Best vegetarian dishes in KL
Ask most omnivorous diners about going vegetarian, and you’ll hear the common complaint that there aren’t many options beyond boring overpriced salads that only calorie counters indulge in. Over the past couple of years, however, KL’s vegetarian scene has improved substantially, driven by ethical diners and restauranteurs who have found ways to provide tasty and filling vegetarian meals. Here are a few of those dishes.
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Cielo Kuala Lumpur
With its multitude of mamaks alongside bars and clubs that blare out Top 40 hits, Changkat Bukit Bintang isn’t where you’d normally go for a quiet romantic night out – which is why Cielo KL is such a welcome addition to the chaotic nightlife hotspot. Taking over what used to be the gym and rooftop pool of Vida in Bukit Ceylon, Cielo KL is owned and operated by Werner’s Group, which also owns other Changkat mainstays The Whisky Bar, The Rum Bar KL, El Cerdo, Opium and Dining in the Dark. True to form, Werner’s never repeats the same trick twice whenever it tries its hand at a new venture. At Cielo, the group has placed its focus on providing a refined dining experience by using imported seafood ingredients, and creating an ambience that makes you want to linger on long into the night. No expense is spared in creating a romantic mood, from the retractable roof that opens up to reveal the night sky to the immaculately set tables and Bluetooth-controlled table lighting that changes as the evening wears on. A glance through the menu reflects the restaurant’s ambition of providing a classic seafood meal that gets the basics right first, and then some. Starters include pan-seared scallops with creamy celeriac mousse, tomato confit and green lentils (RM52); grilled octopus with red capsicum purée (RM78); and akami tuna tartare with mango salsa and wasabi tobiko (RM68). The combinations and flavours are nothing new, but there’s plenty to admire about the technique and quality of ing
The Burnin' Pit
KL is no stranger to Texan barbecue joints with cult favourites Beard Brothers’ BBQ and Mom’s BBQ food truck, but The Burnin’ Pit dwarfs them in terms of scale and ambition. Occupying a prominent corner lot on Desa Sri Hartamas’s main strip, the two-storey restaurant is the lifelong dream of Kok Fung, who fell in love with the art of slow-smoked barbecue after spending a few years exploring the US and learning from local pit masters there. The restaurant is impossible to miss: even before stepping in, an always-working outdoor smoking pit lures you in from the street with its smoky aromas. Inside, large sharing tables, wide open spaces, heavy dark-wood furniture and an open kitchen carry the look of an upscale restaurant, but the restaurant is cosy enough to make you feel comfortable to eat with your bare hands if you feel like it. Upstairs is where you’ll find ‘The Pit Master’s Lounge’, a drinking space that opens from 5pm and is decked out to look like hunter’s lodge filled with all manner of Americana, including books about barbecue, a faux fireplace and a bourbon-stocked bar. On the menu is a variety of starters, sides, roast chicken, lamb and house-made sausages. The main attraction, however, are the beef ribs and brisket, which have been rubbed with salt and pepper before being smoked for eight to 14 hours until they’re completely tender and oozing with melted fat. Fung has also tweaked the Texan barbecue recipe with small, but significant gestures: the rub, for inst
What started out as a humble vegetarian eatery in Bangalore almost a century ago in 1924, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms – or MTR – now has multiple outlets across Asia and the Middle East. Its latest outpost in KL promises hearty South Indian vegetarian fare that’s not only affordable, it’s also good for your waistline. Inside, posters on the brand’s long history are plastered on the bright red walls, while simple furniture and a spotless space allow the food to shine. The expansive menu is made up of familiar South Indian dishes like idli, vada, dosa, thali sets and more. A must-have is the masala dosa (RM9) – light and crisp, made with a mixture of grains and pulses laced with ghee, filled with spiced potatoes, and accompanied by green chutney, lentil sambar and even more ghee. The smooth, shiny surface of the crust is telling of a good dosa; here at MTR, it’s good. If that doesn’t fill you up, go for the Mini Meals (RM13). Don’t be fooled by its innocent-sounding name; this hefty meal consists of palya, vegetable sagu, plain rice, curd rice, sambar, rasam, papadum, pickles, payasum and a choice of either plain dosa, poori, chapathi or akki roti. If you’re really hungry, the Special Mini Meals (RM19) comes with even more items such as bisi bele bhath, kosambari salad and a dessert. If you’re working in the vicinity, you’ll be happy to know that MTR offers daily specials alongside the regular selection. We visited on a Thursday, so our options were pulliogre (RM8.50), thatte idly
Run by the co-owner of Klang’s Seraph Awaken Chun Hoong, Prana Alchemy is a coffee shop offering a compact list of Turkish-style coffees. With Seraph Awaken’s success and growing fanbase, Hoong finds it difficult to add new creations onto the café’s menu as he worries they won’t be able to cope with the demands; hence the birth of Prana Alchemy. Located in a quiet commercial centre in a residential area in Bandar Sunway, the shop is easily distinguishable with its wooden façade and a smattering of potted plants – you won’t miss it considering every other lot along the row sports steel shutters. Inside, there’s not much to look at as Hoong focuses on the coffee rather than making this an Instagram hotspot: the rustic cabin-like theme is accented with wooden furniture and a long table that acts as a makeshift coffee bar, while dim lighting adds to the shop’s laidback atmosphere. Prana Alchemy is Hoong’s passion project, where he experiments with new coffee ideas. Both him (who’s based at Seraph Awaken but drops by occasionally) and barista Andy Chia man the bar here offering two variations of Turkish-style coffee – traditional and ‘modified’. They use beans sourced from Seraph Awaken, so you’re always getting the freshest tasting cup of coffee possible. If you want something with a kick, go for the traditional Turkish-style coffee (RM12). It’s made with a copper ibrik (Turkish coffee pot); but instead of brewing the coffee over hot sand (which is the traditional Turkish way),
As a professional food stylist, photographer and community manager for food discovery app Burpple, Trisha Toh is never short of recommended places to eat in KL. We asked her for her top five, and this is what she told us. Continue to follow Trisha's food discoveries on her Instagram.
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