While in KL, a former colleague from the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (now, mercifully, called CAAMFest), met me for lunch, taking me to a charming restaurant called Limablas.
Located in the eclectic Mesui neighborhood near upscale Bukit Bintang, Limablas (which means “15” in Malaysian) resides in an old shophouse that has been meticulously restored. The co-owner, Uncle John, keeps an eye on the business and visits with guests, many of whom seem to be regulars.
The interior is a veritable museum of antiques and a meal there feels a bit like a trip back to the middle of the 20th Century. Old glass jars hold ingredients used in the dishes, including dried chilies and dark, sulfurous palm sugar.
The collection of decorative items can lead you to wonder whether you should sit at a table or simply stand and admire it. That said, sitting is a good idea so you have a chance to enjoy the food!
The menu is pretty straight-forward, filled with a selection of basic Malaysian and Chinese dishes. Both Bryan and I ordered the mee siam, which is a noodle dish with a curry sauce that is ostensible Thai-style. More than anything, this illustrates a common food heritage stretching from southern Thailand (think Phuket) into central Malaysia. The noodles were simple but tasty. Since this was lunch and I had enjoyed a large breakfast, I didn’t try anything else from the menu. Prices were reasonable, especially for this area, and other reviews I’ve read online praise the food as authentic and tasty.
For a combination drink/dessert, I had cendol. The bowl is filled with (sorry, not visible in this picture) thin, green pandan-flavored flour noodles that look a bit like worms. Shaved ice is mounded on top and then the rich, molasses-flavored palm sugar syrup is poured on the ice, followed by coconut milk. Perfect for the warm weather. Probably not so perfect for my diet! This dish also speaks to the common culinary heritage of the region. Probably originating from Chinese traders, the same basic dessert is found in Thailand, too.
For a final thought, I will leave you with this cute picture of a couple huddled over their smart phone amidst the brightly colored walls and open air well at the back of the restaurant. If you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur around lunch time, I would suggest you stop by Limablas for a bite.
I love the atmosphere of this place and think it would be very comfortable to sit there and relax while dining.
In the 2nd picture, there is a small container of Flit. I’m pretty sure that’s an insecticide. I wonder what it’s doing up there with the food? (Pardon my farangness…)I could use a cendol right now. Maybe it’ll help me sleep.
Interesting presentation of this dish. It usually comes submerged in gravy. At least here in SG. I guess this restaurant takes a contemporary approach to traditional foods.
I guess I would stop there to relax from the business outside. Not so sure about the food.
I agree with what Ruth says about the atmosphere of this place. But I might add, when I read the word “limablas”… I was thinking lima beans and succotash.
The last photo is like traveling back in time!
I really like the last picture – good looking couple and nice backdrop
That’s a really nice photo of the couple. I’ve never had the chance to explore KL cos I just stayed there for a day.
Limablas is a bastardized version of ‘lima belas’ which are the correct words. Bukit Bintang is Star Hill in English. The place has a typical 1970’s look, especially the windows but the framed photos at the window are from 1950’s, unless they are reprints.Great entry. That place looks more like a ‘kopitiam’ (coffee shop) than an actual restaurant.
Thank you for your blogs on Malaysia. I just received rude comments from an anti Malaysian troll named Fcuk_Malaysians who probably also behind half a dozen other anti Malaysian troll accounts (i.e Malaysian_r_shit, MalaysiaForever, stupid_malaysian1 etc). Help me to report the troll to Xanga Team. My country Malaysia just went through a terrorist attack last month. We don’t need anti Malaysian terrorists here on Xanga, especially those from the ‘land of the free’ itself.
Now I’m hungry.
sulfurous palm sugar. That sounds potent.
Love the last picture and the decor on the walls with the old pictures.
The last photo is very heartwarming!
Glad you are concentrating on the ambiance of places and sticking to your diet.
Chendol is one of my favourite desserts. I like it with lots of palm sugar syrup.
@Qipao_Queen – Thanks for the recommendation and extra information. Sorry that there are some anti-Malaysian trolls out there. Seems to be all sorts of nuts on the internet.@Ricardo98 – Thanks for the recommendation.@PPhilip – Kind of…@KevEats – @ZSA_MD – @stepaside_loser – @CurryPuffy – Yes, that last picture is really sweet, isn’t it?@Inciteful – Doesn’t sound so good, huh? I was going to go with “molassesy” but that isn’t a word.@Texasjillcarmel – It is.@oxyGENE_08 – While it isn’t my favorite city in the world, it is worth a few days’ worth of exploration.@icepearlz – It is really good, isn’t it?@armnatmom – Yes, I can see how you might make that connection based on the name. Ha ha…@Fatcat723 – Gosh, if you enjoy Thai food I think you would enjoy Malaysian food, too. Not so different.@beowulf222 – That, or maybe they are stingy with the sauce!@ElusiveWords – Indeed it is, something that caught my eye when I was there. Assuming it is not currently used and is only an old package.@Grannys_Place – Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, it is a comfortable place to relax.
looks like such a great place to hang. i would love to spend time there even only for drinks or desserts. plus, i love mee siam.
@christao408 – Do you know that John of Xanga Team’s father lived and worked in Malaysia for two decades? Yup, he’s an expat in Malaysia.Don’t worry about the anti Malaysian trolls. John said he will deal with them personally.
@Qipao_Queen – I had no idea. Interesting.@rudyhou – Well, put it on your list and we can meet there.
Has your body acclimated to Asian bacteria?
@Wangium – Dunno, really. I haven’t had any serious bouts of food poisoning in the years of living here and do not recall any particularly abnormal G/I distress. Guess that means the answer is yes?