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Ultimate Foodie Guide Where to Eat in KL Malaysia and Foods to Try
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Before my trip to Kuala Lumpur, I asked my friends from Malaysia what I needed to do with my time in the city. Every one of them gave me the same answer – eat, shop, EAT, repeat! And because the local food is such a popular subject here, I decided to put together this comprehensive foodies guide with everything you need to know about where to eat in KL, as well as which dishes to try!

With some of the best shopping malls in the world and insanely mouth-watering local food, it’s easy to see how I got this answer from my friends. From the famous nasi lemak to satay, fried chicken, rendang chicken  and mee goreng, food in Kuala Lumpur is just too good. 

Below, I’ve run you through a few of my favourite local dishes that you need to sample during your trip to Malaysia to make sure you don’t miss out!

It’s not just the local food that will have you happily stuffing your faces. As a buzzing metropolis, Kuala Lumpur’s food seems to have the best of everything. Hipster cafes, coffee shops, brunch bars, you’re completely spoiled for choice – that’s why I prepared a special section with some of the best restaurants in KL sorted by topics: street food stalls, breakfast, lunch, dinner and fine dining.


Let’s get started with this Kuala Lumpur food guide:

What to eat in KL - 17 Unmissable dishes

You will find all sorts of amazing Asian dishes in Kuala Lumpur – from curries, fried meats, noodle soups, veggie-filled rolls and more, all coming with their own dipping sauce, side dishes, rice and other yummy additions. Seriously, I’m telling you, eating is some sort of art in Kuala Lumpur and I’m all for it!

Below I have listed my 17 favourite dishes from the Malaysian cuisine that I had while I was in Kuala Lumpur.

1 – NASI LEMAK

This dish (literally meaning ‘fat rice’) is so simple yet so good! It’s fluffy rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf accompanied by fried chicken or fish and it’s usually served with fried peanuts, egg, sliced cucumber and spicy sambal. Some of the best nasi lemak in the city is found at Nasi Lemak Tanglin (multiple spots around the city).

Nasi Lemak in Kuala Lumpur
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2 – SATAY

A satay dish is straightforward and delicious: sizzling chunks of meat on a skewer, coated in different kinds of marinades and cooked over a chargrill fire. This type of Malay food is usually served with different kinds of sauces and you can find it all around Kuala Lumpur, especially if you’re asking at a food court.

satay in kuala lumpur
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3 – LAKSA

In case you’re wondering what to eat in Kuala Lumpur for the first time, an authentic laksa dish is probably one of the most common answers. It’s made of rice noodles in a delicious spicy soup, made with coconut – I love this dish! Creamy yet sour, with hints of lemongrass, laksa is usually served with chicken, prawns or fish. And a cold beer on the side, why not?

laksa dish in singapore
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4 – ROTI CANAI

Roti canai is basically a Malaysian adaptation of a classic Indian bread. You can also find it in Singapore as well and it’s basically a pan-fried flatbread, usually served as a side dish. It’s soft, flavourful and you can rip it in pieces and mix it with a curry whenever you’re having a saucy dish.

If you want to try it out, I recommend checking out Mansion Tea Stall where they have a special roti canai.

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5 – BAK KUT TEH

Bak kut teh is a traditional broth made with pork ribs, mushrooms, tofu, garlic and fresh herbs (cinnamon, star anise etc). This dish can be translated to “pork bone tea” and, as simple as it may sound, it’s super delicious! You can find it in lots of places, from a food stall to a fine dining restaurant.

Bak kut teh dish in singapore
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6 – CHILI PAN MEE

This is a type of delicious noodle soup. Aside from the noodles, this dish has minced pork, a soft boiled egg, fried onions, fried anchovies cut into small pieces and, to top it off, a spicy chili sauce. I recommend trying it at Kin Kin –  the chili pan mee is actually their signature dish!

Chili pan mee dish malaysia
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7 – AYAM PERCIK

Ayam percik is barbecued chicken marinated in a spicy sauce made of chili, garlic, ginger and coconut milk. Think spicy, crispy skin and tender, juicy insides. I just love this coconut spiced chicken!

Ayam Percik dish malaysia
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8 – HOKKIEN MEE

Hokkien mee or Hokkien char mee is a dish that can be found in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and some of the surrounding regions. It’s made of thick noodles with lots of dark soy sauce, as well as cabbage, pork, fresh fish cakes and squid. It may sound like an odd combination, but it’s so good, especially if you eat it from a food court where they make it over a charcoal fire.

Hokkien Mee dish malaysia
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9 – RENDANG

There is debate whether Rendang is from Malaysia or Indonesia. What’s not for debate? The fact that it is friggen delicious! This is literally my favourite dish in the world – a rich, spicy dry curry usually made with tender chunks of beef.

Rendang dish malaysia
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10 – JUMPING CHICKEN

This one is a little more out there, but if you’re an adventurous eater it’s one for you to try! Jumping chicken isn’t actually chicken… but grilled frog! You’re in Malaysia, might as well give it a try!

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11 – FRIED NOODLES

You will find two main types of noodles in your local Malay dishes. Mee (the yellow ones) and Koay Teow (fat, flat white ones). Fried noodles of all kinds are some of the most delicious dishes out there!

Fried Noodles dish malaysia
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12 – CHAR KUAY TEOW

Char Kuay Teow is directly translated to “stir-fried rice noodles” and it is a national favourite. Served with prawns or chicken and cooked in pork belly fat and dark soy sauce (plus some bean sprouts), it’s delicious… but known for its high-calorie count!

Char Kuay Teow dish malaysia
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13 – MEE GORENG

Mee Goreng is a savoury noodle dish including a mix of ingredients, usually fish cakes, chicken and prawns. The flavours are a mix of garlic, spices and sweet soy sauce and the dish is served topped with red chillies, lime and crispy fried onions. This is actually a traditional Indonesian dish, but it’s just as good in Kuala Lumpur as well!

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14 – PISANG GORENG

After all these fried noodles, savoury soups and grilled meats, it’s time for a snack! Pisang goreng is deep fried banana. It’s crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, absolutely delicious! You can find them all around Kuala Lumpur, especially at the hawker stalls. 

Pisang Goreng dish malaysia
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15 – DURIAN

Known throughout Asia as the King of Fruits, its spiky shell is filled with a creamy core that so many tourists find… disgusting. Most can’t even stomach the smell, let alone attempt to taste it. 

For me though, it is AMAZING! I grew up in South East Asia and I love the delicious creamy goodness of durian. Especially when it’s in season! Give it a go, I promise it’s so much better than it smells!

coffee in kuala lumpur
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16 – KOPI

Kopi is Malaysia’s local version of coffee. You’ll need to know the lingo to get your order right, as there are different terms of what is included in your kopi. Some popular ones are:

  • Kopi-O – Black coffee with sugar
  • Kopi-C – Coffee with condensed milk (very sweet!)
  • Kopi Kosong – Black coffee, no milk or sugar
  • Kopi Sua – Double shot
coffee in kuala lumpur
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17 – CENDOL

Cendol is probably the most popular dessert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s made of bean or rice flour, turned into a jelly and shaped like noodles. Cendol is usually served with shaved ice, palm sugar syrup and coconut milk. Yum!

Cendol dish malaysia
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19 Best restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Now that you know all about the BEST food in Kuala Lumpur, let’s find out about some of the best Malaysian restaurants. The special section below is divided into 5 different sub-categories: street food stalls, breakfast places, lunch, dinner and fine dining restaurants.

Here are the best local restaurants in the city:

Best street food in KL

Best street food in KL
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One of the top places to go if you want to try the most famous food in Kuala Lumpur is definitely the hawker stalls at the numerous street food markets around the city. 

If you’re after something fancy, this is not the place for you. But if you want a dining experience that is authentic, you’ll find it at the food markets! This is also where you’ll find cheap and nice food in KL.

Little plastic stools are set up around shared tables where both locals and tourists tuck into a mix of Malay specialities. You’ll see spiky durian fruit hanging from the tops of carts, satay sticks sizzling over a charcoal fire and large woks tempting you towards them with a spicy aroma.

Here is where you’ll find some of the best food court selections:

JALAN ALOR STREET FOOD MARKET. If you haven’t got long in KL, this is the place to go to try a little bit of everything that Kuala Lumpur’s food has to offer. It’s a buzzing night market in the bustling Bukit Bintang district where you’ll find little stalls selling all sorts of local delights. It’s busy, hectic and slightly overwhelming, but that somehow adds to the excitement of the whole experience. As you walk through the market, stall owners call you over, persuading you to look at their menus as they try to entice you to take a seat at their tables. This is definitely where you’ll find some of the best Kuala Lumpur street food!

HUTONG FOOD COURT. Hutong Food Court is located at the lower level of Lo 10 Shopping Mall and it’s really charming – the entire place is made to resemble the narrow alleyways of Beijing. It’s like a food village where you’ll find tons of different stalls selling fried fish, soups, barbecued meat, fried noodles and everything in-between.

CHINATOWN. Chinatown is scattered with lots of food stalls selling all kinds of Chinese dishes. If you’re craving something sweet, I recommend checking out Famous Kim Soya Bean – a sweet street stall on Jalan Petaling in Chinatown, right in Kuala Lumpur City Centre. They serve tau fu fa, a type of delicious bean curd with black sugar syrup. Don’t you worry, it’s not as sweet as it sounds!

TIP: Make sure you don’t rush in and stuff yourself at the first stall you see. Take your time to walk around to check out everything there is on offer. Get a few little things across a couple of different stalls so that you get to sample a bit of everything. There is a lot to try, and if your taste buds are in any way as curious as mine, you’ll want to try it all!

Where to have breakfast in KL (+ brunch)

good places for brunch in kl
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RELATED READ: 13 Best Spots for Breakfast and Brunch in KL, Malaysia

I have written a special article dedicated entirely to the best spots where you can eat my favourite meal of the day in Kuala Lumpur – and you can find it on the link above. But I’ll also make a short round-up below in case you need it:

  • Merchant’s Lane – In case you’re wondering where to eat breakfast in KL, this place is one of my top recommendations. This hipster cafe is tucked away in Chinatown, behind a bright turquoise painted door. It’s a charming shabby chic cafe where you can sip on some very good coffee and eat some yummy breakfast and brunch dishes in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Kafe Old Market Square – I recommend checking out this place for a traditional Malaysian breakfast consisting of soft boiled eggs, kaya toast and coffee
  • Hon Kee Petaling Street – if you want to try an authentic breakfast for the Malay cuisine, you should have a taste of the raw fish porridge here. It’s basically a piping hot porridge with thinly sliced sashimi. Fresh and delicious!

Where to have lunch in KL

Where to have lunch in KL
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There are SO many amazing places to go for delish lunch food in Kuala Lumpur! Here’s my selection:

  • Sri Nirwana Maju Banana Leaf – incredible lunch! I recommend the classic banana leaf that is, of course, served on top of a green banana leaf and includes rice, curry (chicken, dhal or fish curry) plus 3 sides. And enough curry sauce to satisfy all your cravings!
  • Sek Yuen restaurant  –  if you’re looking for authentic Cantonese Chinese dishes, this place on Jalan Pudu Street is for you! It’s more than 70 years old and the roast duck here is to die for. 
  • Chinese restaurant Yut Kee – ah, here’s another famous spot in Kuala Lumpur serving Hainanese dishes! The restaurant dates from 1928 and it’s an amazing place to go for a filling lunch. You’ll often find a queue in front, but the waiting is definitely worth it.
  • Tugu Negara Restaurant – this restaurant is right near the National Monument and it takes its name from it too. They serve amazingly fresh sambal and the coconut meat salad is worth trying as well. 
  • The Patisserie – if you’re looking for a (rather fancy, smart-casual-dress code-type-of-fancy) Western alternative, this fusion cafe at the Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur has both savoury and sweet options, from sandwiches to soups, tarts and cakes.

Where to eat dinner in KL

Where to eat dinner in KL
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  • Hanare Japanese restaurant – in case you’re wondering where to go for dinner in KL, you’ll find that this is the BEST Japanese restaurant in KL! Here they serve delicious sushi, sashimi and other fancy plates created by top chefs – perfect for a romantic dinner!
  • Thirty8 – located at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, this place is absolutely perfect for a dinner date. It’s one of the most romantic restaurants and it serves good food, while also offering a gorgeous 360-view of the city.
  • Private – if you’re looking for a private dining experience, this beautiful restaurant at the Chow Kit boutique hotel is one of the best restaurants I can think of. They serve a 4-course menu with Western food and some delicious platters made to share. Yummy!
  • Dining in the Dark KL – if you’re looking for a unique restaurant in KL, this concept of dining in the dark might be the right option for you! This is said to be one of the best restaurants in Malaysia because you’ll get to experience your food with all your senses. The menu is a surprise, but you can tell them beforehand if you have any preference (vegan, vegetarian, allergies etc.).

Fine dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur

Fine dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur
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  • Envi Skydining – this is the best place to eat in KL if you want a unique fine dining experience. You’ll enjoy some delicious food with a view of the entire Kuala Lumpur City Centre. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and, best of all, some pretty decent prices for a fine dining restaurant!
  • Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar – if you love a fine dining restaurant that serves a combo of French and Japanese dishes, this one’s for you. Most of their clientele are celebrities, but who said we don’t deserve a special treat as well?! One of the best things here is their seasonal menu, which is made with fresh, local ingredients and changes from time to time.
  • Nobu – for a fine dining twist, this Japanese-themed place is the epitome of haute cuisine (they have more than 30 restaurants all around the world). Nobu was actually started by a professional chef, a Hollywood producer and… Robert De Niro! This location is on the 56th floor of the Petronas Towers, so you know you’ll get a hell of an experience! Views, amazing food and incredible decor – doesn’t this sound like a nice restaurant in KL for a birthday celebration?
  • Tamarind Hill – Last but not least, Tamarind Hill made it to my shortlist because of their gorgeous location that’s 100% Asian and the incredible food with Thai touches, of course!

RELATED READ: Top 10 Instagrammable Places in KL, Malaysia

BONUS: Join a Kuala Lumpur food tour

Kuala Lumpur food tour
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In case you don’t have a lot of time on your hands but you still want to experience the best of Kuala Lumpur’s gastronomy (especially the street food), here’s my best tip: join a food tour! The food tours I selected below are hosted by professional local guides that will take you to all the important hotspots. Tasting the best local foods in Kuala Lumpur on a busy street while taking in the vibe of the city – doesn’t that sound good?

Here’s my selection of great food tours in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

This was my complete guide that covers all foodie subjects in this city: where to eat in Kuala Lumpur for all occasions and preferences, what dishes to try and whether or not you should join a food tour. With 17 local dishes and 19 foodie locations to check out for breakfast, lunch, street food, dinner and fine dining, I’m absolutely convinced you’ll find the best restaurant in Kuala Lumpur in one of my lists above!

As I mentioned below, the food in Kuala Lumpur is simply incredible and tasting as many local delicacies is a must-do while you’re there. And this guide is here to help.

In case you need more help with your itinerary for the city, I recommend clicking here to find all my articles about Kuala Lumpur. And here you can read all about my adventures in Malaysia!

 

xoxo,

Melissa

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Ultimate Foodies Guide Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
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    Ultimate Foodie Guide Where to Eat in KL Malaysia and Foods to Try
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    I’m a travel enthusiast, content creator and sun seeker extraordinaire! I love a good matcha latte, am obsessed with hats and like to give human names to the stray animals that I befriend on my travels ( I’m talking about you, Lesley!) In 2018 I took the leap and switched my London lifestyle for continuous adventures abroad.

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