Flying high at The Crane KL
What was once the prominent Selangor Grocers’ Guild headquarters on Jalan Sultan, KL has been given a new lease of life and remodeled into The Crane KL, a gorgeous restaurant and bar that has successfully fused elements of the old world with modern-day sensibilities in its interior design. Retaining the general structure and façade of the almost century-old neo-classical building (1927), the new space is bright, airy and welcoming.
The Guild was set up by 7 founders from China to represent the interests of grocers, retail traders and sundry-shop owners in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Today, the 3rd and 4th floors are still Grocer’s Inn guesthouse for now, but in time, The Crane founders Alex Martin, wife Olena Masalitina and good friend/biz partner Victoria Vasileva hope to expand the restaurant upstairs as well.
The name of the resto itself is a nod to Chinese culture which looks upon cranes as a symbol of longevity and immortality, indeed befitting of the heritage of the historical building. I’m tempted to go on about the decor as it’s been beautifully done up, incorporating arty touches such as paper lanterns, paper cranes, an opium bed and olden-day biscuits wallpaper, but since this is a food review, will focus on what it offers diners.
We were given a range of stuff to try out, from popcorn chicken to nasi lemak bites to dessert and fresh juices.
I had the Detoxifier (celery, ginger, turmeric, and green apple juice) which was everything healthy in one glass. Great stuff this, and there’s a whole list of other drinks to choose from.
Small bites: Nasi Lemak Wonton – coconut milk rice encased in wonton skin with peanuts, anchovies, bit of egg, sitting on cucumber, to be dipped in sambal. Interesting take on the country’s unofficial national dish, though I still prefer the real deal. The sambal could do with a bit more heat.
Chicken Rendang in Pie Tee – the rendang itself was quite good; a nice protein pop for those not big on yam bean.
Madras Popcorn Chicken – this was a winner as the taste sang of myriad spices and rich flavour, further enhanced when dipped in signature sauce.
Crane Nest Sliders – mozzarella cheesy mini beef burgers topped with melted cheese sauce and crisps, the beef patty was juicy and hearty, in between small soft fresh buns, nicely satisfying.
Feta with marinated olives – came with toasted baguette to be dipped in a large bowl of Greek yogurt with garlic and feta cheese. My dinner mate Kim really enjoyed this.
Pandan Sago – traditional sago with gula melaka, visually enticing (great for IG) with dry ice smoking its entrance in a coconut shell. Lovely and creamy, but needs more gula melaka.
Cendol Panna Cotta – another traditional dessert reimagined, with delightful results as it wasn’t too sweet and the texture was perfect.
Felt compelled to try at least one main dish even though was feeling stuffed, and was recommended the Japanese Udon in Curry Laksa. This was surprisingly very good, came with a large prawn, the coconut milk enriched broth was of a good consistency, had a well-balanced flavour.
Onto more exciting things, the cocktail bar upstairs, accessed through a red door disguised as a wall, revealing an Oriental-themed room with plush sofas, sheer curtains, reminiscent of a red boudoir. The sensual, cozy ambience is carried through to the outside balcony as well where there are more sofas and cushions. Easily one of the most attractive hidden drinking holes in town.
What’s even interesting are the name of the cocktails. Scan the QR code and you’ll learn the story behind each one, apparently named after Chinese sex positions of the zodiac. With drinks like Phoenix Hovers and Fish Interlock Their scales, will leave these to your imagination!
I had the Wrestless Monkey – curry leaves infused vodka, infused honey lemon syrup, infused chilli honey syrup, fresh ginger juice and curry leaves and fresh lemon juice. Reminded me of the South Indian spicy soup rasam – bit of getting used to, but I liked it.
Kim had Turtle Stirs – patron silver infused with Australian sable seedless black grape, Australian seedless black grape juice, Campari, infused honey ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, egg white, chrysanthemum white flower and dehydrated plum. She liked this as she said it was well balanced in terms of taste and mix, though not my thing as I don’t like Campari to begin with.
Also tried Dragon Turns – gin infused with chrysanthemum flower, infused pepper corn syrup, fresh red dragon fruit juice, fresh lemon and pandan leaf. On the sweet side, but enjoyed this.
When we were there, the place was full, and empty tables were all reserved. Food is good but prices at The Crane KL are a little higher than neighbouring establishments, but worth a visit for the experience of being in the historical venue, just to enjoy the beautiful space and drink in the nostalgia.
Add: 78, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2389 6348