Thursday, 28 August 2014

Coliseum Cafe @ Plaza 33

Touted as the 'Longest Operating Western Colonial-Themed Restaurant' in Malaysia, the Coliseum Café has been in business since 1921.  The original café is still operating today at the same premises in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

I have dined before at the original café eons ago, from way back when it used to be the hot spot for steaks in KL.  Nothing much has changed (in 93 years) for this old-fashioned, colonial setting restaurant which continues to serve what is known as Western Colonial Hainanese Cuisine.

The last time I dined at the original Coliseum, I remembered the smell of butter on the walls and the musky smell in the entire café as the place was so old.  Needless to say, I was not ecstatic about the smell.  Now that they have a 1-year old branch, Coliseum @ Plaza 33 (and smell was no longer an issue), it was time to take a step into the revisit the old era of steakhouses (for nostalgic reasons).

Knowing that Coliseum serves old-style western cuisine which would not be in petite portions, I decided to order just one starter for sharing, the Baked Crabmeat @ RM20.90 which is a house speciality.  When the dish arrived at our table, it was a pretty small serving of shredded crabmeat, encased in a crab shell with a crumbed top, that was crunchy but the colour on the crumb tells you that it's way over fried.  When you take a bite, you'd realise that it's dry and that's why it was served with mayo coz you really need the mayo, as well as a squeeze of lemon, to get it going. 

As no complimentary bread was served, we ordered a serving of Garlic Bread (2 pcs) @ RM6 when the old gentleman waiter asked if we wanted any but what he failed to inform us was how many slices of garlic bread was in one order (until I asked him).  He 'cleverly' deduced (and assumed) that we would want 4 pcs (and wrote down 2 portions) since there were 3 of us (without asking us first).  Thank god we ordered only 1 portion as their garlic bread was no where near good and resembled an 'old-school' toasted bread that you can get in any cafe and, worst still, the minced garlic on top were not even browned and infused into the was raw!

With the starters falling short of expectations, we moved on to our main courses.

You can't come to the Coliseum and not try their house specialty....which is their sizzling steaks!  I ordered the Sizzling Tenderloin @ RM51.90 with a choice of either black pepper, mushroom, garlic or brown sauce (I went with brown sauce).  The steak arrived sizzling and smoking hot!  <Holy smokes> totally 'steamed' up my snapshot!

When the smoke cleared, this was how it looked like on the hot plate.  Not to worry though, you won't end up smelling like sizzling steaks all day long as the sizzling is done in a special area (under an exhaust vent) and not in front of you (like in their original café).

The old gentleman waiter asked how I would like my beef done (and gave me only 2 options)...medium well or well done?  [#Note: That's how old-school this steakhouse is and this was how diners always had their steaks done (or overdone in my perspective).  Having it medium rare or medium was probably unheard of (call it the "Chinaman" style of eating beef if you like) since beef is not commonly consumed by the Chinese.]  As I didn't want to go too far 'off the grid', I requested for it to be done to medium (usually in places where I'm not too convinced on the quality of their meat).  [#Note: Medium is the furthest you should go for beef doneness coz anything beyond that doesn't do justice to the taste, texture and quality of the meat.]

On hindsight, I should have asked for medium rare as the steak will continue to cook on the hot plate.  Realising this (later), I can't comprehend how one can ask for well done as it will be way overcooked and chewy by the time you eat it.  My suggestion is to eat it quickly, so that it doesn't overcook plus the sauce tends to dry up and thicken very fast on the hot plate.  Overall, the steak was fairly tender, but slightly chewy, and the brown sauce was really good.  It was the sauce that elevated the dish and made up for the lack of flavour in the meat.

It was served with fried potato wedges (with crispy edges which were good) and some boiled vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) which I didn't care for.
And a simple salad of lettuce and shredded carrots with Thousand Island dressing that was a bit tart but acceptable.
Our next main was another sizzling order from their menu...Sizzling Chicken, but we got Sizzling Spring Chicken & Turkey Ham instead.  When we checked the menu and realised that this was not the dish we ordered, after my snapshot :P, we highlighted it to the old gentleman waiter.  He was hesitant to change it for us at first (as he probably didn't want to admit that he took down the wrong order) but when a young waitress came over, she immediately agreed to change it for us.  [#Tip: Maybe it's time to do away with these old-timers...yeah, I know, I know...they bring nostalgia to the place but, if you want to provide great service, it's time to replace the old with the new.]
Here comes our (correct) Sizzling Chicken @ RM27.90 that came with the same salad, boiled vegetables and potato wedges.
My husband's choice of black pepper sauce for his Sizzling Chicken was another hit!  The tender deboned chicken thigh (and not the spring chicken full of bones) was easy to eat and good tasting when paired with the sauce.
Our final main dish was the Grilled Salmon @ RM42.90 served with fresh vegetables, french fries and garlic sauce (which turned out to be more like a knob of solid garlic butter than a liquidy sauce).  Unfortunately, the salmon cut that arrived at our table was not a salmon fillet but a salmon steak (which my son dislikes immensely because of the bones he has to pick through).  It didn't occur to us to ask what cut it was as we usually get it in fillet form.  [#Tip: They should state more clearly in their menu if it's Grilled Salmon Fillet or Grilled Salmon Steak (and not list it as just Grilled Salmon).]
Compounded with a cut that was not to my son's liking, the salmon was also way overcooked even though it came with a nice char on the outside.  Again, this is an old-school western restaurant who is used to cooking the salmon to this stage of doneness.  After all the good and fresh salmons we had the privilege of eating before, this was certainly not up to par.
Our drinks for the evening were:
Fresh Watermelon Juice @ RM8.90
Iced Lemon Tea @ RM5
Pepsi @ RM4.50
My Personal Opinion

If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane (like me, even if it's just once) to one of the oldest steakhouses in town, you can give this place a go....just for the nostalgia!

The prices here are pretty affordable (for a steakhouse) with most dishes between RM30 - RM50 (except for the more expensive Chateaubriand) and under RM20 for local specialities (plus their weekday set lunches are value-for-money).  I can see why the place is full on a weekend night (even the al fresco dining area) with a steady stream of diners waiting for tables.  The wait for a table is surprisingly fast because their food service is too, in fact too hurried for my liking (they don't wait for you to finish your starter before serving you the main course...everything came out within minutes apart which isn't the most ideal when it's a western-type meal.

Coliseum is most well known for their sizzling meats and that's exactly what they're good at.  I would just stick with anything brown or black pepper sauce.....and forget about everything else...except (maybe?) their Hainanese Chicken Chop (which many have sing praises of) though I'm doubtful the sauce (which looks too reddish from the photos I see on blogs), probably leaning more towards a tart tomato-based sauce, can be better than Yut Kee's (which I absolutely love).

Although they may not be one of the best steakhouses around (or my favourite) but they do have their loyal patrons.....and you simply can't fault their sizzling steaks which have stood the test of time!

Coliseum Café & Grill Room
PG-02 Ground Floor Plaza 33
1 Jalan Semangat Section 13
46100 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7932 3228


  1. I have never been to any of the outlets. The one in Midvalley is always full during lunch time when I walk past. I don't fancy sauce so I didn't feel the attraction to eat here. So who will finally get to eat the spring chicken (the wrong order)? Will the old man's pay get deducted?

    1. I see you also like to have your steaks "naked" like me but (at times) it's nicer with sauce for the not so premium cuts.


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