Coliseum Café in Kuala Lumpur

Colonial-style cafe in KL

Coliseum Café is a veritable institution on Kuala Lumpur’s food scene. It has been around since 1921 and the place is legendary not only for its Hainanese chicken but also the friendly, unpretentious and charming atmosphere that brings in after-work regulars on weekdays, families on weekends and lots of tourists besides.

It used to be a favourite hangout of the British colonials who wanted to get real Western food, but today it is the place locals come to for enormous sizzling steaks and cheap beer (RM10 for a mug). Upstairs is an atmospheric hotel that has been around for as long as the café: it has 10 spacious, colonial-style rooms that have antique fittings.

Coliseum Café KL’s décor is pretty basic with worn tile floors and lots of well-aged, dark wood trimmings that make it look very much like it has come straight out from a Somerset Maugham short story. The café’s front doors (its original wooden swing doors) lead you into a bar area that resembles an old western saloon. The barman is dressed in a crisp white shirt with a bowtie and there are high-back brown leather chairs, small wooden tables and lots of black-and-white photos on the walls.

Just beside the bar is a set of wooden screen doors that lead into the main dining area: the setup here is simple too with white tablecloth-covered tables, old ceiling fans and coat racks on the walls. Double-doors with stained glass windows provide plenty of privacy while you eat.

 

While we were waiting for our table to be ready, we sat at the bar had a couple of drinks and ordered one of the café’s signature snacks – the inche kabin (Nyonya-style deep-fried chicken). Crispy on the outside yet tender and juicy on the inside, it goes extremely well with an ice-cold beer.

The restaurant serves Hainanese-western dishes such as sizzling steaks, Hainanese chicken chop and fish & chips as well as local Chinese food such as egg foo yong. We started out with oxtail soup: freshly brewed, it has lots of meat, a thick consistency and a lemony, peppery taste: paired with butter and cheese toast, this soup is the perfect starter.

For mains the Hainanese chicken chop comes highly recommended – the chicken is covered in a salt-and-pepper batter, deep fried to crispy perfection and covered in a sweet and tangy sauce made of tomato sauce, peas, onions and mushrooms. It even smelt delicious with a faint cinnamon, star anise and clove scent. Another must-try is the rib-eye steak served on a sizzling hot plate. The meat is tender and drizzled with a rich, peppery brown sauce.

The café has a variety of desserts available but the cream caramel is a favourite: the texture of the custard is soft and smooth and the caramel sauce has a rich, sweet and smoky taste to it.

Coliseum Cafe

Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 Monday – Friday; 09:00 – 22:00 Saturday & Sunday
Address: 98-100 & 102 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL
Tel: +603 2692 6270

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