OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine

OpenHouse Conlay – Malaysian Restaurant

OpenHouse Conlay – Malaysian Heritage Cuisine

Words: Jacob Weber
Photos: Han Sen Hau

OpenHouse has moved house. But don’t worry, KLCC’s premier Malaysian heritage cuisine restaurant hasn’t gone far. The visionary owners have swapped the shelter of the Twins for the shade of towering trees in a pleasant courtyard complex on Jalan Stonor, Conlay — and you should see what they have in store for the place.

See, the other residents of the courtyard are Badan Warisan Malaysia, a leading national heritage NGO that promotes awareness and education on cultural and heritage issues while advocating for a conservation-friendly environment.

I’m handing out bonus Yum List points already because of the sheer proximity to such a good cause, but we’re about to learn so much more. As we get a tour of the grounds, Andrew Wong and Brian Quirk describe the complete transformation that’s to come.

OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine
OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine Restaurant

OpenHouse Conlay – Malaysian Heritage Cuisine

OpenHouse Conlay is partnering with The Ulam School, a project under Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) that promotes the degustory and healing benefits of Malaysia’s rich wild greenery. The school also raises awareness about the indigenous communities who have recognised these benefits for centuries. It’s named after the ulam herb, hailed for its regenerative headline properties — but can really refer to the wide variety of plants, seeds, roots, nuts and flowers found and foraged in the jungles of Malaysia and then harvested in family pots. Alongside Badan Warisan, OpenHouse will soon launch Ujana Warisan, a new cultural and heritage hub in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

To this end, much of the current plot of land will be turned into the herb garden of all herb gardens, a fully interactive experience (with QR codes and everything) with hundreds of local species of flora. The idea is a completely immersive and educational journey through the Malaysian forests in miniature, showcasing the diversity and raw natural beauty across the county — all a stone’s throw from Pavilion shopping mall. The previous restaurant invited you to come and taste truly authentic Malaysian ingredients; the new one invites you to come and touch them, too.

Because, naturally, many of these species feature in the restaurant’s own recipes, so after working up an appetite on our nature walk, we turn our attention there.

They’re currently in a temporary ‘greenhouse’ — a description that rather undersells it. It’s an absolutely gorgeous set-up, somewhere between an elegant wedding marquee and a luxurious safari tent. (It’ll make sense when you see it. Or, maybe not.) There are charming white lattice room dividers, comfortable wicker furniture, lots of greenery, and plenty of interesting artefacts to catch the eye. The stuffed birds from the previous restaurant are still perched here, we’re pleased to see. Sleek bronze cutlery and hanging lamps complete the picture. For a temporary residence, it’s a top-tier one. 

OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine
OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine

OpenHouse Conlay Menu & Prices

We’re only here for the soft launch menu, but if it’s a sign of things to come, then everyone should be very excited about the grand opening. 

Non-alcoholic Refreshments (free corkage until the permanent restaurant is ready)

We start with the Kudap Kudap Sambal Experience (RM37), six types of traditional sambal with various local crackers like rempeyek with its unmistakable whole nut topping, and everyone’s secret favourite, fish crackers. The sambals are the stars of the show; with recipes sourced directly from orang asli communities and prepared using traditional methods, each spicy spoonful is a true taste of Malaysia. From the more pungent fermented rubber seed variety to the complex mango ginger, there are many tasty combinations to try with the different crackers. There’s even one named for the old Malay word for “hell” — and yes, it’s got a kick to it.

Kudap Kudap Sambal Experience
Kudap Kudap Sambal Experience

Palates sharpened and tongues tingling slightly, we move on to something meatier: glistening skewers of Satay Beef (RM49) and Satay Chicken (RM39), which both come with an incredible homemade kuah kacang (peanut sauce). There are several other condiments to complement each bite of juicy, tender, grilled-to-perfection meat, but really, every satay connoisseur knows peanut sauce is the main ingredient.

Satay Chicken & Beef
Satay Chicken & Beef

For a lighter starter, I recommend the Rojak Paku Prawn Salad (RM35): fiddlehead fern (a luscious green jungle vegetable with a lovely sweetness), chopped cockles and prawn, coconut prawn toast, and sambal kerisik (made with ground toasted coconut). The fresh and generous chunks of prawn add some ballast to the vegetables, and there’s a beautiful balance between the subtly sweet, savoury, and spicy flavours. 

OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine
Rojak Paku Prawn Salad – OpenHouse Conlay

The Rendang Tok (RM99) is one of those dishes that makes the table fall silent, except for involuntary grunts of appreciation and approval. This prime beef takes six hours to cook, and we can taste every minute. This isn’t a fancy modern interpretation of the classic dish; this is good old-fashioned beef, lemongrass, spices, dried chilli and coconut milk prepared with love and presented with care. The texture is perfect, the depth of flavour is incredible, and it’s just very, very satisfying all around.

Rendang Tok
Rendang Tok

Make sure to order Kulim Rice (RM7) on the side. This is steamed rice infused with the local kulim fruit to give it some extra edge, with an aroma not too far off shaved truffles and garlic. (I’d rather have kulim rice than truffle rice, that’s for sure.)

The Smoked Duck Ciku Salsa (RM69) is also highly recommended. The sauce, made with the juicy, sweet ciku fruit and more coconut and chilli concoctions, is the perfect complement to the rich, gamey slices of smoked duck breast. 

Smoked Duck Ciku Salsa OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine
Smoked Duck Ciku Salsa

We also sample the Laksa Johor (RM37), which is the real deal. Some diners might be surprised when spaghetti shows up, but that’s exactly what the traditional recipe calls for. White mackerel meat, shrimp, bean sprouts and mixed vegetables make for a hearty topping with an outstanding sauce that leaves a lingering heat. Bolognese just won’t cut it after this …

Laksa Johor  OpenHouse Conlay Malaysian Heritage Cuisine
Laksa Johor – OpenHouse Conlay


For dessert, the Cempedak Cheesecake (RM25) is made with a much-loved local fruit that’s a close cousin to the durian, so you can imagine the smell immediately. Still, it’s pungent in the best way possible, delightfully sweet and creamy – so good that Han Sen ordered several pieces to go.

Cempedak Cheesecake
Cempedak Cheesecake

We’re lucky enough to try some new off-menu items, too, but I won’t spoil the surprise. Needless to say, when OpenHouse Conlay opens its doors again, make sure to invite yourself over.

Reasons to visit OpenHouse Conlay: Malaysian heritage cuisine; rustic recipes using ingredients from orang asli communities; impressive heritage-led project that celebrates Malaysian cultural and culinary conservation.

OpenHouse Conlay
2, Jalan Stonor, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Link to OpenHouse Conlay on Google Maps
+6019-299 0032
* Parking on site
** Nearest MRT – Conlay
*** Vegetarian options
**** Pork-free
***** Free corkage in the soft launch phase.

OpenHouse Conlay Opening Hours
Daily: 11:30 am–3 pm & 6–11 pm

Find more of our favourite Malaysian restaurants here, and stay updated with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations with The Yum List on Facebook here and The Yum List on Instagram here. 

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