Kuala Lumpur Food
Our Top Restaurant Picks
KL received a vote of confidence when Nobu recently came to town. Perched at level 56 of the ‘third tower’ of the Twin Towers (anything’s possible in KL; it’s immediately adjacent to the Twin Towers), the views are not to be missed but the food is the main attraction here.
Order the seven-course Omakase menu including salmon tartare, sushi, tuna sashimi salad, black cod miso and beef tobanyaki. Stick around for post-dinner drinks with unbeatable views in the lounge.
Nobody in KL does Vietnamese better than Sao Nam. Located in a quaint inner city bungalow it’s got a cool vibe, great wine list and to-the-recipe-authentic cuisine. Regulars book ahead for the subliminal mangosteen and prawn salad while most savour coconut shoot salad, Vietnamese pancake, beef or chicken pho and honey chicken. Dine under the stars or inside surrounded by a colourful gallery of patriotic posters.
Eat Like A Local
Many argue the best Malay food is street food but Bijan dispels that with excellent spicy dishes, enticing wine lists and stylish surroundings close to KL’s happening ‘pub street’. Local Malay favourites are served with contemporary twists. While it’s hot and spicy; the food isn’t mouth-numbing with dishes like otak-otak delicately spiced followed by durian chocolate cake desert.
Brickfields is an Indian part of the city near KL Sentral. It’s over the top Bollywood with buildings painted garish purple. There’s northern Indian (naan and tandoori) and southern Indian (rice on banana leaves rather than plates). Banana leaf curry is a rite of passage; enjoy the basics (rice, vegetables and papadums) and add chicken or fish. Eat it with your right hand only. Try Rajoo’s, Annalakshmi, Seetha Ram or Jassal Tandoori.
Typically, a mall food court would not make it to a must-try dining list; however, Lot 10 Hutong has something special going for it. Each of the 33 hawker stalls has been handpicked based on its previous success and reputation on the streets of Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The only difference is that instead of just slurping up beef ball noodles, fried oysters, and roast pork street-side, here you can indulge in the glorious comfort of air-conditioning at the same time. Prices are also, understandably, a bit higher than if you bought this food from a trolley on the street. No credit cards.
After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in the United States, Chef Paul Lai worked in New York City kitchens and opened a modern Japanese restaurant in Chicago before moving with his family to set up shop in Kuala Lumpur. Here, he's partnered up with Su-Ann Wong, trained in design at Goldsmith's College in London, to combine their two passions, referenced in the name of the restaurant. This eclectic little haunt is set up in a colonial-style bungalow and conveys an arty, bohemian vibe. White-brick walls are covered in black-stencil drawings, mismatched brightly colored furniture fills the space, and an old-school carousal horse sits proudly on the bar countertop. Try the chicken lollipops—deep-fried drumettes with roasted-chili mayo; beef, bacon, and mushroom quiche; and crème brûlée, infused with locally grown ginger. Make sure to sample from the cocktail list as well—the Oh Boi is a boozy twist on the traditional calamansi and preserved–sour plum drink. Weekly specials include Wednesday's Ink & Drink night, when tattooed patrons score happy-hour prices all night. Closed Monday.
Step through the battered wooden swing doors at this restaurant–cum–antiques shop for a meal that's served with a generous portion of history. One of the oldest restaurants in KL, it's set up on the edge of Chinatown along a street of slightly run-down pre–World War I shophouses. In this old guild hall of the Selangor & Federal Territory Laundry Association in the 1930s, many architectural details remain, and framed black-and-white photographs on the wall tell the story. Traditional Nyonya (Chinese-Malay) cuisine is served—must-try dishes include the Devil Curry (laksa made with spicy coconut milk), and pie tee ("top hats"), crispy pastry shells that arrive with a plate of fillings that you choose yourself. A teahouse has recently opened upstairs.