Our dinner party has run into a bit of trouble. The road ahead is narrow and flanked by wooden kampung houses on one side and dense foliage on the other.
A compact car would have zipped through comfortably but we are in a towering 40-passenger tour bus. When our entourage – comprising participants of the Eat.Travel.Write 6 programme that had a mix of sponsors including Tourism Selangor and organised by Gaya Travel Magazine – finally arrives at the restaurant (after being transferred in batches by car), it is well past 9pm.
The hassle is all worth it as I step out of the car into an ethereal scene of wooden shacks that glow brightly against the dark sky. The sound of cascading water can be heard from a nearby stream, creating a zen atmosphere. The restaurant feels like a resort in the middle of a lush jungle. The reality is BBQ Lamb KL Kemensah is actually located in the bustling Klang Valley.
Despite being situated behind Zoo Negara, in Ulu Klang, the dining establishment exudes an ambience that belies its urban location.
But this hidden gem is more than its picturesque setting. True to its name, BBQ Lamb KL Kemensah (www.facebook.com/Bbqlambklkemensah) serves some pretty legit barbecued meat. Of course, lamb is the signature item on the menu. Although not a big fan of the red meat, I find myself
devouring every last bit of it on the ribs.
Other Western dishes such as the smoked duck, beef and chicken are also cooked to perfection. The meat is tender, with a nice hint of smokiness.
The secret to the fragrant smokiness might be the specially constructed oven at the back of the open kitchen. But personally, I attribute the tastiness to the special dipping sauces that are served with the barbecued offerings.
There’s also Sup Tulang (beef bone soup) for those who prefer something a little less meaty. The aromatic soup – flavoured with a variety of spices – is an absolute treat when paired with some bread.
After a hearty meal, diners have the option of jumping into the stream or pool (with spring water from the hills) for a swim. Talk about dining with a difference!
Another unique dining experience can be found at The Garage KL on Jalan Hillview, in Taman Sri Ukay, Selangor (www.facebook.com/thegaragekl). To call this venue in Ampang simply as an eatery would be an understatement.
The Garage KL is constructed out of 25 shipping containers stacked together, and other recyclable materials.
Its unique architecture aside, the venue is also notable as a multi-functional hub. It houses a car workshop, barber, urban lifestyle apparel boutique, workshop space and a vertical hydrophonics farm start-up.
And there’s Gaffe & Co – the star restaurant and cafe. In recent years, the eatery has established a reputation among hip young foodies for its fusion menu and hipster-cool environment.
On the day of my visit on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, the venue is deserted. The Garage KL’s cafe manager Syed Hamid Izzudin says that the crowds can be found in the evenings and on weekends.
He adds that the raison d’être of the place is to ultimately create a sense of community and develop a sustainable architectural style.
“The concept we are trying to build is an ecosystem that can be sustained,” he says, diverting my attention to dining tables that are made from compressed wood chips.
“Our forte is designing things that have function and purpose,” Syed Hamid adds.
After a hearty lunch, the next stop is Farm In The City (FITC) (www.facebook.com/FarmInTheCityMalaysia). Dubbed a “unique theme park”, the venue in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, is exactly what its name suggests – a farm-like experience in the city.
The environment here resembles that of a typical Malaysian kampung – complete with barns as well as fruit and vegetable patches. Occupying an area of 2.8ha, the park is partially cage-less, allowing visitors to feed, touch and play with more than 100 species of animals. The animals range from your usual farm animals to more exotic ones such as alpacas, marmosets and crested porcupines.
A personal favourite is the free-flight aviary. Over here, visitors will be surrounded by more than a hundred birds.
Young children would enjoy the Pet Village that features cuddly rabbits and guinea pigs.
There’s also a lake at FITC with animals such as mandarin ducks, emperor geese and South African shelducks.
If the water calls out to you, consider taking a short cruise on a large man-made lake at Mines Wellness City which is in the vicinity. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tranquil ambiance.