Coliseum Café and Hotel (Est. 1921) – 98-100 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur 50100.
The moment the car pulled to stop right in front of the Coliseum Café restaurant, the first thought that came to my mind was, “No way…”, and then, “Wow…”
The restaurant was situated right next to a very busy road (at least at 7.58pm it was!), and I had to be very careful not to be hit by a car when I hop off the vehicle I was traveling in (memo to myself: do not sit in the front passenger seat). Not only that, it actually looked ancient. As in ancient ancient; like the old buildings or coffee shops (kopitiam) that I’d see in my town when I was like, five years old.
Walking into the restaurant and taking in the decor, it did feel like I’ve been back to the olden days (like those I’ve seen on TV). The smokiness in the room added to the mystical, nostalgic and old feeling. Am not sure if it brings back old memories, but compared to other buildings and cafés/restaurants that I’ve seen or been to, this one does feel old; it’s like walking into a black and white TV screen, and I can imagine men in their fine suits and the ladies in their cheongsam or pretty dresses.
This place has to be one of a kind in KL (at least in this era); as a matter of fact, it is a Malaysian National Heritage building. My sister told me that Mom and Dad used to date here, in the Coliseum Café, back in the day. Dad reminisces that food was pretty good, and remembered one of the waiters who could speak a few languages; I turned and looked at the waiter – he was probably the age of my grandpa! We found out later that he is 89 years old; which is also the age of the restaurant.
Western cuisine: mMmmm~..how can I forgo lamb chops/cutlets or anything lamb? But, the beef menu was tempting too. In the end, I ordered for a lamb chop. Nephew ordered for a spaghetti. Sis ordered for spring chicken, and Dad ordered one of the popular sizzling steaks. Ah, now I know why the room was smoky when we first entered the restaurant! It was the sizzling steaks served really sizzling hot!
The lamb chop was, amazingly traditional with no frills, tender, and juicy with some crispiness on the fats. Cooked to perfection; just how I would have liked it, and just like how I would have expected from a good chef or a fancy restaurant. Every bite was just mMmmm~
I didn’t try the chicken nor beef as I was overwhelmed with the lamb dish, but I did try the spaghetti and the mashed spinach which was served with the spring chicken dish. The mashed spinach was soft, moist and cooked just like a mash should be. It’s not gritty, and it’s not fibery. Spaghetti bolognaise was: simple and homely. No fuss. Tasted good; my four-year-old nephew almost cleared the plate, save for a few strands of pasta. It was an adult-size portion by the way.
Definitely worth a visit. The food was not to die for, but really decent and value for money (plus, I liked my lamb and loved the oldness of this place). The ancient-ness is what we locals need to see and be in at least once in our lifetime. The ambience is really different, with the bar, the ceramic plates, even the air-con’s ancient!
I rate Coliseum Café 9.5/10.
(Side story: the bar actually reminded me of a little skit in Uni, and also of old Texan bar stories, minus the shootings. I can imagine scenes of men and women chatting, drinking, and flirting with each other, perhaps even discussions of business transactions, not forgetting the clouds of smoke around them).