Monday, July 28, 2008

Coliseum Cafe, KL - Funny quotes and Historical!

I have really cool friends, just a couple days ago they found out I had never set foot in what is probably The Culinary Institution of Kuala Lumpur, and they insisted that we went to try it out!

I heard so many stories along the car journey there about how their parents used to have their dates there, as well as how the waiters and their uniforms had not changed over the years! As for the food ... there was only going to be one choice, the Hainanese chicken chop.
I was actually simply hoping that it'd be a more memorable experience then the rather poor food at Yut Kee along Jalan Dang Wangi , the 'other' institution!

Add: 98 – 100, Jalan Tuanku Abd Rahman, KL
Located: Along Jalan Tuanku Abd Rahman on the left after the Swiss Hotel. Very close to Kamdar and Sogo mall.
Tel: +603 2692 6270
Opening hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm

GPS Coordinates: N3 09.200 E101 41.783
(Thanks to, I still don't have a GPS to verify!)
Ps. Perhaps ML, CCY or H can verify for me! They've got fancy GPS devices and brand new Nokias after all, hmm ...

The menu and the waiters with their protocol of insisting that drink orders be taken by someone else (the food orders were taken by another waiter) say it all about the place ... 1921. 87 years old, and dates back to the first World War! Wow... I guess, "Hey, why change!".

I was reminded that the table cloths here had probably NEVER been changed over the years, haha ... As well as the waiters' uniforms! Nice rustic charm I reckon :-)

What's the difference? Well it certainly tastes different!
On the left ... Fresh mixed shandy (RM$7), and on the right Lager Lime (RM$7).
Cool quote ... Tommy Ang (Our waiter, "Don't call me uncle!") told us, when we asked him how the 2 drinks were different, "I don't know. I don't drink".

Other drinks we enjoyed included Tiger Draught (RM$7.69), Ginger Ale (RM$3.80), Guava juice (RM$4.50) and Lychee juice (RM$4.90).

We were so hungry ... we had to have starters... Garlic toast (RM$2.99 each), Toast and Butter (RM$2.20).

Fresh ox-tail soup (RM$7.90 - Yummmmy!), Tomato soup (RM$5.30 - Really delicious! So simple, but fabulous). ML chose the mushroom soup (RM$5.30) which isn't pictured here.

I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the place, and all its traditional colonial charm, thanks to ML for taking the other pics!

Chinese fried spaghetti (RM$15.90) - Tasted a little like yee-mee, and was hardly spectacular.

Another cool quote ... Tommy Ang told us, when ML asked him what was the difference between the sizzling and non-sizzling steaks, "I don't know, I don't eat beef!". Hmm, I think we have a trend here. We never asked him about the other dishes!!
Grilled Tenderloin (We had 2 plates - One medium, and one medium-well) (RM$37.90) - No complaints, but looked a little ... pink!

Sizzling chicken chop with Mushroom sauce (RM$22.90) - L finished it rather quick, must have been good?

Love the old school cutlery and serving dishes ... The porcelain has seen better days (Probably in the 1920s!), but the embossed print on the edge of the plates are truly nice. Hmm, Malaysia? Guess these plates were from beyond 1957! Thought I'd see ... Malaya!

Fish concalaise (RM$17.90).

Baked crab meat (RM$16.90 each) - Very delicious and full of crab and other vege bits. L's favourite dish!

Previously I had enjoyed the version served at Kemaman, Terengganu on my dive trips to Redang, such as the one at Restoran Malaysia as well as the one at Tong Juan .

And of course the signature dish ... My choice, as well as BK's and CCY's!
Chinese Chicken Chop (RM$16.90) as they call it at Coliseum, I know it better as Hainanese Chicken chop. Very VERY good!

ML playing with my Canon G9 :-)

Fried banana with iced cream (RM$5.90) was a really good choice by BK, we gobbled this down!

The caramel pudding (RM$4) was overly sweet.

Strawberry fried ice cream (RM$5.50) - Eeeep ... a blast to the past, full of flavourings and horrid artificial-tasting!

The final bill for the seven of us ... RM$371.
Not cheap, but you do get amused by the history and waiters, as well some dishes which are exceptional, such as the Chinese Chicken Chop and the Crab!

Tommy wasn't the only character in this place of great history ... Here is an elderly waiter who seemed to keep falling asleep on his toes!

Some research revealed the following ... has a short review on the Coliseum Hotel:-
"Imagine those that would have stayed here before you. Early century European planters and miners - where there was no other place to put up the night for except here at the Coliseum. As basic as it probably was in the 1920's but for a few ringgit, it's worth a night's stay - just to experience a little bit of history. Very popular with travellers."
Room rates: Single room with fan RM 28 , Double room with fan RM 33 , Single room with air-con RM 38 , Double room with air-con RM 45. has a much more playful description:-
With its famous old planters cafe and bar downstairs, the Coliseum has a potent sense of colonial history. Rooms are huge and quiet, albeit without bathrooms (some rooms have sinks), and come with ancient electric switches, tables and chairs, high ceilings and wardrobes. This atmospheric hotel is a KL institution.
Is this the Wild Wild East? The dark wood saloon doors take you through to a dusty bar that hasn't changed since the hotel opened in 1921 (it seems the staff haven't changed since then either).
Upstairs, the hotel's spacious rooms retain the inadvertent yesteryear theme with their antique fittings and disintegrating colonial charm. Hang your smoker's jacket in the high wardrobe, freshen up at the sink, take a siesta on the comfy bed, then head to the downstairs bar for a stiff gin and a natter with the hotel's greying retainers. There's even some timeless advice decorating the walls of the well apportioned restaurant, including a poster informing guests of what to do 'when your servant has malaria'. Ah, those were the days.

Finally ... Wikipedia has an entire page revoted to the theatre!
The Coliseum Theatre is a movie theater in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One of the oldest movie theaters in the country, it was built in 1921 by the Chua family led by Chua Cheng Bok. The Art Deco-style building is capable of seating 900 people and also features a balcony.
The famed Coliseum Café and Hotel are located behind the theatre, just down the road. The oldest and continuously running cinema hall in the country (save for a break during the Japanese occupation during World War II), most of the movies premiering in the building are Indian movies.
After Chua Cheng Bok's demise in 1940, his estate continued to administer the Coliseum until its acquisition in 1973 by a company owned by his nephew Dr Chua Boon Teck and his wife Mdm Khor Joo Saik.
In 2006, the Malaysian government proposed to close the theater and turn it into a cultural heritage center, but relented when there was a public outcry to the scheme. The government later decided not to close the cinema. Instead, they planned to build a parking lot nearby. In that year, Dr Chua Seong Siew, elder son of the late owners Dr Chua Boon Teck and Mdm Khor Joo Saik, had successfully appealed for the cinema theater to remain open, and so it continues to operate to this day.
The Coliseum Theatre is one of a handful of remaining pre-war cinemas in Kuala Lumpur that still plays films. Two-storey shop buildings housing the Coliseum Café and Hotel are sat alongside.


Sarah said...

Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing. I'd like to visit this place. Do you have any idea where I can get a good recipe for fried ice cream? :)

sheahnee said...

Haha thanks for your review. That last picture of the elderly waiter is the Coliseum's famous Captain Ho, who has worked there for over 40 years and is an ancient as the cafe (87 years old!). I fear for the place when its characters like Capt Ho go, as they will eventually.

More on Captain Ho here:

Julian Si said...

Sheahnee - Thanks for the very kind comments :-)

I am gonna re-post that Capt Ho story on my Facebook now, brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

I read your blog too :-) Ay-mo is adorable!!! And, we use the same Maxi-cosi (Priori?) here in Abu Dhabi as well ... cheers.

Anonymous said...

julian si
your manner of blog could do with alittle manners and respect to others.

in trying to be witty/frank/ funny you actually sound cocky and rude.

Use Ky speaks for example if you dont understand. his comments are frank and yet tasteful and respectful.

Julian Si said...

Thanks for the NICE feedback!!

I am a fan of Kyspeaks blog, but what readers need to understand is - Every blogger has a style of their own. Guess my blog is not suited to yours :-)

Anonymous said...

@anonymous... The internet is a big big place. Go troll somewhere else. Some of us like it as it is.