Tucked away in the cultural bazaar Central Market is Precious Old China, sister restaurant to the renowned Old China Cafe. Sporting a slightly grander interior than the Chinatown outlet, the restaurant maintains the same hospitality and menu, but keeps it pork-free to entice more visitors, especially the Muslim crowd (Malaysia is an Islamic country).
Situated in the mezzanine floor, the restaurant is right before the food court, so you can’t miss it after you’ve climbed the stairs at the main entrance. Expansive and filled with art and antique pieces such as 19th century Shanxi medicine cabinets and paintings of the Chinese opera singers, the ambiance is easy-going, yet full of charm. The restaurant is divided into three sections – a bar, and two separate dining areas.
Specializing in Peranakan dishes, the cafe serves stellar choices of savoury, spicy dishes. Service is quick and friendly, with the manager recommending items on the menu. We tried a serving of the famous jiu hu char as starters – at RM10.80, the plate comes with generous portions of butterhead lettuce, a mixture of shredded cuttlefish, turnip, carrot, onion, mushroom and minced chicken, as well as sambal belacan. We thoroughly enjoyed this– the chewy texture complemented the crunchy lettuce leaves perfectly.
As for the mains, we chose the fish head curry, pucuk paku belacan and lady’s finger belacan as companions to our blue-tinged coconut rice. The curry is thick and full of spices, and the lady’s finger is infused with ingredients such as chilli, onion, lime leaves, ginger flower, dried shrimp and lime juice, exuding a mouth-watering aroma. If you’re coming with a big party, the restaurant also offers a set menu, ranging from RM15 to RM80 and comes with starter, mains, dessert and a welcome drink.
We decided to end our afternoon with desserts, and our choice was the sago gula Melaka, the quintessential Malaysian dessert. The gula Melaka is a dark thick sugar poured onto the tapioca (sago) pudding; it was not overly-sweet which was perfect. What we like about Precious Old China is that they got everything right – from the ambiance, food and also the affordable prices. We even like the handy little buzzer at each table for the bill and waiter.
Central Market is one of the places to hit if you’re shopping for cultural souvenirs or just one-of-a-kind trinkets. To reach the market, disembark from Pasar Seni LRT and it should be right opposite the train station.
Precious Old China
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
- Address: Lot M2, Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +6 03 2273 7372