Michael Osborne discovers Old Malaya and delightful surprises
As we travel the world, looking for the ideal situations that make a perfect holiday, we are not often surprised. But our recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, as a guest of AirAsiaX and Visit Malaysia, we received an invitation to have a look at a new specialist dining set-up, Old Malaya.
A few minutes in a taxi from the Intercontinental and I arrived at this wonderful restored colonial building complex. I am soon introduced to Wayne Joseph, an Australian, who is who is the Consultant, Creative and Public Relations Director and my host for the evening.
As Wayne takes me on a tour of the complex, he explains its history
Old Malaya – located at 66 - 68 Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur is a colonial building constructed in 1919. Nearing its 100-year-old mark, this heritage building was first used to house Colonial, and later Malay military officers and their families. Thereafter, it became a prominent residence to the Eurasian community of Kuala Lumpur. Today, Old Malaya is house to chic dining spaces where all Malaysians and welcome visitors can enjoy international cuisines within the walls of this historical Malaysian landmark.
Abandoned decades ago and left to decay, the heritage building once faced a possible future of demolition and redevelopment. With the determination to prevent such a future, Dato’ Syed Mustaffa Shahabuddin moved to realize his 15-year old dream to save this iconic landmark; together with his capable friend Mr Kana Theva – the F&B entrepreneur. They embarked on a course to revitalize and restore the building to what it is today.
Conservation of the original building – greatly contributed to, by Mr. Kana and Dato’ Syed, along with The Department of Malaysian Heritage and the Architecture Design Company, Space Fighters, whose well-known Architects are Mr. Zaini Zainul from ZDR and Mr. Syakir Mahadzir. Together, they carefully restored and developed the original building into a row of international heritage styled shop fronts. The conservation process took this group of passionate professionals on a year-long journey so as to ensure many of the building’s original features were retained thus breathing new life into the venue now known as “Old Malaya” while also helping to preserve Malaysian architectural heritage.
Old Malaya as a Venue
The Old Malaya F&B concept was conceived by entrepreneur Mr Kana Theva and jointly developed with Dato’ Syed and other co-founders. Old Malaya is a ground level, unique dining and events venue in KL city, boasting views from both inside and outside the premises that overlook leafy green hills and the magnificent KL tower. Old Malaya comprises of seven shop houses that are tastefully designed into a row of heritage modelled dining spaces, one indoor bar and an outdoor bar.
At Old Malaya, the individually designed restaurants combine a chic, elegant and historical atmosphere. The restaurants, here, offer a delightful taste of western contemporary, modern Malaysian fusion and international, cuisines. Mr Kana Theva’s intent was to invite only experienced restaurateurs to be a part of Old Malaya, whom are passionate about their cuisine and take pride in delivering the best food and beverage coupled with excellent customer service. Ultimately, this became a reality as Old Malaya now houses some of the most celebrated and talented restaurateurs in Kuala Lumpur.
Old Malaya focuses on sourcing the finest locally and internationally produced food, which is prepared daily by a team of professional chefs. www.oldmalaya.com
Currently Old Malaya houses the following restaurants,
Pampas – Steakhouse and Contemporary Western. www.pampas.com.my
Antara – Modern Malaysian. www.antararestaurant.com
Junior Chellapa – Authentic Indian Cuisine - Fine South Indian Cuisine www.juniorchellapa.com
Manja – International Fusion. www.manja.com.my
Pintu – Western Fusion https://www.facebook.com/pintuoldmalaya/
Luce – Authentic Italian. www.luceosteria.com
Pier 12 – Specialized Seafood and Tavern http://www.pampas.com.my/pier_12_seafood_tavern.html
The Pampas restaurant within Old Malaya has a downstairs finer dining restaurant designed in keeping with the heritage of the building, while the adjoining indoor Kapitan bar boasts a view of the beautiful KL tower through its glass roof, adding a twist of chicness and contemporary feel to the overall design. The Pampas Kapitan bar offers a thoughtful selection of quality whiskeys, wines and cocktails. With its historical and culturally rich décor, the second floor of Pampas’ called the Bujang Valley Kedah Room, is an events dining space which includes an attached romantic dining terrace that has the only whole – unobstructed view of the KL Tower from Old Malaya.
Pier 12 was explained to me, ‘Pier 12 is a Seafood Tavern specialising in various types of fish dishes’. The method of cooking is through a combination of Eastern and Western flavours. Our seafood comes from different corners of the world, for example our Halibut Fish comes from Indonesia, Mini Squid and Cod fish are from Spain. The Seafood Tavern came to fruition mostly through our customers’ love of seafood that was served at the Original Changkat Pampas restaurant across town. Coupled with the fact that there are only a handful of seafood dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur who specialise in different types of fish.
The name Pier 12 was inspired by Malaysia, our country. Malaysia is surrounded mostly by sea, and has been known for its Port cities for centuries, which is how the word "Pier" came about, whilst "12" came from the lot number of the shop house we have taken up at Old Malaya. We chose to describe ourselves as a tavern, to represent the more casual setting on the upper deck with a cocktail and sake bar for those who would like to enjoy some music, a great view of the KL tower and good food with drinks.
Unfortunately there was not enough time to try all the restaurants, but it has left me with a wonderful excuse to visit Kuala Lumpur a few more times.