Behind the Tall Narrow Teal Door : Merchant's Lane Cafe

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Behind the tall narrow teal door is a historic space now functioning as a cafe called Merchant's Lane.


This cafe was easy to miss because the door was narrow and tall, and the signage was just that: Merchant's Lane. We were following Google Maps, and I was unsure whether we missed it already, but alas thanks to the good eyes of my friends, we were able to spot it. It was right beside a store which was selling stationary goods. 


There was a long line going up here with locals and a couple of tourists (that includes us!). We came here after lunch at Petaling Walking Street. I was considering whether we should push through or not since we wanted to freshen up since we had just crossed the Malaysia border the night before. Thankfully, my friends wanted to try it out too. I found it interesting that even though this place was hard to find, people still purposely came here. 


Some of my snaps while waiting: 




I always remind my friends and myself to always drink water. It's good to stay hydrated at all times.

I like the hints of teal all over the place. It's a pop of color that I'll always remember and associate with the cafe.



These swirly things reminded me of incense burning back in a Buddhist temple my friend and I chanced upon back in Cholon, Saigon. The chrysanthemum and peony paintings were lovely to look at. This part of the cafe is called the Rainbow Room. 

A brief history on this place was that it used to be a brothel back in the 1980s. It then became a hostel which rented out rooms for immigrant workers. It was then abandoned for some years before it became what it is today. There are hints of what it used to be through the items, paintings, decorations, and colors that can be seen and found throughout the space. 




Anyone can write on the walls over at this side. : - ) It's interesting to note how the walls are peeling off; it adds to the rundown vibe. The shop owners didn't want to renovate the place entirely. They wanted instead to keep a part of its history while making a few modern touches. Thus the peeling walls, wooden floors, the open ceiling at the middle portion of the cafe:



At the right side are actual roots of a tree. I wasn't able to take a photo of the tree itself, as there were lots of people, mostly locals, who were dining at this time.


Back in the day, they used to hang birdcages downstairs with different birds. These indicated which prostitute was available for the night.


We had coffee and this dessert called Better Than Sex, which is apparently the bestseller. The greens are rice cakes of sorts, while the ice cream is Kaya flavored mixed with syrup and strawberry slices. It was delicious. : - ) they serve a lot of great brunch options; I would've totally ordered more, but we were all already full from our lunch at the foodcourt in Petaling.

While we stayed here, I listened intently to the playlist and found that they were playing modern songs. Some of which were songs by Yuna, one of which was Decorate. Suddenly I'm transported back to the time I was living in my condo with two of my other friends, furiously typing away what seemed to be a midterm paper due in a couple of hours and had to finish it so I could have it printed at the shop downstairs. Good times.


What to feel about such places? I feel like we've found a gem in some way. I like how creative entrepreneurs transform seemingly rundown places into a functional space where people can gather and dine together, while still retaining much of its history and old charm. You just have to look out for it a bit more. I hope it stands here for a many more years to come!

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It's the middle of the week and I hope you're doing well, dear reader. It's December already, and it is for me the most wonderful time of the year for many reasons. ♡♡♡♡♡ 

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5 comments

  1. Oooh! I like that Merchant's Lane is like a hidden shop. The styling of the interior decor looks interesting. You can't go wrong with the vintage look as long as it's done right. The food looks delicious! Glad you enjoyed the place. Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

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    1. It seems this cafe is actually growing in popularity now, especially since we had to fall in line to get a table. But I'm actually glad that it's making waves! Totally agree with you that vintage looks are really great when maintained properly. Hope this cafe stands for a long time. :)

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  2. Can you believe it if I told you that I, a Malaysian, a Kuala Lumpurian, never been to this cafe yet I keep telling and recommending it to my friends to go there instead? Counting down the days until I get to go to this place myself because they took our traditional sweet snacks and turned it into something different with a modern twist. I can't wait to try it.

    There were a lot of hidden gems like Merchant's Lane waiting to be explore. I'm glad that you enjoyed the dessert. Yuna's Decorate is one of my favourite album from her.

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    1. Whoa! Tqa, you need to go! I really loved this place. It's a total gem, and I'm super glad I had the opportunity to experience being there. :") Yuna is lovely and awesome, I listened to her albums for days after I got back from my trip. So nice to hear from you dear!!

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