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7 Places to Eat Your Heart Out Like a Local in KL

Discover KL, gastronomically.

CNN once wrote that Malaysia’s food is the “sum of many delicious parts.” Fueled by the country's diverse cultural make-up, its capital city’s cuisine is a melting pot of flavours, spices, and cooking techniques, with influences derived from Thai, Chinese, Indonesian and Indian cuisines. 

Variety is the name of the game in Kuala Lumpur. Proud of their multi-cultural heritage, Malaysians of all ethnicities – Malay, Chinese, Indian and others – are passionate about their food. Amidst the metropolitan sprawl dotted with historical monuments, skyscrapers, street markets, and giant shopping malls, you will find some of the most inimitable dishes in the world. They include its (unofficial) national dish, nasi lemak, which is simply rice steamed to fluffy perfection with coconut milk and served with dried anchovies, peanuts, eggs, cucumber, and sambal (an accompanying sauce made from chilli, spices and sometimes shrimp or anchovies).

Let the PARKROYAL Kuala Lumpur team bring you on a KL food tour. Venture with us through KL’s back streets, alleys, and night markets to discover some of the city’s best eats.

1. Best Food in KL City

Restoran Yap Hup Kee
Address:
45, Jalan Brunei Barat, Off Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur 55100, Malaysia
Phone number: +60 3 2148 9220
Opening hours: 9:00 to 5:30pm, 6:00pm to 11:00pm daily (Closed every alternate Tuesday)

Nasi Kandar Pelita
Address:
No. 149 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur 50450, Malaysia
Phone number: +60 3 2162 5532
Opening hours: 24 hours daily (Closed between 1:00pm and 2:00pm on Fridays)

Restoran Yap Hup Kee has a reputation for its silky soft chee cheong fun (rice sheet noodles) with dried shrimp, and its fresh and bouncy yong tau foo – a traditional Hakka cuisine of tofu and vegetables stuffed with fish paste.

There are two renditions of chee cheong fun served here – one doused with curry sauce and the another with sweet sauce. Don’t be afraid to try them both.

If you love spicy sauces, you must try Nasi Kandar Pelita. Located a mere 10-minute walk from KLCC, it is one of KL’s best restaurant chains. Nasi Kandar is said to have originated from Penang, where Indian Muslim immigrants used to carry baskets of rice and dishes on a wooden pole, with the aroma of freshly cooked food heralding their arrival.

While there are no longer baskets and wooden poles to gawk at, you can still feast your eyes on the stunning variety of local Malay and Indian accompaniments on display. To order, simply point at your choice of meat or vegetables (don’t forget to end with a curry) to top off your plate of steaming white rice. You also can’t go wrong with ordering roti canai, a popular Indian flatbread dish served with curry.

Get directions to Yap Hup Kee

Get directions to Nasi Kandar Pelita

2. Best Local Eats at Bukit Bintang

Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea & Coffee
Address:
Lot G85 ICC Pudu, Kuala Lumpur 55100
Opening hours: 5:30am to 2:00pm daily. Closed on Mondays.

Sisters Crispy Popiah
Address:
Jalan 1/77C, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur 55100
Phone number: +60 3 9082 3819
Opening hours: 6:30am to 1:00pm daily (or until sold out)

If you are in the bustling Bukit Bintang area, start your day right with the quintessential Malaysian breakfast of milk tea, kaya toast, and soft-boiled eggs at Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea & Coffee. Here, you can choose to have your bun steamed or toasted, and slathered with butter or kaya, or both. (We recommend both.)

You can also decide on the level of doneness of the eggs. If you prefer them runny, leave them in the steel water pot for 6-7 minutes; 8-9 minutes if you like them more cooked.

Located in the same Imbi market as Ah Weng Koh, Sisters Crispy Popiah started by sisters Theresa and Stephanie Lim is another classic Malaysian dish not to be missed. Popiah first originated in Fujian province, China. Its name literally means “thin wafer,” referring to the soft paper-like crepe skin that is used to wrap healthy ingredients such as grated and steamed turnip, bean sprouts, lettuce leaves, prawns, chopped peanuts, and hard-boiled egg.

The popiah’s sweet and savoury ingredients, coupled with the crunchiness of the peanuts and punch of the sambal chilli, fill your palate with a delightful symphony of flavours. It’s definitely worth waking up early for.

Get directions to Ah Weng Koh

Get directions to Sisters Crispy Popiah

3. Best Places to Eat at Petaling Street

Hon Kee Porridge
Address:
93, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50000
Phone number: +60 1 2227 6281
Opening hours: 4:00am to 2:30pm

Restoran Kim Lian Kee
Address:
92, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, Kuala Lumpur 50000
Phone number: +60 3 2032 4984 / +60 1 9335 9203
Opening hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm

Visitors to KL usually make a date with Petaling Street market at KL’s Chinatown, touted to be the best street market in South East Asia. Also known as “Chee Cheong Kai,” which is Cantonese for “starch factory street” (a reference to its history as a tapioca-producing area,) it houses some of KL’s best street food.

Hon Kee Porridge is one early-riser of a gem. This 50-year-old stall opens at around 4:00am in the morning, dishing out hearty bowls of silky smooth porridge with raw fish slices topped with coriander and ginger. You first have to dunk the “sashimi” into the piping hot porridge, and then stir the porridge to cook the thin fish slices evenly. The result is an impossibly tender and succulent texture.

Restoran Kim Lian Kee’s
main draw and crowd-pleaser is the Hokkien Mee. A popular Chinese noodle dish stir-fried with prawns, pork, and squid, topped with generous helpings of crispy lard, the KL version is slathered in dark savoury gravy. Locals say it is one of the best Hokkien Mee restaurants in the city.

While you’re wandering around Petaling Street, you will see some stalls displaying all manner of meat, vegetables, and seafood on skewers. Named Lok Lok, which literally means “to boil,” it is one of the unique dishes native to Malaysian Chinese. To satisfy your curiosity (and cravings), pick whatever you fancy, and watch these savoury morsels cook in boiling hot soup, or in sizzling oil. Once done, enjoy your skewers with the various sauces available.

For more local KL food with an upmarket twist, read our guide to KL’s best fine dining establishments. Or check out our article on KL’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment spots.

Get directions to Hon Kee Porridge

Get directions to Restoran Kim Lian Kee

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