Food is one of life’s great pleasures and, if you’re anything like me, sampling excellent local cuisine is especially important when on holiday. My foodie’s guide to the best dishes and restaurants to try in Kuala Lumpur will keep your tastebuds happy, while Expedia’s travel guide will satiate the explorer in you.
There are several national dishes of Malaysia and you can probably find most of them in the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. Nasi Lemak, a rice based Malaysian delicacy usually cooked in coconut milk, features anchovies, a boiled egg, chilli paste and cucumber slices. It’s often served with extras such as fried chicken.
Chili Pan Mee is also a dish that you simply must try. It’s a Chinese-Malaysian offering that combines soft noodles, fried anchovies, fresh scallions, peanuts, shredded pork and an egg; all on one mouth-watering plate.
When it comes to desserts, expect to find the usual cakes, brownies and ice-creams. If you want to go for traditional offerings, try Ais Kacan, meaning ‘iced beans’, which is a rainbow of coloured ice shavings flavoured with sugar syrups, peanuts and coconut jelly. Other sweet treats include Goreng Pisang and banana fritters. Burbur Cha Cha features cubes of sweet potatoes, yams and sago in a pandan-infused milk and is well worth trying, especially as it can be eaten at breakfast.
What to Drink
Try out some delicious local beverages, such as the longan, luo hon guo and winter melon drink, which is boiled and then sweetened with sugar. If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, then sip an authentic Masala Chai, or try out a cup of Cham, which is a mix of tea and coffee that has been sweetened with condensed milk. Lassi, a sumptuous yoghurt drink with mango puree, is another delicious option.
Malaysia has a thriving and growing café scene, where you can sample great food and good coffee. Coffee is a big deal in KL and a relatively new movement, locally known as ‘coffee’s third wave’, focuses on real coffee, sourced locally and made by professional baristas. KL has come a long way from the chain coffee houses of the 90s. For brunch, there is a vast selection of funky eateries serving up treats such as banana and chocolate waffles, or American-style breakfasts with eggs and hash browns.
The Jalan Alor district has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last 10 years and now, is a hip place to hang out and enjoy street food from the numerous hawker stalls. This place really comes to life after 6pm and with all the lights from the stalls and aromatic smells, it’s a real feast for your senses. Expect to sample handmade dim sum, deep fried durian and sizzling barbecued satay and scallops. Located in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown area, Petaling Street is also popular and offers up hawker stalls and plenty of restaurants serving Chinese dishes and seafood.
If you’re looking for high-end boutique restaurants, Kuala Lumpur will not disappoint. Sleek, stylish and eclectic, Cilantro is one to consider, if you’ve got some extra cash in your wallet. The menu is a delightful fusion of modern French cuisine with a Japanese twist, featuring treats such as the steak tartar with quail yolk and parmesan crisp. Enak is another upscale option, serving home-style Malaysian dishes, presented in a contemporary way and is also worth considering.
If my Kuala Lumpur food guide has given you a taste for food trips in Malaysia, check out this Makan Road Trips planner. Select your destinations across Malaysia and it’ll tell you which local dishes you can try along the way.