I remember visiting Petaling Street ('Jalan Petaling' to locals) in the Chinatown area of Kuala Lumpur as a kid and it was not this hip. With the main draw being the night market, which sold - and still sells - anything and everything you could want, it was actually pretty grimy and very run down. But as part of the exciting rejuvenation of the area, a wealth of new restaurants and bars have opened up, inevitably drawing tourists but also bringing Kuala Lumpur residents back into this characterful old part of the city.
Futuristic stairs leading up to the first floor dining area
Wildflowers KL is one such place. Describing themselves as an Asian fusion restaurant and bar, the people behind Wildflowers have ingeniously converted a large corner building in old Chinatown into a funky, airy space filled with bright lights and lush greenery, which has a modern industrial but still inviting feel to it.
The upstairs dining area
Indoor plants adorn the restaurant interior
Having already established the very successful Merchants Lane, a cafe across the road, the team have now ventured into the modern dining restaurant scene with Wildflowers. Here, the food is truly a fusion of flavours from across the globe, marrying Chinese, Mexican, French, Japanese, Italian, Thai and Malaysian cuisine in their inventive dishes.
The deep fried namyu cauliflower and mushrooms with sambal mayo
We sampled a few dishes from across the menu, which is designed for sharing. The deep-fried namyu cauliflower and mushrooms (RM21) and lotus root chips (RM20), both served with a spicy sambal mayo, were surprisingly big portions for dishes on the Snacks menu. The batter on the former was perfectly seasoned and crispy, I could have eaten a bowl full of just that, nevermind the delicious vegetable and mushroom inside.
Deep fried salmon bites salad
From the Greens menu, we ordered the deep-fried salmon bites and salad (RM34). Bite-sized pieces of lightly battered and perfectly fried salmon were scattered on top of a bed of leaves, cherry tomatoes, sliced onion and edamame beans, and drizzled with a generous helping of roasted sesame dressing.
The chilli crab fettuccine
There is a neat list of five carb-driven dishes to choose from, mainly consisting of pasta, from which we picked the chilli crab fettuccine (RM38). This was a flavourful combination of chilli crab curry tossed through fettuccine and topped with a de-shelled and deep-fried half crab. Just delicious, and definitely my favourite dish of the night.
Rib eye pad kra pao with tortillas
The mapo tofu and nachos (RM26) from the Small Plates selection was a surprising take on a Mexican classic, seamlessly mixing crunchy corn chips with a spicy tofu dip. We also ordered the rib eye pad kra pao (RM38) that came with three soft tortillas; who knew that Mexican would work so well with Thai flavours?!
Shao Xing mussel, prawn, squid and hainanese bread
To round off the meal with some shellfish we tried the Shao Xing mussel, prawn and squid dish that was served with toasted, savoury Hainanese bread (RM42). The seafood and soup was packed with flavour and the pieces of bread were the perfect size with which to soak up the gorgeous soup and pop into your mouth.
While the meal was primarily a culinary journey through Asia, a few interesting surprises kept us on our feet. The selection of six cocktails on their menu are also inspired by Asia, using base ingredients such as tuak, sake and soju. I highly recommend you try the Mugungwha (RM34), with its soju base and elderflower, lemon and lemonade, this is a very refreshing aperitif. They also serve a small but well curated selection of wine and beer, which pair perfectly with the spicy and fried dishes on their menu.
The exterior of the restaurant
So the next time you're in Chinatown why not stop by at Wildflowers KL for a tasty bite and quick drink on your way to witness the hustle and bustle of the night market, or before you head out to one of the happening hidden bars in the area.