Within This 95-Year-Old Building In Chinatown Is A Charming New Restaurant & Speakeasy

East meets West in the heart of KL.

Cover image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

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It's always fascinating for me to see historical buildings revamped into spaces that retain their heritage

There's something about terracotta tiles, wooden windows, and wrinkles in the walls that give you a glimpse of the olden days.

This 1927 historical building along Chinatown gives you that feeling.

Tucked away in what was previously Selangor Grocers' Guild – a trade association representing the interests of grocers, retail traders, and sundry shop owners – is a three-storey building that was recently turned into a charming resto bar.

Crane KL was opened two months ago by three people: Alex Martin who's from Malaysia, his Ukranian wife, and their good friend from Russia — an unlikely pair during these tumultuous times, but a much-needed friendship.

Like many historical shoplots in town, the space appears small on the outside but elongates as you enter, with high ceilings and a sunlit roof where natural light streams in

Paper cranes, each made by hand, float from the ceiling, and there's a wall at the front of the restaurant dedicated to nostalgic biscuit tins Malaysians grew up with.

On the bottom floor, diners are offered fusion meals of Eastern and Western cuisines.

You'll spot unique combinations in their extensive menu, such as 'Japanese Udon in Curry Laksa Gravy', 'Salted Egg Spaghetti with Crispy Prawns', and 'Beef Rendang Lasagna'.

Spaghetti 'Cabe Ijo' with Tiger Prawns.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

We ordered the 'Chicken Rendang with Red Chili and Onion' pizza (RM30), as well as the 'Spaghetti Cabe Ijo with Tiger Prawns' (RM38), both of which were packed with flavour and paired perfectly with their cold draught beer.

Nasi Lemak Wonton.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

Chicken Rendang with Red Chili and Onion.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

Japanese Udon in Curry Laksa Gravy.

Image via Crane KL

Their desserts were just as tasty on the eyes as they were on our palates

Pandan Sago.

Image via @thecrane_kl (Instagram)

We tried their popular recommendations, 'Cendol Panna Cotta' (RM20) and 'Pandan Sago' (RM20).

The 'Cendol Panna Cotta' was creamy with just the right amount of sweetness, while the 'Pandan Sago' was topped with small cubes of watermelon — a surprising and refreshing touch.

Tip: Ask the waiters for more gula Melaka to add to the 'Pandan Sago' if you have a sweet tooth. ;)

Pandan Sago.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

Cendol Panna Cotta.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

Cendol Panna Cotta.

Image via Danial Martinus/SAYS

Chocolate Lava Cake.

Image via @thecrane_kl (Instagram)

When you head upstairs, there's a hidden cocktail bar with a balcony that overlooks the busy street of Jalan Sultan

A large day bed greets you on the balcony where you can chill with drinks. The interior deco of the speakeasy gets changed up every few months for a different experience.

We were told that they occasionally have DJs performing upstairs and live music downstairs. Although the house music is enough to complement the perfect ambience, in my opinion, especially after a long day of work or just a chilled night with friends.

The drinks menu has your usual liquors and beer, with a cocktail selection that'll quench any adventurous heart.

This includes the 'Wrestless Monkey' (RM42), a curry leaf infused vodka with honey lemon syrup, infused chilli honey syrup, fresh ginger juice, and fresh curry leaves; and 'The Tiger Slit' (RM48), which is bourbon infused with rosemary, grilled pineapple juice, infused cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with an orchid and chrysanthemum flower.

Don't let the unusual combinations deter you. Every drink is carefully crafted with in-house infused liquors, and were refreshingly good.

Here's where Crane is located:

78, Jalan Sultan,
50000 KL, Chinatown

Opening hours
12pm – 12am (Monday to Friday)
10am – 12pm (Saturday and Sunday)

Crane KL Upstairs (bar)
4pm – 12am 

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