Our Water God: Shawn Chong of Bar Mizukami

To the bartending community of Kuala Lumpur, few are more known than industry legend Shawn Chong. The well experienced bartender is not only known locally, but as a globally recognised leader and pioneers of the Kuala Lumpur bartending industry. With his latest offering, Bar Mizukami, we find out a bit more about his experience and new offering.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I started off in this industry with a Bachelor in Hospitality Management and landed my first job at Hilton Kuala Lumpur as a poolside waiter. I soon progressed to fine dining and began entering bartending competitions. The one that got the ball rolling in bartending was when I somehow clinched 1st runner up for the Finlandia Vodka Cup at the end of 2008. With that success in tow, I went on to compete in the Diageo World Class Bartender platform of which I have been the Malaysian champion for years 2009, 2011 and 2015. In 2015 I was also the SEA Champion for the same competition.

Along the way since Hilton, I have gone on to do various other jobs related to hospitality. I had been doing freelance bartending events and consultancies since 2011. I was also a young lecturer at Sunway University between 2011 and 2014. In 2013, I co-founded Omakase + Appreciate cocktail bar that went on to be awarded 10th on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2016. I’ve also dabbled in the business of education with Bar Class Academy Asia and now I’m focused on the Mizukami Collective.

How did the name Bar Mizukami come about?

When coming up with the name for my new bar I had to look at myself and see what I represent. Firstly I’m Malaysian and secondly my bartending style is Japanese and so I looked at words that could resonate with this identity – Malaysian Japanese. I also looked at the essence of bartending that all comes back to its beginning – water. In Japanese ‘Mizu’ means water and ‘Kami’ means god. ‘Kami’ in the Malay language is ‘us, we or our’. I want to build a community with the Mizukami brand and hence the ‘kami’ part of the name.

How did you get into bartending?

Through joining competitions since college days and into the working world, I guess I found that I have a talent in bartending. Managers who took notice of this allowed me to nurture it by transferring me out of fine dining and into the night life. I’ve been bartending ever since my Vintage Bank days in 2009.

What is your philosophy when it comes to bartending?

Build strong foundations and techniques that equip you with the tools that allow you to create great hospitality experiences for guests. Keep things simple so that you get to focus on honing skills.

Can you share with us about the concept of your Bar Mizukami?

Firstly, a little bit about the Mizukami Collective. I engage in partnerships with other venues to provide beverage and cocktail programs to suit each unique concept. We started off with a Highball concept at Micasa Hotel, an extensive localised menu for The Chow Kit, a botanical concept for the Curious Gardener and a regional classics menu for OneSixFive at Intercontinental Hotel.

Bar Mizukami which is the HQ will exemplify the concept of ‘omakase’. Bar Mizukami aims to be a more refined version of what O+A was by offering continuous menu changes and endless range of off-the-menu cocktails. This bar is the epitome of the concept where I decide what I want to sell and when I want to sell. ‘Going with the flow’ so to speak.


Your bar works by an omakase experience, what can patrons expect?

Definitely not sushi! Haha. Patrons can expect tailor-made cocktails that aim to meet their requests as close as possible. I may or may not do cocktail sets, I’m still deciding. Overall, I would say it would be quite a personal experience with the Japanese style of bartending.

Tell us something about Bar Mizukami that people might not know…

Bar Mizukami is inspired by the Midnight Diner series and thus why the bar is manned by only myself.

What are 3 must try cocktails at Bar Mizukami?

The Onsen Highball, Johnnie Nut Crusta, and the Okinawa Jungle Bird.

Bar Mizukami
Bangunan Ming Annexe,
50100 Kuala Lumpur
+6016 301 6498
Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday, 6.00 pm to 12.00 am
Friday and Saturday, 5.00 pm to 12.00 am
Closed Sundays and Mondays.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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