KL is a bustling cosmopolitan city with scores of skyscrapers and other modern fixtures. However, a renaissance of vintage charm is unfolding in the heart of KL, with a myriad of retro-themed, vintage cafes that are redefining how people want to enjoy their weekend brunch.
Hidden gems nestled in the city’s vibrant pulse, these nostalgic cafes in Kuala Lumpur are an Instagrammers dream come true. Offering an eclectic mix of food and beverages in an atmosphere that is uniquely their own, they are the quintessential choice for leisurely brunches, special anniversaries, corporate gatherings, or a much-needed midday rendezvous with friends.
8 best vintage cafes in KL with old-school aesthetics for a one-of-a-kind experience
Vintage 88 Chinatown/ Vintage 1988
Stepping into Vintage 1988 on the historic Jalan Sultan is a bit like stepping back in time. More than just a vintage-themed cafe, this unique vintage cafe in KL also doubles as a vintage accessories shop, brimming with finds that evoke a sense of nostalgia. The decor is a tribute to the past, with an array of antique typewriters lending an old-world charm, raw brick walls echoing the rustic spirit of yesteryears, vintage pendant lights casting a warm and inviting glow, and classroom maps that transport you to a bygone era.
But it’s not just about the ambience. The menu at Vintage 1988 is a symphony of creativity and taste. One of their signature dishes is the beetroot bun burger. This isn’t your average burger – the buns are a striking shade of pink, a result of the ingenious use of beetroot in their making. The burger is a visual delight and a treat to the taste buds.
Beyond the beetroot bun burger, the menu continues to impress. The truffle fries are a crowd favourite, bringing together the earthy flavour of truffles with the comforting crunch of perfectly fried potatoes. For the vegan patrons, the crispy portobello mushrooms are a must-try. Fried to a perfect crisp, these vegan treats are a testament to the cafe’s commitment to cater to diverse dietary preferences.
No visit to Vintage 1988 would be complete without sampling their celebrated beverage menu. They offer a wide range of lattes, brewed coffees, and matcha drinks – each prepared with care and served with a side of vintage charm. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a tea enthusiast, you’ll find something to enjoy here.
Address: 34, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 11-5982 7882
Operating hours: 11 AM – 9 PM
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At first glance, Kafei Dian might be mistaken for a simple old wooden shack, nestled in the centre of the bustling streets of KL. However, this initial impression belies the reality of what this unique spot truly offers. Far from just an old shack, it is a spacious and welcoming kopitiam, more than capable of accommodating large groups of people.
The exterior of Kafei Dian, albeit modest, hides a different tale within its walls. As you step inside, you’ll find a comforting space that exudes a warm and inviting ambiance. Unlike traditional kopitiams where the tables are usually clustered close together, this cafe takes a different approach. Here, tables are generously spaced apart, providing patrons with an ample amount of personal space. This thoughtful arrangement ensures a relaxed and comfortable dining experience, allowing customers to enjoy their meals without feeling cramped or intruded upon.
Kafei Dian also offers an enticing menu that caters to a wide range of preferences. While they serve classic kopitiam staples like half-boiled eggs and steamed bread, they also have a selection of more hearty dishes for those looking for something more substantial. One of their standout dishes is the Stewed Ginger Duck with Rice, a delightful dish that is sure to satisfy your hunger. For those who fancy a bit of variety, Kafei Dian also offers all-day dim sum.
Address: 16, Jalan Panggong, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 11-1019 3159
Operating hours: 7.30 AM – 10 PM (Wednesdays to Mondays), 7.30 AM – 5.30 PM (Tuesdays)
Luckbros Kopi, located on Jalan Panggong, is a delightful blend of tradition and modernity. Representing a contemporary take on a traditional kopitiam, or local coffee shop, the vintage cafe is a gastronomic haven for those seeking to enjoy classic dishes with a modern twist in KL.
The culinary offerings at Luckbros Kopi are varied and exciting. The menu features traditional favourites such as Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, served with fried chicken. This dish is an iconic representation of Malaysian cuisine, and at Luckbros Kopi, it’s given an extra touch of culinary magic.
Another popular item on the menu is the old-fashioned toast sets, a nostalgic nod to simpler times. Other must-try dishes at Luckbros Kopi are their the Mee Sedap and their distinctive Salted Egg Chicken Rice. This dish combines the hearty comfort of chicken rice with the unique flavour profile of salted egg, creating a gastronomic experience that’s both familiar and excitingly different.
Address: 14, Jalan Panggong, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Contact: +60 12-610 8856
Operating hours: 10 AM – 12 AM (weekdays), 9 AM – 12 AM (weekends)
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Despite its hidden location and the absence of conspicuous signage, Chocha Foodstore has failed to escape the keen eyes of Malaysian food connoisseurs. This hidden gem, situated within a humble shop lot in Chinatown, has quickly become a popular spot for fusion dining.
As you venture through its entrance, you are instantly transported to a time reminiscent of a bygone era. Chocha Foodstore exudes an enchanting, old-world charm that is immediately palpable. The interior is adorned with mini square tiles on the floor, and the walls, worn by time, add to the nostalgic charm. A charming array of potted mandarin trees further enhances the vintage appeal of this distinctive space.
The cafe’s ambiance is further accentuated by an assortment of vintage furniture, adding a layer of authenticity to its nostalgic theme. Alongside this, a plethora of green plants are thoughtfully placed in every corner of the place. This thoughtful decor creates a serene environment that encourages visitors to sit back, relax, and enjoy a soothing cup of tea.
Their menu, a delightful fusion of Eastern and Western culinary influences, is a testament to their creative versatility. Some of their standout dishes include the Cincalok Marinated Fried Chicken, served with a side of invigorating pineapple salsa for a refreshing twist. Another popular choice is their Chinese Pesto Flat Noodles, a unique dish that showcases their innovative approach to fusion cuisine.
Address: 156, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 3-2022 1100
Operating hours: 5 PM – 12 AM (Mondays to Thursdays), 12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 12 AM (Fridays to Sundays)
Old China Cafe
Old China Cafe, a well-known establishment, is equally recognised for its delightful Chinese and Southeast Asian culinary offerings, as well as its unique ambiance. The cafe’s menu features a variety of dishes, particularly those of Peranakan origin, a cuisine that is a fusion of Straits-born Chinese culinary traditions. The food at this cafe is a gastronomic journey that brings together diverse flavours and ingredients, resulting in a dining experience that is both memorable and satisfying.
Adding to the charm of the establishment is its vintage decor, conjuring an atmosphere that is reminiscent of scenes from a Hong Kong film. The cafe is adorned with antique furnishings and nostalgic artifacts, creating an ambiance that transports patrons back in time. This unique aesthetic is not only visually appealing but also enhances the overall dining experience, making every visit to Old China Cafe a delightful journey through time and taste.
Address: 11, Jalan Balai Polis, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 3-2072 5915
Operating hours: 11 AM – 10 PM
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Timothy Cafe, nestled in the heart of KL’s bustling Chinatown district, is a vintage cafe where the diverse flavours of Western and Malaysian cuisine meet. This unique dining destination is set within a charmingly renovated traditional coffee shop, providing a distinct blend of old and new.
For diners visiting Timothy Cafe, the experience is about more than just the food – it’s about the ambiance, too. The cafe is designed in such a way that guests can enjoy their meals while taking in the view of a picturesque courtyard pool. The serene sight of the pool, combined with the cooling breeze, provides an ideal setting for a leisurely meal or a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The menu is another highlight of Timothy Cafe. Regular patrons can look forward to a variety of enticing fusion dishes that masterfully combine different culinary traditions. Some of these dishes include Spaghetti with Salted Egg Chicken, a delightful melding of Italian and Malaysian flavours. The Nasi Ulam is another must-try – a traditional Malay dish made of steamed rice mixed with various herbs.
For those who prefer poultry, the Rainbow Ayam Percik, a spiced and roasted chicken dish, is a crowd favourite. The cafe also offers an assortment of pies for those with a craving for something more Western. And, of course, no visit to Timothy Cafe would be complete without trying their signature dish – the Burnt Cheesecake.
Address: 24, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 11-3992 8716
Operating hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Merchant’s Lane is another prominent vintage cafe that has earned its reputation in the bustling street of Jalan Petaling in KL, renowned for its masterfully made teas and coffees. It’s not just the beverages that make this cafe a favourite among locals and tourists alike, but also its innovative approach to food. The fusion cuisine and desserts offered here are a testament to their culinary creativity, combining varying culinary traditions to produce delectable dishes that delight the senses.
The interior of Merchant’s Lane is a sight to behold. It is a beautifully curated space that mirrors the thoughtfulness put into each dish and drink. The cafe is adorned with custom-made rattan furniture, adding an element of rustic charm to the overall aesthetic.
Further enhancing the ambiance are the lush houseplants scattered throughout the cafe, creating a calming and refreshing atmosphere. The walls, textured and carefully maintained, add character and depth to the space, while an assortment of charming trinkets and knick-knacks, each with its own story, lends a vintage touch to the cafe.
The menu at Merchant’s Lane is as enticing as its ambiance. Among the standout dishes that patrons swear by is the hearty English Breakfast, a beloved classic done right. Then there’s the Butter Chicken Pasta, a decadently creamy dish that’s a brilliant fusion of Italian and Indian flavours. For seafood lovers, the perfectly Grilled Salmon is a must-try, cooked just right to retain its natural flavours. Their Aussie Beef Burger is another crowd favourite, satisfying and filling, making it a perfect meal on its own.
Address: 150, Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: +60 3-2022 1736
Operating hours: 11.30 AM – 9.30 PM (Tuesdays to Fridays, closed on Mondays), 9.30 AM – 9.30 PM (weekends)
Lim Kee Cafe
Tucked away within the confines of the Tian Jing Hotel, situated in the bustling heart of Chinatown, lies the quaint and charming Lim Kee Cafe. This vintage cafe in KL, with its unassuming presence, effortlessly merges with the hotel’s distinct traditional oriental architecture, creating a harmonious blend that is both visually pleasing and culturally significant.
Lim Kee Cafe’s menu, although simple, is immensely satisfying, offering a delightful array of classic kopitiam food items. Their offerings start with a simple yet delicious toast smeared with kaya, a unique jam concocted from coconut milk, giving it a rich and creamy texture that pairs perfectly with the crisp toast.
Their soft-boiled eggs, cooked to perfection, provide a savoury balance to the sweet Kaya Toast, making for a well-rounded meal. Adding to the variety on their menu are Vegetable Dumplings, a delicate parcel of flavourful veggies encased in a thin and soft wrapper.
For those with a sweet tooth, Lim Kee Cafe doesn’t disappoint. Their range of freshly baked pastries and cakes are a treat to the senses, filling the cafe with an inviting aroma that’s hard to resist. Each pastry and cake is crafted with care, resulting in a dessert that’s as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.
The cafe also takes pride in its coffee, freshly brewed and aromatic, providing the perfect pick-me-up at any time of the day. And for a taste of local tradition, they serve savoury kuih, bite-sized cakes that are a staple in Malaysian cuisine.
Address: 66-68, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Operating hours: 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM (Mondays to Fridays, closed on Tuesdays), 9.30 AM – 5.30 PM (weekends)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– What nation is known for quirky cafes?
While there are a number of quirky cafes all around the globe, Japan is known for its famed themed cafes. From animals and cuddles to maids, there’s a long list of rather unusual themed cafes in Japan.
– Where was the world’s first cafe opened?
According to Britannica, the first cafe is said to have opened in 1550 in Constantinople; during the 17th century cafés opened in Italy, France, Germany, and England.
– What do cafes usually sell?
Coffeeshops or cafes usually serve a diverse food menu, including but not limited to sandwiches, salads, and pastries. They also offer an array of hot and cold beverages, such as coffee, tea, and sometimes even alcoholic drinks, depending on the location and the specific cafe.
(Hero and feature images credit: Instagram/ @timothy_highstreet)
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