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Eating is a national pastime in Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur has loads to offer. Read on for Forbes Travel Guides editors’ picks for the five best Kuala Lumpur food experiences.
1. Go to Lot 10 Hutong. In the basement level of Lot 10 mall is this hawker-stall-style food court, a maze-like warren of kiosks selling all manner of Malay food. Everything is delicious and inexpensive, and the mall is clean and well air-conditioned.
2. Visit Jalan Alor. Kuala Lumpur residents flock in droves to this revered food street for Wong Ah Wah’s chicken wings. Start at the wings and work your way down the line.
3. Eat nasi lemak. A wildly popular breakfast dish, you’ll find it served in high-end restaurants and street-side stalls. Rice boiled in coconut milk is mixed with cucumber slices, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, a hard-boiled egg, and hot sauce (sambal), before being wrapped in a banana leaf.
4. Nosh on Indian food. Don’t miss south Indian food with a slight Malaysian twist. Even picky eaters love roti canai, a buttery flat bread served alongside curry. Banana roti make a great breakfast, dessert, or late-night snack.
5. Go to Yut Kee. This is Kuala Lumpur’s oldest and arguably most popular Hainanese coffee shop. Order the roti babi, a shredded pork, onion, and crab meat sandwich, served on white bread, dipped in egg and then deep-fried.
Village Park nasi lemak
You can't visit Malaysia without trying nasi lemak – it's a national treasure. Fluffy coconut rice, alongside cucumbers, a boiled egg, crispy anchovies and peanuts, and a spicy chili sauce (sambal) on the side. At Village Park, a place so famous that it inspires queues of people snaking round the block at lunchtime, this comes topped with a succulent piece of fried chicken.
A recent burger boom in KL has seen burger joints sprouting up all over the place, and myBurgerLab has been credited with starting it all. The tiny outlet serves its burgers in black buns (a gimmick, but it works) filled with juicy patties and inventive extras. Be warned – the queues here are not for the faint of heart.
Banana leaf rice
If you're the kind that likes to get messy, have a go at banana leaf rice. It is literally rice served on a banana leaf, doused with different curries, accompanied by vegetable pickles and as many side dishes as you please. Nirwana Maju does a great banana leaf rice, as does Devi's just across the road.
You wouldn't expect it from a landlocked city, but Kuala Lumpur does an excellent line in seafood. Fatty Crab is a prime example of this, having won awards for their eponymous crab. Try the sweet and sour crab, drenched in a piquant gravy that requires a side dish of bread to mop up.
The mamak culture is huge in Kuala Lumpur – a mamak being an open air restaurant specialising in Indian-Muslim fare, often with stalls selling satay, hookah/shisha and tandoori chicken with naan. Devi's is a great mamak, with a huge variety of food and also (see above) a great banana leaf restaurant upstairs. Suzi's Corner is another famous one, with their repertoire extending to Thai green curry and steaks. Eclectic, but true.