Tucked away in Chinatown (Kuala Lumpur) and unbeknown to the general passer-by, sits a little retro toy shop…or so it may seem. A small range of what looks like toy action figures line up nicely in a glass cabinet, while a makeshift wooden sign with the letters PS150 hangs aimlessly. Now if you didn’t know you were looking for it, you wouldn’t know it was there.
I mean seriously, who would have thought…right?
But that’s the whole point of a speakeasy bar. You aren’t supposed to even know it’s there. You see, the concept of a speakeasy bar is traced back to the Prohibition-era where it was illegal to sell alcohol. So institutions had to get creative. And so that’s where the concept of a speakeasy bar was born… to create and run a bar selling alcohol, but it’s tucked so nicely away that the cops won’t find you. Today, that’s the whole fun experience of a speakeasy bar, such as PS150.
I first got to experience a speakeasy bar in Singapore, when Hubby and I visited 28 Hong Kong Street. We had arrived to 28 Hong Kong Street…at least that’s what Google Maps had said. And I still vividly remember thinking in my mind “Where the F* is this place?” The area looked dead. There were only dim lights hanging about. It looked like the place had closed for the evening. You see, I was a rookie the first time around. I had no idea that all I needed to do was push through what looked like a closed shop door, and voila!
So for round 2, I wasn’t going to be fooled.
The PS150 Bar
I was on the lookout. Google Maps told me that it was somewhere here on Jalan Petaling, between these few pre-war shop lots. And instantly I spot a man walk out what seemingly looked like a retro toy shop, but he was dressed very well, with an apron on. Ah-Hah! Found it! An unassuming entrance, that’s for sure.
Not long after I speak to the man sitting at the counter, we are allowed to pass through. The first wooden door leads us to a somewhat dark room with no where to go but through the next wooden door. The next door leads to a hallway brightly lit with red lighting. “This can’t be it, where’s the bar?” I think to myself.
So Hubby and I keep walking along until we find the next wooden door, and we continue to walk down the next hallway, which finally leads us to the last wooden door. This last door swings open to an impressive medium-sized room, a very well-stoked bar, funky music, and a number of available seating.
I am impressed.
I love the setup. The bar is nicely lit up, while the rest of the room sit in intimately dimed lighting. There must be at least 100 bottles lined up at the bar, with many labels I have never seen before. The atmosphere is intimate and relaxed, plus the music is great. It isn’t too loud and too clubby, but the setup is more of a hipster lounge bar where you can just relax and chill out all night.
The bar maintains the charm of the building’s former life – exposed brick and plaster walls, red lanterns, dime lighting, a labyrinth of secrecy and intrigue…you know, the building used to host a brothel.
So why PS150 you might ask? A strange choice of name one might be thinking. But it’s definitely not so odd, because it stands for Petaling Street #150 – the very location the bar can be found.
The menu comes to us. It is in a notebook style, and lists out different cocktails with descriptive overviews. The notebook the menu comes in is actually the type of notebook used here in Malaysia schools.
At first the menu felt huge, and I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by the choice. But truly, the menu only lists about 2 cocktails per page, so it isn’t all that bad. Plus, our server, Suruj, kindly assists us in selecting the right cocktails, depending on our taste palette.
The flavour combination of the cocktails is interesting. What I love most about the cocktails at PS150 is the way they use traditional Malaysian ingredients including pandan, assam boi, gula melaka, and calamansi.
If I can give you one tip for your time at PS150… while you’re here for the experience of a speakeasy bar, remember, you’re also here for the drinks. So I dare you…try something you won’t normally try.
Between us, we sampled 4 different cocktails, where were all so different, but oh so delicious.
We also decide to have some nibbles, so we order the Indian Style Spring Rolls. They are delicious, and help to curb a bit of hunger, but they didn’t really have too much of an Indian flavour to them. But alas, we aren’t here for the food!
PS150 was a great experience. From the moment we entered, to the moment we exited, our experiences were heightened by the labyrinth-like secrecy of a speakeasy bar.
The cocktails were all delicious. The loungy music was fantastic (I mean heck, I Shazam’ed a whole bunch of them). The service was great (thanks Suruj!). The atmosphere was relaxing. So yes, I totally recommend paying a visit to PS150.
Cocktails start at approximately RM40 (U$9 / A$12). The menu also offers a range of wines, beers, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages, so fear not, there is something for everyone. You can find the full menu on the PS150 website.
So if you are planning to visit, it is best to make a booking before you go, especially if you want to get a seat in the main bar area.
PS150 is open Tuesdays to Sundays, and is closed on Mondays. Between Sunday to Monday, you can come dressed as you like… wearing slippers? No problem. Wearing shorts? That’s fine too. But if you do come on Fridays and Saturdays, you will need to “dress to impress.”
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No compensation was received for this review and all opinions remains my own.