You’re probably familiar with the resurrection of Petaling Street – also known as Chinatown – in KL. Bars and cafes mushroomed in the colonial buildings that once housed unspeakable activities, every one of them taking on the retro look that Petaling Street is so famous for. In fact, it was here that the first vintage Chinese hidden bar opened in 2016, sparking a nationwide trend.
However, one new restaurant in the vicinity has decided to not join the retro bandwagon – Wildflowers KL. Helmed by the same people who brought you Petaling Street’s first Instagrammable cafe – Merchant’s Lane – co-founder Kenneth Tan wants the restaurant to be a contrast to the other dining outlets in the area that prefer to focus on vintage vibes and the heritage of Petaling Street.
The formula to a popular dining outlet lies in an abundance of natural light. Merchant’s Lane did well with this, hence it wasn’t surprising that the design of Wildflowers also ensured that plenty of natural light can be found in the dining area.
The restaurant has two floors: the ground floor is the bar area, while the upper floor is the dining area. The skylight is the main source of natural light for Wildflowers KL — patrons will be treated to the best sort of lighting to photograph their dishes with. True to the restaurant’s name, plants also fill the space — another formula for success with the social media crowd.
However, its vibe completely changes while the sun is down. A play on neon ambient lighting brings the restaurant to life, giving it a modern and swanky look perfect for the nighttime. It’s no wonder Wildflowers decided to go the contemporary way in Petaling Street.
Tan thinks of Wildflowers KL as an evolved version of his first cafe. “It’s more polished and refined, but we’re not trying to be a fine dining restaurant,” he explains.
The menu still remains a fusion of foods of the world — it’s particularly evident when you see items such as beef bourguignon with yee mee, kra pao with rib eye beef wrapped in a tortilla, and more. One thing’s for sure, there is definitely at least one Southeast Asian influence in each menu section, paying homage to our rich gastronomical roots.
We start off our review with some small plates: Assam Unagi (RM32) and Salmon Sashimi. The former is a play on the typical Japanese-style unagi nigiri sushi, but Wildflowers has given it a local touch with flavours akin to our assam laksa with toppings of torch ginger flower, shallots, and pickled cucumber. Meanwhile, the Salmon Sashimi (RM34) is anything but. Plain pieces of salmon sashimi have been given a creamy and spicy flavour thanks to the green Thai sauce and coconut milk. It whets the appetite, making for a good starter that won’t overwhelm the main course.
Onwards to the mains, we sampled a standard protein dish: Double Chicken Whole Leg (RM38) dressed in house red sauce. Its curry-like gravy is rich with spices, tempting you to have the chicken with a side of rice. If you’re trying to cut down on carbs, then you’re in luck – the dish comes with a side of salad, curbing any carby desires.
But if you must have your daily dose of carbs, we recommend going for the Creamy Sichuan Chicken with Fettucine (RM29). As we mentioned earlier, Wildflowers’ enjoys making fusions of foods from around the world. This dish is a perfect example of it, fusing a quintessentially creamy Italian pasta with the spice of Sichuan peppercorns and the crispy juiciness of karaage (Japanese-styled deep-fried chicken). The mala adds a nice spicy kick to the dish but the creaminess of the pasta offsets too much tongue-numbing spiciness, giving it great balance. The chicken is done karaage-style, adding a nice juicy touch to the pasta dish.
While Wildflowers operates as a resto-bar, it does not branding itselves as a cocktail bar. That said, there’s a small but solid selection of cocktails designed by Angel Ng, previously from PS150 (however, she’s not part of the bar team at Wildflowers). Don’t expect any strong and bitter cocktails here though – Tan says that most of the drinks are light aperitifs, designed to be consumed during your meal. If you’re in the mood for something low ABV and absolutely refreshing, we say go for the Mugunghwa (RM34), a Korean-inspired drink made with soju, elderflower, and lemonade soda. It’s mildly sweet with a refreshing elderflower taste, while the floral taste of soju complements its flavours without being overpowering.
For something sweet, fruity, and incredible depth of flavour, try the Jungle Jack Sparrow (RM40), a tropical drink that starts off bitter, later developing into a sweeter profile and ending on a pandan note. It’s the drink that keeps on giving, providing you with endless enjoyment of flavours.
True to its intention, Wildflowers has successfully debuted itself as the contemporary restaurant that Petaling Street never knew it needed. It’s the perfect place for having a proper meal – not brunch food and toast – after soaking in the Petaling Street culture. Though purists might not agree with the fusion dishes of Wildflowers, we thoroughly welcome it. After all, how better to illustrate the melting pot of cultures that can be found in the neighbourhood?