coliseum cafe and hotel

October 23, 2008

At the end of our walking tour, Mr. Snow and I retired to the Coliseum’s bar on Jalan TAR for the most pre-war, planter-era drinks you can have in KL. Grandpa Myyear used to take Pa Myyear there for a treat many, many moons ago. There’s even still a hat stand, though I don’t know when the last time was that someone hung their hat on it. The place opened for business 87 years ago, funnily enough in the very same year that Captain Ho, who has been manning the restaurant for 40 years in his starched white uniform, was born. He knows the regulars so well they don’t even need to order anymore.

Morgan (Mogan) and his brother are young upstarts by comparison, having worked at the Coliseum for a mere 33 years each. According to a newspaper interview hanging on the wall, starting there was tough. They were apparently given two weeks to lean Hainanese or leave. Morgan said, “(The) manager Wong Chin Wan used to shout at me when I mispronounced words, but I knew that he was good at heart and only wanted me to speak the dialect well.”

On the rainy evening we visited, all three were waiting the tables in the bar and restaurant. A group of middle-aged lawyers were kicking back around the low tables and armchairs. With the High Courts around the corner, the Coliseum isn’t a surprising choice. And with the beer bellies in evidence, it didn’t seem like it was their first time there either.

We had a dinner date with Ma and Pa Myyear at Nathans, so no sizzling steak for us this time. But the Tiger beer was cold and the bartender chatty. And in which other bar in the world, when you ask for peanuts to go with your beer, are you directed to the kacang stall at the art deco, Indian-language cinema next door?

98-100 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
Kuala Lumpur 50100 Malaysia
+60 3 2692 6270

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