John Brunton on Omakase+Appreciate, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


John Brunton, The Guardian, February 25, 2015

I thought I knew all the watering holes in my adopted home of Kuala Lumpur. That was until my friend Evelyn Hii said, with a wicked smile, she was taking me somewhere I’d never find alone. Evelyn is a dangerous person to go out drinking with, and her own jazz club, No Black Tie, is one of those Bermuda Triangle bars I always seem to tumble out of at 4am.

We parked in the depths of an anonymous office block in the city centre, got out of the lift in the basement in sweltering humidity, and tentatively pushed open a forbidding door with a“no entry” sign in every language from English to Malay and Tamil.

What must once have been a storeroom has been converted into a tiny ice-cool speakeasy bar, with dim lighting, designer bar stools, eclectic music and two talented mixologists behind the bar. Omakase in Japanese roughly translates as “leave it to you”, and it is certainly best to let the talented young owners, Karl Too and Shawn Chong, shake up their own creations, though they are always willing to make classics like a gibson, sidecar or cosmopolitan.

The drinks menu changes each month, with exotic recipes like “from the Malaya barrel” which mixes Nikka whisky and Frangelico with coconut, pandan and lemon, or “oriental pearl”, a fragrant combination of Tanqueray gin, lychee purée, elderflower cordial and jasmine tea. This is the kind of bar I instantly feel at home in, and the only danger is that as Karl and Shawn keep suggesting different concoctions, it is far too easy to lose track of time.
Lower Ground, Bangunan Ming Annexe, 9 Jalan Ampang,

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