One of the best things about food, apart from tantalising one’s taste buds, is that it brings people together. Families and friends grow closer over a shared meal and neighbours often bring food to welcome the newest members of the community.
Food can also bring our neighbours from across the Causeway into Malaysia 😆
While both Malaysia and Singapore enjoy a bustling foodie scene in respective countries, some of the more popular chains in Singapore are non-halal and off-limits for Muslim foodies.
For the benefit of our Singaporean friends, here is our list of Muslim-friendly food places that they can try out while in Kuala La La Lumpur!
The sandwich shop is certainly a crowd pleaser and the go-to place if you want a simple, quick and nutritious sandwich meal. With more than 44,000 locations worldwide, Subway is the largest submarine sandwich shop that has its roots in the United States.
Credit: saleemleu on Instagram
The sandwiches are made to order and you can ask for the bread to be toasted. Subway works the same in every country: choose your bread, choose your filling, choose your vegetables and lastly, choose your sauce. I usually take only the BBQ sauce. Subway cookies are divine too!
Subway is available at most major malls in Malaysia.
2. TGI Fridays
The American chain has been around in Malaysia for as long as I can remember. Serving the usual American fare, TGIF is the place to go to for some steak and pasta-loving.
Credit:TGI Fridays on Facebook
Portions here are big and I usually ask for sharing plates when I go eat with family and friends.
Credit:TGI Fridays on Facebook
TGI Fridays sources their meat and poultry from halal vendors. Not all the restaurants are fully halal certified because of the alcohol they serve at the bars. The Alamanda outlet, however became the first TGI Fridays in the country with halal certification. It serves a menu slightly different from all the other outlets.
Chili’s is a casual Tex-Mex American restaurant chain that first opened its doors in Bangsar Shopping Centre in 1994. In a reply to us, Chili said that their meats and poultry are sourced from suppliers who are certified halal by Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the dishes they serve follow strict preparation methods to ensure it is alcohol-free.
My favourite at this place would be its tacos, fajitas and quesadillas. The burgers and pastas look mouth-watering too!
Similar to TGI Fridays, Chili’s has a bar and serves alcoholic drinks.
4. Tony Roma’s
Whenever I think of ribs, I think of Tony Roma’s. The first Tony Roma’s outlet opened in Sunway Pyramid in 2006, and to date, they have 11 outlets at major shopping malls nationwide.
Credit: tonyromas on Facebook
The juicy ribs look too good and I honestly think one should eat this with their hands. It goes really well with the four different sauces they put on the table (my favourite would be the Blue Ridge Smokies). Put away your cutleries and use the power of the hands!
Please be advised that Tony Roma’s also serves alcoholic drinks.
5. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Who doesn’t know the movie Forrest Gump starring A-list actor Tom Hanks? “My momma says life’s like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get” – that dialogue is stuck in my head until today.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is an American chain inspired by the Oscar-winning movie. In 2008, NZ Diners Sdn Bhd – which is a subsidiary company of Muslim-owned Naza Group of Companies – opened its first Bubba Gump restaurant in The Curve, Mutiara Damansara.
I love how the food is presented and served at this place. Because it is inspired by the movie, they have catchy names in their menu like Lt. Dan’s Drunken Shrimp (no alcohol in the sauce despite the name), Mama Gump’s Grilled Lamb Rack and Bucket of Boat Trash. The desserts here look delectable too.
6. Carl’s Jr
I believe Carl’s Jr is the first designer burger outlet here in Malaysia. By designer, I mean we pay higher prices for a bigger sized burger that comes with specialty ingredients like avocado. Before Carl’s Jr, my burger fix always came from Burger King, McDonald’s and Ramly stalls by the roadside.
Credit:carlsjrmalaysia on Instagram
Soda drinks are refillable at Carl’s Jr. I love the fries here, I have yet to encounter soggy fries at Carl’s Jr so far. They also have chilli cheese fries!
7. Red Lobster
This American seafood restaurant has been around since 1968 and has recently opened its branches here in Kuala Lumpur. They do have chicken and steak in the menu, but the star here would definitely be the seafood.
Prices are a bit steep, but hey, it’s lobster! I like the fluffy, FREE biscuits they serve at this place, best eaten while it’s still warm.
8. Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks
I’ve a good friend who’s crazy about this Taiwanese snack! She can’t pass by the store without buying it. The batter makes for a crispy and crunchy bite while the chicken inside is warm and succulent.
My friend would ask for extra hot seasoning on her XXL Crispy Chicken. This snack is quite addictive.
Shihlin has a few halal-certified outlets across Malaysia. They also serve Sweet Potato Fries, Crispy Floss Egg Crepe, Handmade Oyster Mee Sua and Seafood Tempura. You are recommended to wash down your snacks with soy milk, also available here.
Opening hours: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily (varies from one outlet to another)
Halal status: Some outlets are halal-certified, so do keep a lookout for the Halal certificate display. Otherwise, this establishment has a no pork, no beef and no lard policy.
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9. Outback Steakhouse
The steakhouse has an Australian theme – the décor in the restaurant is meant to give you the feel of the Australian outback. They serve prime rib, chicken, seafood and pasta with names like Toowomba Pasta, No Rules Pasta, Toowomba Topped Sirloin and Victoria’s Filet. (Toowomba is a city in Queensland, just in case you’re wondering.)
10. Pepper Lunch Express
If you like cooking your own food, this Japanese chain is for you! Pepper Lunch offers a wide selection of cook-your-own food ranging from beef to seafood. Signature dishes include Beef Pepper Rice, Pepper Steak, Double Burger Steak with Egg and Teriyaki Chicken with Egg.
The novelty of Pepper Lunch lies in its iron plate. The plate can retain heat as high as 80 degrees for 20 minutes. Be careful! Hold on to your tray firmly as you bring your meal to your table.
Credit: PepperLunch Malaysia
You can cook the beef according to what you desire – medium or well done. And if you choose medium, put the beef on top of the vegetables!
Pepper Lunch has a flagship restaurant in Sunway Pyramid while the rest of the outlets are known as Pepper Lunch Express, available at the food courts of major malls namely Mid Valley, KLCC, 1 Utama, Nu Sentral, IOI City Mall and Pavilion.
Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm daily
Our Singaporean friends can definitely look forward to these makan places while they are here. And just to put icing on the cake, the Malaysian ringgit is cheaper than Singaporean dollar, so what are you waiting for? Head to Malaysia for your next makan trip!