Streetscapes: A hot spot for bubble tea in Setapak

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 23, 2019 - December 29, 2019.

PV128 comprises mainly 4-storey shopoffices

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The population in Setapak has increased over the years. The name of the suburb means “one step” in Malay and may refer to its short distance to the Kuala Lumpur city centre. The former tin mining and rubber plantation area is also near Gombak, Wangsa Maju, Ampang, Melawati and Taman Melati.

Setapak is easily accessible via major roads and highways such as Jalan Genting Kelang, Jalan Taman Ibu Kota, Middle Ring Road 2, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway and Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway, and will be linked to the upcoming Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway, which is due to be fully operational next year. Companies such as Platinum Victory Sdn Bhd and SkyWorld Development Sdn Bhd are developing projects in the vicinity — a testament to the suburb’s strategic location.

According to Rahim & Co International Sdn Bhd research director Sulaiman Saheh, the area comprises mainly 4-storey shopoffices, high-rise developments such as Platinum Arena, Platinum Teratai and SkyAwani IV Residence, and 1 to 2-storey detached and terraced houses.

“The 4-storey shopoffices in PV128, with built-ups from 1,300 sq ft, were transacted in the region of RM460,000 to RM2.25 million, or RM330 to RM760 psf, in 2018 and 2019, depending on the location. These translate into yields of 4.1% to 6% per annum,” says Sulaiman.

“The current asking prices of the same shopoffices are in the region of RM460,000 to RM1.6 million, while the asking rent ranges from RM1.20 to RM5.50 psf.

“In 2010 to 2013, the shopoffices in PV128 were sold at RM1,000 psf for ground-floor units and RM500 to RM600 psf for upper-floor units. Since then, the market has seen a downturn, with prices softening to an average of RM300 to RM450 psf,” he adds.

The high-rise units and landed properties, which have built-ups of 800 to 1,700 sq ft, can fetch an average of RM400,000 to RM520,000, or RM320 to RM500 psf, with yields of 2.5% to 4% per annum.

Jalan Genting Kelang in Setapak is a street known for its bubble — or boba — tea shops. The boba craze constantly brings long lines of customers to these shops.

Bubble tea is definitely not new to the local market, with major brands such as Taiwan-headquartered Chatime and homegrown-brand Tealive dominating most of the markets.

Top Taiwanese brands such as The Alley, Daboba, Chatto Handcrafted Tea Bar, Panntea, The Black Whale and Xing Fu Tang have made their presence felt in Jalan Genting Kelang and they are within walking distance of each other.

My two favourites are Panntea and Chatto. Apart from delicious bubble teas, Panntea also offers fruit teas. If you are looking for drinks with fresh ingredients and inventive flavours with no artificial colouring or preservatives, do try its beverages. Its signature milk teas are Green Tea Brown Sugar Boba Milk and Brown Sugar Boba Milk, while its signature fruit teas include Black Currant Yogurt and Strawberry Yogurt Sijichun Tea.

Meanwhile, Chatto is a Japanese-concept tea bar that offers great-tasting drinks without compromising on the health benefits. According to its official website, the company was established in 2017 founders Terrence and Yan, who saw the potential in starting their own tea business. Its premium tea base is imported from Shizuoka, Japan, as well as Taiwan and China.

Among Chatto’s must-try drinks are Organic Oolong Milk Tea, Cheese Winter Melon Tea, Matcha Pearl Latte and Brown Sugar Ginger Tea. Customers can choose the sweetness level of their drinks, allowing them to enjoy their beverages guilt-free.

Ninjaz, which is just a stone’s throw from Chatto, offers a variety of cheap and good-quality mobile accessories, including phone cases, screen protectors, power banks and selfie sticks. The shop is brightly lit with products arranged in an organised manner to give customers a relaxed shopping experience.

Nearamenities include the Setapak Central mall, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, Columbia Asia Hospital, Sri Utama International School and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.

Sulaiman notes that although Setapak is a mature area, new developments are still being built due to its close proximity to the Kuala Lumpur city centre. “The target market for these developments are the upper B40 and lower M40 demographics, particularly those working in the city centre.”