Monday, 16 September 2019

90洋服.龟来bar, Kulai, Johor

Recently, I've been having a penchant for visiting speakeasy and hidden bars. The excitement of locating a hidden bar, I feel, is part of the "package" that makes up the experience visiting a bar. My latest venture brought me to this little nook in the sleepy town of Kulai, which is located about half an hour drive from JB.

Is this a retro boutique? Is this a clothes rental shop? Is this a bar?

Answer: All of the above.

I first stumbled upon this place on a random blog featuring hidden bars in Johor. This bar in particular stirred my curiosity and I can't find much information about it online - there are not many reviews or social media posts about this place. All I know is that it only opens on Friday-Sunday. Hence, I decided to explore this mysterious little nook when I was in Kulai for the Mid Autumn Festival celebration at Putuo Village.
It took us a while to finally pinpoint its exact location - The location of this bar on Google Map is inaccurate (I've sent a suggestion to Google Maps for updating I hope it's at the right spot now). We went on a wild goose chase, pacing up and down Lorong Ismail. And when we finally threw in the blanket and started to drove off...I caught a glimpse of the illuminating neon sign at the corner of this yellow building! We immediately parked our car and I strutted up this little path, unable to contain my excitement. Look for this yellow building and you'll see signs leading you to the bar!
The neon blue Chinese characters loosely translates to "90s Western Clothing".

We pressed the door bell, and a man dressed in a cotton vest and shorts welcomed us warmly into the little unassuming retro clothes shop. The shop was small - unfinished cemented walls, with clothing racks arranged parallel to the walls, adorned with retro looking suits and swing dresses. I was feeling a little anxious on the inside. Did we just walked inside a retro clothing boutique? Perhaps the bar is non-existent?

"Is this a bar...?" I asked the man hesitantly.
The man smiled warmed and gestured us to this wooden closet at the corner of the shop.
I opened the creaky doors of the shabby closet, which leads to....

Ok...maybe my own fantasy of Narnia. Step into the closet and you'll enter a whole new world.
The enclosed space within the closet was perhaps double the size of the clothes shop. The place is illuminated in red and purplish lights, furnished with chairs and room dividers made out of rattan, with retro Chinese posters plastered at a corner of the wall and fake vine lining the other side. 90s oldies music filled the air of this charming little space. 
It somewhat feels like I'm back in my grandmother's place in my hometown, minus the red/purplish lighting!

Seating was rather limited - this place could probably seat about 20 people. The ambiance reminded me of another gin bar in Skudai by JWC, retro and old-school-ish.

We settled for a seat at the corner of the bar, with a little wooden crate as our table. The owner (I presumed, the one in the vest and shorts) handed us a menu, which was just a one-pager. The owner asked us for our taste preference as he stated that he could customize any drinks we want which isn't on the menu. My friend settled for a Mojito and I asked for a surprise.
Mojito (RM25) and...a gin-based cocktail that I did not bother asking what it was (also priced at RM25). I was utterly distracted by the environment. There's two slices of cucumber floating in my drinks, which would usually freak Jia Qi out but I realized gin+cucumber do go well together. We were served with a small dish of jajan (slang for snacks).

Drinks wise was just ok. I thought the drinks lack a little, punch :P. I loved the ambiance and the music, but would prefer if my drinks had a little more kick. I'd categorize this little bar a place worth checking out if you're around the area.

Anyway, the shop is a full-fledged suit rental shop too! Suit rental shop by day, bar by night. They dubbed themselves as the place with the cheapest suit rental in town - perhaps a place you could keep in mind if you're looking for a retro-looking suit!
And while you're in Kulai, take some time to appreciate and admire the street art adorning Lorong Ismail.

21, Lorong Ismail,
Taman Kulai,
81000 Kulai, Johor

Operation Hours:
7pm-1am, Friday-Sunday

Contact Number:

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