[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] Modern-Indian fine dining at FLOUR

Mumbai-born and KL-based restaurateur-chef extraordinaire, Yogesh Upadhyay (‘Chef Yogi’ to his many fans)'s FLOUR is a veritable temple to Indian fine dining in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s retail & commercial district of Bukit Bintang.

I first came across FLOUR in its old incarnation in the upmarket KL suburb of Bukit Damansara back in 2017. At the time, maverick Chef Yogi was pushing the boundaries of Indian cuisine in Malaysia, setting new heights in (North) Indian cooking standards in the multi-cultural polyglot Kuala Lumpur society.

Malaysia, and by default Kuala Lumpur, has always had a large Indian populace, ever since the British landed on its shores back in the 18th-century. Here, they found a lush, tropical land smack in the middle of the the profitable trade route between its Crown Colony, British India to the West, and the Spice Islands, and China & Japan to the East. What was to be called Malaya was peopled by the easy-going native Malays, content with their agrarian and sea-faring lifestyles, so the British brought in thousands of hardy Indians to build the country’s infrastructure: the roads, railways & ports, work the fields and the plantations, and man the civil service. The Indian civil servants, already used to working under the British administrative system back in India, brought with them the technical skills which no one else in British Malaya had at the time: they were the accountants, the engineers, the teachers.

Today, 6.8% (2.2 million) of Malaysia’s 32.7 million populace are Indians. The overwhelming majority are Tamils, from the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, although there are sizable Bengali, Punjabi, Gujerati, Malayalee and Telugu communities.

So, when Chef Yogi first offered food from his native Maharashtrian roots at FLOUR circa 2017, the-then new kid on the block, he initially faced incredulity and scorn from his first Indian-Tamil customers, more used to the rustic, Tamilian fare that’s de rigeur in their neighbourhood at the time. But, like the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down: there is no denying the sheer talent & finesse of Chef Yogi as he slowly but surely dismantle his detractors’ resistance and won them over with the quality, refinement and good old-fashioned deliciousness of his cooking. In time, his reputation sees customers from all over Kuala Lumpur flocking to taste perhaps the best Indian food, not just in the city, but the country!

Fast forward to 4.5 years later, and we have FLOUR in its new, much posher digs in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Here again, Chef Yogi has chosen to challenge our concept of what Indian cooking should be. For here, the maverick chef moves away from FLOUR’s original concept, and into a wholly new realm - stretching the boundaries of what constitutes Indian cuisine.

FLOUR is now ensconced in a bungalow, affording it more exclusivity, as compared to the Plaza Damansara commercial/retail row of shophouses where it was previously at.

The decor eschewed any trappings of a traditional Indian restaurant:

The breads served at the beginning gave an indication of what’s to come: a Franco-Indian pairing of mini-croissants & Indian flatbread, served with cumin-flavoured butter.

Beluga caviar on charcoal-grilled buckwheat galette

Grilled scallop with mushrooms

Spicy root vegetable soup poured over charcoal-grilled Portobello mushroom

Sun-dried octopus tentacles

Monk fish with green apple sauce

Barley gnocchi with root vegetable ragout

Charred suckling goat brushed with spices

Venison steak with brown sauce

Sultana with Hennessy XO, strawberry with Dom Perignon champagne, cocoa and walnut twill

BBQ sweet potato, reduced milk, sesame praline

Digestif: single-origin Kelantan chocolate with Hennessy XO

In its new incarnation, Chef Yogi sought to raise the bar for Indian fine dining in Kuala Lumpur - his pedigree allows him the freedom to experiment, and to go closer to fusion/modern-Indian than any other Indian chef in Malaysia has dared to do.

The new FLOUR is not cheap by any means, but for the serious gourmand, it is a must-visit, to experience what fine dining in Kuala Lumpur is like at its apex.

12, Jalan Kamuning, off Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +6012-960 005
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm daily


Ahha. The “benefits” of the colonial past, eh?

We were in South Africa a few years back and our guide told us that the country’s Indian heritage population , also date back to arriving as indentured workers durin the colonial times. The local Zulu population were not inclined to farm the crops that the British were planting, preferring to continue to raise their cattle which were the mark of wealth and status.

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The Zulus are a strong, proud race, too.

The Malays are more like their Polynesian cousins - gentler, more sedate. In a bountiful land where food grows all around them, the Malays balked at the back-breaking work which the British had in mind for their colonies and protectorates in Malaya. So, the colonialists brought in the Indians, and also the Chinese who worked the tin mines as coolies, and also dominated the retail & transport/logistics trades.