These 10 Mouthwatering Local Dishes In KL Will Change Your Life Forever


Baiti H. Hamdan •  Aug 31, 2016

Ask any Malaysian what is so special about the country and they will tell you the same thing: THE FOOD.

Malaysian food is as diverse as its people. That means you can get foods from the three major races – Malay, Chinese and Indian - in Malaysia, under one roof!

We are giving you our list of must-eat dishes in Kuala Lumpur.

1. Nasi Lemak

1 - Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak Bungkus

Credit: Silverpark Apartments

We proudly call this delectable dish a national favourite. Nasi lemak consists of a few components which are the fragrant white rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, sambal, hard-boiled egg, fried peanuts and anchovies, and slices of cucumber, all wrapped or served in/on a banana leaf. To me, a good nasi lemak depends heavily on the sambal, one that is moderately spicy with a hint of sweetness.

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Village Park Nasi Lemak

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Nasi lemak can be eaten on its own, or accompanied with fried chicken, sambal sotong, sambal kerang, or rendang. While it is traditionally eaten for breakfast, you can indulge in a plate of fluffy nasi lemak almost any time of the day.

2. Roti Canai

5 - Roti Canai 3

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In other parts of the world, this Indian dish is also known as paratha. It is eaten with overnight curry, dhal or sambal. There are many varieties of roti canai, some being roti pisang, roti telur and roti telur bawang. But if you’re a first timer in KL, try eating the plain roti. Another unique creation that stems from the good ‘ol roti canai is roti canai goreng.

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Crispy roti canai served with a bowl of curry

Credit: Wikiwand

The best way to eat roti canai is definitely by flooding the flatbread with curry! Roti canai banjir, satu!

3. Banana Leaf Rice

6 - Banana Leaf Rice-min

Credit: Time Out

While the name of the dish might be slightly misleading, the banana leaf in banana leaf rice is only used to serve the food. I am sure you have noticed by now that we like to use banana leaves to either wrap or serve our food! It is also said that the leaf lends an aroma to the dishes, making it more fragrant.

7 - Banana Leaf Rice 2

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Choose any protein to go with your banana leaf rice like squid, prawns, chicken or fish. The rice will be accompanied with the customary tairu, papadam, several vegetable side dishes, dried chillies and rasam.

Please forget about using a fork and spoon when you eat banana leaf rice. Use your hands! And if you enjoy your meal, fold the banana leaf inwards to express your gratitude.

4. Assam Laksa

10 - Assam Laksa 2

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The mouth-watering bowl of assam laksa is ranked 7th in CNN’s World’s 50 Best Foods . This means that it is not only popular in Malaysia only!

CNN rightly describes assam laksa as “... an addictive spicy-sour fish broth with noodles (especially great when fused with ginger), that’ll have your nose running before the spoon even hits your lips,” and we can’t help but nod our heads in agreement.

assam laksa

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Don’t forget to mix your petis (shrimp paste) with the laksa and mix it well.

5. Satay

satay 1

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Another Malaysian favourite that transcends the different races is satay. Chunks of meat marinated for maximum flavour and grilled over charcoal until it’s cooked to perfection is present in almost all Malaysian festivities. You see satay during Hari Raya open houses and also weddings! The combination of charred meat with savoury peanut sauce is satisfying. While munching on the satay, do not forget the nasi impit, red onions and cucumber. These condiments complements the satay perfectly.

satay 2

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Common satay shops will sell beef and chicken satay while some specialty satay shops will also serve chicken innards such as the liver and pedal, fish, venison and lamb.

6. Char Kway Teow

13 - Char Kway Teow

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If you’re watching what you eat, this dish is not for you. Char kway teow is a messy plate of greasy flat rice noodles, fried on high heat in a wok with soy sauce, beansprouts, prawns and cockles. The high heat helps cook the dish in a short amount of time while maintaining the soft texture and moisture of the flat rice noodles.

char kway teow

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While it is traditionally fried in lard, there are many halal char kway teows that you can find in Kuala Lumpur. This street food of Chinese origin is cheap and tasty, and is often served on a piece of banana leaf on a plate to enhance its aroma.

7. Ikan Bakar

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Ikan Bakar Jalan Bellamy

Credit: vkeong.com

If you’re looking for an ikan bakar place amongst a row of nasi campur stalls, just keep your eyes peeled for some heavy smoke, and the scent of charcoal. Head towards the smoke and smell, and you will find an ikan bakar stall.

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Ikan Bakar Pasar Keramat

Credit: Beautiful Memories

Ikan bakar, or grilled fish, is a popular dish with the lunch crowd. To me, an awesome ikan bakar lunch would be a grilled fish of my choice (tilapia is my favourite!) with white rice, kicap manis, air asam and ulam (local raw salad).

8. Chinese-Style Curry Mee

17 - Curry Mee

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Curry is pretty much a staple in Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. However, there is a difference when it comes to the cooking style. From the stock used to make the broth and the condiments accompanying the dish, there is a distinct difference yet the same familiarity when it comes to curries from all the three races.

18 - Curry Mee

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The Malays use a lot of chicken in their curry mee while the Chinese have foo chuk, fish balls and cockles. Some also call it curry laksa but whichever name you call it, you’ll be sure to have a bowl of curry goodness.

9. Cheese Naan

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You might not see this in most of KL must-eat lists, but the fluffy flatbread with gooey cheese in the centre is really worth putting your diet on pause. Not all mamak eateries serve naans, so it’s quite tricky finding a place.

20 - Cheese Naan

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The fluffiness of a naan comes from it being baked in a clay oven. I love it when they are generous with the cheese and it comes out stringing from the piece you take, like pizza! The best accompaniment to a cheese naan would be a tandoori chicken and the mint chutney.

10. Ramly Burger

Image caption: The bun may be squished… but Ramly Burger is one of the best street food in KL!


Credit: qiourou95 on Instagram

Nobody makes street burger like Ramly does. Ramly refers to the brand name of the burger patties. The classic way of cooking Ramly burger is with the egg wrap, where all the condiments you want like cucumber or lettuce are placed top of the patty and wrap in a thin layer of egg. A special ingredient to Ramly burger is the Worcestershire sauce, making it different from burgers at food outlets.

22 - Ramly Burger

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Ramly burger tastes different from stall to stall depending on the cook and also because it is made to order, you can dictate how much sauce or salad you want, or if you want an extra patty. You will need tons of tissue for this because sauces drip and it WILL drip when you bite into it. It will be messy.

The branch has evolved with its own minimart and kiosks. But you can still find Ramly burger being sold by the streets. It really is a Malaysian thing to eat a Ramly burger by the roadside.


11. Cendol / Ais Kacang

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After all that mouth-watering Malaysian delicacies, we have to have dessert… Malaysian style. You can have spoon it out of a bowl or if you’re on the go, there is the option of having it in cups, and you sip it like a drink!

Cendol refers to the green worm-like jelly made from rice flour. It is mixed with ice, or shaved ice, santan (coconut milk) and gula Melaka (palm sugar). My favourite would be cendol with red beans. There are also cendol pulut (cendol with glutinous rice) and cendol durian.

24 - Ais Kacang

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Ais kacang is also known as ais batu campur. It is essentially shaved ice with syrup and condensed milk on top with all kinds of possible toppings like cincau, sweetened corn and roasted peanuts. There are a lot of modern versions of ais kacang including ones that have ice cream and chocolate drizzle on top but the best is always the traditional ais kacang. Quench your thirst with these two desserts, it tastes amazing in this hot weather.

While there are only 10 different types of food listed (with one bonus dessert!) here, there is so much more to KL food, thanks to the diverse cultures brought by different races as well as the 14 different states we have. Make sure you experience the vibrant Kuala Lumpur through her amazing food because this city is truly a food haven.