How to Spend 12 Hours in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur

Kyren Thomas of funk band Ryötjones, who frequents the fashionable neighborhood, leads us on a full-day itinerary that hits all the right notes/

Bangsar is fast becoming quite an atas (that’s Malay slang for “posh”), sought-after address in the Malaysian capital. Founded in 1906 as the Bunge-Grisar estate, it was first a rubber plantation, which became an affluent residential suburb in the ’60s, and then a clubbing district in the early 2000s. More recently, the area has been revived and gained a reputation as KL’s answer to Beverly Hills, thanks to creative entrepreneurs setting up shop there.

11.00am: Brunch at Breakfast Thieves

Start off at APW Bangsar (apw.my), a defunct printing factory that’s been converted into a hipster’s paradise of unique and Instagrammable food and retail outlets. Notable among them is Breakfast Thieves, a Malaysian-owned Melbourne café brand that opened its first international outpost in KL two years ago. “The amazing spreads will steal your heart,” says Kyren. “You won’t go wrong with the Mr Terry Benedict — braised beef with an Asian twist of lotus root chips and yuzu hollandaise — or Breakfast Chain, a vegetarian platter of black rice pudding, yogurt, homemade granola and soft-boiled eggs.” 29-5 Jln Riong; breakfastthieves.com

1pm: Find peace at Arulmigu Sri Ramalingeswarar Temple

Just around the corner stands one of the few remaining heritage sites in the neighborhood — Arulmigu Sri Ramalingeswarar Temple, a South Indian-style temple dedicated to Shiva, the supreme destroyer of evil. It was built in 1903, by railway workers whose living quarters were situated nearby. “Visiting this temple always brings a sense of calm,” says Kyren. “It’s almost hypnotic.” Look out for the puja, or prayer rituals, which are performed here. Devotees can be seen offering butter lamps and flower garlands of marigold, rose and jasmine. 16 Jln Maarof

2pm: Get artsy at Pucuk Rebung Gallery

Established in 1997 and relocated from KLCC to Bangsar five years ago, Pucuk Rebung Gallery is a treasure trove of museum-worthy artworks and antiques. Run by 66-year-old Kuching ex-banker Henry Bong, who is also a painter and art curator, the gallery is filled to the brim with Chinese ceramics spanning dynasties, Kelantanese and Javanese shadow puppets, Iban ironwood sculptures and contemporary paintings by renowned Malaysian artists. Henry often presides over the space, so you might catch him regaling visitors with the fascinating history and personal anecdotes behind his diverse collection. 18 Lorong Ara Kiri 2; pucukrebung.com

3.30pm: Hunt for gifts at Snackfood

Push further north to Bangsar Baru, where trendy businesses have popped up within a grid of nondescript shophouses. Check out Snackfood, a concept store for collecting “happy things”. “It’s the perfect place to look for gifts and souvenirs,” says Kyren. The store gathers vintage finds and a hodgepodge of cool, handpicked knick-knacks — everything from old French cinema posters to vacuum-packed heirloom rice and assembled terrariums. 17A Jln Telawi 3; ilovesnackfood.com

5pm: Find your footing at Wheel Love Skateshop

“This store is a hidden gem in KL’s skate subculture,” says Kyren, “and I’m really keen to pick up the sport.” The small skate shop moved into the building’s top floor last month, stocking stand scooters, in-line skates and skateboards from big-name brands, as well as its in-house line The Speakeasy. Wheel Love also helps with repairing boards, customizing deck art and organizing weekly lessons for those who want to learn to ride. 1/F 20A Jln Telawi; wl33.com

7.30pm: Settle down at Drift and Flow

Dark-stained furniture and dimly lit turquoise walls, accented by herringbone tiles in muted tones, lend a sultry yet sophisticated ambience at Drift and Flow, a casual restaurant serving minimalist plates of modern Australian cuisine. Top picks from its fusion menu include pan-seared barramundi with shallots, caramel sauce and beetroot chips; dukkah tiger prawns with basil, olives and cherry tomatoes; and the 250g Aussie Black Angus striploin with wasabi butter. 16-G Jln Telawi 2; myebbflow.com

9.30PM Drink in the views at Mantra

“A quintessential night out in Bangsar ends at Mantra,” raves Kyren. The venue is a snazzy, purple-lit bar and lounge that sits atop the upscale shopping center of Bangsar Village II. Grab a seat in the open-air veranda and cap off the night with a couple — or more — of its bestselling Mantrajitos. Sit back and admire the panoramic view of city lights, complete with the capital’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers peeking out from behind the distant treetops. Jln Telawi 1; mantrabarkl.com

This article first appeared in the August 2019 issue of Smile magazine.

Written by

Edgar Alan Zeta Yap

Photographed by

Andy Kho

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