Written by Beverley Lennon
Co-written by Veyroniqa
Friends, let’s be real! Once the clock ticks 12pm in the office, there’s only one thing in mind – “What.are.we.doing.for.lunch?!”. Chances are if you’re the one asking, you’re very likely be given the task to choose so you’d rather shut up and starve until someone else voices it out and decides.
Truth be told, it’s become a boring routine to even think about lunch. Most of the days, we’d end up ordering food or opt for the worst of all ideas – drive out to nearby food courts and cafes, waste some good amount of time in traffic and to add, fight over for a parking spot. Sigh, who knew it could be such a big dilemma to simply go out for lunch in Kuala Lumpur?!
Fortunately, we’ve figured out an efficient way of deciding what’s for lunch and how to make it convenient to reach. With the monorail, it gets easy to check out legendary food places around the city. It’s like a hop-on-hop-off adventure and you could even go on a mini food trail as some of those stations are surrounded by a bunch of affordable lunch and dessert spots; who knew?! Time to grab your office buddies and explore like a real foodie!
Now, if you’re facing yet another eating-out decision paralysis at dinner time, check out this food truck night market with hipster food and a view of the Twin Towers!
Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur’s Petaling Street: 18 Hipster places with hidden cafes, authentic local food and secret bars in and around Chinatown
What to eat in Subang Jaya’s SS15: 14 Affordable, trendy and local food you must try near bubble tea street!
1. The cheesiest naan in town – RSMY House of Briyani
It really is an understatement to say that I enjoy cheese – whether stinky, gooey, spicy, smoked, curdled, ripe or aged. Cheese is one of my dietary staples; my silent companion for as long as history can recall!
And if this happens to be the case for you too; you might surely want to consider checking out this cheesy delight in the heart of KL!
RSMY House of Briyani has been on the news and pretty much gone viral for its stringy ooey gooey mozzarella cheese naan that’s cooked in a traditional tandoor oven, served with a side of dhal in which you’re supposed to dip in your naan slice. And to bring you a little closer to Pakistani flavours, don’t miss their Tandoori chicken that’s paired perfectly with their mint chutney! Just the thought of it is making me hungry!2. Malaysia’s best hawker food + Japanese specialities under one roof – Hutong Foodcourt and J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10
It’s actually tough to settle down at one particular eatery when out for lunch with a group; that’s why it’s always great to find a food court with various food options so everyone is happy.
Well, you’re in luck as Hutong Foodcourt offers just that and we aren’t talking about any food as they offer local hawker specialities with some years of history, along with Japanese dishes from Isetan all under one roof! I personally enjoy their Ho Weng Kee BBQ Pork Wonton Noodle and Penang Famous Fried Kway Tiao (these are also the two most popular stalls there).
We’ve also heard whispers that besides hosting over 30 local historical stalls, they have a strict selection process; it appears that only stalls with “a track record that dates back at least 40 years and a brand identity that is instantly recognisable is the minimum criteria for any brand to be at Lot 10 Hutong”.
You’ll never get bored of coming over and over as food options extend further than just within the food court. On the 4th floor of Lot 10, you’ll also find J’s Gate Dining where you can savour authentic Japanese dishes with over 15 different eateries serving up delicious ramen, sushi, omurice and more (even desserts)!
3. Biryani served with a twist – Legend’s Claypot Briani
I recall tasting this specific claypot Briani some years ago, introduced by my boyfriend who’s always on the lookout for rice. Fast forward to today, Legend’s Claypot Briani is the only one I’ll ever eat when in KL.
In fact, my first meal after coming back to the city after a year of crossing borders was this delectable sizzling goodness which comes served in a claypot with huge chunks of chicken, long-grain basmati rice, a hard-boiled egg and a side of papadom (on request).
I personally love my briyani moist and the one at Legend’s is just right, full of flavours from South India. Of course, they have other traditional dishes so going in a group is a great way to order more of those to share!
4. For giant chunks of durian on your cendol! – Cendol Durian Runtuh
Nowadays, it seems that everything local has gone hipster. Durians are used in cool trendy cafes and even in a cendol boba shop along Petaling Street, but once in a while, you want to go back to the roots and enjoy it the old good way, while sitting by the road on a plastic chair, no?
Thankfully, Cendol Durian Runtuh understands. But first, you’ll have to queue for your sweet treat as this stall is local-approved and known to be legendary!
From 3pm to 3am daily, they serve up your favourite local dessert with huge chunks of creamy durian kampung (Musang King and D24 are also served seasonally) – perfect when you’ve finished lunch around Chow Kit and want a refreshing bowl of dessert to beat the heat before heading back to the office!
5. Serving up traditional Hainanese fare since 1928 – Yut Kee Restaurant
We know this place is more popular among the breakfast crowd but we’ve dropped by a couple of times for lunch and it did not disappoint either. Yut Kee is where you go for your pork chop fix.
But be mentally prepared to queue as getting a seat at Yut Kee isn’t the simplest task! At breakfast on weekends, it sometimes takes over an hour and it’s also pretty crowded during lunch on weekdays, but it’s all worth the wait.
Now, I know I’ve mentioned the hype over their pork chop but I personally find comfort in their juicy chicken chop that’s slathered with brown gravy, served with a side of potatoes and other veggies.
Their roast pork roll, which is also among the best sellers and only available after 10.30 am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, is deemed to be delectable too – you have the crispy skin on top, the tender meat and the pistachio stuffing which brings a crunchy twist to the dish!
However, the main reason I drop by Yut Kee is to take-away some of their homemade Kaya Roll which some of us really love; so perfectly moist, these simply melt in the mouth and are perfect for tea time!
6. The real Chilli Pan Mee expert (since 1985) – Restaurant Kin Kin
If you’re looking for a hearty, comforting meal at lunchtime, better settle at a place that masters it. Restaurant Kin Kin is known to be one of them – in fact, people know it as the inventor of Chilli Pan Mee in Chow Kit. Old is gold, isn’t it? The establishment has stood the test of time, it impressively dates back to 1985!
And despite having competition from another nearby stall, most locals have reviewed Kin Kin as their favourite spot to indulge in some delectable noodle goodness. Chances are, you’ll even be able to see your dish being prepared from A-Z but bear in mind that you’ll have to be patient before being served (blame it on their popularity).
In your bowl, you’ll find perfectly-made wheat noodles, topped with spring onions, fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and garlic, with a soft boiled egg on the side, along with a portion of soup. The secret? Add a dash of homemade chilli paste for a kick of spice!
7. The closest you’ll get to Penang, outside of Penang – Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan Tai Kong
I recall dropping by here randomly some months ago but sadly, I wasn’t aware that the place was well-known for its Penang Prawn Mee so I settled for a classic favourite of mine – the Char Kuey Teow, which to my personal taste wasn’t outstanding (I prefer the one at Malaysia Boleh in Robinson’s/ Four Seasons Place KL). Nevertheless, I finished a whole plate by myself – those who know me would be surprised.
However, it seems like locals have a favourite at Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan Tai Kong and it’s the authentic Penang Prawn Mee – the legendary dish that stands as the pride of many Penangites!
Once at the food centre, you’ll be able to locate the stall easily as it sits at the entrance, close to the main street (the first stall facing the zebra crossing and traffic lights). You can watch as the local expert assembles your bowl of deliciousness with fresh noodles, bean sprouts, meat of your choice, some prawns, followed by a big spoon of fragrant soup and the final touch is the fried shallots on top!
8. For those who need their rice and curry – Mohd Yaseen Penang Nasi Kandar
If you’re like me and my boyfriend, there are days where you simply crave for a good plate of rice and a generous amount of curry. Most of the time, in this instance, I’d be heading over to get my banana leaf fix in Bangsar (that means, battling the traffic too).
Now, I know that a Nasi Kandar is nowhere close to what you get at a banana leaf restaurant but hey you get your dose of curry nevertheless and Moh Yaseen’s Nasi Kandar does it the real Penang way! Don’t miss their Ayam Madu and Ayam Kicap!
9. Can you find this hidden eatery serving braised pork Nasi Lemak?! – Taste Legendary Nasi Lemak Chow Kit Pasar
If you’re not familiar with Chow Kit, it might take you a good while to find this little stall, hidden behind a police station. To add, you’ll have to come here for an early lunch as they close by 12.30pm or until they run out and you have to be ready to queue too as their braised pork Nasi Lemak attracts a crowd!
Oh yes, at this eatery, Malaysia’s national dish is served with a porkalicious twist and this for over 60 years – deemed as one of the oldest Chinese Nasi Lemak stalls in KL!
Your plate of Nasi Lemak is served with coconut fragrant rice (cooked twice), pork belly pieces along with other typical ingredients you find in a Nasi Lemak. Note that the price of your dish is based on the pork pieces you ask for (Approximately RM2.50-3 per piece) and for those with a palate that fancies something less exotic, they also serve a delicious sambal cuttlefish and pork curry!
10. Snacks to bring back to the office (for tea time) – Brickfields Pisang Goreng
If there’s a trick I can share it’s no never come back from lunch without something for tea time; trust me, it gets you motivated for the next few hours while at the office.
With a bunch of authentic Indian eateries around, Brickfields also hides what many refer to as “the best pisang goreng in KL”! As from 12.30pm daily, Mr Chiam fries up some delectable banana fritters, along with other must-try snacks (sesame balls, curry puffs and sweet rice cake fritters).
And if you ever think it’s just another stall selling sinful fried treats, then you’re absolutely wrong as this one here is legendary; rightly so as their fritters are incomparable – they use a whole “pisang raja” (a specific type of banana)! You’ll be able to tell by yourself once there as it’s usually crowded once tea time strikes!
11. The legendary Indonesian duck egg Martabak – Restoran TAR “Sido Mampir”
This restaurant is where you go for authentic Indonesian food in KL! In fact, it attracts mostly Indonesians so we have no doubt about it and bonus point is that it’s a halal eatery. They serve an array of spicy dishes but the star on their menu is the one and only… *drumroll*… legendary Indonesian duck egg Martabak, paired with a side of fresh chilli and achard! It’s as sinful as it sounds but it’s nothing short of delicious!
Their Bakso and Sate Kambing (mutton satay) are also local-approved. Once you’ve dined here, there’s apparently nowhere else you’ll want to get your Indo food fix from!
12. Have you heard of this vegetarian Char Kuey Teow? – Blue Boy Vegetarian Food Centre
I could never imagine my Char Kuey Teow with no lard and prawn but by the looks of the one served at Blue Boy Vegetarian Food Centre, I have to confess that I am convinced to give it a go.
We often all associate a meat-free dish to be boring and lacking flavour but everyone who has tasted the vegetarian goodness at this food centre comes back with a different perspective; to say the least, they’re mind-blown!
Not only is the kuey teow full of wok hei (charred aroma from the wok) but it’s also packed with a collection of flavours that’s bound to turn up an explosion in your mouth, with chunks of mock meat, crunchy veggies and fluffy eggs!
13. Wake your palate with a kick of sour and spice – Assam Laksa Petaling Street
The thick broth is overflowing with flavours that your tastebuds will thank you for. Topped with chunks of sardine and served with a generous helping of lime and homemade chilli on the side, you’ll understand why they’ve been around for so long.
However, you will require a strong stomach as it’s honestly not the most hygienic place to slurp down a bowl of assam laksa. Plus, being situated at the entrance of the wet market, there are certain odours you will have to withstand but it will all be worth it once you take that first bite!
But despite their less than savoury surrounding, people still come in droves to have their fix – they come, eat quickly and leave – because according to many, nobody else does assam laksa like these two sisters.
14. Springy, tasty and traditional – Chee Cheong Fun
Modern chee cheong fun is rolled with bits of prawns or char siew but the original used to be just springy noodles similar to kuey teow, drenched in a sweet and slightly spicy sauce and topped with sesame – and this old-school chee cheong fun is what you’ll find here.
Go ahead and order some Yong Tau Fu from the stall next door and dig into your meal rich with decadent flavors!
The sweet chewiness of the chee cheong fun paired with the crunch of crispy deep fried tofu skin stuffed with fish paste? Sounds like a match made in heaven.
15. A hearty bowl of beefalicious goodness – Shin Kee’s Beef Ball Noodles
A one-minute walk from Chinatown will bring you to this no-frills beef noodle shop patronized by both tourists and locals alike.
Every mouthful is a burst of flavor: the saltiness of the broth, coupled with a piece of tender beef tripe, followed with a bouncy beef ball… The best part about this place is that you get to DIY your own bowl of delicious with a selection of noodles (rice vermicelli, egg noodles, etc) and you get to take your pick of what beefy parts you want in your meal. For an extra bounce and texture, we recommend going for the silver needle noodles (lao shu fen).
If you don’t like your noodles steeped in soup, you can opt for their dry version which is topped with their special beef sauce – a local favourite!
It’s payday! Treat yourself! These cafes below aren’t necessarily affordable but they offer good quality food, have Instagrammable hipster interiors and are easily accessible by monorail!
Read More: Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur’s Petaling Street: 18 Hipster places with hidden cafes, authentic local food and secret bars in and around Chinatown
1. A 150+-year-old building turned into a Kopitiam! – Luckin Kopi
As you enter Chinatown’s century-old heritage shophouses, you’ll almost feel like you’ve just stepped back in time.
One that does it so well is Luckin Kopi – the traditional Kopitiam is where contemporary meets old and it is housed in a 150+-year-old pre-war building where nothing much has changed.
You’ll be instantly transported to an era when Peranakan culture was distinct and celebrated, and I personally admire the dishes offered. Not all hipster cafes have to feature avocado toasts and smoothie bowls right?!
Besides its homey ambience, the local joint serves up some heart-warming comfort food from breakfast (7am) to dinner (9pm). Luckin Kopi is loved for its authenticity – you’ll find traditional Hainanese recipes like their chicken chop amongst other old school delicacies including Nasi Lemak too.
If you are here for your first meal of the day, give a go to their kaya butter toast or their special Luckin toast which is a unique set of toast slices with 5 different sauces and half-boiled eggs! For a heavier meal option, their Mee Siam doesn’t disappoint or for some comfort on a rainy day, people have raved about their Mala hotpot (Chinese numbing-spicy hotpot)!
Oh and before I forget, did I mention about their free flow kopi?
2. Come to sit and drink here! – Chocha Foodstore
Why Chocha though? Is it some random name that’s meant to make you wonder? Oh yes, it almost is but it does have a meaning – Chocha means “sit and drink” in Hakka dialect and that’s exactly what you come here for, oh and of course to eat too!
From the outside, Chocha has nothing like a cafe – in fact, if you ask me, it almost looks like any other abandoned shop lot along Petaling Street but it’s on the inside that things take place. The food store is housed in what used to be a hotel. It has kept its rugged brick walls and antique decor but it now features a coffee bar, teahouse, and restaurant on its ground floor while you can head up the spiral staircase to check out their Botak Liquor Bar.
Just like its interiors, you’ll find unique Western and Asian fusion dishes on the cafe’s menu – if you’re a fan of pasta like me, you’ll be impressed by the “ban mee”-like ones at Chocha as they produce their own hand-pulled flat noodles.
What’s more, the local joint supports local and sustainable produce by sourcing their ingredients locally. They even feature a small herb garden that serves both the restaurant and the bar upstairs. What really steals hearts here though, is their Curryflower which is a whole baked cauliflower coated with curry powder and salted egg! Sounds exotic right? Wait until you hear about their duck rendang on a hill of hummus!
Before you leave to explore other hidden gems around Chinatown, don’t miss on washing it down with a drink at their Botak Liquor Bar – their Jasmine and Tarragon cocktail will do the job!
3. Never trust a closed door! – Jao Tim
The doors at Jao Tim are always closed, and I bet this is how the curious minds out there have found it. If you speak Cantonese, you’ll be a bit more familiar with the cafe’s name; ‘Jao Tim’ means ‘hotel’ and the place does not only have its name as the interior is really themed as an old-school hotel with a dedicated concierge area.
In fact, the building used to be a hotel back then in the 19th century so that makes a lot of sense – it’s charming, vintage and rustic-chic but also oh-so-truly Chinatown-like!
I don’t mean to say that Jao Tim is your next go-to food spot but it’s the ideal one to consider if you’re looking to catch up with friends over coffee or beer, alongside some munchies like their ooey-gooey grilled cheese toast!
It also features an event space and on particular days, you’ll be able to catch a good Jazz jamming session here so I beg to differ that Jao Tim is just like any other cafe; you’ll have to drop by to see why ;)!
Now that you’ve solved the what’s-for-lunch dilemma, tag your lunch buddies and let them know where you’re eating next (simply by taking the monorail)! Let us know which of these legendary spots you try too!