Fancy a place where you can sip locally inspired drinks besieged by the green of Kuala Lumpur’s own Bukit Nanas? Perhaps a place that allows you to taste the melange of Malaysian flavors: Indian, Malay and some foreign touches, all in one location? Search no more, Manja at Old Malaya KL is your next dining destination. This little gem is tucked away along Lorong Raja Chulan, a two-storey space with corners galore to explore, including an intimate glass-ceiling lounge upstairs where customers bask beneath the lights of the KL Tower.
The restaurant ranks the most interesting new eateries, Asian, western and anything in between – injecting fresh vitality into the city centre. The place definitely speaks for what it’s named for, Manja (to pamper or spoil), isn’t that the best thing ever? True to their motto “Let us Manja you”, they literally meant it and you sure would not mind being “Manja-kan” & “Manja-fied” here!
KL expat Malaysia had shared allegiance to one of the best restaurants that makes this country great. Having the opportunity to immerse ourselves to the old-world colonial luxury experience at MANJA KL. The restaurant in true colonial-era food started with a fantasy of serving the best Fusion Cuisine around Malaysia. But don’t let the word Colonial throw you off: You won’t see waiters strolling around in tricornered hats or taking orders with a quill. If you weren’t any the wiser, you could be at yet another small-plates spot. There’s a great view to one of KL’s must see tourist spot, al fresco dining, an outdoor seating area and other modern restaurant joys like brunch and cocktails. Pampering the guests with unique fare that lures inspiration from Malaysia & beyond, combines contrasting culinary traditions & techniques into making each dish unique and memorable.
Manja KL is a labour of love by professionals who clearly take pride in their work, from founder Navin Karu (proprietor of TTDI’s popular Vin’s restaurant) to Chef Yuvan to front-of-house leaders Ian Valentine, Chef Max, and Manager Eshwari, the international teamwork embody all that’s good about the restaurant’s dining scene. Vibrant, international, passionate – but most of all, fun. Fun in an irreverent sense, mixing and matching ingredients and cuisines with a marking move. Inspiration comes from working, and ideas flow when you are already creating it together. The team strives to ensure from the start that guests enjoy their experience in Manja’s lavish setting.
Malaysian Fusion Food done right with modern twists, British inspired, and a touch of Indian & Jamaican influence. We spent 3 hours here on a recent weeknight and would happily have lingered even longer. Enough said, we loved the ambience of the place. Outstanding service. Divine flavour pairing. Tasty, elegantly served food. Nevertheless, every dish is healthy – you’ll never feel bad for indulging. We were marvelled by the starters, taken aback by the dazzling selection of local fruit cocktails, and fallen in love by the freshness of the ingredients. Dining at Manja KL is like reliving the culture of South East Asia and Europe altogether. Incredible thanks to Eshwari (the restaurant manager), she made the whole experience fun and exciting. What a great host, very articulate in her explanation of each dish’s flavours and ingredients.
Manja at Old Melaya has something for everyone. If you are about embracing the fresh air in a colonial like terrace bar, then you can start with a cocktail outside. For family dinner, you can settle in the welcoming area indoor dining room, decorated with uncovered brick and burgundy walls, paired with the pleasant demeanour of the staff, it is most inviting.
Perhaps, you have brought a bunch of friends and prefer a space with more character and energy. Walk upstairs and turn left for the covered terrace with a view of the KL tower where smokers are welcome. You may also turn right to enter the formal bar with high stools and more of an artsy pub feel curated with angular mirrors and hanging metallic art.
And turning to a little imbibement, Manja is dedicated to using local flavours to brew its exclusive cocktails. Manja KL won’t fail a wide array of interests. Once we got settled in, we were offered a couple of cocktails to start with:
Dawn of the Dragon: A cocktail built on a hibicus infused gin, sweetened with Manja rose syrup, fortified with egg white for creaminess and garnished with a slice of dragonfruit. This was such a refreshing start on one of KL’s normally humid days.
El Guapo: A decadent concoction of local flavour: Eldurado 12 and a drop of Manja made falernum liqueur brings a delicious flavour to the table, while a drop of chocolate bitter balance sweet and savoury resulting in a concoction that is just what the doctor ordered.
Palm Rum: Dark Caribbean rum with a splash of Aperol and Manja made grapefruit bitter, gula Melaka, sharp lime juice and a float of green apple foam, which gives the perfect balance of three flavours (sweet, sour & bitter).
Manja’s menu is a unique ensemble of original dishes that rise above borders & boundaries, layering familiar Malaysian flavours & textures with influences from across the globe, from the sushi joints of Japan to the tapas bars of Spain, the soul food shops of New Orleans to the osterias of Tuscany. Start with small plates for sharing the following:
Borneo Coconut Tuna (Sashimi grade cubes of line caught yellow fin tuna, atop a grated coconut tartar showcasing local flavours of Kafir lime, crushed cashews and served with handmade plaintain chips).
Crab Bunga Cake (Handpicked flower crab meat folded though with garlic aioli, silky guacamole accompanied with smoked cod liver raisin mousse and drizzles of aged balsamic with tomato confit).
Ten Cha Fish with Lobster Butter Soba (Grilled seasonal catch in a ginger palm marination, with a ten cha green tea glaze accompanied by organic soba cooked in house-made lobster butter sauce, with juicy morsels of river lobster meat topped with sturgeon caviar.)
Manja Old Malaya Kuala Lumpur
6, Lorong Raja Chulan
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6012-373 7063
Monday-Thursday & Sunday – 12PM – 12AM
Friday & Saturday – 12PM – 1AM