Famed for being not only Malaysia’s capital but also its cultural and economic hub, the always lively and never dull metropolis of Kuala Lumpur has burgeoned into one of the region’s most exciting centres for the arts and creativity.
As is the case with many urban centres around the globe, the urbanisation of Malaysia’s largest city saw people from a variety of different places flocking to Kuala Lumpur. The result is a city that was quickly transformed into a true melting pot of cultures; one that has been influenced by the various communities from all over the continent.
Though the Malaysian capital certainly has its fair share of culturally significant districts, each with a wholly unique and fascinating flavour, there is arguably no other neighbourhood that reflects the city’s artsy character and diverse history more so than Jalan Kamunting.
What was once the main settlement for the tin mining community of Malaysia’s colonial era, the historic neighbourhood has since blossomed into a vibrant and singularly creative district of the Malaysian capital. The main attraction for visitors to this colourful section of Kuala Lumpur is without a doubt, The Row (above).
Formally referred to as the Asian Heritage Row and once the epicentre of the city’s nighttime party scene, this section of Jalan Kamunting has recently been revitalized and now boasts over twenty 1940s-style shopfronts, housing a wide range of establishments and must-see attractions. Excellent restaurants, a glittering nightlife scene, charming cafes, world-class art galleries and a host of other creative businesses all line The Row, giving this special suburb its distinctively creative flair.
Enjoy bespoke accommodation
With such an eclectic and vibrant energy, it’s unsurprising that the neighbourhood features equally unique and inspired accommodation options. One such hotel is the recently launched Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur, operated by the prestigious YTL Hotels and part of the group’s exclusive selection of Autograph Collection Hotels.
Having opened its doors in February 2017, Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur is an establishment that perfectly represents the fascinating and diverse atmosphere of its location. Inspired by the history and magnetic pulse of Jalan Kamunting, the hotel features a distinctive energy that, like the neighbourhood in which it’s situated, seamlessly blends the old with the new and sophistication with an adventurous edge.
Ideally located close to the best that the city has to offer, Hotel Stripes includes 184 bespoke guest rooms and suites, each showcasing an astonishing fusion of modern design and urban chic, eloquently conveying to its guests the unique history and character of this most significant of Kuala Lumpur neighbourhoods.
Taste the unique and historic flavours
Considering that this section of Kuala Lumpur has long been a hotbed of cultural diversity, it’s no surprise that Jalan Kamunting offers visitors some unforgettable dining experiences.
Though it’s location in Jalan Kamunting is relatively new, Yut Kee, a coffee shop that’s been in business since 1928, is one such venue providing patrons with unparalleled delicacies. Famed for their dishes displaying a delectable fusion of Hainanese and Western cuisines, Yut Kee is, almost 90 years later, still a family-run business, currently being manned by the grandson of the original owner.
Diners at Yut Kee are in for a treat and can expect a delicious array of street food and authentic local cuisine. In addition to the tasty food, the locally sourced, dark roasted coffee is a must-try item off the menu, giving patrons a rich, heady experience.
Another eatery worth adding to any Jalan Kamunting itinerary would have to be Sin Hua Bee Bakery. This 60-year-old establishment is renowned for its freshly baked traditional Chinese wedding biscuits and is an ideal spot for some afternoon tea… accompanied by some of their baked treats of course!
Though at first glance this family-run business may appear somewhat unassuming, it’s all but guaranteed that any time spent in this bakery, which boasts a truly nostalgic atmosphere, will certainly be remembered as a major highlight of any Kuala Lumpur adventure.
Experience the culture, art and history
Besides all the yummy food you can find in the area, Jalan Kamunting features some of Kuala Lumpur’s best art galleries, boasting some of the most impressive modern and contemporary artworks in all of Malaysia. A host of firmly established galleries commingle artfully with some exciting pop-up multifunctional art spaces, giving the neighbourhood its distinctly artsy flavour.
In addition to its thriving art scene, Jalan Kamunting is also famous for Jalan Tar. Officially known as Jalan Tuanka Abdul Rahman, this shopping mecca is a textile haven, which really comes to life later in the day. Characterised by the colourful canopies that the shop owners pitch as a way to attract and welcome shoppers, Jalan Tar has retained much of its original look and feel, with many of the shops still proudly displaying their distinctive facades.
For out-of-towners, it’s recommended to visit the shopping destination on Saturdays as this is the day the road is closed to traffic and morphs from a vehicular roadway into a bustling pedestrian market, crammed with animated hawkers and vendors selling their tantalizing range of various foods and goods, creating an unmistakably Malaysian and undeniably infectious local atmosphere.
A second attraction that should be included in any visit to the area would have to be Loke Mansion (above). Constructed by the famous Loke Yew, a self-made tycoon of Cantonese descent, this late 19th-century residence boasts impressive architecture and was built using opulent chengal timber and ceramic tiles imported from China. The stunning white mansion acts as a historic symbol of the region’s timeless beauty, incorporating a number of different architectural and design styles and elements.
Though today the mansion is being leased by a law firm, visitors can marvel at the facade at any time and may access the legendary building’s interior by appointment.
– TEXT BY SAUL LIPCHIK
PHOTOS: SUPPLIED, THE ROW FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, 123RF.COM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.