Monday, July 13, 2015

Merchant's Lane @ Petaling Street

A former Petaling Street brothel, reincarnated as a crazy-atmospheric cafe that's set to launch a thousand Instagram photos.

A fierce contender for the title of KL's most beautiful cafe, this new venue is blessed with the kind of old-world charm that's long been monopolised by Malacca, Ipoh & Penang. The cafe's over-the-counter tagline - 'This Must Be The Place' - might prove prophetic in a sense, though it feels tantalisingly vague, potentially referencing a panoply of pop-culture possibilities.

We'd like to imagine this intricately crafted retreat (its designer has links to the Sekeping Retreats) might somehow remain an oasis of calm, but Merchant's Lane will more likely be an irresistible magnet for cafe enthusiasts for many weekends to come.

The menu is a work in progress: Merchant's Lane opened this past weekend with a small sampling of platters that should also make a social media splash - the 'South China Sea' (RM24) is our favourite, featuring two tender grilled salmon fillets partnered with runny poached eggs, house-made hash & mango-corn salsa - delicate dynamics, with enjoyable textures.

For Big Breakfast devotees, the natural option might be 'Eat Die Me' (RM26), a customisable serving of eggs (sunny-side-up, scrambled or poached) with two sausages (punchy-tasting beef, lamb or chicken), plus cheese-baked tomato, creamed corn & hash. In a week, there will be waffles, with a choice of ice cream (vanilla, Earl Grey, kaya toast, coconut pandan passionfruit).

We like the 'Hongkie Beef Stew' (RM18), with well-prepared meat (slow-cooked for 12 hours & labelled 'Cantonese-style' on the menu), mash, gravy & veggies - pretty much the textbook definition of comfort food. Merchant's Lane boasts a range of East-meets-West recipes - expect also 'Italian chow mein,' described as spaghetti aglio olio with prawns & 'Asian chilli flakes.'

Beverages are pleasing & reasonably distinctive too, from jasmine-infused black coffee (RM11) to hand-crafted charcoal roast oolong tea with cinnamon & chrysanthemum (RM15 for a serving for two), with imminent highlights to include organic matcha lattes (RM13), pomegranate coolers (RM14), rose honey milk (RM13) & 'cham' (RM16; it's espresso with Earl Grey ice cream).

Look for Merchant's Lane on a heritage shop-house's first floor, above a souvenir store near ATC (Advance Tertiary College). There's a story to be told about what caused this cafe to be created - ask one of its three founders, Yong, Ken, or the other Ken, who harbours an intimate connection to this street, since his father has long been operating a separate business here.

Merchant's Lane KL
First Floor, 150, Jalan Petaling, Off Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur.
Currently open 12pm-8pm daily; will close for first three days of Raya.


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22 comments:

  1. Ahhhhh!!! I spot that old-school flask and tham phui (potty) and the enamel kong and the cups. Lovely!!! What's that - 'Hongkie Beef Stew'? Ooooo...it looks so good. Bet I would love it a lot!

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    1. Suituapui: i finished that entire plate of beef cos my companion can't eat beef ... and it was good! :)

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  2. Wow, I like this place! The food looks good too. Lovely!

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    1. CK: ya, i think you'd be able to take a lot of beautiful photos here! :)

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  3. Hmmm... as usual im attracted by the sunlight! :P

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    1. Rebecca: i'm interested to also see what this place would look like at night though! :)

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  4. I love the beautiful atmosphere here, Sean! The presentations are glorious!

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    1. Linda: it's all absolutely gorgeous indeed! :)

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  5. From your first photo... i thought you were in Europe! Thanks to that guai lou haha!

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    1. Ken: we were both there in the right place at the right time :)

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  6. Wow! Both the ''South China Sea' and the 'Eat Die Me' looks scrumptious...their beverages sounds interesting too =)

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    1. Ulric: i think Eat Die Me could still be tweaked a bit - the sausages were a bit too salty for my liking, the eggs weren't runny, and the overall dish was a bit on the dry side - but that's just me nitpicking, cos overall it was still worth trying ... just that it looked better than it tasted ... on the other hand, the other two dishes were scrumptious! :D

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    2. Yep...the 'South China Sea' is a priority target for me =)

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    3. Ulric: heheh, that's my favourite here so far :)

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  7. The exterior is old-school alright but the inside looks a bit new-school....especially the new white doors! ;D

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    1. Contact.ewew: i think they're trying to blend the old and the new here ... and i think they do it quite well! :)

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  8. The beef stew looks like something braised with fermented beanc curd 'fu yu' from its colour appearance~

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    1. Choi Yen: ooo, i wonder if that might be because of how my camera processed the image :)

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  9. OMG I'm drooling at the Eat Die Me breakfast! What a funny name! Haha

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    1. Iamthewitch: haha, ya, there's a fun sense of humour here to complement the fine-looking food! :)

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  10. The Hongkie Beef Stew I today went there is absolutely not the same as your pic. It was Black in Color plus the sauce is heavy black pepper taste.

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  11. The ambiance is nice.....as for the food....the hongkie beef stew is good...right texture etc, pipit's nest is good. Pesto green curry pasta was overcooked....asked for rectification...and it was returned with just slightly undercooked pasta :( South China Sea was a disappointment, the two slices of salmon were so thinly sliced and it was too dry (too long on the grill). It should've been one thicker steak (rather than two). Better than sex was a bit too sweet for our taste. The cafe manager/owner didn't seem to take pride in their food as no one bothered to come to check if the rectified pasta was ok. And it was not a busy time.

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