Saturday, 14 March 2020

Curiousity Iron River, Chan Sow Lin - A hidden ruin bar (sort of) in the city (Non-Halal)

"A ruin bar in KL?"

was my initial reaction when I stumbled upon photos of Curiousity Iron River on social media.
The back entrance of curiousity iron river
The courtyard 
PS: I don't think this place is a ruin bar, just that the photos of it reminded me of the ruin bars I visited a while ago in Budapest. 

This place certainly got me curious - A quick search on Google revealed that this little gem is located right at the fringe of KL, (unexpectedly) at Chan Sow Lin area...at Jalan Sungai Besi! Wait, what about the river? Well if you translate "iron river' into BM...there you have it. Sungai Besi.

It's hard for me to imagine such a beautiful place exists in that area, as I've always associated Chan Sow Lin with...wanton mee (A few famous wanton mee stores over there - Hung Kee, Sg Besi Wanton mee, to name a few), graveyards and car/motorcycle workshops.

I decided to try to dig deeper to find out more about this place but to no avail - this place seems to be so discreet, there are not many reviews or posts about it online.

Curiosity got to me - and thanks to a couple of friends, I managed to check this place out on a weekday night after work. 
This place has two entrances - the back entrance and the front entrance. Google map led me to the back entrance which was located at a back alley. I parked my car next to an apartment block and factory at the end of the back alley - parking spots were aplenty after working hours. The back alley looked clean and unassuming. I had many doubts while walking down the back alley.

Am I at the right place? Does this place even exist? What if...this is just someone's Instagram creation and this place doesn't even exist? What if...my curiosity killed the cat.

And my doubt dissipated as soon as I came across the back entrance, as seen on social media! This place does exist!
Step into the yellow arch and you'll feel as though you have been momentarily transported to another realm.
Clusters of mismatched furniture amidst green welcomed me as I set foot on the red-bricked floor. There was too much for me to take in. It was a windy and quaint evening, the rustling of the leaves momentarily took me away from KL, temporarily forgetting that I am just a couple of streets away from the busy rush hours. 
Beware though, as there tends to be a lot of mosquitoes in the evening! 

There is a little gate on the right side of a building that leads to a..
Wine cellar? With drum sets stowed on the top...an antique sewing machine and table fan on the old cupboard..
And a random barber chair at the side. Could this place get more random?
If you think all these are unique, wait till you walk along this marbled path into their indoor dining area (yes, there's more!) - I'll let the photos do the talking.

Once again, it's as if I was brought over to another realm. The outdoor area and indoor area both give out a unique and different vibe. "Grandma's house on steroid" is how I would describe the indoor area. My eyes can't help but be dazzled by all the eclectic decorations and furniture fixing in this space. You'll definitely recognize some of the antique furniture and fittings from your grandparents' house or an old traditional kopitiam...but this place took it to another level.

There are plenty of big tables that are able to fit big groups, which makes this place an ideal spot for a group gathering.
But wait, there's more. Customers may take the steep wooden stairs (see what I meant by grandparents' house?) up to the second floor..
Which is seemingly a second-hand vintage furniture haven. Old sofa set, island bar, bar stool, coffee table, chest of drawer...you name it.
Walk along the wooden floorboard to that little small room on the left
And you'll find a flush toilet awkwardly placed in a room filled with Cheong Sam. 

Now I know where to get random furniture fittings! (If I ever want some!)

The ambiance was definitely lovely, and one couldn't help but allow their eyes to wonder around. It took me a while to settle down, as my eyes were too busy taking in the surroundings!

Now let's move on to the other main highlight of a restaurant, the food.

Curiousity Iron River serves a selection of local and western food, and a basic selection of alcohol drinks. Prices are definitely on the steeper side, but not as steep as I initially feared (I thought everything would be above RM50). After all, you are essentially paying for the ambiance as well. Here's what we had that night:
Kampung Fried Rice with Pork Satay RM22
It was tad spicy so steer clear if you're someone who can't take spicy food! The fried rice was OK, not mind-blowingly great but it wasn't bad.
Meatball Bolognese RM22
Pasta tossed in classic bolognese sauce, served with pork meatball. Another simple dish, but I was happy with their pasta to meat ratio!
Sambal Petai Pizza RM38
Sambal, petai, squid, cheese on a pizza crust? What?
The pizza was definitely the highlight of the night. Iw was an odd combo, but everything surprisingly went really well together. Beware though, this is a fairly spicy pizza! Spicier than the fried rice we ordered!
I am usually wary of seafood on pizza - because most places tend to overcook it, resulting in a rubbery texture. Glad to say that the pizza here was done right! The squid was nice and tender, not rubbery as I feared.

As the sun sets, the atmosphere outside changes too.

If you're looking for a place that offers a different ambiance and atmosphere, I'd recommend paying Curiousity Iron River a visit. And if you're up for something different, do try out their Sambal Petai pizza :D

Curiousity Iron River
138, Jalan Sungai Besi,
Chan Sow Lin,
57100 Kuala Lumpur,
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecuriousityironriver/

Business Hours:
10am-10pm daily

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