Monday, January 28, 2008

Down memory lane in Bangsar

I was going through my old website on Geocities (my first), which has not been updated in a very long time. Reading the stuff I wrote several years ago brought back a lot of pleasant memories. One of the pages was on Bangsar, a suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, which was then our favourite place to hang out. Here is what I wrote with some minor editing (last updated in 2002):


Think of Bangsar and images of food, coffee and beautiful people immediately comes into my head. if you are in Malaysia and looking for a bite, a drink, a book, carpets, furniture or just want to hang out and watch the World go by... just go to Bangsar. This is where people come to see and be seen.

Clockwise from top left: 1. Jalan Telawi Tiga, Bangsar at night; 2. In the morning; 3. a slimmer me (MBA days), 4. at Bangsar Bowl with my wife-to-be and Rama.

Caffiene addicts are in luck here - There are several cafes you can choose from - Starbucks, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.... You will find these cafes packed even on week days and you know the Asian Crisis is over now (or is it?) - People are flocking back to Bangsar. Well since I first started this page, I have lost track of the places that have closed down and new ones coming up to take their places.

If you are thirsty for a different kind of drink - the alcoholic kind, don't worry, Bangsar has probably the highest concentration of pubs and bistros in the whole of Malaysia. I suggest you try 'Grappa' for a good selection of wines and 'the Roof' for a place with a view. It has got a new "Blue" look now. According to Bangsar regulars, the "IN" or "COOL" places to hang out are 'Bar Flam' and 'Finnegan's'. The most amazing thing is that they are all on one street - Jalan Telawi 3

If you are hungry, you have a wide variety to choose from - ranging from Italian and French to Thai and Indian cuisine and of course modern "fast food."

For those who love sea food, just head for the 'Sea Food Village'. One good point about this place is that it has its own parking for its patrons.

'Jolly Green' is the big food court with a green roof and a car park below. If you happen to be short of cash and can't afford to go to on of the expensive restaurants, go to the mamak stalls inside Jolly Green or ones outside which open up in the afternoon, next to the Sea food Village.

You cannot beat Devi's Corner in terms of price. Try the Butter Nan> with Tandoori Chicken there. They have several types of Tosai too. You can also try their Nasi Lemak there and wash it down with Teh Tarik - which literally means 'pulled tea' or with a glass of Teh O Ais Limau - Ice lemon tea. They recently renovated the whole place and it looks and feels much better now.

Just along the road is the newly opened 'Lotus'. Clean and bright but slightly more expensive than the former. This place is as busy as Devi's.

Another Indian Vegetarian restaurant is 'Madras Woodlands' - the same row as McDonalds. You may miss it as it is not on the ground floor. There is a wide choice of North and South Indian dishes. The food is reasonably priced. I love the VIP meal and the chapati set.

I just don't know why Bangsar has a lot of places with the names of colors - 'Jolly Green', 'the Grey', 'the White Room' and the 'Red Chamber' and so on. I visited the Red Chamber some time back and guess what...I really liked the place, they have created a really cozy ambiance. With sofas, curtains, real cool music - ethnic, arabian, sufi and so on - and as the name suggests, a red colour theme. The best thing I liked was that none of the dishes were above RM20 and the food was really good. Try the Asam Laksa and you will agree with me. I really love the "Little Red Rubies" which is a drink made from coconut water plus milk and few other ingredients. Bad news for Vegetarians, not much for you there.

Just upstairs is 'the Harem' run by the same management. With an Arabian theme you take off your shoes, just lie down and get comfy. However, do not try eating and drinking lying down - you may drip Asam Laksa all over your shirt. The "Shisha" (a type of scented, non-tobacco hookah) is a big hit there. Yes, people actually pay to inhale scented smoke. I noticed something new, there were more girls (dressed to kill) as compared to guys. Anybody got any answers? I wonder if there is some truth to the rumour that there are more girls than guys in the Klang Valley.

If you are into books, there are a few places where you can grab something to read. There's 'MPH' for those with a lot of money, just opposite Madras Woodlands. It has the widest choice, plus mags, stationeries as well as music CDs and cassettes. Then there is 'Silverfish books', next to Devi's. You have to climb up the narrow stairs. It has got a small but good collection of books including used ones.

However, the best bargain can be had at 'City Book Rentals' on the other side of Bangsar. More precisely at 40 Persiaran Ara Kiri, Lucky Garden. That's behind 'TMC super market'. Their rules are simple, you pay an amount for renting books (used). You can then give it back after reading it and then you get back most of the money back. Some really good books there. I got 'Forward the Foundation' by Issac Asimov today for RM20.

Don't be surprised if you suddenly happen to see a lot of people on Sunday. It is because the Pasar Malam or night market is open. Numerous stalls sell every imaginable thing from fake watches to vegetables and clothes. However, its getting tougher to get pirated CDs and VCDs now after the authorities clamed down on the illegal trade.

Just down the road is the 'Bangsar Shopping Complex' or BSC (now Bangsar Shopping Centre). Just a few months back, it was a dead place with several closed shop lots. Anyway most of the goods sold there were overpriced. Will definitely miss the GSC cineplex and the Bangsar Bowl - a bowling alley. Not very crowded and reasonably priced. However, after the renovation it is starting to pull in the crowd. The customers are mostly expats who live nearby. I personally feel that the place is highly pretentious and materialistic but I guess that's how the World is now-a-days.

In Bangsar, you have people spending hundreds of dollars on a single dinner and driving around in Ferraris and at the same time come across beggars as well. You can see the "CD people" packing their wares before the enforcement agencies raid the place. You can sometimes see young kids dead drunk, puffing and partying away like there's no tomorrow. You can see "Mat sallehs" - Westerners with SPGs (Sarong Party Girls) wrapped around their arms.

Yeah! You are right. Who am I to judge?

Bangsar has something for everyone and I am a part of the crowd as well.


Correction! I was part of the crowd. Wonder how many of those places I named here are still in business?


rani said...

i'm now studying in HELP UNi College which is very much near Bangsar, at Pusat Bandar Damansara.
BSC has already propagated to BSC2. So now there're the original OK looking BSC and the posh BSC2.
Devi's Corner is not at the original spot anymore, it might have move to someowhere else.
I think Silverfish has moved as well.
I share the same feeling with you about Bangsar- 'materialistic and pretentious', though I'm only here during the weekdays and stayed here for one month until today.

Adam Dilip Mutum said...

Thanks for the info. Bangsar keeps on changing. I have lost track of all the places we used to frequent but no longer there.

Rickavieves said...

passing by here :-) blog hopping

Emila Yusof said...

Oh the place changed so much! There's Bangsar Village 1 and now 2! I remember those good old days back in 1994 when I frequented the place! So many pubs, bistros and karaokes.

*lynne* said...

I was going to point out BSV 1 & 2, but emilia beat me to it :)

I think the Jolly Green Giant is no longer there, something else is being built the last time I was back in KL, but don't remember what...

Thankfully Devi's is still going strong,,, it was a place to, ummm, sober up after clubbing, those few occasions I did hit the town :-)

Parking, as usual, is crazy! Despite having BSV 1 & 2, people still want to park illegally, and cheaply, on the street.

It was nice walking down yr memory lane, thanks for sharing :-)

Jack Letcher said...

Uhuhuh.. what is winter temperature in Malaysia? :)

Adam Dilip Mutum said...

Hi Jack, There is no winter in Malaysia. It's hot and humid the whole year round. The average temperature is around 70-90 degrees F (20-30 degrees C)

Mama22Beas said...

Yeah...Bangsar1 and 2 came to mind too. Another new thing (not very sure if you have not seen) is the row of posh restaurants (that I can only dream of eating in) just across the road from TMC.
But everything in Bangsar is even more expensive, just had Banana Leave rice near Bangsar 2. A meal for 3 cost RM60.

doctammyr said...

enjoyed reading your blog - I now live in the UK and love to catch up with news about M'sia!Thanks


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