Kuala Lumpur’s Bangsar has transformed from what was once scattered rubber plantations to a charming residential suburb attracting the best of Malaysia’s café culture, independent retailers, and concept dining
By Rachel Will
Video by Dimas Anggakara
Bangsar, as was most of Kuala Lumpur, was once a tangled jungle with scattered rubber plantations before undergoing rapid industrialization to become the tranquil suburb it is today. The area lies just southwest of the city center but still maintains its quaint charm despite burgeoning urbanization. Bangsar began its transition to a residential neighborhood while Malaysia was still under British Administration in 1906. The area’s moniker borrows it name from Edouard Bunge and Alfred Grisar, who managed the Bunge-Grisar rubber estate or Bungsar Estate, which ultimately christened the area. While Bangsar remains a predominantly Malay area, large expatriate compounds and neighborhoods have sprung up due to the central location to the city and attractive surrounds. Shopping centers such as Bangsar Village I & II popped up to create air-conditioned shopping confines in the area’s otherwise pedestrian-friendly streets, which are filled with cafés and boutiques. For a peek at the latest offerings from Malaysian entrepreneurs, chefs, and tastemakers, look no further than the assorted offering of Bangsar’s streets.
Nutmeg’s authentic western breakfast food has expatriates and locals alike lining up for the café’s fresh fare that reminds them of cuisine from another time and place. Owner and chef William Chong has had customers praise his biscuits and gravy, saying they haven’t had such authentic hardtack since they’ve been home to the South. Swedish customers also drop by for Nutmeg’s gravlax smoked salmon, made with sashimi-grade fish flown in fresh then cured in-house. Chong opened Nutmeg in July after a colorful employment history, which included a jobs as a banker and a teacher. Chong co-owns the space with his brother-in-law Gordon Yip, and gamely admits the restaurant is their first venture into the dining space. Despite his newbie status, his strong dining principles make the café a standout. “There is food and there is real food,” says Chong. “Homecooked food to me is real food with no MSG and minimal salt.” Whether the health-conscious cooking or authentic taste, the café stays packed throughout the day and into the evening, spilling out onto the mall walkway. In the off-peak period, be sure to check out the special menu item 3D Lattes—expert baristas will skillfully prepare fanciful shapes and creatures with the foam of your latte.
UGF-28A Bangsar Village II, 2 Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsa Barur; 603-22013663; Nutmeg