Looking for snacks? Pack them at these places in KL for the city's best local snacks: thick and thin keropok lekor, crispy popiah, kaya toast and more.
If you aren’t already stuffed from Chunburi Seafood’s nasi campur with its ample choices of lauk, head to the kuih stand at the entrance of the restaurant for some dessert. A wondrous display of colours and flavours, the spread of traditional kuih here offers plenty of options. How it works: You get as many empty packets as you want and fill them up with items such cik mek molek, kuih lapis, agar agar, buah Melaka and a lot more. Because the desserts here are so popular, don’t be surprised if you see someone buying an entire tray’s worth of kuih to take away. Come early to avoid the crowd.
Prices depend on type of kuih.
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A'Han Nyonya Kuih
This family-run business offers many varieties of authentic Nyonya kuih. All items here are hand-made daily so you can be sure of fresh kuih every time you drop by. You can expect to find several options such as pulut tai-tai, kuih seri muka, ang ku kuih, kuih talam and more, which sell out fast.
From RM1.30 per piece.
Come here if you like Malay and Nyonya kuih served in a café setting with a side of artisanal coffee, instead of a cup of kopi o like we’re all used to. Your options here include kuih lapis, kuih talam, kuih seri ayu and more.
Five pieces, RM4.
Bunn Choon Egg Tarts
This humble store might be hard to find for the uninitiated, but one way to find Bunn Choon is to follow the hypnotising aroma of freshly baked tarts. Owner Wong Kok Tong and his wife make around 800 egg tarts daily to feed the horde of customers that flock here – and for good reason too. Encased in flaky pastry made with pork lard is the creamy egg custard filling made of water, sugar and eggs. To keep with the trend, there are two other variants of egg tarts as well – charcoal sesame and green tea. Although the store is open by 9.30am, the egg tarts aren’t ready until 10am but it never hurts to be there early.
From RM1.90 per piece.
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Tai Zi Ta
The egg tarts here are smaller than your usual egg tarts, resulting in a perfect ratio of pastry to custard in every bite you take. The anatomy of each tart is a flaky but sturdy pastry base below that holds up well to the soft and sweet custard filling inside.
RM10 for ten pieces.
What started in the ’70s as Tong Kee Brothers Confectionery is now called TK Bakery, with multiple outlets across Klang Valley. There are two types of egg tarts here – one with a regular pastry for the base and one with butter pastry.
Regular egg tarts, RM2; butter egg tarts, RM2.20.
Yao char kuey
SS2 Chow Yang Yau Char Kuey
This long-standing fried fritter stall has stood at the same spot for 43 years and the person running it all this time is Leslie Chin. Folks frequently flock to this tiny roadside stall for his limited but dependably good selection of fritters which includes yao char kuey, kap chung and two varieties of ham chin peng – one with red bean paste filling and one without filling. By noon, you’ll usually find a sizable queue forming; if you don’t, it’s likely that customers have already placed their orders and will return to collect them later. Leslie regularly makes fresh batches several times a day so you’re guaranteed crispy and piping hot fritters.
From RM1 per piece.
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Meng Kee You Tiao
Located along the Happy Garden wai sek kai, this stall offers a wide selection of fried foods that range from yao char kuey and ham chin peng to fried fish balls and fried nian gao (glutinous rice cake with yam and sweet potato). Be prepared for a crowd that’s gearing up for tea break.
Prices depend on food.
Jalan Alor Yao Char Kuey
Although this joint is frequently called the ‘Jalan Alor Yao Char Kuey stall’, it’s actually situated along Changkat Bukit Bintang in front of Restoran Dragon View. The elderly couple who run the stall have been frying fritters at this very spot since the mid-’80s. Besides their signature yao char kuey, there’s also the classic ngao lei soh (ox tongue pastry), an oval-shaped fried doughnut that’s hard to find these days.
RM1 per piece.
Jalan Hang Lekir stall
Whether it’s soft and fluffy or crunchy and crispy, apam balik is a quick and easy teatime treat. On Jalan Hang Lekir, look out for the apam balik stall parked in front of Koon Kee Wantan Mee. Here, the no-frills apam balik is sweet and crunchy, with a soft spongy inside and crispy edges. The 69-year-old uncle Ah Loh has been selling apam balik for almost 30 years, and has a loyal following. So you know you’ll get good apam balik here. To make things more efficient, Ah Loh makes his apam balik in a large pan before swiftly slicing everything into individual pieces.
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Ding Heong Golden Apam Balik
Ding Heong Golden Apam Balik have expanded their operations from a single truck to several across KL. Apart from the traditional crispy apam balik, they also offer various fillings and toppings to go with your snack. You could go savoury and have it filled with ham, or you could go sweet and have it with Nutella and marshmallows.
Apam Balik Nusantara
At Apam Balik Nusantara, the filling is the focus. This roadside stall offers a variety of fillings to stuff your apam balik with, including durian, cheese and chocolate. If you’re feeling particularly experimental, try all three of them in one.
Yeong’s curry puff stall
The curry puff has been a staple grab-and-go snack food for as long as any of us can remember. There’s a variety to choose from and the city has hundreds of stalls that feature this Malaysian classic pastry. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense yet equally good curry puff, Yeong’s curry puff stall offers up some of the best. Having been around for nearly 44 years, Yeong serves simple curry puffs with and without egg, filled with potato and chicken. The puffs are fat, crunchy, and have a crust that’s just the right level of flakiness. The stall is a bit tricky to locate (find the Segi KL campus and it’ll be in the second alleyway on your left), but it will be worth it.
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Homi Curry Puff
Homi’s puffs are much larger than your average puffs because they’re packed to the brim with generous portions of curry potatoes and chicken slices, all encased in a thick buttery and slightly salty puff pastry that was made to hold up to the weight of its contents.
RM2.50 per piece.
Kedai Makan Goreng
Sisters Adeline and Fong Yong have been running this humble stall since the ’70s. The bite-sized puffs with flavourful dried potato curry fillings are the main draw. Since each puff can be devoured in one mouthful, they can be quite addictive; you’ve been warned.
From RM1 per piece.
Uncle Chiam Pisang Goreng
In the midst of a busy intersection surrounded by honking cars and people chasing after busses lies Uncle Chiam’s pisang goreng stall – the perfect excuse to head into the chaotic Brickfields. After selling pisang goreng for more than 30 years, Uncle Chiam is basically an institution here. And with good reason too, as the natural sweetness of the whole pisang raja (he fries the whole banana, not just halves or thin slices) combined with the crunchiness makes it the perfect evening snack. The term ‘king of the bananas’ is very fitting indeed.
From RM1.40 per piece.
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SS2 Goreng Pisang
Mr Wong and Ms Wong’s truck in SS2 is more than just a neighbourhood pisang goreng spot. After being in business for over 30 years, they’re practically family to loyal customers who’ve been frequenting them for teatime snacks. People from all over KL make the pilgrimage to SS2 to get a taste of their sweet fried bananas.
From RM1, depending on size.
Azmi Goreng Pisang
The keyword at this stall in Shah Alam is ‘variety’. Here, customers can choose from various types of bananas such as pisang tanduk, pisang awak and pisang nangka. Ask for leftover fried batter too if you want extra crunch with your pisang goreng.
From RM1 per four pieces, depending on type of banana.
Nasi lemak bungkus
Suri Nasi Lemak Panas 223
When it comes to having nasi lemak for supper in PJ, the name ‘Selera Jaya 223’ usually comes up. People might tell you that there are two nasi lemak options here – Nasi Lemak Yati with the red stamp on the packaging, or Nasi Lemak Suri with the blue stamp. We’re here to save you the time and effort in choosing which and insist you go with the blue one. Nasi Lemak Suri’s rice is generally softer and fluffier while the sambal perfectly toes the line between sweet and spicy. If you find the small packets of nasi lemak insufficient, help yourself to some fresh otak-otak sold from any of the three food stalls in the area.
RM1.60 per packet.
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Warung Kak Long
While prices of stall food keep going up, it’s refreshing to see Warong Kak Long maintaining the price of their 50 sen nasi lemak bungkus. Be quick to grab one though, as they usually run out by 11am.
Nasi Lemak Chun One
Located in Ampang Jaya, Nasi Lemak Chun One lives up to its name – it really is ‘chun one’. The packets of nasi lemak are kept on a steamer so you’ll always get a hot packet no matter what time you come. They’re a bit small though, so be ready to have a few of these when you’re here.
RM1.20 per packet.
There are no surprises as to what this small café serves: made-to-order South Indian steamed lentil-and-rice cakes served with chutney, podi and sambar, or better known as idli. Have at least five different variations of the savoury delicacy – the masala, podi, rava, Manchurian and idli upma.
From RM4 for a set of three idli
The best thing about the keropok lekor here is that they aren’t too oily. The thick pieces of lekor are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, while the thin ones are as addictive as they are crunchy. Be careful though, whichever you go for, you’ll probably finish a whole packet before you know it.
RM2 per packet of five pieces
The canteen at this monastery, which serves a spread of vegetarian fare, attracts a crowd during lunch. The zhap fan is all good but head for the baked goods too, and pick up a sugar-dusted doughnut (five on a skewer) for dessert. The doughnuts are usually sold out before noon – don’t say we didn’t warn you.
RM1 per skewer
Owner Lim chops sour mangoes, papayas, pineapples, cucumbers and sengkuang into bite-sized portions before coating them in a thick and gooey rojak dressing. Topped with crispy crackers and a smattering of chopped peanuts (or have it without), this is a salad bowl for cheat days.
Located behind Hong Leong Bank at Petaling Street, this stall has been in business for more than four decades. Pick up a bag of sweet potato balls, each sphere sporting a crunchy exterior and fluffy, slightly chewy filling. Fun fact: the sweet potato balls are fried with pandan leaves which lend a fragrant aroma.
RM4 for ten
When at Om Shakti Chelo’s Appam Stall, eat appam. The modest stall – almost three decades in business – churns out two variations of Ceylonese-style appam with a creamy, sweet molten centre and crispy brown edges. At your first visit, order both the plain appam and the brown sugar appam.
Aiskrim potong at any good convenience shop and supermarket
Amid contemporaries such as soft serves and frozen yoghurts, this cheap and cheerful childhood treat is still available from your neighbourhood convenience store. You can get it in flavours such as yam, pulut hitam, red bean and the absolute favourite, durian.
Known for its excellent northern Indian fare (try the palak paneer and naan), this no-frills eatery in the heart of Masjid India (just a few steps away from the Masjid Jamek LRT station) also stocks an assortment of rustic Indian sweets (burfi, gulab jamun, kalakand and more) from its sweet shop next door. Get a bit of everything, but don’t miss the peda, made from saffron-infused milk.
Think of a savoury and slightly spicy doughnut, and you’ve got yourself a vadai. The vadai stall, sandwiched between the cendol and the rojak stalls, more than holds its own; the crunchier masala vadai and the softer uluntu vadai flies off the wok as fast as the vadai man fries them. Tip: have it with whole green cili padi.
RM0.60 per piece
Run by a Sri Lankan Tamil, Restoran Yarl serves up the putu mayam of our dreams: soft strands made from rice flour, served with sothi, grated coconut and palm sugar, and if you like, dhal or curry too. For the cholesterol-conscious, a brown, healthier version made from biji sawi is also available.
Putu mayam only served in the morning and early evening. RM1
Popiah guru Mei Lim deftly spreads flat circles of pandan-flavoured crêpes (aka popiah skin) and piles on the necessities: shredded cucumber, carrots, egg, ground peanuts and tenderly cooked jicama. All the flavours are held together by a pairing of sweet sauce and chilli sauce.
RM2.80 per roll
These soft steamed buns with a variety of fillings are a staple for every self-respecting kopitiam. At Klang Food Centre, the mui choi (preserved vegetable) pau, corn custard bun, lotus paste bun and vegetable pau (which comes with a hard-boiled egg) are sold out almost as quickly as they are made.
Two slabs of thick white toast held together with a daub of homemade kaya and butter, served with two wobbly soft-boiled eggs on a saucer – these are quintessential Malaysian breakfast staples. Have them at Onn Loke, where Uncle Lee (formerly of Loke Ann Hotel) putters around, serving up crusty toasts and cups of his signature heady kopi.
This standalone muah chee stall is a Chinatown fixture. Located at the bustling crossroads of Petaling Street, the sprightly Madam Tang can be spotted constantly kneading, shaping and chopping glutinous rice flour dough into small, evenly shaped nubs, then coating them in a dusting of crushed peanuts and sugar. Extremely addictive.
The mamak-style ‘salad’ is celebrated in grand fashion: julienned vegetables, crispy fritters, soybean cakes, cuttlefish, fried tofu and a hard-boiled egg are draped in a sweet-spicy, nutty sauce. Trust the folks at Rojak SS15 Subang Jaya to be experts at balancing crunch and heat.
From RM3 (plain)