Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tea Dances in Kuala Lumpur

Do you get bored on a Sunday?
Tired of shopping malls and of lazing by the pool?
Hangover not (too) bad?
Then try a Tea Dance!
There are 3 or 4 locations in town that host a Sunday afternoon/early evening event known as a Tea Dance,which is basically a binge-drinking disco party!
The original idea years back was to provide a meeting place for all the domestic workers in Kuala Lumpur who are lucky enough to get Sunday as a rest day,back then mainly Filipina maids who after church could let their hair-down....Tea may have been the drink of choice back then but a jug of Tiger or bottle of scotch is the prefered beverage today.
Singapore and Hong Kong are more well-known for their Tea dances as they have a larger Filipina population.
In Kuala Lumpur,Cruz Club on Jalan Sultan Ismail, opposite the 7-Eleven/Wendy's,The basement of the Melia Hotel opposite Times Square on Jalan Imbi and the Angkasa Hotel near Pudaraya bus station can all lay claim to hosting these dubious events.
You can usually tell if one is happening by looking for a few girls throwing-up or crying into their handphone outside.
The one held in the Melia Hotel is in a small club that would make the black hole of Calcutta look spacious and roomy by comparison.
Wherever you stand,you're in someone's way.
It's intense.
Cruz Club is a bigger and doesn't get as claustrophobic and it's easy to taxi-hop between the two to compare and contrast.
Things kick-off around 4-5pm and most of the action and vomit is over by 9pm.
Jugs of beer are reasonably priced at around RM35 and the crowd of expats,locals,maids and a few working girls are always friendly and intent on having a good time-and by and large they always do.
It can get a bit tense later in the evening as lots of the girls go home and the pissed-up guys get a bit territorial and/or desperate fuelled by alcohol and testosterone-but as I said,usually everyone has a good time.
To be honest they're not quite my "cup of tea" as I find the whole experience a bit too full-on and intense-and drinking in the afternoon can ruin the whole evening.
Nevertheless,friends of mine love'em and enjoy the unique atmosphere of people who just want to have fun.
Whatever time you arrive,things will be in full-swing and it can take a few beers before you feel accustomed to the place.
And,leaving in daylight will bring back memories of afternoon visits to the cinema when you were a kid as you emerge blinking into bright sunlight-but this time you'll be pissed!

Update 8/2/11-I understand that the Maluri Club at the Melia Hotel no longer has a Tea Dance.
But you may want to check-out Modesto's on P.Ramlee on a Sunday afternoon-and some say that the club above Thai Club,opposite Beach Club also holds a Tea Dance....but you've got to be pretty brave going into a club called "Macho Man" on a Sunday afternoon.....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yut Kee Coffeeshop, Jalan Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur

What a gem!
Yut Kee Coffeeshop/Restaurant on Jalan Dang Wangi is one of the oldest coffeeshops in Kuala Lumpur and has been run by the same family for over 80 years!
It has atmosphere and character by the bucket load and the food is pretty damn good as well.
The shop is situated in a row of old shophouses at the bottom of Jalan Dang Wangi ,almost opposite the dreadful Cap Square, near the junction with Jalan Ampang.It's a few minutes stroll from Asian Heritage Row or Dang Wangi LRT.
Decoration wise,it looks like an authentic 1920's shophouse with black and white floor tiles that go half way up the wall and has wooden tables and chairs.
The ceiling fans may never have been cleaned....
The menu is pretty vast and covers, Noodles, Rice and Curry dishes and "colonial" style chops,either lamb,pork,chicken,beef or fish served in gravy with potatoes.
Yut Kee is also very famous for their speciality of "Roti Babi" which is shredded pork,onions,tomato and Chinese sausage deep fried in fluffy bread.
It sounds like a heart-attack on a plate and as the locals would say, "try before die!"
Try adding some Worcestershire sauce for extra flavour.
Service is very prompt and friendly as you would expect in an owner operated establishment and whilst the food presentation lacks any style or panache with it's plastic plates and wafer-thin forks and spoons-you come here to eat because you're hungry-and to enjoy the atmosphere.
It gets very crowded weekend lunchtimes and it's normal to share tables.
The queue outside doesn't mind waiting as they know what's in store for them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cap Square,Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Kuala Lumpur

A BIG disappointment-I went there so that you don't have to.
Cap Square is a huge mixed development that KL property developers just love.
Comprising of retail space,offices and residential Cap Square has been operational for just over a year and is not yet finished.
Situated right in the city centre between Jalan Ampang ,Jalan Munshi Abdullah and Jalan Dang Wangi it feels like it's miles from anywhere and seems a bit out of the way despite it's city-centre location.If you're unfamiliar with the street names,it's located sort-of between the big AIA Building on Jalan Ampang and the Sheraton Imperial on Jalan Sultan Ismail and is within walking distance of Asian Heritage Row or from Dang Wangi LRT.
It's billed as "Kuala Lumpur's Dining and Entertainment Capital and is nothing of the sort.
If you're working in the nearby offices it's probably OK for lunch and (maybe) a quick beer after work but that's about it.
There are about 15 F&B places including a Jarrod & Rawlings bar cum deli, a Modesto's pizza place as well as Thai, Indian, Mexican, Malay and German restaurants.
There is also a small supermarket and a cinema...
And a couple of Bars.
With more to open.
So,on paper you would think it was an interesting place to go-but it just doesn't seem to work.
It's totally devoid of any atmosphere and after 7-8pm it becomes a bit of a ghost-town.
What could have been a great "feature"-the river outside is shunned as the development faces in on itself....imagine a few bars and restaurants overlooking a cleaned-up river front and it would be a great,unique location.
Maybe when it's "finished" it will be better but already a few places have closed down as the crowd just isn't there yet.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rum Jungle/Beach Club revisited

After the music ban had been lifted I decided to check-out Rum Jungle and Beach Club on Jalan P.Ramlee.
Rum Jungle has closed (most) of the glass doors along the outside in order to try and contain the noise.The Band sounded just as loud as before but the bar was fairly empty for a Friday night.
I guess that the after-work crowd now go to Over Time just up the road or to Quattro/Four Seasons bar in Avenue K Mall, or even to the new Irish Bar at KLCC.
There were a few bored looking working girls wandering around Rum Jungle and probably because it was not busy,getting my change wasn't a problem.
Is it me or does Rum Jungle smell slightly of vomit?
Beach Club has also decided to keep the glass doors closed.
This in effect creates two distinct areas,the outside veranda and the inside bar.
The problem that it creates is that people can't circulate,the bar-counter inside is very close to the doors and gets a bit overcrowded and there isn't enough room to walk behind the drinkers sitting at the bar-it creates quite a hostile environment and a lot of bumping into people and saying "sorry".
The same thing happens on the outside veranda now,lots of people with nowhere to go so it gets a bit overcrowded.
This is how Beach Club used to operate years ago-the doors would be closed once the band came on stage and the music cranked up.
Not as good as before-but hey,at least it's open.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Over Time, Life Centre, Jalan Sultan Ismail,Kuala Lumpur

Over Time opened just before Christmas and is quite a unique concept for Bars in Kuala Lumpur.
Located in the Life Centre,near TGIF,just around the corner from Thai Club, Over Time caters mainly for the office crowd but all are welcome.
I can imagine that it can get good and rowdy on some nights.
I'm not sure what to make of it to be honest...
Firstly,the beer is an acquired taste,you'll either love it or hate it.
I hated it.
"Stark" which is the German word for "Strong" is only available at this outlet.It's brewed fresh,is delivered everyday from the brewery (in Klang,which also brews Jazz Beer) and has a limited shelf life.
In Over Time you can have Jazz which is dreadful. Or Stark which tastes like orange marmalade mixed with lemonade and like the name suggests is quite a strong beer,it doesn't seem so at the time and takes a while to kick-in but it's a lot stronger than Tiger or Carlsberg.
A pint of Stark will set you back RM 35,Happy Hour until 9pm buy-one-get-one-free.
The menu,like so many new bars is non-halal with dishes ranging from RM 15-Rm 30.
It was quite busy on the Friday night I was there-so not everyone has the same opinion about the beer as I do.
At the front is an outside area that is quite pleasant to sit in but all you can see is the traffic and the monorail go by.Inside was very dark with a small stage and a live band.
Service was very good and the waitress's uniform of some sort of Traditional German inspired smock-tops with mini skirts was pleasant enough.
The toilets were dreadful.
All were blocked and already by 9pm someone who couldn't handle his beer had thrown-up in one.
I wouldn't want to spend an entire night in this bar because a) I'd get really drunk and b) I'd get really drunk! but it's OK as a meeting place for one or two before either heading home after work or heading off to somewhere else where the beer tastes better.
The car-parkers outside wanted an extortionate RM 20! used to be RM 5 so I guess that since Over Time opened business has been good-You can find a carpark on the road that runs behind for RM 6.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ain Arabia Kuala Lumpur

Known by most people as Arab Square,Ain Arabia was a pointless waste of money a few years back to pander to the tastes of the ever-increasing numbers of Middle-Eastern tourists by creating a place to relax,chill and maybe even picnic in the heart of the city.
Situated opposite the Fortuna Hotel (which probably has the only really good Middle-Eastern Restaurant in town) just off the junction of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail,just behind the abandoned Finnegan's Bar,was a small green area with a few trees where local kids used to play.
At a cost of over RM 1 million all that was leveled except for one big tree and a big tea-pot and some stone benches and a commemorative arch were put in place.
The teapot was originally a water fountain but it has long since broken and no one seems bothered enough to fix it and it now serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
To my knowledge,the only people who use the "facilities" at Ain Arabia are local traffic-wardens and police having a rest in the shade.....

Music Ban Lifted on Jalan P. Ramlee Bars and Clubs

Well,that lasted for a week....
The street was very,very quite for a week-no atmosphere at all...
let's see if things get back to normal....

Click on the title above for the news report from "The Star"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Clubs on Jalan P.Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur

Jalan P.Ramlee has been an entertainment street for ages and for Beach Club,Thai Club,Aloha and Rum Jungle to lose their music licences-banning both DJ's and Live Bands will be the death-knell of the street.
If it's true that there have been complaints about the noise levels from nearby newly built condos it's like moving next to a farm and then complaining about the smell!
Perhaps it's a ruse to shut down all the bars and replace them with more family-friendly restaurants or just to build more and more condos.

Or it could be a fuss about nothing.

Click on the link in the title above to read the local newspaper article