Kuala Lumpur Food Guide: 16 Dishes you must eat in KL
If you’re visiting KL as a foodie then you’re in luck! This city does not disappoint when it comes to going on a culinary adventure. Our Kuala Lumpur food guide will open your eyes to 16 dishes you must eat in KL. We’ll also tell you the best places to find each dish!
Kuala Lumpur has a range of cultural influences from the local Malay, Chinese and Indians. It’s this melting pot of cultures that gave birth to the city’s fantastic food scene. There’s a flavour to suit every taste bud!
Try to imagine the aromas that 3 distinct cuisines create. Now, imagine walking down the street and experiencing this delicious combination of smells. It’s sure to leave you hungry. And, that’s what we’re here to help with…
Now, let’s get on to the good stuff!
16 Dishes you must eat in KL, Jump to:
Table of Contents
16 Dishes you must eat in KL
1. Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is a fragrant rice-based dish that is widely considered the national dish of Malaysia. The rice is usually cooked in coconut milk and sometimes pandan leaf to give it a unique fragrance.
Smaller ingredients served with Nasi Lemak include nuts, chicken, fish, beef and vegetables. Oh, and of course… Sambal (a kind of spicy chilli paste/sauce)!
The magic component of Nasi Lemak is that no one dish is the same. As it is a dish that is free to interpret and customise as one pleases.
Nasi Lemak is the perfect choice for every meal of the day. And, it is often an option for breakfast in most hotels. This is one food you must eat in KL. It would almost be criminal not to!
Where to eat Nasi Lemak in KL?
Nasi Lemak Wanjo Kg Baru
Price: Price varies depending on items chosen – Expect to pay around RM10 – RM15
Some say that Roti Canai is up there to rival Nasi Lemak as the national dish of Malaysia. This fluffy but crispy, Indian influenced bread is a variation of paratha. It comes served with dal and other types of curry sauces.
Even though Roti Canai is commonly eaten for breakfast, it’s another around the clock dish. It’s mostly a savoury dish, with many savoury variations. But, sweet variations such as ones made with coconut spread (kaya) do exist.
Where to eat Roti Canai in KL?
Valentine Roti is known for having the best (or at least some of the best) Roti Canai in KL. It has been operating in the same location for over 30 years now!
Hokkien Mee is a popular dish with Chinese origins and many areas of Southeast Asia have their own take on it. The Hokkien Char Mee is one of the best foods to try in KL. After all, it is in KL were Hokkien Char Mee originated (allegedly)!
The fat yellow noodles are braised in dark soy sauce, over a charcoal fire. Then they add ingredients such as pork, squid and fishcake. The original restaurant (Kim Lian Kee) that ‘created’ Hokkien Char Mee still operates in Kuala Lumpur to this day.
Where to eat Hokkien Char Mee in KL?
Kim Lian Kee Restaurant (or Lot 10 Hutong Food Court)
The fruit that people love to hate. Durian is found right throughout the subcontinent in all Southeast Asian countries. It is often eaten on its own, but also used as an ingredient for cooking, baking or infusing.
Be warned that durian has a pungent (not very nice) smell. So much so, that some hotels, airlines and train companies have banned it from their services. Regardless of the smell, this is a must-try food when visiting Kuala Lumpur.
Interestingly enough, you’ll find many durian offerings in KL. Such foods include fried and dried durian. You’ll also find durian pancakes, durian shakes and even durian ice cream.
Where to eat Durian in KL?
Jalan Alor Food Street
Price: Varies depending on the quantity of Durian you buy. Small amounts are available for RM20. Opening Hours: Vendors are open around the clock. Head there in the evening for the best experience!
Banana Leaf Rice is more of a concept than a stand-alone dish. It’s an Indian feast to get the taste buds salivating.
The banana leaf acts as the base, or plate, for the meal. A curry covered mountain of rice tops the banana leaf along with a mixture of vegetables. You might even be lucky enough to get a papadom included on there too.
The final touch is the number of dishes that you and your party order to the table. This could be a variety of meat, vegetable or seafood curries. After they’re served, it’s normal to share the dishes.
Good to know: Typically, you should use your right hand to eat Banana leaf rice. It’s a messy affair that leaves your fingers covered. However, if you wish, you can choose to use cutlery. Once finished, fold the banana leaf from top to bottom. This shows that you enjoyed and appreciated the meal.
Where to eat Banana Leaf Rice in KL?
Devis Corner Bangsar
When you arrive at Devis Corner, be sure to tell them that you want Banana Leaf Rice. They’ll direct you to the upstairs seating area where the Banana Leaf dishes are served.
Price: RM 8.50 for the Banana Leaf Rice set. Meat dishes are ordered and charged additionally.
This Hainanese meal might be one of Singapore’s national dishes but it’s also very popular in KL too. It ‘does what it says on the tin’ and is, unsurprisingly, just chicken and rice.
Would we include it if it was ‘just chicken and rice’ though? Of course not. The seasoned white rice is fragrant and topped with tender poached, skin-on chicken. Cucumber and coriander either top or partner the chicken on the plate.
Served on the side is a delicious garlic-chilli sauce for you to smother your chicken in. This introduces a new world of flavour to the already delicious dish. There are other variations that include BBQ Chicken rice.
Another Chinese dish that has become a Malaysian favourite. Malaysian Wantan Mee is different from the original dish though. It includes Char Siew (BBQ pork) to top off the thin egg noodles. Dark soy sauce covers the springy noodles to give you a sweet, mouthful of flavour to enjoy. Each plate includes some leafy vegetables that can include ‘Choy Sum’ or ‘Kai-Lan’.
The Malaysian version also differs as it served dry, with the wontons and soup in a separate bowl. This is perfect for us as we much prefer dry noodle dishes. However, you will find that soupy wanton noodles are also offered in most establishments.
Satay is one of the most popular dishes throughout Southeast Asia. It’s an ever-present dish in Kuala Lumpur too. In its simplest form, satay is a grilled seasoned meat skewer (generally chicken, beef or lamb). The use of an open flame to grill the meat gives each skewer a delicious smokey flavour.
The simplicity of this meal doesn’t quite justify just how delicious it is. You’ll often find satay served as street food at the side of the road. And, it will often come served with peanut sauce or spicy sambal. On the other hand, you’ll also find satay served in restaurants too. Though restaurant satay is usually bulked up with a serving of white rice.
When it comes to satay we still can’t figure out ‘how many is too many’? If we could, we’d eat 100 skewers at a time!
We think that the most authentic way to eat satay is from roadside sellers or night market vendors. Great Satay can be found in the Chinatown area for as little as RM 1 per stick. Such vendors can be found on the same road as the above mentioned Leaf & Co.
10. Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar is a Northern Malaysian, Indian inspired dish. Just like Banana Leaf Rice, Nasi Kandar is more of a concept than a meal. The name ‘Nasi Kandar’ actually means mixed rice. So, the meal can change depending on what you choose to mix it with.
To start, a mixture of curries cover the rice-based meal. You are then free to top the rice with the side dishes of your choosing.
Typically, side dishes can include chicken, mutton, prawn, or vegetable curries. But really, there’s no hard rule. Other side dishes can include fried chicken, breads or papadams.
Ultimately, the main part of Nasi Kandar, is that the rice is ‘flooded’ with a mixture of Curry’s. This is one dish you must eat in KL if you LOVE Indian food like we do!
Where to eat Nasi Kandar in KL?
Tg’s Nasi Kandar
Price: Varies depending on the dishes chosen. Expect to pay around RM10 – RM15
Popiah is a delicious Chinese version of a fresh spring roll. Due to its deliciousness, Popiah spread through Southeast Asia and can be found in most of the Sub-continents countries. It’s like a spring roll, but also not at all like a spring roll.
The Popiah Skin is soft and wafer-thin, it’s almost like a slimmed-down crepe. Inside can be home to a variety of ingredients. But in most versions, it’s a finely grated turnip, bean sprouts, shallots, carrots and a choice of meat or tofu.
As always, the Malaysian version includes some, but not too much chilli sauce/paste to give it a kick. We can only describe Popiah as something in between a traditional fried spring roll and a fresh Vietnamese spring roll.
Rendang is a rich and flavourful slow-cooked dish. Meat is the main ingredient of Rendang and can be any of the following: beef, chicken, lamb or goat. Though, we’ve found beef rendang to be the most popular variation.
The dish is sometimes mistaken as curry. Though, it’s generally considered to be more of a stew by Malaysians. The main ingredients are the meat, spices and coconut milk. They are slow-cooked together until the dish turns thick.
Due to the slow method of cooking, the dish has a deep and rich set of flavours. We found it quite hard to find Rendang as a stand-alone dish in KL though. Often we found Rendang served as an option alongside Nasi Lemak.
Mee Goreng literally translates to fried noodles. It’s a common dish right throughout Indonesia and Malaysia.
Mamak Mee Goreng is slightly different though. It takes Mee Goreng and hits it with a bit of Indian flavour. The Mamak kitchens alter this dish by adding in chilli’s, spices, chopped potatoes and prawns.
We love fried noodles. We love Indian flavours. So, we obviously loved this dish too!
Chilli Pan Mee is a delicious variation of the typical ‘Pan Mee’ dish. But, it’s tailored to suit Malaysians taste buds. What does that mean? It means extra spice of course. Better yet, it’s said to have originated in the city so it’s a dish you absolutely must eat in KL!!
This dish uses flat flour noodles as its base. Then a runny soft boiled egg, crispy anchovies and minced pork top the noodles. The flour noodles give the dish it’s bouncy texture. The anchovies give it a bit of crispiness in each bite. And, the dry chilli flakes served on the side give it the spice. We love Chilli Pan Mee because the dish has so many complementary textures as well as flavours!
Served on the side you’ll find a bowl of soup. This usually includes anchovies, salt & pepper as well as vegetables. We believe the soup can be added directly into your bowl to give you a wet noodle dish. We personally prefer the dry version. Though eating Chilli Pan Mee as a wet dish is also common.
Where to eat Chilli Pan Mee in KL?
Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee Restaurant (The ‘birthplace’ of Chilli Pan Mee)
Kin Kin is said the be the birthplace of Chilli Pan Mee. If you can’t make it to the restaurant, head to Lot 10 Hutong food court where they also operate a stall.
Nasi Kukus is a popular East-coast Malaysian dish that you must eat in KL. The staple of Nasi Kukus is the rice, cooked in a tall aluminium container. This method of cooking makes the rice extra fluffy.
The rice is often served still within the container and topped with a mixture of spicy curries. Accompanying the rice is Ayam Goreng Berempah (spicy fried chicken) and Sambal.
Fried chicken, curry AND sambal? Count us in! This is a wonderful combination of our favourite ingredients.
Do you agree with our 16 dishes that you must eat in KL?
For those of you who have never visited Kuala Lumpur before, we hope we’ve given you a ton of new foods to try. If you HAVE visited the city before, do you agree with our favourite foods? Which ones did you try? If there are even more dishes that you think we must eat in KL then do let us know!
You can leave a comment below or message us on Instagram!