Second edition of GastroMonth KL and Penang is set to be bigger and better

The event this year will include affordable lunches, starting from RM68 nett for three courses.

Hide KL will be participating in GastroMonth (Photo: Hide KL)

Foodies in Kuala Lumpur and Penang had a delicious time last year when GastroMonth, a first-of-its-kind coming together of great culinary talent, officially launched. Founded by Philip Ting and Lisa Ong of the Southeast Asian arm of Taiwanese tech company FunNow, GastroMonth Kuala Lumpur and Penang 2024 looks set to be bigger, better and, if possible, even more delicious.

Last year’s event brought 45 Michelin Guide-recommended restaurants in the two cities together, giving diners the chance to sample specially curated menus that collectively included four with one Michelin star, 11 Bib Gourmand and 30 Michelin Selected ones. “I felt 2023 was a great first year,” says Ting. “We started off with a media launch event where eight chefs cooked up an amazing menu, followed by an entire month where these Michelin-recommended spots curated special feasts for their guests. I felt the whole month was a communal time, where the entire industry came together with a shared objective.”


Two Michelin-starred Dewakan has been a mainstay of GastroMonth (Photo: Dewakan)

Maintaining June as the dedicated GastroMonth, he says it is because mid-year is traditionally a low month for the majority of dining places. “We purposefully designated the timeline as such so that, with the support of corporates and paying guests, there would be more dining-out activity. Additionally, this low period is a good time for chefs to experiment and get creative. Based on last year’s reports, we are pleased to share that higher sales were generated during GastroMonth … and for this, we must thank all the sponsors, corporations and media for their support and publicity.”

There is an old adage that goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but the FunNow team will be tweaking the format slightly this year. “Last year’s launch gambit with multi-chefs collaborating on a single menu was very well received. So this time, we will have five different themed dinners held over June’s five weekends,” says Ong ambitiously. “Each dinner will have at least three chefs collaborating together. GastroMonth 2024 will include affordable lunches, starting from RM68 nett for three courses, so more people can come try Malaysia’s best restaurants and see just what our talented chefs can do.”

Given the success of the inaugural event, it should come as no surprise that many industry big names have snapped up the nights, with UOB, Shopee and Optimax already on board. “Many companies are, in their own way, supporting the F&B industry,” says Ong. “UOB and Optimax are taking up the opening night where the chefs from Dewakan, Restaurant Au Jardin, Beta KL, Gēn, Hide KL, Akâr and Entier French Dining will come together to curate the menu according to the theme ‘Celebrating Malaysia’.” The spectacular event is scheduled for May 31 and June 1 and will be held at Potager in Bamboo Hills, KL. Shopee, meanwhile, will take up another night with the theme of ‘Modernise Heritage’, challenging the chefs behind East & Cook, Ling Long and Nadodi to pool their collective talents and resources to innovatively curate the evening. “It is wonderful to see chefs and corporates alike get involved in GastroMonth,” says Ting. “They can see the value of supporting and championing Malaysia’s culinary scene. In addition, part of the proceeds of the event will be evenly contributed to charities including, but not limited to, Fugee School, Yayasan Chow Kit and Yong Ai Orphanage.”


Chef Masashi Horiuchi of Potager (Photo: Potager)

In addition, CF Capital, one of Malaysia’s leading boutique firms specialising in diversified financial services and the major sponsor of the Michelin Guide KL and Penang, has given GastroMonth its backing. 

“Having an international presence is part of CF Capital’s pioneering vision,” Ting remarks. “As FunNow’s core business is in reservation bookings, with dining being one of the largest growth divisions, this partnership with CF Capital is basically a joint collaborative effort to elevate the dining scene together. The significance of GastroMonth is in showcasing Malaysia’s F&B industry as collaborative, where chefs and restaurants come together to dedicate their time and skill to work together … just like what tech and capital are already doing.”

Despite all the doom and gloom with regards to the overall economic situation, weakening of the ringgit and general global tensions and uncertainty, the power of a good meal can never be denied. And this is a strength which the GastroMonth team aims to harness. “The very act of eating or sharing a meal is the linchpin of Asian culture,” Ting muses. “We bond, we celebrate, we do business deals … everything revolves around food. Even the colloquial way of asking ‘How are you?’ is ‘Have you eaten?’ Being in the industry, I see it all the time, the positive force of building relationships over food. I have been in meetings where, when conversation becomes scarce or awkward, all you need to do is talk about food. It’s the ultimate ice-breaker and a topic that is always fun to debate on, share intel or even just talk about.”


Beta KL's chef Raymond Tham is excited about what he can bring to the table (Photo: Patrick Goh/The Edge)

Although Malaysia’s dining scene might not be seen as being on a par with that of cities like Singapore or Tokyo, Ting believes it is just a matter of time. “We would love for KL to grow exponentially, equalling Bangkok and Taipei. We do see growth, as demonstrated by the number of new eateries popping up and the young chefs occupying the space. However, tourism needs to be the major catalyst and driver in order for the whole industry to grow and further sustain itself. Our restaurants are definitely up to standard. Just look at the rich culture and produce. So many of our chefs are already exploring and using uniquely Malaysian ingredients in clever, refined ways. What we need to do is market ourselves better and get everyone, from locals to foreign tourists alike, to try the sheer depth and breadth of all our F&B outlets, from small eateries to fine dining rooms. Nothing spurs growth as much as the simple act of people patronising restaurants. This one action will result in an altogether more vibrant landscape as well as continuous improvement in service and the customer experience.”

Just as a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step, it is now up to individuals to contribute to the success of the country’s culinary scene. “GastroMonth is for everybody, not just foodies,” assures Ong. “This year, we have made things even more approachable and affordable with the lunch menus offered at 19 participating Michelin restaurants.”

For the full list of participating restaurants or to book, visit

This article first appeared on May 27, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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