The Ultimate Melting Pot – Where to Eat in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is not my favorite city.  It just isn’t.  I can’t point my finger to why, it just does not have the same sort of allure to me as other Asian cities, like Hanoi or Hong Kong.  It is almost a more “real” version of Singapore – both are big business and financial capitals, with tons of high rises, and lots of Muslim influences. But, KL is less sanitized than Singapore.  KL is still not my favorite. But, I love seeking out locations and tips on where to eat in Kuala Lumpur.

A True Melting Pot of Cultures, and Food – Malaysia Truly Asia

So, why were we considering a move to KL?  The food.

I am entirely enamored with the food in KL – from high end restaurants (a little out of our budget) to mall food courts to hawker stands, Chinatown, Little India.  It’s all so tasty, so cheap.  It is a true melting pot of Malay, Indian, and Chinese foods that truly is worth experiencing.  We spent our time there exploring where to eat in Kuala Lumpur. 

Where To Eat on a Food Tour of Kuala Lumpur?

I’ve already espoused about the joys of soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, with three locations in Kuala Lumpur, including one in the city center at Pavilion mall.  

But there is more to KL than delicious soup dumplings.

Pelita Nasi Kandar 

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurWe ate at Pelita Nasi Kandar, at 149 Jalan Ampang, during our first trip to KL in 2009.  It is just down the road, and in the shadow of, the Petronas Towers.  Our first trip was confusing – it is always busy.  There are food court style stands along the back wall, with menus above.  But, before you even get there, you see a long line of locals standing at a buffet of sorts.  We did not know what to do. 

Essentially, you point to a few veggies, meats, or fish from the buffet, and the server places it over rice. Pretty simple, right?  The key is to order a mixed curry.  They essentially ladle a little bit of several different curry sauces all over your chosen meat and veg. 

When we returned, we knew exactly what to do, and it was as good as I remembered.  I love heading back to a restaurant in a foreign country.  It makes me feel all warm and toasty inside. 

My “usual” became a spicy, fried chicken, green veg, and some cabbage, all smothered in tasty curry sauce.  

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurThey also have a kick butt roti canai – fried roti bread served with a few curry sauces for dipping.  The roti is served from 4pm onward, but the nasi kandar line queues up all day. 

Shyet-Li’s Kopitiam

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurTucked in the corner upstairs at Great Eastern Mall, 303 Jalan Ampang, Shyet-Li’s consistently does not disappoint.  A traditional Malay, Halal, menu greets shoppers and office workers who crowd the limited number of tables each afternoon.  

Although not near any tourist spots, and over a kilometer walk from the Petronas Towers, if you find yourself in the embassy district getting a visa, it is worth the walk down Ampang.

From curry laksa (noodle soup) to traditional chicken rice and tasty teas and juices, everything is stunning, served quick, and fairly cheap.  Shyet-Li’s introduced me to roti jala, a spongey pancake rolled and served with chicken curry.  I returned to Shyet-Li’s numerous times and the roti jalal was a must order appetizer, even if the servers were confused that Eric and I ordered three dishes during each visit.  

Taj Garden

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurA great find.  We took the KL hop on, hop off tourist bus, which was a great way to re-orient ourselves to a city we had not visited for 3 years.  When we arrived in Little India, we looked for a restaurant.  We were with two little girls aged 3 and 5, who would not be accustomed to eating at the crazy curry houses that lined the main road.  We struggled to find a decent looking, clean restaurant to bring the family.  

Eric sniffed out Taj Garden, on Jalan Tun Sambanthan (make a right at the KFC sign).  I was a little nervous because it was soooo much nicer looking than the rest of the locals joints, and I assumed it would be filled with tourists.  But, we were not disappointed.  We have eaten there a few times and everything was fantastic, including the Vindaloo, the Korma, and a dish called Chicken 65.  Supposedly the original recipe called for 65 chilies per kilo of chicken.  Hot stuff.

The best thing is how cheap everything is.  In the States, Indian can be pretty pricey, but at Taj Garden, a veggie dish is about $2-3, and a meat dish about $4-5.  A large meal for 4 adults and 2 children, where we ordered about 7 or 8 dishes, rice, naan, fruit drinks, and coffee came to about $35.  Simply stunning.

Tang City Food Court

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurWhile wandering through Chinatown, just after Chinese New Year, we wanted noodles and pork, and Tang City Food Court, on Jalan Hang Lekir, delivered.  We hit the branch stall of Koon Kee Wantan Mee, a Chinatown legend.  Delicious pork hung from a rod.  It was sliced up for wonton noodle soup, and some dry noodles with bbq pork.  With some sliced chili peppers on the side, it was perfect, as the noodle soup dripped down my chin – always the sign of a good meal. 

Lot 10 Hutong 

Where.to.eat.in.Kuala.LumpurA Kuala Lumpur institution, we had no idea about it during our last trip, despite its location just a few blocks from our hotel, and in the heart of the Bukit Bintang shopping area.  

sIn the basement of a shopping mall, at 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, a developer built the quintessential food court, Lot 10 Hutong.  Its an atmospheric food court, with over 30 stalls, most of which are branches of famous KL eateries, each with their own specialties, including bbq pork and duck, wonton noodle soup, dim sum, Singaporean specialities like radish cake, Korean dishes, and deserts like ice kachang, a crushed ice and fruit dish.  We could go at least 2 or 3 rounds of food at Lot 10.  And, walked out stuffed every time. 

It was sitting at a crowded table at Lot 10 when I realized I could live in KL – so long as I was walking distance from Lot 10 (did I mention Din Tai Fung is across the street – heaven on a corner).   I felt like I could create a laundry list of where to eat in Kuala Lumpur, and I loved it all!

5 Comments

  1. There is at least one other Shyet-Li location. The one in Great Eastern Mall is considerably smaller and less flash than their other location in Jaya 33. However, the food, particularly the curry, is *much* better at Great Eastern Mall (as per Stuart, who is addicted to the roti jala). Interestingly, now that the Chicken Rice shop next door to Shyet-Li has been completely renovated, Shyet-Li is officially the least high-end of any restaurant at GEM. However, it will (excepting closure or total replacement of the cooking and serving staff) always remain our go-to choice.

    Reply
  2. Thanks Ann! I can't wait to head back! Have you checked out the newly revamped Chicken Rice shop?

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  3. Holy smokes, the food there looks SOOOO good. I would love to learn how to make this sort of food.

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  4. MSG, yeah the food is amazing, and it is all pretty cheap. I have not tried cooking any of these dishes!

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  5. We did go to Lot 10 and the mall at the Imbi monorail stop, and we tried nasi kandar near our hotel which wasn't so great, but beyond that, we sort of lost energy for trying to figure out food in KL. It was the end of our trip and we were exhausted. You did a much better job of finding good food! We had Thai a couple times, and some food from a food court, but we also had Papa John's and Wendy's while we were in KL. To be fair, those are things we can't get in Germany. Anyway, I'll have to check out your post if we ever make it back to KL!

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