Kuala Lumpur Restaurants and Dining

(Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory, Malaysia)

Picture of cafe tables at the Central MarketThe amount of different foods available to the humble tourist in Kuala Lumpur, and at generally very reasonable prices, is outstanding. Everything from Malay, Indian and Chinese dining, to Thai, Korean and all things Western, can be enjoyed within the innumerable restaurants here.

All-encompassing, air-conditioned hawker centres with all types of food appeal to locals and tourists alike, while street-side vendors in Kuala Lumpur serve up many of the same dishes for longer hours and less Malaysian ringgits. Those in a rush will find fast-food restaurants in good supply in Kuala Lumpur, with plenty of choice.

Photo of Chinatown signpost

When to Eat / Opening Hours

Malaysians tend to eat out early and most sit-down restaurants are closed by 22:00. You can always get food at hawker stalls on most busy thoroughfares at any time, however, and being early risers, Malaysian generally eat breakfast very early. Indoor food courts usually stay open all day, everyday from breakfast time through to lunch and dinner, while the city's many coffee shops also remain open most of the day and night.

Photograph of local waterfront eatery

What to Eat

Malaysia is made up chiefly of Malay, Indian and Chinese people and it is these three types of food that are most popular in Kuala Lumpur's eateries. There are many succulent dishes to choose from in the highest quality places right down to the humblest of hawker stalls. Most Western foods are also available in established restaurants and fast-food joints.

The barbecued meat on a stick snack known as 'satay' is the most popular Malay food, while rice and side-dishes (nasi padang), spicy noodles (mee siam), and fish with coconut milk rice (nasi lemak) are also very tasty. Indian foods in Kuala Lumpur to try include Indian pancake with curry (paratha), chicken with spicy yellow rice (nasi beriyani), and 'idlis' and 'wadas' pancakes for vegetarians. Lovers of Chinese food might like to try 'laksa' curries, sliced chicken with rice, or noodles.

Picture of popular city restaurant

Where to Eat

One of the best and cheapest ways to eat in Kuala Lumpur, and indeed throughout Southeast Asia, is at the large food courts where different foods are served from different hawkers. Jalan Alor is the most popular hawker centre in the city at night and is loaded with Malaysian-style dining stalls, Chinese restaurants, and coffee shops. Chow Kit, Jalan Masjid India, and Kampung Baru are also good for Malay food.

For mostly Chinese food, head for Jalan Petaling in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown, which is open throughout the day and has plenty of 'bak kut the' (Chinese soup) restaurants. Shopping mall food courts are better for those who prefer to eat in air-conditioned comfort. Coffee shops can be found all over the city and are generally open in the evening and can mainly be found in Chinatown, along Jalan Sultan, Jalan Petaling, and Jalan Hang Lekir, as well as in the city centre Golden Triangle area.

Cafe imageIndian Muslim 'mamak' shops are on most Kuala Lumpur street corners. There are also street-side versions called 'mamak stalls' that are very popular. Strictly prepared halal foods are served at these eateries. The best place to find mamak stalls in Kuala Lumpur is near the Heritage Row on Jalan Doraisamy. Lebuh Ampang in the Brickfields area and the city centre are also good areas for Indian food.

For a sit-down meal at a nice restaurant where a variety of foodstuffs are on offer, head for the Golden Triangle, Bangsar or along Heritage Row. Bangsar is especially known for its higher-end dining and Western food, while lovers of Korean food should head to Ampang Jaya. Arab food is available at Bukit Bintang. You should keep in mind that most restaurants in Kuala Lumpur usually close by 22:00, although street-side hawkers stay open much later.