A place like no other, The Zhongshan Building, a curated space located at Kampung Attap in central KL. What gives this space its charm is its history, once a row of interconnected shop houses in the 50s and now refurbished to hold an art gallery, a bakery and even a nightclub but still holding the characteristics of its predecessor so the feeling of nostalgia is vivid as it is maintained.
Where to fill up your stomach with food & good ol’ caffeine:
1. Tommy Le Baker
Tommy Le Baker which boasts a small courtyard and you surely will be at a loss for words by how beautiful the cafe is and as you look up you’ll notice the cafe is surrounded by the other floors of the building, transporting one to another place that is unfamiliar to the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Ranging from RM15-RM35 for two slices of sourdough toast, take your pick with either ribeye steak, smoked salmon or some good ol’ classic braised chicken. One might balk at the prices but the moment you bite in one of their toasts, the prices are completely justified. Not just serving up toasts, the bakery also offers a selection of homemade ice-cream only costing RM10 (we strongly recommend the dark chocolate flavour)!
Opening hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday – Friday: 10:30am – 7pm, Saturday – Sunday: 9:30am – 8pm
Telephone: 016-621 8492
Just like any cafe, Tommy Le Baker serves coffee & tea too but do not be quick to order a cup of coffee just yet because two floors up sits
2. Piu Piu Piu
Piu Piu Piu, a café opened up by a warm and friendly Japanese couple. Deemed one of KL’s smallest coffee shop, however, the coffee they serve gives other bigger sized cafes a run for their money. Wanting to emulate the standing bars of his home country, owner Unagi purposely selected a small size for his cafe, making it a more intimate experience for both customers and owners.
If coffee is not your thing, not to worry as one of Piu Piu Piu’s signature drinks contain absolutely zero caffeine, Lemon Sour, a fermented lemon with lemon soda concoction, their zesty take on kombucha and if that’s not enough to pique your interest, there’s also an alcoholic version! For dessert, Piu Piu Piu bakes their own homemade cakes (with non-processed ingredients!) and the bestsellers are the Burnt Cheesecake and Apple Crumble however their cakes do sell out fast so pop in a little earlier lest you miss out on these yummy confections.
Opening hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 7pm, Sunday: 11:30am – 6pm
And after you’re done with these gastronomic experiences, it’s time to burn all of those delicious food & drinks by exploring what oddities Zhongshan has to offer!
Nice to See, Nice to Hold, Considered Yourself Sold!
Naiise which sells fun and localized curated knick-knacks, definitely a reprieve from the usual generic gift shops so abundant in every shopping mall.
The items for sale have been carefully curated to only include local brands & artists, providing a space for masses to be exposed to these artistic local goods.
Opening hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday – Thursday: 10:30am – 7pm, Friday – Sunday: 9:30am -8pm
Telephone: 019-465 8284
Official website: https://naiise.com.my/
After browsing through some eclectic goodies, time to read something equally as eclectic!
Tintabudi. Unlike our local big bookstore chains, Tintabudi carries an eclectic selection of genres ranging from philosophy, arts, literature and even hard-to-find old Malaysian classics. This bookstore is a must for the passionate bookworm as it gives another take on the Malaysian reading culture. Also, do not hesitate to ask the owners’ any questions or start a discussion with them as they love exchanging opinions & thoughts with other fellow bookworms (something unheard of in bigger bookstores)
Prefer music over reading? Then head on over to:
5. Tandang Store
Tandang Store, a vinyl record store specializing in more unconventional & rare records. For listeners of the punk/DIY/indie scene, Tandang will be your heaven as they stock records, cassettes & CDs of those genres from all over the world including local acts too. Shifting through the displays, one gets the feeling of being in every teenage boy (who ever dreamed of being the next Kurt Cobain)’s fantasy with band posters and stickers stuck on the wall. This truly is a far cry from the slick & manufactured feel of music stores usually found at the mall. Also at the corner of the store, there are locally-made zines for sale, a unique & less mainstream insight of our youth’s culture and tastes.
Not forgetting the whole reason The Zhongshan Building was refurbished,
OURArtProjects which had close involvement with the development of the building, is an art gallery that keeps it fresh by having a different showcase/exhibition every month, some of them involving established artists or newcomers from all over Southeast Asia.
Although the space isn’t the largest, the beauty comes in the details & the thought behind each displayed piece. In this gallery, there is no nepotism, no pretense nor a greed for money or fame, it’s just artists displaying their talents and passion. With no fee incurred, the aim of OURArtProjects is purely to make modern & contempory art a bigger part of Malaysians.
When the Sun Goes Down:
By the time you’ve stepped in all those stores, the sun would have probably set by then. And as the sun goes down, the lights in Zhongshan’s resident bar cum nightclub, Fono light right up.
Hosting local DJs and the occasional international ones, fono is the complete antithesis of the more frequented night clubs in KL which we in The Cool Bears are frankly quite bored of. There’s only so many times we can listen to that same EDM remix of the latest radio hit.
What sets them apart from the rest of the usual nightlife places is the small, intimate settings and you’ll be sure to be bumping into people as you dance all night but also bumping to the music each DJ spins, from afrofunk, house, funk and even rock & roll, you won’t hear anything similar elsewhere.
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday: Closed, Thursday – Saturday: 7pm – 2 am (but refer to their Instagram page for any shows)
Consisting of the same trait, all these stores share in common of being an epitome of modern-day anti-establishment, almost a protest to the generic, thoughtless franchised stores of today. Just like the shophouses that were once there, the stores in Zhongshan remind us of the hidden culture of our beautiful city and the importance of preserving it.