Kuala Lumpur (aka KL), the capital city of Malaysia, is a huge melting pot of people, cultures and cuisine. From Malay, Chinese, Indian and regional cuisines to international offerings that experiment with local flavours, eating here is a national obsession, and food is cheap too! Street fare is hugely popular and eating out into the wee hours of the night is the norm. While most others stop with breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner, city folks continue their love affair with food with supper and maybe even a late night bite before finally retiring for the day. It is a consuming affair but one that everyone does with great relish! Here’s a quick roundup of the city’s popular enclaves that are popular with the locals.
Food options are aplenty here and not limited to the gleaming twin towers. The area is well-connected all the way from the Bukit Bintang shopping district by a covered and air-conditioned pedestrian walk.
Troika Sky Dining
Dine with the city skyline in the background at one of the three brand new restaurants on level 24 of The Troika building. The establishment is separated into Cantaloupe (French restaurant), Strato (Italian restaurant) and Claret (wine bar).
Tower B, The Troika, Persiaran KLCC
03 2162 0886
Acme Bar & Coffee
Acme serves Western dishes with clever Asian accents. Try the sambal hebi aglio olio spaghetti (pasta in shrimp based spicy sauce), black ink pasta (clams with Asian-style stir-fry vegetables and ginger floss) and for dessert, go bananas with their scrumptious jackfruit cake.
19 Persiaran KLCC.
03 2162 2288
The restaurant has three separate sections for guests to sample food from Malaysia’s three main ethnic groups. Some of the dishes such as the ayam percik panggang (spicy grilled chicken), ikan pari bakar (grilled stingray) and satay are prepared in front of guests.
DoubleTree by Hilton KL, 182 Jalan Tun Razak
03 2172 7272
One of the grand dames of KL, Ming Palace serves amazingly good Sichuan-style food with Thai and Shanghainese touches. Located within Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur premises,the restaurant is also renowned for its Peking Duck and dim sum. Sundays are busy with families spending hours at the dining table, so reservations are highly advised.
Corus Hotel KL, Jalan Ampang
03 2161 8888
Bumbu Desa (Indonesian Cuisine)
“The restaurant is within walking distance from my workplace and I don’t think I can get good nasi padang anywhere else in the city centre besides Bumbu Desa. The restaurant’s ikan nila (nile tilapia fish) is to die for!” ~ DJ Luqe (Zouk KL Resident DJ / Hip-hop DJ)
Level 4, Suria KLCC, KL
03 2161 3530
Just four kilometres from the city centre, Bangsar is a suburb that keeps reinventing itself. Once a clubbing area, Bangsar is home to the well-shod, young executives, expats and even students from neighbouring universities. Two malls – Bangsar Shoping Centre and Bangsar Village – house the most number of eateries here. Over and above that, many stand-alone restaurants, pubs, boulangeries, cafés and humble coffee shops jostle for attention.
The Daily Grind
The only gourmet burger joint in Bangsar, this diner dishes out a variety of tasty burgers such as G’Day Burger, Classic Beef Burger and Triple Stack Burger.
1 Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, KL 03 2287 6708
This restaurant offers an extensive menu of commonplace Asian fare with a twist. For instance, Wondermama’s special Maggi Mee Soup gets an uppity makeover with the addition of salmon, chicken hot dog, beef bacon and a fried egg!
Ground Floor, Bangsar Village, Bangsar Baru, KL
03 2284 9821
The café is known for its cheery ambiance with a good selection of meals from salads to hearty homemade pies and lasagnas. Many claim the café’s beef lasagna is one of the best in town. A play land for children keeps the tykes occupied while mummy and daddy grab a bite.
First Floor, Bangsar Village, Bangsar, KL
03 2282 8301
Although Chinatown may not be as upscale as other areas in KL, the street still has its own charm. The area is well known for its heritage buildings despite modernisation creeping up around it with supersonic speed. The main attraction here is the night market on Jalan Petaling. Also, do wander around the main streets and you will discover many stalls selling traditional Chinese fare like charcoal-flame cooked Hokkien noodles, bak kut teh, wantan noodles etc. Follow your nose and look out for queues. The longer the queue, the tastier the food! Check out for these eateries in the Chinatown area.
Old China Café
EEstablished in the 1930s, Old China Café’s decor is a throwback to the past with its marble-topped tables and salon-like wooden swing doors. One of the oldest restaurants in KL, the restaurant serves mouth-watering Nyonya food such as fish head curry, devil curry chicken and beef rendang (meat in dry spicy sauce).
11 Jalan Balai Polis
03 2072 5915
LOKL Coffee Co.
Caffeine addicts can get their daily fix at this modern coffee shop that sells all types of coffees from European-style espressos to local kopi susu (coffee and milk). The dessert counter here serves both local and Western delectables such as putu mayam (string hoppers) and strawberry cheesecake.
30 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
03 2022 1899
Patrons can enjoy refreshing drinks with snacks and bites at the ground floor, while the second floor houses Ril’s steakhouse, which is said to be one of the best in town.
198 Jalan Tun HS Lee
03 2022 0528
Brickfields / Little India
This area was once a brick kiln, hence the name. Later, it housed a railyard that subsequently became the city’s main transportation hub at KL Sentral. Often called the religious centre of KL as the small area houses many temples, churches and mosques, Brickfields is also famous for its Indian fare. From fiery South Indian curries to mellow Punjabi dishes, Brickfields is a riot of colours and flavours.
This restaurant is one of the top choices for South Indian vegetarian cuisine in KL. Sample the restaurant’s parotta (South Indian bread served with two curries) and hot idly (steamed rice and lentil patties served with chutney and sambar, a lentil stew). Order a banana leaf meal if you want something more filling.
196 Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields
03 2260 3755
Vishal Food & Catering
Two words to describe this banana leaf joint: ‘Cheap’ but ‘good’. Try rasam (South Indian pepper soup) and dhal (lentil stew) with rice, or tuck into the various chicken, mutton and seafood preparations – you’ll be licking your fingers at the end of the meal! The eating arrangement is ‘mess’ style – communal eating at long tables.
22 Jalan Scott, Brickfields, KL
03 2274 0995
This little gem of Brickfields has been serving Hainanese fare since 1969 and is still known for the best chicken and pork chops in the city.
194 Jalan Tun Sambathan, Brickfields
03 2274 1842
Facing KL Sentral and a mere 200 metres from KL Sentral Monorail station, Restoran Puteri serves simple but honest Malay food at very reasonable prices. The assam pedas (sour and spicy gravy) fish and masak lemak (meats in coconut and turmeric gravy) dishes are well worth a second helping here while the kerabu (Malay salads) are refreshing and use greens and vegetables seldom found on city slickers’ dining tables. The spread of kuih-muih (Malay cakes) in the evening is equally mouth-watering.
146 Jalan Tun Sambanthan, KL
Located just behind the spanking new Istana Negara (National Palace), Solaris Dutamas is the latest F&B enclave in KL. This new kid on the block is sprawling with trendy restaurants, cafés and pubs.
Co-owned by Masterchef Malaysia contestant Nik Michael Imran, this restaurant is fast gaining cult status for its ‘refreshingly uncomplicated’ offerings. An extensive selection of Western dishes such as tapas, pastas and straightforward fare like baked fish and lamb cutlets are served at reasonable prices.
Block A4, UG1-05, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, KL
03 6411 6499
Jake’s Charbroil Steaks
This steakhouse has been dishing out quality cuts of prime beef for more than 30 years in Medan Damansara. The food is reasonable priced but definitely worth paying for perfectly cooked steaks and prime cuts.
21 Jalan Setiapuspa, Medan Damansara, KL
03 2094 5677
The Humble Chef
Where else can you find a MYR5 plate of pasta in the city? Head over to the flyover bridge that links Pusat Bandar Damansara to Kenny Hills and feast on simple, excellent, value-for-money meals sold from the side of a van. The menu is limited and stays away from unnecessary flourish but the dishes such as the carbonara and pita breads are quick fixes on hungry nights. Humble Chef also operates a branch in Plaza Damansara.
Jalan Damanseri, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL
014 229 6854
Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio
“The restaurant serves exciting modern French and fusion dishes – delicious and very presentable. My personal choice is the Moist Hazelnut Cake. It’s served with a dollop of lemon curd and milk chocolate curls. Simply divine.”~ Deborah Henry (Miss Universe Malaysia 2011 / TV Host)
A-4-1-5 Dutamas Solaris,Jalan Dutamas, KL
03 6207 9572
The street that never sleeps; the CBD of KL is jam packed with restaurants serving every imaginable cuisine. The norm here is to shop first and then eat, or eat first and go clubbing later due to the concentration of clubs, lounges and dancehalls. Easily accessible by monorail, most of the eateries are housed in the many malls there with whole floors dedicated to the pastime of stuffing one’s face silly. The main streets and side alleys too are teeming with good restaurants. Hawker fare, however, reigns supreme here!
The food court in the basement of Lot 10 shopping mall has been artfully transformed into Hutong. Like a rabbit’s warren with an exciting food outlet at every turn and corner, this is the go-to place to sample popular Chinese dishes scoured from all over the country. This is one place you’ll never get bored of as the choices are simply endless. Some famous bites you must try are the Soong Kee beef noodles, Campbell mini popiah (spring rolls) and Ipoh chicken rice.
Lower Ground, Lot 10, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
03 2782 3840
Jalan Alor / Changkat Bukit Bintang, Tengkat Tong Shin / Jalan Mesui / Jalan Nagasari
Located on a road parallel to Jalan Bukit Bintang, locals and even tourists go into a feeding frenzy at this hawkerfare haven. Lined with stalls selling everything from noodle dishes, rice served with meats and vegetables, fresh seafood to freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice and even scarily large durians, Jalan Alor used to be notorious for nocturnal activities but is now purely dedicated to the crime of overeating. During the daytime, it is a nondescript city street but at night, plastic chairs and tables line the street while chefs get busy with their woks, pots and pans. Grilled dishes are quite popular here. Look for Ah Wah’s finger-licking chicken wings and Ming Kee’s grilled fish. Be prepared to sweat it out from the humidity and wrestling with delicious crab claws!
Further down are Changkat Bukit Bintang, Tengkat Tong Shin and Jalan Mesui/Jalan Nagasari where literally every type of world cuisine is well represented by the many, many restaurants, pubs and lounges there. Notable are Delucca (Gr Floor, Office Tower, 1 Jalan Nagasari 03 2144 6545) for Italian fare, The Green Man (40 Changkat Bukit Bintang 03 2141 9924) for British grub, and Limablas (15 Jalan Mesui 03 2110 1289) for authentic Nyonya ( Straits Chinese) dishes. Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang (walk towards the KFC building opposite Plaza Bukit Bintang and turn into Changkat Bukit Bintang. Jalan Alor is on your left)
Malay cuisine is best eaten at warung (stalls) or preferably in the kitchen of someone’s grandmother. But if you want some frou frou with your sambal, head to Bijan. This upscale restaurant offers a fine introduction to Malay cuisine served in a a contemporary setting. Signature dishes here include rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs) and rendang itik (deep-fried duck topped with aromatic rendang sauce).
3 Jalan Ceylon
03 2031 3575
Luk Yu Tea House
“I love dim sum and this is one of the few places that serves halal dim sum in KL. Luk Yu Tea House is great for me to bring my family and Muslim friends to enjoy Oriental dishes.” ~ Deanna Ibrahim (Model)
181 Starhill Gallery, Jalan Bukit Bintang
03 2782 3850
A popular all-day dish with Malaysians, roti canai is an unleavened bread, which is kneaded with oil and compressed over and over on itself to create fl aky layers when the bread is cooked over a flat griddle. Contrary to popular belief, the word canai doesn’t refer to Chennai in India as the bread has been in existence long before the city changed its name from Madras to its current name. The word canai in Malay refers to the action of kneading.
Valentine Roti 1 Jalan Semarak, KL
Literally meaning a ‘mix’ or even a ‘mess’, rojak is simply a salad of flour fritters, cucumbers, jicama, boiled potatoes and hardboiled egg with a thick peanut sauce to complete the dish. A fruity version consists of chopped fruits tossed in a thick soy sauce and shrimp paste sauce.
Banana Leaf Rice
This meal is usually eaten during lunch or dinner and the portions are generally big. The rice is served on a banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables and papadom. You can order side dishes as well such as chicken, mutton or fish. This is a South Indian speciality and many restaurants will also offer a vegetarian spread and free payasam (sweet gruel like dessert) on Fridays.
Sri Nirwana Maju
43 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, KL; Sentul Curry House
239 Batu 2, Jalan Ipoh, KL; Vishal Food & Catering
22 Jalan Scott, Brickfields, KL
Fish Head Curry
The fish head is considered a delicacy and tastes amazing in a broth of rich curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and brinjals. The curry is a very popular Indian way of serving it but Nyonya style calls for a tangy tamarind and coconut milk broth.
GO HERE: Restoran Ahamed (or known as Stadium Fish Head Curry)
Jalan Stadium, KL
Char Kway Teow
This stir-fried noodle dish is a Penang favourite but some pretty tasty ones can be found in KL too. Flat rice noodles are fried on a very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chilli, belacan (shrimp paste), prawns, cockles, bean sprouts and Chinese chives.
Rocky 15 Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar;
Doli 16 Jalan Wan Kadir 4, Taman
Tun Dr Ismail, KL
This is a traditional dessert of coconut milk, jelly noodles made from green pea flour, shaved ice and palm sugar. Refreshing to drink on a hot day, some cendol dishes may also have stewed red bean, durian flesh and glutinous rice.
43 Jalan Rampai Niaga, Setapak, KL
Bak Kut Teh
A Chinese herbal soup that is stewed with pork ribs and braised bean curd skins, it’s usually eaten with rice and Chinese cruellers.
35, 37, 39 Medan Imbi, KL;
222 Jalan Ipoh Batu 2, KL
This is undoubtedly Malaysian’s favourite breakfast dish. The rice is cooked in coconut milk and served with cucumber slices, fried whitebait fish (ikan bilis), fried groundnuts, hard-boiled egg and chilli sambal.
Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa:
4 Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru, KL;
Nasi Lemak Tanglin:
Medan Selera, Poliklinik Komuniti Tanglin, Jalan Cenderasari, KL;
Nasi Lemak CT Garden:
Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru, KL
Satay consists of skewers of marinated meat, grilled over charcoal fire. This dish is best eaten with cucumber, raw onions, and ketupat (compressed rice cubes) all slathered in thick and spicy, peanut sauce.
Sate Kajang Haji Samuri:
21, Medan Mara, Jalan Raja Laut, KL;
1, Ampang Waterfront, Ampang
Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa
This iconic nasi lemak stall in Kampung Baru has been serving a wide variety of dishes to go with the rice since the 1970s.
MUST TRY: Nasi lemak with sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chilli) or paru goreng (fried cow lungs)
4 Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru, KL
03 2202 8812
Stop by Jai Hind to sample authentic Indian delicacies that won’t hurt your wallet. This hidden gem is known for its high quality Indian sweets.
MUST TRY: Indian sweets such as kalakand (solidifi ed, sweetened milk and cottage cheese), laddu (ball-shaped sweet made of flour and sugar), and jalebi (deep-fried wheat-flour batter in circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup.)
15-17, Jalan Melayu, KL
The steakhouse has been faithfully serving good food since colonial days and preserves its nostalgia with starched linens, smoky hallways and stern looking elderly waiters.
Hainanese chicken chop, sizzling steak
98 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL
03 2692 6270
Famous for their soulful pork dishes, Yut Kee has been around since 1928 and it is now run by the third generation members of the family.
Roti Babi (deep fried bread stuffed with minced pork)
35 Jalan Dang Wangi, KL
03 2698 8108
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