Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Written by Suzane Avadiar
Kuala Lumpur is a city that celebrates culture with a juxtaposition of local and international flavours.
Brickfields, known as Little India, is a slice of this amalgamation, and for art gallerist Lim Wei-Ling, this eclectic quarter of KL holds a special spot in her heart. Twenty years ago her father moved his architectural practice to an early-20th-century shop lot in this area, and today it is also where her own art gallery stands.
“What makes KL truly unique is its diversity in all its forms – from the people and the languages spoken, to the food and the local edginess that has allowed this city to retain its raw vibe. Yet KL is as cosmopolitan and international as any major city in the world, and Brickfields as an area possesses all these qualities,” she says.
While Brickfields is considered a neighbourhood in its own right, it is essentially just a maze of streets that are seamlessly linked to one another. You can easily immerse yourself in a host of activities by merely walking from one end of this quarter to the other, in one delightful afternoon. The main street of Tun Sambanthan is an ideal place to start, where almost immediately a cacophony of sounds greet you.
Wei-Ling loves the row of shops specialising in Indian saris, kurtas, sweets, and aromatic incense. “Here you will find South Indian cuisine in its most authentic form, served atop banana leaves on communal tables; while on a parallel street, Chinese coffee shops offer traditional local favourites, aromatic buttered coffee, and the most sinfully ‘melt in your mouth’ curry puffs on this side of the city,” she adds.
Around the corner on Jalan Berhala, fronting the main estuary running through KL, is the Temple of Fine Arts, which offers courses on Indian classical dance and houses Annalakshmi, a restaurant featuring vegetarian fare that is home-cooked daily by a group of volunteers. Another of Wei-Ling’s all-time favourites, where she takes most of her visiting guests, is Vishal, a local Indian banana-leaf restaurant located at the opposite end, on Jalan Scott.
“After schlepping around in shorts and flip flops, discovering the back alleys of Brickfields, you can cross the main street and retreat to a cool glass of champagne at the lobby lounge of the Hilton Sentral or sip a martini at the rooftop bar with a view, at the newly opened boutique hotel, Aloft,” Wei-Ling says. Her other favourite is Graze, a classy restaurant at the Hilton that boasts of succulent chicken in a pot and “to die for” calamari.
Lim Wei-Ling owns two leading art galleries: Wei-Ling Gallery and Wei-Ling Contemporary, promoting modern Malaysian art and representing renowned international artists. She is a jewellery designer, art historian, and trained stockbroker, combining her passion for art with her financial expertise.