In Short: VCR delivers some of the best coffee you can find anywhere in Malaysia’s capital city. Ambience due to its double storey setup is conducive to both an intimate feel downstairs or more communal relaxed vibe upstairs. Food offerings are refined and incorporates the latest global food trends. My tip try the salmon gravlax with a flat white.
I had only a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but was determined to seek out a café to see how the coffee culture has been embraced in the city. In terms of coffee and cafe culture, the city and country is at interesting inflection point. For so long, Malaysians started their day off with kopi. Traditionally it has been kopi O, a strong black coffee with sugar. Even today, you can walk through various parts of the city and see coffee beans being roasted with oil, and sometimes even butter. Waltz into a kopitiam and have yourself a coffee for about 1 Ringitt 50 sen which translates to roughly 50 cents here in Australia. As I walked to VCR from my hotel I observed that there are host of Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlets. While those are not a place I would frequent for coffee, many locals have embraced these outlets as a fashionable place to been seen and meet to drink coffee due to their western marketing influence. It’s these cafés with their exotic syrup infused coffees and frappuccino’s that have lured locals to spend 3-4 times the going rate of a kopi-o. The flip side to this is that it’s these same franchises that have helped cafés like VCR to flourish and gain traction. The costs of coffee beans from single origin plots, quality milk and the filtering process for water do elevate the costs of coffee per cup but now there is a market for those who really appreciate good coffee as they bring a more refined, bespoke coffee experience akin to what we take for granted here in Sydney and Melbourne.
On the food front, again, I am seeing a familiar theme where cafes like VCR are differentiating themselves by offering brunches and lunches that deviate from the spice, heat and the wok of hawker stalls.
VCR is located midway between Bukit Bintang and KL’s Chinatown. It sits in a row of terrace houses, and is positioned in a quiet street that allows coffee connoisseurs the opportunity to escape the standstill traffic that envelopes the city. A double storey building, VCR is intimate and moody downstairs and comfortable and light filled upstairs with a big weathered leather sofa to chill back or a long communal table to convene your own coffee convention.
So without much of a wait, I received the flat white that I had been hanging out for a couple days for. Flat whites are predominantly an Australian coffee. Even on a recent visit to the Silicon Valley, it was quite an effort to find a cafe that made flat white. VCR produces flat white with the look of an Aussie flat white. Its taste is punchy, robust yet still balanced. It is smooth as a flat white should be, with a nutty and chocolate finish. VCR definitely passed that first test, that they could deliver milk based coffees of a standard that appease visitors from land down under.
I came back the next day and auditioned their filter coffee. During my visit, the VCR team were showcasing an Ethiopian Aricha Pink for their pour over coffee. Launching into it in the most delicate way possible, I was met with a nice acidic punch of apples, which then gave way to sweeter tropical flavours of dried fruit. It was mouthful of complex flavour with a beautiful viscosity and structure. The Hario V60 process yielded a very enjoyable coffee.
As I mentioned earlier on in the post, cafes like VCR are beating a new path with regards to food. They challenge the taste buds with flavours from Europe and Australia with their offerings. For my first breakfast, I sampled the simply titled Scandinavian. It’s a dish that was rightfully dominated by gravlax salmon which were dotted with capers. The salmon had been cured just right, and seasoned beautifully, with just enough salt and sugar to still allow the flavour of the fish to be champion. Cured cucumbers and lettuce kept the dish fresh and I really enjoyed the skagen with its creamy texture and rich prawn flavour that worked so well with the morsels of salmon.
On my second visit to VCR I had to see how a smashed avocado would be interpreted in Malaysia. When I received my plate, it could have been a plate you would see in Melbourne or Sydney. I love the palate of colours from the obvious green of the avo to gold of the sunny side and smattering red dots from pomegranate seeds. A brilliant presentation translated into divine eating as well, with soft and well seasoned avocado. Sitting under the sunny side up, was a mound of quinoa with textures that contrasted with the egg and avocado. Every element worked together to deliver a hearty and appetising dish.
I loved the space and could imagine spending a morning or afternoon here, no problem. I loved the coffee and was equally impressed with the food offerings. VCR is a retreat for those of you looking for expertly made coffee and you must add it to your list of top tier cafés in Kuala Lumpur.