Written by Nadia Crowe
Edited by Candice Neo
Having grown up in Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur and stayed there for more than 15 years, this vibrant neighbourhood is where I spend most of my weekends, where I take my overseas friends to, and where I feel most comfortable. As a foodie, I am constantly on the lookout for new cafes or restaurants in this area that might be worth checking out next.
Considering that nowadays, most people are simply cafe-hopping for the Gram, Bangsar’s cafes are jumping onto the trend with Instagrammable walls and that dash of hipster that would look oh-so-trendy on your social media feed. But we all know that not all things that are pretty to look at are good to eat, and as both are important to me, I’ve collected a list that are both IG-worthy and serve up delicious food!
Catch me on a Sunday in at least one of these places! 😉
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1. A floral wall and food that’s to die for!: Lisette’s Cafe and Bakery
I’m actually unsure as to how I stumbled upon this cafe, but back when I started going there, it was much less busy and called Dr.Inc. The food was (and is) still top-notch quality, though! What stood out to me is their open concept – the entrance is almost like a makeshift garden, where you can sit comfortably under the shade of the trees without feeling hot.
After they rebranded to Lisette’s cafe, they also upgraded their decor. What once was simple and eclectic is now vibrant and charming, and did I mention they also have a flower wall! It’s usually pink but for Christmas (2019) they’ve changed it to red, and who knows what they could do next! What a lovely surprise!
Food wise, their dishes will amaze you as much as the interior. Start off with some Crispy Duck Mantou Buns before heading to their dessert/pastry section and completely kicking yourself for getting more than one!
If you’re feeling extra hungry, they have all-you-can-eat lunch buffets on Tuesday, Friday (11.30am – 2.30pm), and Sunday (10.30am – 2.30pm)! All the food is made fresh in front of your eyes and changes each week, but make sure to book in advance as this place gets packed!2. A contemporary introduction to Bangsar: Apollo Dining
Garden cafes are a thing of yesterday, it seems that now we’re making way for a slightly more minimalist desert theme! Still filled with lush green accents, Apollo Dining definitely focuses on bringing the unique stone architecture of the Mediterranean into our lives.
Bright and airy, you’ll find yourself feeling cheerful as soon as you step in here! When it comes to food, they’re still working on their official brunch menu, but their fusion mains will have you forgetting all about that vegan spread down the street!
From Thai Laksa Crab (complete with delicious squid ink pasta) to a sweet ending in the form of their Cempedak fritters, it’s a wonderful dining affair!
3. Get away from the crowd at this little sister: Botanica+Co, Alila Bangsar
Everyone knows Botanica+Co, but they specifically know the one in Bangsar South. That place is a literal stone’s throw away from my house, so I had been going there for a while before it blew up. Imagine my dismay one day when we had to queue to be seated!
Thankfully, we managed to find their other outlet at Alila Bangsar. Serving up the same high quality food, in massive proportions, and having a similar nature-immersed decor, it’s much more of a delight going to the Alila branch rather than the one in The Sphere (Bangsar South).
You can actually hear each other speak while savouring your super soft salt beef sandwich, whisper sweet nothings to your lover while sharing a bowl of spicy curry fries, and have a moment of comfortable silence while you finish off your meal with an indulgent banana crumble.
Botanica+Co at Alila Bangsar was my go-to Sunday brunch spot for a while, and I’d happily go back for their IG-worthy French toast and garden-like interior!
4. A hidden Italian gem: Viscuso Artisan Bakery
Update: This cafe has now moved to Ampang. Their new address: No. 14, Jala Dagang 10, Taman Dagang Jaya. Do check their Facebook page for more information.
This place is my latest find, and it honestly deserves more credit than it’s currently getting! For the last few months, on the way to my brunch hang of that time, I’ve been walking past Viscuso Artisan Bakery, and everytime I’ll think to myself: I need to go there.
Finally I did, and I’ll never look back, it’s my new favourite spot! Not only is the exterior reminiscent of a quaint little Italian town filled with flowers and white picket fencing, the food is to die for. The chef, Mr Viscuso himself, is an absolute genius in the kitchen. You could easily just blindly pick anything on the menu and be pleased; my personal favourites are the many different Bruschettas that they make.
After a satisfying meal, you won’t be done just yet – the bakery section is teeming with sugary goodness! Cannolis, Tiramisu, and some other Italian classics I can’t pronounce are all waiting to be eaten, and they’re done to perfection, pair it with a cup of aromatic coffee (one of the best according to my Mum, a coffee connoisseur) and you’ll be set for the day!
To top it all off, VAB (as I call it) is still relatively unknown! You won’t find yourself struggling to hear what your brunch partner has to say, and you definitely won’t feel overwhelmed by any crowds. Head over there ASAP before this gem gets more famous!
5. A local affair with eclectic personal touches from the chef!: ADU Sugar Restaurant
One of the remaining areas in Bangsar that has stuck to its roots is Lucky Garden. Just across the street from Bangsar Village and the bustling streets of Telawi, you’ll find a slightly different side to it. A little less curated, a little more rustic, and a lot more authentic.
ADU Sugar Restaurant is hidden amongst the authenticity and brings its own creative flair to local Malaysian cuisine. Hailing from Johor, the chef focuses on personal homemade recipes which, let’s face it, are always the best!
From Laksa to Mee Bandung, to Roti Canai with a twist, you’ll definitely find yourself appreciating local Malaysian food more here. Not to mention the decor is nothing short of jaw-dropping. From hand-painted tibetan cabinets to a gorgeous mural of birds all done by the chef himself, you’ll find stories hidden in every corner!
6. Their experimental menu will delight your tastebuds: Breakfast Thieves
When I first looked at the menu at Breakfast Thieves, I was immediately impressed by how atas everything sounded, they even managed to make the local dishes they serve sound elegant! After I found out that they are originally from Melbourne, things made a little more sense.
Taking as much care with their food as they do their menu descriptions, you can be sure that their food options are delicious! Mr Terry Benedict is my favourite, a fancy twist on the classic, including a 24-hour braised Aussie beef (see what I mean?).
Apart from the yummy food, you’re also seated in a glasshouse, so you’ll feel light and airy too, despite the crowd! Once you’re done, take a stroll outside where you’ll find a small vegetable garden and IG-worthy walls/stairs for your perusal!
7. Hidden gems always serve the most wholesome food!: Rawsome Bangsar
Finding cafes that specialise in vegetarian food can be tricky in Malaysia with meat so ingrained into our culture. While Rawsome definitely still serves the good stuff, they focus primarily on vegan and vegetarian options, which are supposedly much better for your health!
If you’re someone who’s dabbling into cutting out meat, or simply want to get a little more greens in your diet, head on over here! With mock meat options on hand to help make comfort food a little healthier (read: Pan Mee with soy-based meat instead of chicken or pork!), you’ll find it easier to transition here!
Not only that, it’s quiet, peaceful, and a beautiful place to spend your time in! With greenery as the stand-out inspiration for the decor, you’ll genuinely find yourself learning to appreciate nature more!
8. The perfect blend of coffee and cocktails: Transparent Coffee
True to its name, Transparent Coffee sources its beans directly from their sources and aim to be transparent in all that they do! During the day, Transparent Coffee operates with a nice chilled vibe, with a pathway of hanging ferns leading you inside where you’ll be greeted by a dimly lit cavern of sorts.
When it comes to food, there’s nothing better than a good old sandwich, something which Transparent Coffee seems to do particularly well! A classic Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich is the perfect way to start your day, paired with one of their unique coffee blends, and you’re in for a treat!
If you swing by at night, this place completely transforms into Coley Cocktail Bar! Serving up more than your usual margarita, try their famous PB&J cocktail which smells and tastes exactly like the sandwich!
For all my bubble tea lovers, there’s something for you too: The Whisky Bubble Tea drink – yes, boba and alcohol! Who knew a drink so perfect could exist?
9. A healthy alternative for fast and delicious: Parklife Bangsar South
Stumbling upon Parklife was almost like a message sent from above, telling me to eat healthier! I have an issue with vegetables, but seeing all the delicious options laid out in front of the storefront window had me doubting my pickiness!
Serving up a variety of different healthy food and dessert means you can easily indulge your sweet tooth here without feeling so guilty! I highly recommend going for the hummus served with warm pita bread, and one of the skewered grilled meats!
Not only is Parklife the perfect place to park yourself at (hah, get it?) in the morning, it’s a delightful place to take photographs too! With bright green accents accompanied by forest green plants, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped the busy streets of Bangsar and stepped into a peaceful little haven!
10. Inspired by the unique flavours and colourful tones of Vietnam: Rasa Viet
The one thing I remember so clearly about my trip to Vietnam a few years ago is the food. I adored the crispy and delicious spring rolls, and I found that the Pho there was unlike any other I’d tasted before in Malaysia (duh!).
Rasa Viet popped up a few months ago and immediately caught my and my Mum’s attention (since we are, after all, brunch partners-in-crime). Its colourful yellow exterior, French doors, and adorable little bicycle topped with flowers definitely made us want to go in! I’m so glad we did, as apart from the Vietnamese-inspired decor which brought back such fond memories, the food was also spectacular.
I’d easily say that they have the best Pho outside of Vietnam I have ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot!). The soup is so flavourful, you’ll find yourself forgoing water and downing it completely. The noodles are soft and cooked to perfection, while the beef is succulent and complements the meal perfectly.
There’s definitely more to Rasa Viet than meets the eye, go in for its incredibly cute decor, and come back for its insanely authentic food.
11. Settle in on a tatami for Japanese fusion: Sunbather Coffee
A cosy little cafe in Bangsar South, Sunbather Coffee has dedicated itself to Japanese fusion. Taking beloved dishes such as Yaki Imo (slow roasted sweet potato) and adding their own unique twists (hello, ice cream) is what they specialise in!
Regular seating aside, they also have a section where you can sit and dine on a tatami (a traditional mat on which the Japanese use to sit on the floor)! What an incredibly unique way of having your Sunday brunch!
Don’t forget to try some of their delicious desserts such as the deconstructed feta cheesecake! Insta-spots are plentiful in this place, where you’ll find corners surrounded by plants, and of course their unique signpost outside!
12. Find yourself ditching the bad stuff for the good!: LJ Superfoods
LJ Superfoods is the flagship restaurant of the health drink chain, La Juiceria. So there should be no doubt in your mind that when you go there, you’ll get some good food. Their motto, Healthy is Sexy, is appropriate given how tempted you will be to ditch the unhealthy versions of their food!
I’m talking about Cauliflower Fried Rice that’s so aromatic, you’ll forget all about Nasi Goreng Kampung, and a Nasi Lemak wrap full of the spicy coconutty flavour we all love without so much sinfulness!
Healthy substitutes aside, they also have some delicious originals that will leave you drooling, such as their Protein Power Bowl, perfect for building those muscles! Don’t forget to snap a few pictures in front of their neon sign and also around their beautiful white and airy place!
1. If matcha is your game and you take it seriously: Niko Neko Matcha
Can you imagine?! This place might not serve brunch but it’s a whole cafe solely dedicated to the greeny creamy goodness that is matcha! Hidden away along the backroads of Bangsar, this cafe encompasses Japanese minimalism while also serving up some beautifully crafted delicacies using traditional tools.
True to its roots, Niko Neko Matcha is an all-white minimalist cafe, and the only decor you’ll see are the gorgeous papier-mâché-type lights hanging from the ceiling! An organic gardening shop which shares the space provides a stark contrast with their bright green plant walls, a perfect background for your matcha drink!
While sitting in their peaceful place is a good way to spend your weekend mornings, you can also purchase your very own Matcha-making kit for when you’re craving it at home! Offering several different blends and each with their own benefits, no longer do you have to travel so far for matcha!
With most of these cafes tried and tested by a true Bangsarian, you just can’t go wrong! You’ll find not only IG-worthy places but cafes with good food that you’ll keep going back for. Share this with your cafe-loving friends, Bangsar is the place to be!