Cafés for the books and art lovers
Hidden away upstairs on Jalan Panggung in Chinatown, this little café is a quiet reflection of the owner herself, Law Yee Wan, who is a writer and a poet. It is home to a bookstore that offers a wide range of mostly Chinese language publications related to feminism and gender studies as well as a number of zakka handicrafts which you can purchase in store. Simple foods and drinks like sandwiches, salads, Malaysian kuih kuih, iced teas and coffee are also served here.
Address: No. 6, 1st Floor, Jalan Panggung, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone No.: +603 2031 0537
Operation Time: Wed – Mon: 10am – 8pm
Isetan The Japan Store may be a little pricey for a lot of people but it's still home to a couple of hidden gems like this café. Located behind some unassuming wooden bookshelves, this diner and café makes for the perfect hideout. The menu is simple; choose from sandwiches, fried noodles or some cake to go with your coffee, tea or beer. They also have cold beverages with interesting flavours – opt for the Tokyo Mojito or the Tokyo Yuzunade.
Address: 1st Floor, Isetan The Japan Store, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone No.: +603 2141 7777
Operation Time: Daily: 11am - 9pm
[Photo: X Coffee Isetan Japan Store]
The X Coffee at Isetan The Japan Store is surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. It's usually quite peaceful and serene here but it can get pretty busy on weekends. Just like the other X Coffee outlet in Q Sentral, this one also specialises in beans from cult Japanese roasters like Maruyama, Fuglen and Nozy.
The café's menu includes espresso-based coffee, hot (or iced) chocolate, matcha latte and cold pressed juices. If you're interested in picking up coffee bean roasting, the baristas here will be more than happy to point you to the right beans to buy. Occasionally, X Coffee is host to coffee workshops and various other events.
Address: 3rd Floor, Isetan The Japan Store, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone No.: +603 2141 7777
Operation Time: Daily: 11am - 9pm
[Photo: Bookmark Coffee]
Instead of the usual swan or rosette coffee art, the baristas here will customise your art for you. Simply request the artwork of your choice and they’ll be happy to oblige. It's a cosy space (even though it can get very packed on weekends) with tables and chairs spread out, a centre space for guests to lounge and private corners for solitary guests who wish to work in peace. In one corner, you'll find children's stickers, colouring sets, arts and crafts as well as handmade badges.
The menu focuses on feel-good meals like chicken-based dishes, pasta, big brunches, sandwiches, even ice cream on toast and a variety of cakes and decorated macaroons. Bookmark Coffee also hosts barista workshops once in a while.
Address: A-1-1 Centre Point Medan Connaught, No. 1 Jalan 3/144a, Cheras 56000 Batu 9 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +6016 513 1305
Operation Time: Closed on Wednesdays. Fri & Sat: 10am - 12am; Mon – Thu: 10am - 11pm.
[Pohoto: Kim Choong]
Former kindergarten teacher Doreen turned her family home into a café cum art studio in Cheras. The house once belonged to her grandfather, hence its name (ah gong means grandfather in Mandarin). While the café only operates on weekends, during the weekdays the place doubles as an informal music school for ukulele learners. Fun fact: it's also an illustration showroom for Doreen's partner Lois's work.
It's a breezy, homey place with hanging plants, a garden out front and vintage windows. Doreen bakes her own cheesecakes while the rest of the menu consists of salads, sandwiches, cold-pressed juices and of course, coffee. Sometimes workshops on tie dye, painting, pottery and sewing are held here at Ah Gong House.
Address: 29, Jalan Goh Boon Hong, Taman Taynton View 56000, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +6012 655 2779
Operation Time: Sat & Sun: 12pm – 9pm
The Book Xcess in Starling Mall, Damansara Uptown is unlike its other outlets in the Klang Valley. This one, the largest outlet to date, comes with an in-house café that serves coffee, tea and small bites like cheese toasties, croissants, meat pies and Belgian waffles. It's also got plenty of space for customers and bookworms to sip and chill while they enjoy their discounted books.
Address: T-331A, T-331B, the Starling 6, Jalan SS 21/37 Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +603 5614 4554
Operation Time: Daily: 10am – 10pm
[Photo: Lit Books]
This independent bookstore was established by Malaysian couple Fong Min Hun and Elaine Lau who were former journalists. With their bibliophilic traits, the couple curated a special collection of English literary titles, both fiction and non-fiction, by critically acclaimed authors.
Along with the unique selection of books, there are also literary themed merchandise and gifts sourced from the UK and the US. A small café that serves coffee, tea and cupcakes complements the bookstore. Sometimes, Min Hun and Elaine host talk sessions over wine and books.
Address: Unit P-1-11, Level 1, Tropicana Avenue 12 Jalan Persiaran Tropicana 47810 Petaling Jaya Selangor, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +603 7886 6988
Operation Time: Tue: 1pm - 9pm; Wed - Sun: 11am - 9pm
[Photo: Merce & Muse]
Merce & Muse is a family-run café and bookstore located across the street from Taylor's College in Subang Jaya. Guests often come here to wind down with a cup of coffee or tea while enjoying the instrumental tunes played in the café. Some even tend to doze off here. The food offered here is purely vegetarian. The café also hosts calligraphy competitions, book discussions, teacup decorating classes and more!
Address: 12, 1st Floor, Jalan SS15/8 47500, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +6012 668 2165
Operation Time: Mon – Sat: 8.30am - 11pm; Sun: 2pm - 11pm
[Photo: Cafe de Eight]
This little spot in Ipoh is so well hidden that only a tiny sign hints at its existence among a row of wholesale stores. It's rustic interiors and bookshelves stacked with volumes of mostly Chinese books give off a calm atmosphere. In contrast, the walls are decorated with popular Western movie-inspired murals and posters. Its non-halal menu offers up affordable meals like pastas, pork burgers, salads as well as refreshing iced drinks.
Address: No. 8 Jalan Koo Chong Kong, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +605 241 2758
Operation Time: Closed on Thursdays. Mon - Wed & Fri: 10am - 7pm; Sat - Sun, 8.30am - 6pm
[Photo: The Woods]
This picturesque bookstore will instantly remind you of the smell of old crispy pages and a good cup of joe. While many other cafes have taken to rustic themes, The Woods' has very authentic interiors. Each shelf (and there are a lot of them) is packed full with yellowing volumes and books. Rattan chairs and wooden tables fill the floor space where guests can sit and enjoy their beverages, caffeinated or decaf, served in old school kopitiam-style cups. The Woods also plays host to occasional artisan markets, tasting sessions as well as arts and craft workshops.
Address: 35 Jalan Gajah Berang 75200, Melaka, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +6012 616 7128
Operation Time: Mon to Sun: 11am - 8pm. Closed on Wednesdays
[Photo: Hedwig Books & Cafe]
Established last year by 47-year-old Raiha who's a mother of two, Hedwig Books & Café is the very first Harry Potter-themed café in Malaysia. Guests who visit are provided with robes (Gryffindors only!), round-framed glasses, and wands. Further add the atmosphere of being a Hogwarts student, the walls of the café are decorated in the wizarding school's crest, and even an approximation of Platform 9 ¾.
There might not be any Butterbeer or Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans here but Hedwig Books & Café serves affordable drinks, cakes, pastries, pudding, pastas and pies. You can also play Harry Potter-themed board games too.
Address: PT 1667, Jalan Raja Perempuan Zainab II, Kubang Kerian, 16150 Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia.
Telephone No.: +6011 5151 61380
Operation Time: Sat – Wed: 10am - 10pm; Thu & Fri: 10am - 11pm
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