Piu Piu Piu: A Japanese-Inspired Coffee Stand in KL

Situated in the Zhongshan Building in the Chinatown area of Kuala Lumpur, Piu Piu Piu is a tiny coffee-stand/bar inspired by the charming small owner-operated F&B places commonly found in Japan. Despite being a bit off the beaten path in terms of accessibility, the cosy environment, simple menu and good vibes has managed to garner quite a loyal following in the short time it has been in operation. We speak to owner, Unagi, to find out what he’s been brewing.

Firstly, why call yourself Unagi (Japanese for eel)?

Because it’s tasty and I like to eat it (laughs). Seriously, it’s because the living spirit of an eel is very strong, even when you cut it into many pieces, its body still moves as it is not entirely dead. I relate to that as I was having some tough times for the past few years, so I just kept trying to survive and do something greater.

How did you get into coffee?

I have been drinking both local and American style coffee since I was young. I find coffee can connect people and bring happiness even if it is just for a while, so I decided to learn more about the craft of coffee making. Prior to opening Piu Piu Piu, I was working in other coffee places for 2-3 years.

So why open up in Zhongshan?

It was always a dream of mine to own a small bar that is kind of hidden away. I used to travel to Japan quite often and was inspired by their small bars, so I wanted to bring that concept here. Just a small, sophisticated place for people to sit down, enjoy their cup of coffee and take a quick break. Even though it is in the heart of the city, it kind of feels that it is far off. The energy here is good and the people are friendly.

What does Piu Piu Piu mean?

Back in the day when we were kids, we would run around with our water guns and shoot each other whilst shouting “Piu Piu Piu!(Emulating the sound of a laser beam of sorts). To me, this was one the most happiest and fun times in my life, so I want to apply that here. It is not just work, it is also fun.

How did you curate your menu?

I just wanted to have something simple where people could come and enjoy a quick bite or drink, nothing too fancy, just something simple that suits the place. The reason that I want to keep things simple is because I don’t want to confuse customers with too much choices and make it difficult to decide what to have.

What are some of your specialities apart from coffee?

The cakes we sell are home-baked by my partner using only non-processed ingredients. The most popular are the Burnt Cheese, Apple Crumble and Nangka Cheesecake. We also do a Lemon Sour that is made with fermented lemon and lemon soda, which I make by myself. There is both non-alcoholic and alcoholic versions.

Piu Piu Piu serves hot beverages, alcoholic drinks, toasted sandwiches and homemade cakes and is open from 11am-7pm between Tuesdays to Saturday and 11.30am-6pm on Sundays (closed on Mondays). It is on the 2nd Floor of of the Zhongshan Building, Jalan Rotan, Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For more info about special events, menu items and opening hours, follow them on Instagram at @piupiupiu.kl.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Jules @ Streething