Explore KL's best Thai restaurants
The best Thai restaurant in KL by a mile, Erawan has been receiving consistent critical acclaim for as long as the five years it’s been operating. The mastermind behind the restaurant’s success is Thailand-hailed Chef Korn, who works in the kitchen to produce fit-for-a-king food made from carefully sourced ingredients. As much as it’s a joy to sit down to extravagantly presented dishes like the love letter salad (grilled river prawn salad with a dressing of lime, tamarind and kaffir lime juices) and Alaskan king crab in red curry, it’s inspiring to watch Chef Korn prep and present his food with unrelenting precision. Coconut milk is strained from scratch, tom yam is prepared upon individual orders, seasoning is balanced to pitch perfection while vegetables are carved and contoured into intricate flower petals. If the Michelin inspectors ever visited KL, we’d gladly point them in the direction of Erawan.
Straying slightly from authentic home-style Thai food, Kompassion is a great bet for when you feel a little adventurous. While safer Chiang Rai-style classics like phanaeng curry with pork loin and hang lay curry with pork belly make appearances, we like Kompassion best for its modern iterations like pork satay with kimchi, pork belly with soft-shell crab, cod with chilli, wasabi and lime, and avocado and bean sprout salad. The Thai iced coffee is a blast of cool creaminess at the end of an always exhilarating meal.
The Time Out KL Food Awards 2013 winner for Best Thai wins the popularity contest with a seven-year reign of the market. The neighbourhood favourite was one of the first of the Thai genre to avoid the tacky mall setting or rice served in pineapple bowls, a breath of fresh air for Thai food enthusiasts. While the menu is predictable, it doesn’t take away from the brand’s consistency and reliability. The som tam malakor (hand-pounded green papaya salad with peanuts) is described in the menu as Thailand’s favourite salad, which is understandable – it’s intensely delicious. The roast duck red curry with fruit is always comforting on a rainy weeknight, while the ‘snow’ fish (saltbaked whole sea bass with green chilli sauce) is cooked perfectly – the fish’s thick, crusty skin is complemented by soft, white flesh.
By specialising in no-frills, porcine-leaning Thai comfort food in an unpretentious space, Surisit Thai Kopitiam has firmly established itself as one of TTDI’s finest food destinations since it opened in 2011. Regulars swear by Surisit’s range of deftly executed pork dishes, namely the decadent crispy pork with shrimp paste and the fried pig’s trotter with black soy sauce. Balance your meaty meal by opting for one of the restaurant’s decent kerabu salads – the banana flower salad is something of a revelation.
Formerly known as Lai Thai, Kedai Makanan Frame Thai can no longer be considered PJ’s best-kept secret – this bustling mini mart-restaurant has now emerged as one of the go-to places in town for Thai street food. Although the shop’s dreary ambience is not particularly enticing, Lai Thai has steadily won over new fans by serving immensely satisfying pork dishes (definitely go for the braised pork leg and the punchy stir-fried minced pork with basil) as well as selling packaged goods and condiments from Thailand.
The freshest face to join the city’s nascent legion of porcine-friendly Thai restaurants is Thai Camp, which opened to glowing reviews in January 2014. The cosy Taman Paramount establishment is renowned for its stir-fried roasted pork with red curry and Thai coconut milk chicken soup among other belly-warming dishes.
PJ’s grand dame of Thai cuisine has been around for over 30 years, and with good reason. This unassuming neighbourhood eatery is rich with affordable Thai offerings, including the onion-heavy kerabu salad with boneless chicken feet and Thai asam curry prawn.