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Neighbourhood guide: Where to find good food in Ampang

Ampang is a charming neighbourhood with a good balance of nature reserves, 70s art deco houses and a modern cityscape. In fact, its location is rather unique – half in Selangor (where all the old-school nostalgic lifestyle takes place) and the other half in Kuala Lumpur (where the latest urban developments are taking place).

With a mix of old and new, Ampang is quite the food haven in its own right. Many restaurants thrived when the town was booming in the seventies and eighties. A few decades after, these restaurants – most of which have been taken over by the next generation — continue to offer some of the most authentic food in town. Some also take pride over family secret recipes passed down through generations.

Ampang is not just about yong tau foo. Some traditional Chinese restaurants including Soo Kee Restaurant and Ampang Loke Yun Chicken Rice — have been around for over 40 years — are still being patronised by locals.

But what else is there in Ampang? Many still don’t see this neighbourhood as a haven for foodies, much like Bangsar or Damansara Heights with its breadth of cafes and restaurants. But tucked within the inner roads of Ampang are hidden gems worth exploring – from the quaint neighbourhood of Ampang Jaya and Taman Cahaya to the new stretch of restaurants along Persiaran Ampang.

Multigenerational Family Restaurants
Kim Kee Nasi Ayam Hailam

If you’ve been looking for halal Hainanese chicken rice, your search ends here. Loyal patrons, some even grew up eating at Kim Kee Nasi Ayam Hailam, rave about its authentic Hainanese chicken rice. What’s the real deal? Smooth and tender chicken meat (a choice of poached or roasted) served with fragrant buttered rice and condiments that tie the flavours together. The restaurant, located behind Ampang Puteri Hospital, also serves Hainanese chicken chop if you don’t fancy eating rice.

New Heong Kee Restaurant

Many may not be aware of its existence along MRR2 highway (near the National Zoo) despite being there for over 50 years but New Heong Kee Restaurant is actually a hidden gem in Ampang. Local folks will recommend the famous Beggar’s Chicken – something that is not easily found in KL these days.

Cracking open the baked clay.

The bird is stuffed with herbs and carefully wrapped with waxed paper, covered with clay and shove in a burning charcoal pit for eight hours. When served, simply tear open the paper and enjoy the layers of aromatics wafting through the dining table. Another exciting dish is the ‘reconstructed’ fish – a whole fish, deboned and stuffed with fish paste. New Heong Kee’s rustic ambience is certainly something unique for a change of environment. (Image: Source)

Beggar’s Chicken.
Nong & Jimmy Thai Food

If you are around Ampang Point, make a detour to Nong & Jimmy which comes highly recommended for dinner – expect authentic Thai cuisine especially its barbecued offerings. Husband and wife, Nong and Jimmy have been known as Ampang’s BBQ specialists for over 20 years and take their seafood seriously. Be unapologetic about getting your hands on freshly grilled crabs, prawns, squid and other shellfish, served with its signature dipping sauce.

Nong & Jimmy take seafood and BBQ seriously -- so you know you're getting the real deal.
Nong & Jimmy take seafood and BBQ seriously -- so you know you're getting the real deal.
The signage is something you can not miss.
The signage is something you can not miss.

Order also their signature Thai fried rice, pandan chicken and Thai-style steamed fish or clams. Wash it all down with the quintessential mango sticky rice.

Coffee and Brunches
28 Fireplace

Two years into the business, 28 Fireplace is one of the earliest hippy cafés in Persiaran Ampang, which was previously known for the many watering holes in the area. It is a great place to spend your mornings with friends or just having a quiet time alone with a book, accompanied by coffee, an all-day brunch menu, and cakes (from mille crepes to burnt cheesecakes). This is also a pet-friendly cafe — resident cat, Saturday will also keep you entertained with its antics. Good news; there will be a brand new food menu that will be launched in December 2018.

The interiors of 28 Fireplace is quite Insta-worthy too.
The Garage KL

Don’t be deceived by the stacked containers. Hidden inside The Garage KL is a melting pot of culture, music and food – there is a quaint café, a barber as well as motorcycle shop. It is also an event space for gigs and jamming sessions. But during lunchtime, it is quite a nice place to hang out for good food, coffee and company. Order the gaffe nachos for sharing or any of the pasta dishes that are worth a thumbs-up. Here, you can get your kopi-fix the local way.

Gaffe Nachos.
Casual Dining
Kuroshio Market

You’ve probably have passed by Greenhouse by Muir many times when driving along Jalan Ampang. If you have the slightest intention to check the place out, there is a reason to do so now – fantastic Japanese food. Kuroshio Market is located on the ground floor of Greenhouse and its design mimics scenes from a typical Japanese fish market. Everything is made a la minute, so you’re assured freshness on items like sushi and sashimi, handrolls and other hot food items.

Minu

Also in Greenhouse is a contemporary dining space, Minu. Its minimalistic interiors set the tone for a quiet casual dining with diners who understand good etiquettes at the table. For starters, try its Tako Carpaccio, octopus ceviche served with a tangy salsa, and the Carbon Ebi Tempura, shrimp coated with charcoal batter. Continue with a main of Butter Yaki Scallop or the Unagi Fettucine.

Martin Teo
Editor
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.