While we were still on the Intrepid tour through Borneo, we started picking everyone's brains about what we should do in KL. Our tour guide recommended this restaurant. She said that she used to take her tour groups there to eat and one day, found it was more popular than usual and learnt that it had been featured in the Lonely Planet guide.
We set off to find it late one night with the aid of Google and a tourist map. I'm still amazed that we didn't get lost or give up (on the trip we learnt that we fail at maps).
Old China Cafe is located sort of out of place... I'm not sure if it's just because we got there really late, but the rest of the street was desserted and then there was this tiny restaurant that still had signs of life.
Once we went inside, I was quite taken away by the feel of the place. There decor is quaint and charming and it was fairly busy but everyone was chattering away in soft tones so it was comfortable, not booming loud. I liked the simple wooden chairs and the black and white photographs that lined the walls.
We had eaten a ginormous Indian feast at lunch, earlier that day (will be posted soon) but somehow wound up ordering another 2 curry-like dishes. A couple of entrees and a new brand of beer completed the meal.
Throughout our entire trip, we had been drinking primarily Tiger and the occasional Western beer. At Old China Cafe, we were served Jaz, which according to the label is a Malaysian beer. Wiki tells me it is a rice beer, produced from rice rather than barley using a German yeast culture.
The first entree we tried was called Golden Hats (or something to that effect). We were intrigued by the name and equally impressed by the dish.
It was novel to start with: little crisp pastry cups for us to fill with veggies and chili sauce but also tasted great. I really liked this dish!
Filled bean curd skins
Our other entree was the filled bean curd skin, again served with chili sauce. Although this was a bit oily, it was very flavorsome. Another plus from me.
The melaka chicken and penang curry beef were chef specialities so I had to try both. The chicken dish was creamy and very coconutty. The chicken pieces were nice and tender and also quite plentify (not always the case in South-East Asian curries).
Penang beef curry
The penang curry had a drier sauce with stronger spices and a slightly more pungent flavor (by which I mean fish sauce). It also had a coconut creaminess that I loved.
I think that Old China Cafe deserves its reputation as a reliable restaurant for tasty Malaysian-style food. It appeals to Westerners because its decor has a boutique charm that a lot of modern/trendy restaurants lack.