Eating well doesn’t mean you have to pay more. We’ve got you covered for the best cheap meals under RM15 our city has to offer.
This Kelantanese dish is just as pretty as it tastes, featuring blue rice (the colour comes from bunga talang), acar, salted egg, shallots, kerisik, serunding ikan, ulam and sambal belacan. The flavours are heightened with the addition of spicy sambal and a dash of tumis sauce.
This famous, nameless pork noodles stall has been operating out of a house in PJ old town for the past ten years; just look for the 99 Speedmart convenience store and walk towards the back of the single-storey house next to it. The soup here is clean tasting and clear, none of the usual gaminess that you’ll find at many pork noodle soups around. It’s light yet flavourful, thanks to the mix of pork and fish stocks. And the best part is, every order is cooked separately, comes with heaps of gem lettuce, and is finished with pork lard and fried garlic oil just before serving.
Commoners Space is your regular café minus the regular café prices. All the sandwiches (from RM10) here are made with their own house-baked sourdough bread. You can go with a plain grilled cheese sandwich or get an upgrade in the form of the RTB (rocket, tomato and beef bacon; sometimes, they replace the rocket with local greens).
At Restoran Sweet Home on the ground floor of Wisma Central, the set lunch (only RM10!) consists of a hearty Chinese rice dish and a bowl of soup. Don’t be fooled by the set’s deceptively simple appearance – the accompanying dish is generously portioned and the soup, although in a small bowl, is packed to the brim with ingredients. The type of dish and soup you get are different each day, so be sure to ask what they’re offering for that day before ordering.
At ChimiChurri you can get a salad bowl (with protein) for less than RM13; you can also turn it into a rice bowl, a tortilla wrap or a sandwich at no extra cost. Your choices of protein are grilled chicken breast, Cajun chicken thigh or the dory fish fillet. But if you’re going full vegetarian, it’s only RM10.50. The selection of vegetables and hot add-ons are also plentiful – from your basic tomatoes and peppers to cauliflower rice, couscous and sweet potato mash. For sauces, the options are more localised. Think sambal, rendang and peanut sauce, alongside apple salsa, sweet sesame and the namesake chimichurri sauce.
There are so many things we love about this Chinese-style nasi lemak, and it all comes down to the variety of side dishes available. The dry pork curry is the stall’s claim to fame, while there are two types of chicken to choose from: the fragrant chicken rendang, and the ayam masak merah that’s laced with a slight assam-like tartness – they’re both equally good. It’s difficult to limit yourself to just a couple of side dishes (because there are also options like sambal sotong, chilli prawn, fried eggs, stir-fried kangkung, stir-fried cabbage, luncheon meat, hotdogs, fish cakes, and even sambal petai). The good thing is you don’t have to; this is one of the cheapest nasi lemak in town.
Classic Thai street food done right: At Boran Thai Food, mains (Thai basil pork rice, noodle soup, garlic pork on rice and more) are all priced comfortably from RM8.20. You get Thai iced tea and tago for dessert too.
A chilly day calls for a bowl of pan mee with lashings of chilli flakes. This ultimate pick-me-up at Madam Chiam is homey – springy noodles are tempered with the addition of minced pork, fried anchovies and a wobbly, half-boiled egg. Buoyed by a spritz of lime, the slightly tangy chilli flakes will deliver the heat you need.
The common ethos at Ilham is: Rice is individually steamed on order and ayam goreng rempah is freshly strained off the sizzling oil. The variable in a study of most nasi kukus in KL is the side of kuah kari – and Ilham pulls off a mean version. Thick and sweet, it’s made from a blend of three curries: fish curry, a mild Kelantanese gulai darat and kerutuk daging (an eastern kuah made of asam gelugor, coconut meat, gula Melaka and a load of spices). Curry mixed into rice, threads of warm chicken, a side of ripe pineapple and a crushing of keropok ikan – it’s all as comforting as the fact that nasi kukus is a thing that exists.
This place takes its claypots seriously. As you walk in, rows of pots burn on individual stoves while members of the restaurant’s staff tirelessly fan sparks of ember. The claypot rice here avoids the dreaded overcooked, unyielding texture that you sometimes get via less careful methods, and instead breaks easily into loose grains for a fluffy finish. Chicken, lap cheong and – if you wish – salted fish are standard mix-ins.
When faced with the extensive menu here, the best option is the Madras thali: an all-you-can-eat, little-bit-of-everything vegetarian meal, loaded with over ten small bowls of dishes served on a round metal plate to allow for maximum sampling in minimal sizes.
There’s good reason a dish so deceptively simple has brought so many people back time and time again. There’s a sense of innocence in removing the upturned plastic bowl to reveal a generous mound of rice, positively squelched beneath the pile of vegetables, stewed pork, lap cheong, prawns and egg. The sauce – a familiar blend of light soy sauce, oyster sauce and rice wine vinegar – binds every shortgrain into small, tight packs.
You can order the à la cartes, but more wallet-friendly are the weekday set lunches, where all your favourite dishes such as the chicken curry and ayam pongteh are now available in single portions, served with a side of vegetables and an omelette. Take comfort in the signature ayam berempah; the dish, a harmonious blend between a rendang and a curry, is authoritatively flavoured with herbs, chilli and smidgens of bunga kantan. Set meals start from RM9.90 only, which means you can still squeeze in a cup of kopi-o (RM2.90) to keep you going for the rest of the day.
The guys at Selangor Mansion came up with this eggs-tra special roti banjir to beat all other roti banjir. Fluffy roti canai is topped with dhal, sambal, kuah sardin (or opt for chicken curry that’s only available at night) for some saltiness, and the crowning glory – not one, but two twice-boiled perfectly wobbly eggs. Order a glass of teh tarik to go with this food coma-inducing dish.
Do good and have a meal at café and social initiative Project B, where RM15 gets you a fried chicken set meal, which includes a side dish and a soft drink. There are three types of fried chicken to choose from: the signature crispy buttermilk crunch, the sweet and sticky Korean fried chicken, and the hot and spicy berempah.