by Tsheten Bhutia
Article by Elly Zulaika