Old China Cafe, a hideout that exists somewhere in between the past and present, is a breath of fresh air
Tucked away amongst loud street vendors and tourists in Jalan Balai Polis, a stone’s throw from Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, is something of a national treasure. Old China Cafe, a pre-war shop house turned restaurant is a hidden gem which lies surprising untouched from the raging construction that has consumed much of Petaling Street’s surrounding neighbourhoods. As I walked through their wooden doors, I was pleasantly surprised. Antique trinkets adorned chipped wooden shelves, old black and white photographs graced the walls; it was a bit like a museum, but far more personal, almost like walking into your great grandmother’s dining room.
The restaurant, which opened in 1997, is rich in history and tradition – as owner and manager – Leonard Tee will tell you: “In the 1920s, this place served as the guild hall of the Selangor and Federal Territory Laundry Association, and turned into an antique shop in 1996, before we converted it to a restaurant a year after”. Since opening its doors, Old China Cafe has delighted customers with its fusion Baba Nyonya cuisine which blend fresh spices and local ingredients with Chinese cooking techniques. Local favourites Nasi Lemak, served with blue rice and spiced chicken was an obvious standout, while the Beef Rendang, succently cooked, was marinated with swirling cavalcade of exotic flavours. If you’re looking for a history lesson with fanciable servings of local cuisine, take a seat at one of Old China’s vintage tables – you will not leave disappointed.