Best slow-cooked local dishes in KL

Patience, and lots of it, plays a big part in making some of our favourite Malaysian dishes, from double-boiled coconut chicken soup to ayam buah keluak

By Time Out KL editors |

The saying 'patience is a virtue' has never been more true when it comes to these dishes. With cooking times ranging from eight hours to 40 days, you’re guaranteed they’ve been finessed and full of flavour. Whether it’s been boiled down or fermented, these Malaysian favourites are worth the wait.

Idli Only Cafe
Photo: Bryan Ong
Restaurants, Indian



While it’s terribly easy to finish a platter of pillowy soft idli in a matter of minutes at Bangsar’s Idli Only Café, the many hours of prep time might make you pause in between bites of the steamed lentil rice cakes. The recipe calls for four parts of uncooked idli or parboiled rice to one part of whole or split urad dhal (whole white lentil), soaked separately for four to five hours or overnight.

After it’s soaked, the lentils are ground to a fine paste in batches to make a smooth batter, while the rice is ground separately. Both are then mixed together and left to ferment for eight to nine hours. Once fermented, the batter rises and doubles in size. To steam the idlis, the idli mould is greased and the batter poured in, and then steamed for ten to 12 minutes or until done.

Zheng Kee
Photo: Bryan Ong
Restaurants, Chinese

Double-boiled coconut chicken soup


Typically, when soup is double boiled the food is covered with water and put in a covered ceramic jar, which is then steamed for several hours. This way, no liquid or moisture (the dish’s essences) from the food will be lost. Zheng Kee may be more famous for its succulent chicken rice, but the extensive range of double-boiled herbal soup is a good accompaniment.

The soups run the gamut from lotus root soup with peanuts and pig maw soup with pepper to shark bone soup with winter melon and more, but the coconut shells propped on most tables is evident that the coconut chicken soup reigns here. Served in a hollowed out coconut shell, the flavourful soup consists of chicken pieces and an assortment of Chinese herbs (dong guai, pak kei, kei chi), longans and black dates.

Restoran Hatinie
Photo: Bryan Ong
Restaurants, Malay

Rendang ayam

Shah Alam

Fun fact: the term ‘rendang’ in Minangkabau language actually refers to the method of slow cooking, not the dish. Making rendang involves constantly churning the ingredients in a pot or frying pan (typically in coconut milk and spices) over a small fire until all liquids evaporate from the meat, making the meat tender.

When its doors open at 7.30am, Restoran Hatinie (proponent of authentic Kelantanese cuisine in KL) sees a fair share of the breakfast crowd, while office workers fill the place during lunch hour. The restaurant has a bit of everything – grilled quail, gulai tempoyak ikan, a nasi kerabu station – but its big draw is the sweet, creamy rendang ayam.

More slow food: try these aged steaks


Best aged steaks in KL

For times when regular steaks just won’t do, aged steaks are your more flavourful, more tender and overall more premium options when it comes to grilled beef. With the meaty dry-aged variant to the fattier wet-aged option, satisfy your carnivorous cravings with our guide to the best aged steaks in KL.