Best Places For Malay Food in KL

Best Places For Malay Food in KL

Too often an underrated cuisine, Malay food beyond the likes of nasi lemak and satay still remains a mystery to many. If you too have been missing out, there is no better time to make your way to these places for Malay fare in KL. Rice is of course a staple, but there are also glorious meats steeped in satiating sauces, assorted kuihs in cheerful colours and soft rice rolls in creamy fish broth!
Burpple Guides
Burpple Guides

This high-end Malay restaurant is the epitome of Malay kampung meets modern diner. Providing an intimate ambience with warm lighting, this is an underrated venue for dinner dates in the city. Lauded here is their one-of-a-kind appetiser, Daging Bungkus Kukus (RM13) — a steamed savoury crepe encasing tasty minced meat. But the highlight is a dish that will convince you to eat your veggies. Order the Pucuk Paku Goreng Tahi Minyak (RM23) to go with rice. Stir-fried with chili, caramelised coconut and plump prawns, the crunchy wild ferns relent to an incredibly sweet, buttery flavour. End your meal with a dessert fit for kings. Many come for the rich Chocolate Durian Cake (RM18) and the dessert of intense durian flavours is every bit as lush as the combination promises to be. If you ever had qualms about having the otherwise economical cuisine in an upscale setting, Bijan will prove to be well worth what you're paying for.
Avg price per person: RM60
Photo by Burppler Phoebe MQ

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For a solo dinner, look to Ilham for an enchanting Nasi Kukus (RM6) that will make you glad you have it all to yourself. The bustling locale in Mutiara Damansara sees a constant stream of customers, no doubt here for the steamed rice specialty. Individually steamed in aluminium moulds, the rice is warm, fluffy and generously topped with a three-blend kuah. An earmark of nasi kukus, their flavoursome, concentrated gravy features the use of fish curry, chicken curry and kuah kerutup daging (a Kelantanese coconut-based gravy). Also helping to perfect the combo is refreshing pineapple achar, crispy ikan bilis and a delicious ayam berempah. You will also receive a serving of keropok ikan — look to the regulars who crush these fried fish crackers onto their rice and follow suit! For an extra kick, add their spicy sambal belacan.
Avg price per person: RM10
Photo by Burppler Azreel Azhar

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When on Jalan Bellamy where a stretch of ikan bakar stalls reside, zero in on Gerai No. 3 for Kedai Kak Jat's foolproof fish. Set atop a hill, the rustic location lends to its charm for a casual lunch date. A multitude of marinated seafood greets you at the counter where you get to choose your meat. Look out for a fresh, sizeable Tilapia (from RM20). The fish is not so much grilled as it is pan-fried in a banana leaf, but the result is tantalising all the same. Sizzling the fish on high heat helps achieve the thin, crispy brown skin that envelopes soft, white flesh within. Meanwhile, the spicy marinade complements but doesn't overpower the freshness of the fish. The Squid (RM8) is also superbly done — fat, whole squids grilled to a delicious char. On dipping sauces, get the cicah kicap (soy sauce) that's surprisingly spicy with a finishing kick from zesty lime. Rice is available, as well as options for nasi campur-style dishes. The place fills up every afternoon so it's best to come early to beat the lunch crowd.
Avg price per person: RM25
Photo by Burppler Jessica Lau

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Nestled in nondescript Selera Wawasan in SS3, hidden gem Cik Mek Molek excels at a variety of Malay eats. Bring a close friend for conversations over local delights at this cosy spot. Chef Kadri hails from Johor, but has dabbled in learning Kelantanese recipes so you will see a balance of both cuisines on the menu. It's no surprise that the Laksa Johor (RM7) is a winner. Redolent of its fragrant fish base, the runny broth and slippery spaghetti makes a tasty, harmonious duo. From the East Coast, Monday special Laksam (RM7) is a rice roll dish not easily found in these parts of KL. It is painstaking to make, and the unique, piquant dish is a must-order if you're here on Mondays. Selling out by 1pm daily, the crowd-favourite is none other than a bright, blue Nasi Kerabu (RM7) — come early for this. Eight types of chopped ulam (fresh greens) are used to supplement the fragrant rice, along with salted egg, pungent budu sauce and fish crackers. This mouth-watering version also features saucers of rendang gravy and spicy sambal to suit local likings.
Avg price per person: RM10

A lunchtime favourite, Bawang Merah is where Subang folks flock to for delicious nasi campur and a helping of local kuih. Do the same with a close colleague. The long line of lauk (dishes) entices with tasty options for Daging Lemak Cili Padi (from RM4) and Paru Goreng (Fried Liver, from RM3.50), but our favourite has to be their punch-packed Ikan Keli Cili (from RM4.50). The simple dish of fried catfish is spiked with an appetising chili paste, resulting in a raving burst of flavours. Then, look out for the Telur Goreng Kicap (RM1.60). Steeped in soy sauce, the fried egg's glory is in its crisped edges. Don't forget to also ask the kakak for lots of flavourful kuah kari (curry gravy) over your rice. Next to the cashier sits a rack of freshly made kuih and the soft, pandan-fragrant Kuih Talam (RM0.80) will make a great after meal-snack! This homely restaurant is modest in size, so be prepared to share your table with other patrons — don't worry, they're usually very friendly.
Avg price per person: RM15

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This Damansara Uptown joint is the Kelantanese restaurant's first offshoot in KL and for an authentic taste of their namesake dish, you will not be disappointed here. Bring a friend for the East Coast experience, and for company — it's a long walk from the nearest parking area. Have the staple nasi dagang, gravy-laden brown rice with a variety of proteins to choose from. The traditional pick is a Gulai Ikan Tongkol (mackerel tuna curry, RM8.90). Cooked in a spicy coconut gravy, the meaty fish has none of that unpleasant fishy taste and is a constant crowd pleaser. But we also heard great things about the Kelantanese Beef Rendang (RM9.90) that's light-bodied yet just as flavourful, if not more than the local variant. If you're not a stickler for tradition, opt to beef up your nasi dagang with rendang. For a full-on feast, get the Ultimate Nasi Dagang Capital (RM18.90) abundantly served with a portion of each side dish.
Avg price person: RM20
Photo by Burppler Joe Ching

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You know you're in for a treat when the matriarch still helms the kitchen at this Johorean family-run restaurant. For a hearty local breakfast with the clan, begin your day at this casual corner in TTDI. Topping the menu is the Nasi Ambang (RM9.80) — a Johor-style nasi bungkus (packed rice) characterised by the addition of serunding (grated coconut) and a side of fried noodles. Here, it is more modernly presented on a plate but the rendition is reliably tasty, served with either ayam or beef rendang. Those who don't fancy rice in the morning can turn to their Mee Rebus (RM6.50). The thick, yellow noodles swim in a slightly spicy potato-based gravy for an impeccable dish, especially on cooler mornings. Apart from savouries, D'Cengkih is known to hit the sweet spot with their special Lempeng Pisang (RM3.50) dessert. The yummy banana pancake is only available every Friday till Sunday, so the weekend's when you should make your way here!
Avg price per person: RM15
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Alyssia Yu

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From an unlikely partnership between local celebrity chef Ismail and Malaysia's first astronaut Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar comes rooftop gem Restoran Rebung. Perched atop a multi-level car park, the restaurant relies on the scenic view of KL's Botanical Garden and their affordable Lunch Buffet (from RM40 per person) to satisfy. The dishes are a nod to chef Ismail's Negeri Sembilan roots. For starters, the scrumptious popia basah (spring rolls doused in gravy) is one to try. Next, there is a splendid selection of lemak and curry dishes to satiate with rice, but be sure to exercise restraint at this section to make space for other delights. Make a stop at the grill station for a made-to-order grilled stingray, virtued by tender, smoky flesh. Dessert is a 'wok' away — coconut dodol is presented in an enormous wok, so you can scoop up your desired portion of the sweet confection.
Avg price per person: RM40
Photo by Burppler Anna Wong

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