As the weather in Asia transformed into it’s full-fledged monsoon season, I had decided to make my way from Nepal to Bali with a quick layover in Kuala Lumpur; spending another 8 or so hours in the airport I have come to know like the back of my hand.
Upon arrival and looking at the clock telling me I had another 7 hours to go until my flight, I made a spontaneous decision to extend my stay for two weeks to see what this city had to offer.
Thanks to couchsurfing, my new friend Palley whom I stayed with during the duration of my time in Malaysia opened up a whole new world that I had never known existed beyond the confines of KL’s airport.
Not only was I taken back by Malaysia’s landscape but my god, THE FOOD…and this is where the story begins (as well as an extra 5 pounds to my bodyweight).
If you’re a foodie, ill put it out there right now – Malaysia is a must on your travel itinerary and if you want to experience the best hidden food gems in Kuala Lumpur from a born and raised local, make your way through this list and we promise you will be in a food-coma heaven with a mix of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese fusion dishes.
Adress: 12, Jalan 8/1E, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 46050
Natures Recipe is a Chinese-vegetarian restaurant serving up some of the most flavorful and beautifully presented dishes we’ve tasted in KL and if you can only eat at one restaurant – this is our top pick.
We can vouch that regardless of what you choose, you wont be disappointed but our top must-eat dishes are their Tofu Pok Rojak (deep-fried tofu stuffed with bean sprouts, cucumber, roasted peanuts in a tamarind/lime sambal), Jade Dumplings (dumplings filled with asparagus, ginger, water chestnuts and green onion with a sesame dipping sauce), satay soya cubes with peanut dipping sauce and red curry baked rice. (Dishes are priced around RM7-12)
Address: 55, Leboh Ampang, City Centre, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If you’ve ever been to India and had a chance to try their unlimited Thali (meaning an all-you-can-eat extravaganza of rice and various curries), you will love Lakshmi Vila’s Southern Indian Banana Leaf.
The staff will load up your large banana leaf with an assortment of various curries, spicy sambal, rice and papadam until you say “STOP!” so eat to your hearts content for a mere RM5!
Address: Brickfields 28, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, 50470, Malaysia
Open since 1972, Gandhi’s Vegetarian restaurant is a longstanding favorite amongst locals and for good reason. With a wide variety of authentic Indian and fusion dishes to choose from, its hard to pick just one. Our top choices are by far the fish curry, burnt fish and butter chicken. (All of which are faux-meat!)
Address: 77A – 79A, Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur City Center, Kuala Lumpur 50100
For flavors that will send your taste buds flying, Beetle leaf is by far our top choice for authentic Indian cuisine. So much in fact that it was the last place I ate at before leaving Malaysia!
Their menu ranges from Kebabs to curries, soups to tandoori, Naan to Roti and more for reasonable prices. The Gobi Manchurian (deep fried cauliflower cooked in an indian-chinese gravy), Paneer Lababdor (cheese gravy mix), Malai Kofta and a side order of Kashmiri and Garlic Naan. For dessert, treat yourself to one of the best Masala Chai’s of your life for the perfect Indian feast.
Address: 9, Jalan 8/1E, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 46050
Not to be confused with “Natures Recipe Café”, this restaurant is booming with an assortment of vegetarian delights you can easily mistaken for meat.
Our top eats include a Malaysian dish called Rendang Curry (a mix of toasted coconut, garlic, shallots or onion, lemongrass, chilies, ginger, turmeric, coconut milk and marinated tofu) served with sweet Chinese bread Fried butter mushroom, sizzling sambal vegetarian (a tofu “fish” coated in a crunchy seaweed wrap and baked in a spicy, chili sambal), Yam Basket (a traditional Chinese cuisine of a sweet and savory deep fried yam basket filled with sautéed vegetables and cashews.), Kangkong Belacan (stir fried water spinach with chilies and garlic).
A famous street snack everyone loves is Apam Balik – a soft yet crispy and sweet folded pancake filled with ground peanuts and sugar. Look for the motorcycle stall in front of the Koon Kee Wantan Mee shop and don’t be surprised by the lineup – it’s worth the wait.
(Open every day except Thursdays)
Head to Taman Overseas Union Garden and straight to the long lineup at Ama Food Stall to try Kuala Lumpur’s national dish and the best vegetarian Nasi Lemak made of rice, fried peanuts, cucumber, braised tofu, sautéed vegetables with a spicy tomato and chili sambal.
Brickfields; also known as “little India” in KL is full of incredible Indian restaurants but if you’ve got a sweet-tooth, try the freshly deep-fried banana fritters for RM1.50 sold on a little street stall in front of One Sentral Coffee Shop. The textured crunch and the sweet, warm banana inside will melt in your mouth and we bet you can’t eat just one.
(Open every day 3pm-6pm, except Wednesdays)
Wrapped in a banana leaf, kuih kosui is a diamond shaped sweet made of shredded coconut, brown sugar and pandan with glutinous rice dough on the exterior that will leave you murmuring the words “MMMMMM!”
Feature image: Open cooking grill in Kuala Lumpur’s street food market. Credit: Mark Fischer
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