The Time Out Kuala Lumpur Food 40 is our monthly, definitive guide for where to eat in the Klang Valley. Establishments will only appear in this list if they offer cuisine of a very high standard that is truly unique and worthy of your custom. No entry into the Food 40 has provided any Time Out team member with a free meal or other incentive – although plenty have tried! All have been chosen honestly, anonymously and after a great deal of deliberation by our team of expert food critics.
Best Malay, Chinese and Indian restaurants
Come lunchtime, it can be tough finding a seat at this popular Indian vegetarian joint. In the heart of bustling Masjid Jamek, there’s always a lively atmosphere here. There’s a substantial selection of a la carte dishes from Northern and Southern India, but to really appreciate Bakti Woodlands, you have to come for the lunchtime thali sets. The Madras thali will leave you fit to burst, while still attempting to savour all the flavours.
You can always count on Chef Low to dish up palate-pleasing Cantonese dishes. If you’re tired of the usual chilli crab, go for their soupy Fu Zhou style crab for a more delicate flavour.
Its well executed dishes deliver the robust flavours of a good Indian meal. Try their unique tandoori broccoli.
KL’s most exhilarating restaurant to emerge in what seems like years is Dewakan, buried deep in the campus of Shah Alam’s Kolej Damansara Utama (KDU). Head chef Darren Teoh puts local flavours on the fine dining map by using homegrown ingredients such as keluak fruit, budu and kaduk leaves. You can have lunch for either a three- (RM80) or four-course (RM133) meal, or opt for a five- (RM164) or ten-course (RM207) dinner. Take note that à la carte dishes are not available.
Fatimah Selera Kampung
This kampung-house-turned-restaurant manned by the dedicated 84-year-old Fatimah has been serving Malaccan grandma-style cooking in large pots since 1983.
Opened in 2003, The Ming Room serves authentic Cantonese cuisine with a touch of creative liberty. Recently refurbished, be impressed with the historical and elegant renovations, complete with antique terracotta horses as well as six private dining rooms to cater to 300 pax. Highlights include the baked foie gras with stuffed sea clams and the steamed fresh water prawn with radish cakes. In addition to the obvious Hong Kong dim sum, standard Chinese fare with a twist is served. A popular dessert among their patrons is the chilled durian pudding. As featured in Time Out KL's 101 things to do in KL
Restoran Sambal Hijau
Over 50 kinds of Malay and Minang-style dishes are displayed, which include the signature patin tempoyak.
Best French, Italian and European restaurants
It’s not the fanciest in town, but it’s great for when you want to tuck into a comforting no-fuss ravioli dish.
Sitka champions local produce to churn out exciting things from the test kitchen like duck with miso pumpkin, pear and almonds.
Best Asian restaurants
Owned by two Thai brothers, Erawan serves authentic Thai cuisine and may well be the best Thai place in town.
Fresh seafood from Japan and a quality menu are why Kampachi has always been the top choice for Japanese cuisine. You must try the omakase menu.
On the ground floor of ViPod Residences, off Jalan Kia Peng, is Oribe Sushi, helmed by arguably KL’s most lauded sushi master chef, Chef Hideaki Oritsuki. Formerly of the illustrious Sushi Hinata, Chef Ori brings his expertise and vision to Oribe, where the limited menu is devoted to showcasing the produce of the sea. Seafood is brought in thrice a week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) from Osaka and Fukuoka. Grab a seat at the sushi bar to witness Chef Ori at work.
This modern yakitori bar strays from tradition with exciting tapas-style snacks to complement an impressive range of Japanese whiskies.
The monarchs of Japanese dining in KL – haughtily led by the likes of Kame Sushi – may never go out of fashion but sometimes we’re allowed to say, ‘three cheers for the mid-range Japanese restaurant’. There aren’t many of these in KL, but an entry like Uokatsu makes you wish for more. Here, appreciation of quality produce and an unpretentious evening can exist concurrently. On a Friday night, I appear without a reservation. Much to three other couples’ and my chagrin, there’s a line. Dining customers look out at us from behind the glass doors with a perverted sense of pity. Thankfully, tables clear out fast and a spot is secured in less than ten minutes. It becomes my turn to stare at diners-to- be that wait with hope. Oh, the cycle of a Malaysian diner. No time to be romantic for the mentai rice must be eaten. It’s mentai on egg on rice, the holy trinity of a good time. Apparently, it’s also the ghost of Fukuharu’s once-beloved mentai sushi. The egg appears stiff and accurately rectangle like a yellow Lego piece, its surface burnished and bumpy from the marinated roe. In one bite, the mentaiko is salty and creamy, the egg sweet, and the rice sticky and heavy. The message of comfort introduced by the rice bowl extends quite excellently throughout the meal. The grilled ocean trout is sufficiently tender; its oil gush out as the flesh is flaked. Next to it is a mound of grated daikon in soy, a necessary foil to the richness. The sashimi I ordered are on par as that from a p
Best cafés and coffee shops
You may have stumbled upon Instagram photos of the decadent sweet rolls, pastries, cookies, chocolate truffles and cakes by Jaslyn (@jaslynr), who used to supply to Wondermama Restaurant. Now you can make your purchase at her newly opened shop located in the vicinity of Bangsar Village.
This porcine-heavy eatery serves the city’s best full monty – curls of fried bacon, housemade baked beans and a thoroughly filled arugula-pork sausage adorned by two crackling sunny-side-ups.
Three Little Birds
Artisan Roastery’s latest venture sees coffee connoisseur Joey Mah experimenting with top roasts and meticulously prepared brews. Don’t forget the cake.
Best healthy eating restaurants
Ashley's by Living Food
Living Food bistro’s maiden offshoot stays true to its health food roots without sacrificing panache and élan. Spruced-up comfort food like the quinoa salad as well as baked brie with almonds and cranberries share the spotlight in this quirky, stylish spot on Jalan Telawi 3. Other dishes to try here include the scrumptious saffron-spiced paella with shrimp, scallop and pearl snapper as well as the Portobello mushroom and buckwheat polenta stack.
The food at Simple Life does not contain MSG, trans fats, colouring or preservatives; they use natural and organic ingredients. They also claim to use extra virgin coconut oil and brown instead of white sugar in their cooking. However, they do feature eggs in some of their dishes, but you can always tell them to omit that if you’re strict with your diet. I’ve visited Simple Life several times, and mostly their outlet in The Gardens Mall (they have a total of ten outlets). The menu is very well presented and there are lots of interesting choices, from rice dishes and noodles to steamboat, multi-grain porridge, lei cha, charcoal sandwiches and yes, even pizza. I ordered the vegetarian assam fish set meal, and it came in a beautifully laid out tray filled with a bowl of clear corn soup, a bowl of multi-grain rice and several small side dishes. The food looked appetising and tasted surprisingly good. The assam fish (which is seaweed wrapped bean curd, really) tasted just like the usual assam gravy with all its spiciness and piquancy, complete with long beans, brinjal, lady’s fingers and tomatoes. The side salads were particularly memorable, thanks to the nutmeg dressing that added a sharp tanginess to the palate. I went to its Suria KLCC outlet for my second visit, which is more of a stall in the Signature food court. The menu