Family dining doesn't have to be confined to fast-food joints and food courts. Parents can and should occasionally eat out to celebrate a special occasion or even just for fun.
The comic book aesthetics are strong at this eatery and the emphasis on porky dishes even more so. The cartoonish ambience of Ticklish Ribs & ‘Wiches makes it a fun place for the family to tuck into ribs, chops, pulled pork sandwiches and meatballs. Most of the menu calls for ‘grown-up’ appetites, but the Piglet Menu sees smaller set meals for kids – think kid-sized servings of chicken or fish fingers, meatballs, pork sandwiches, pasta – which come with sloppy fries, fresh fruit and juice or a soft drink. The restaurant also offers a way to feed your kids for free; order a full set (six pieces) of ribs, make it a Sloppy Set by adding on the Sloppy Fries and a soft drink, and get one of the two dishes completely free of charge: Oodles of Noodles (Spaghetti Bolognese with a twist) or Rice Vice (their take on pork katsudon).
Rather under-the-radar except to those living or working in Kelana Jaya, this lakeside restaurant is a love letter to Louisiana Creole cuisine. Executive Chef Elvin Goh deems it his duty to introduce Malaysians to Creole dishes like gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya (a well-seasoned rice dish). Good for large parties and for saving a dime, Secret of Louisiana offers ample alfresco seating and a popular all-you-caneat pasta deal (RM21.90 per pax) during lunchtime on weekdays. If your kids are shorter than or equal to 90 centimetres tall, they’re entitled to a free kids’ meal named after a cartoon character: Popeye the Sailor Man (chicken and fish fingers with fries), Mickey Mouse (sausages, scrambled eggs, toast and tomatoes), Winnie the Pooh (grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy) or Tom & Jerry (spaghetti marinara with chicken sausages).
What started as a family-run restaurant has steadily grown into one of the more prominent local chains, serving authentic Malay cuisine with a Thai twist. The spacious outlets boast of modish interiors and relaxed vibes, so it’s not uncommon to see extended families dining here for birthdays and reunions. The menu is quite varied with traditional Malay dishes like nasi kerabu and nasi ambang, a Middle Eastern medley, Western fare like pastas and steak, and more; be sure to order the all-time favourite Serai Platter – a sampling of some of the restaurant’s best dishes in one plate. Realistically, kids will probably prefer the fish and chips or mini cheeseburgers from the kids’ menu – but the rest of the family will enjoy the local dishes. Although the prices may seem a little steep, the large portions are worth it. Be sure to save room for their popular berry Pavlova and pistachio crème brûlée.
This stalwart of the KL dining scene is known for its incredible view of the city, South American-influenced menu and their guacamole, of course. There aren’t many places that can boast of a dedicated guacamole chef. Contrary to what many parents think, kids can eat here – well-behaved ones who won’t be tempted to interrupt romancing couples or have pre-bedtime tantrums that is. Choose from tapas, mains of grilled meat (fuego means ‘fire’, after all) and a small selection of desserts of which the churros will go down a treat. The Big Plates easily feed two to three adults, so rest assured that a portion of beef back ribs or beef flank will more than fill a couple of little bellies. Parents, treat yourself to something from their cocktail list as you watch the sun set. There are two sittings here and it’s advisable to book the earlier one if dining with kids.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when eating out at Bangsar, with options ranging from the usual shopping centre franchises to hawker stalls. Next time you’re there with the family, head to Lorong Kurau, which is a little ways away from the main Telawi area and now known as a bit of a foodie street with the likes of the vegetarian Ganga Café and grill restaurant Bakar. However, we recommend Baba Low’s for a pleasant walletfriendly dinner and while this restaurant doesn’t scream kid-friendly, its appearance belies its tasty menu. There’s no specific kids’ menu but it’s the perfect place to introduce traditional Nyonya cuisine to the kids with dishes like pai tee, popiah, laksa, fried chicken wings and kaya toast. To end, you can’t go wrong with the perennial favourite of cendol, which almost every kid we know will always slurp with relish.
Yut Kee’s premises is reminiscent of a time past, a residence-turnedshop along Jalan Kamunting that exudes old world charm with old school wooden coffee shop chairs and marble tables, black and white photographs hanging on the walls, and an overall interior that feels like a traditional kopitiam. No kid can resist a delicious plate of Hainanese chicken chop, especially when it’s the classic Yut Kee version. The owners have been perfecting the recipe since 1928 so it really is the best in town. The indulgent roti babi and saucy lam mee are also equally worthy contenders at this kopitiam.Best of all, the prices of most dishes remain below the RM15 threshold, even after all these years. A favourite snack for the kids is a slice of marble cake (a bargain at RM1.30) – have that paired with a Milo kao, and they’ll be raring to go.
The typical admonishment of ‘don’t play with your food’ doesn’t work here; be ready to get your hands dirty at The Crab Factory, where primeval dining rules. No plates or cutlery – just a heap of fresh seafood cooked in spices ready to be torn apart and consumed with gusto. As messy as it gets, it’ll be good for the kids to see what their food looks like in its original form rather than prepared daintily on a plate. These Creole- and Cajun-inspired seafood broils come with different sauces ranging from normal to the scorching ‘Death Valley'. Don the bib, get accustomed to the shellfish crackers and scissors, and attack that mound of seafood. Don’t wear white and don’t freak out when the kids splatter crawfish juice everywhere! If kids want something they recognise, there are also deep-fried chicken wings and fish and chips. It won’t be the cheapest meal you’ll have, but it’ll be well worth the seafood-smelling fingers!
Communal eating is a very important aspect of family life and there are certain types of cuisines which must be eaten as a group, the most common being dim sum. All those steamer baskets filled with luscious dumplings taste so much better when eaten with the family. China Treasures’ specialty is its halal dim sum offerings, which have proven naysayers wrong by serving delicious dumplings without pork. Located at the Sime Darby Convention Centre, China Treasures offers more than enough choices for both the ambitious and fussy eater. Come here for sweet and savoury buns, chee cheong fun, siu mai, wok-fried dishes, har gao and plenty of other dim sum staples. All the dishes here are made fresh, so expect to wait a little while. Service is attentive, plates come out hot, and there’s no shortage of dishes to order. Finish off with the compulsory moreish egg tarts.