Paul Raynor is executive chef at Melbourne's The Middle Brighton Baths. The English-born chef was championed by Albert Roux, working with the French legend in Paris at the Bertie's Restaurant and Le Gavroche in Mayfair under Albert's son, Michel Roux Jr. After moving to Melbourne, Raynor's path took him to The Stokehouse among others before he and business partner Liz Woodcock bought The Middle Brighton Baths.
He regularly travels to Kuala Lumpur to visit family.
TopShelf is a local French restaurant that is tucked away off the beaten track. It's walking distance from the apartment we stay in and we'll go a couple of times for lunch or dinner. It sounds crazy to go all the way to KL to eat French food but it's closer than France. The food is as fantastic as it is authentic, classic French dishes. The menu changes often and the desserts are also very good. They have the best foie gras. See topshelf.com.my
The biggest surprise from my most recent trip to KL is the standard of coffee available. It's a huge improvement and I enjoy popping into Artisan Roast Coffee. They roast onsite and have the full spectrum of coffees from flat white, espresso, chilled latte, fluffy (babychino), cold pour and even nitro coffee, which looks like stout. Sometimes I eat breakfast, other times I'll have one of their speciality cakes. See artisanroast.com.my
BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET
You really are spoilt for choice in KL. Street food is in abundance and when the queue is long you know it's good. Jalan Alor (close to Bukit Bintang) is a street that has a wide variety of hawker opportunities. It's crowded and busy, with locals and tourists. I especially love Nasi Lemak, with its sambal kick.
A MUST-TRY DISH
If you love coconut, Coconut Grove Dessert Corner is a must for the signature shake: ice-cream blended coconut milk and flesh with cubed fruit jelly. It's super refreshing. They also do a great coconut water jelly that is served in the coconut shell. (G-B-02, Lebuh Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya)
Oysters. At Shucked Oyster Bar in Ben's Independent Grocer, Republika I can get over 10 types of oyster (Irish premium, Gallagher special, Sydney rock, Streaky Bay, Loch Ryan & West Mersea to name a few) and a glass of champagne or chablis. See shuckedoysterbars.com
A BIG NIGHT OUT
There are plenty of choices for Chinese food but our favourite is Sin Chau Kee, we've been going there for 10-plus years. We usually go with family & friends and book a table for 10 or 12. It's well worth the drive to Kuchai Lama. It's family-run with no menus in English. We are always the only Westerners there. While we will always order the Nonya whole fish, garlic eggplant, chilli crab and house-made tofu, the Marmite chicken and Guinness ribs are also winners. We do also take suggestions from the staff about market or chef specials. Don't sit in the airconditioned dining room, stick to the al fresco area. (47 Jalan Kuchai Lama, Taman Lian Hoe, 58100 Kuala Lumpur)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
I find that any time of year is good. There are lots of religious and shopping festivals to take into consideration. I usually visit either at the end of January or in July. A July trip coincides with durian season. Well known for its pungent aroma and creamy texture, nothing draws you in or repels quite like it. It's intoxicating. Sold on the street or in speciality outlets, I love to get a durian puff (choux pastry with durian creme patisserie) from the Durian Durian kiosk at Megamall. See midvalley.com.my