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The best local specialty dishes in KL

Take your pick from Malaysian classics such as bak kut teh, cheese naan, satay, Ramly burger and more

We're a food city. With classic Malaysian dishes like rendang, roti canai, steamboat and murtabak, it's hard not to be food-obsessed. So loosen your belt – you've got much eating to do as we show you the best local specialty dishes in Kuala Lumpur.

Fried chicken at Village Park Restaurant
1/27

Fried chicken at Village Park Restaurant

Here, the fried chicken is a flavourful affair of deep-fried goodness. Savour the crunch when you bite into skin that hugs flawlessly-seasoned meat.

RM6

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Damansara
Steamed fish at Restoran Kari Kepala Ikan Tiga
Photo: Stacy Liu
2/27

Steamed fish at Restoran Kari Kepala Ikan Tiga

Buried under an avalanche of minced ginger purée, squid, lala and prawns, the steamed fish here is immersed in a robust seafood stock. The fish is immaculately butterflied and slathered with a thick coat of ginger that’ll make your head swim.

Price depending on type of fish; patin, RM7 per 100g

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Puchong
Ayam pongteh at Limapulo: Baba Can Cook
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
3/27

Ayam pongteh at Limapulo: Baba Can Cook

This classic Nyonya chicken dish has a flavour profile that’ll keep you hankering for more. The thick gravy has a great depth of flavour thanks to the onions, garlic, taucu (bean paste) and sugar for a dash of sweetness.

RM17

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Bandaraya
Chapatti at Restoran Santa Chapati House
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
4/27

Chapatti at Restoran Santa Chapati House

In the city, Santa’s chapattis reign supreme. Hot off the griddle, the versatile flatbread is the perfect vehicle to wipe up plates of aloo ghobi, mutton keema and creamy dhal. We say get at least two pieces of the buttery soft chapattis at Santa’s.

RM1.50 per piece

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Masjid Jamek
Siu yuk at Restaurant Wong Kee
5/27

Siu yuk at Restaurant Wong Kee

Your meat takes about 30 minutes to arrive. But this is insignificant when you’re finally presented with thick batons of salty pork – think layers of oily fat and lean meat with crisp, golden crackling.

From RM16 (single portion)

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KL City Centre
Sup kambing at Restoran Mahbub
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
6/27

Sup kambing at Restoran Mahbub

Step aside, chicken soup; it’s sup kambing for the soul here. A star dish to rival the nasi biryani ayam madu at Mahbub, the soup has meat on the bone, the richness of marrow, coriander. A comforting perk-me-up as Malaysian as they come.

RM7

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Bangsar
Satay at Jalan Peel food street
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
7/27

Satay at Jalan Peel food street

Flamed-licked and imbued with smokiness, the satay here is charred just right. Owner Suhairi Majid threads chunks of meat and bastes them over scorching coals. Dip the skewers in their chunky peanut sauce – they’re so irresistible you’ll stop counting.

RM1.20 per skewer

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Cheras
Chicken wings at Wong Ah Wah
8/27

Chicken wings at Wong Ah Wah

What started off as a single stall serving the post-clubbing crowd has grown into a commendable Chinese food institution. Come for the classic: charred chicken wings with sweet flesh enveloped in paper-thin skin.

RM3.50 per wing

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Bukit Bintang
Ikan bakar at Gerai Seri Menanti
9/27

Ikan bakar at Gerai Seri Menanti

Here, the ikan bakar is covered in a spicy marinade and grilled in a banana leaf. Have it with the air assam dipping sauce.

From RM10

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Brickfields
Dim sum at The Ming Room
Photo: Stacy Liu
10/27

Dim sum at The Ming Room

A weekend breakfast ritual for many, dim sum – baskets of buns and dumplings (har gau, siu mai, lo mai gai), plates of Chinese pastries, pots of pu er – makes for one of the most enjoyable dining experiences.

From RM9

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Bangsar
Cheese naan at Beriani Asif
Photo: Joyce Koh
11/27

Cheese naan at Beriani Asif

Nicely puffed, soft with melted cheese, and sometimes spiced up with garlic bits, the cheese naan has comforted us through many rainy nights at the mamak. Beriani Asif’s version is served with a coriander mint dip. If they’re out of it, ask for susu pekat.

RM6

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Bukit Bintang
Murtabak at Curry Leaf Restaurant
12/27

Murtabak at Curry Leaf Restaurant

Sort of like a Malaysian quesadilla, murtabak here has chunks of flavourful meat and a subtle sweetness from slivered onions.

RM6.20

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Damansara
Bak kwa at Bee Cheng Hiang
13/27

Bak kwa at Bee Cheng Hiang

Marinated, air-dried, cut into thin slices, and then grilled with caramelised glaze and lots of char, bak kwa (literally meaning ‘dried meat’ in Hokkien) is a Chinese New Year staple. Or, if you’re like us, have it all year round.

RM37.50 for 300g

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Mid Valley City
Ramly burger at Brader John Burger
Photo: Rizki Maulana
14/27

Ramly burger at Brader John Burger

No manners are required when devouring this beautiful mess. Take your pick between chicken, beef or fish, and watch the owners slather them with mustard, mayonnaise and a secret ‘special sauce’. We love the fried onions for that extra crunch.

From RM4

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Damansara
Bak kut teh at Teluk Pulai Claypot Bak Kut Teh
Photo: Daniel Chan
15/27

Bak kut teh at Teluk Pulai Claypot Bak Kut Teh

If it’s good enough for Lee Chong Wei, it’s good enough for us. Teluk Pulai Claypot Bak Kut Teh serves pots of light and flavourful pork bone broth, a satisfying concoction of meat, bones, tendons, spices and tofu puffs.

RM52 for two

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Klang
Luk luk at Fat Brother Satay
16/27

Luk luk at Fat Brother Satay

Here’s how you snack on the street: pick your preferred skewers of small bites (an assortment of meat, seafood and vegetables), cook by dipping them into pots of boiling broth, and savour it with hot chilli or peanut sauce.

From RM1 per skewer

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Bukit Bintang
Rendang at Restoran Hatinie
Photo: Joyce Koh
17/27

Rendang at Restoran Hatinie

This Kelantanese stalwart in the depths of Shah Alam has a bit of everything – grilled quail, gulai tempoyak ikan, a nasi kerabu station. And best of all, a sweet and creamy rendang.

From RM7

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Shah Alam
Roti tissue at BRJ Bistro Corner
18/27

Roti tissue at BRJ Bistro Corner

The version at BRJ has an equal distribution of margarine and sugar in every bite, and skipping the extra condensed milk topping for lower calories is just lying to yourself.

RM3

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Wangsa Maju
Crab at Restoran Tai Thong
19/27

Crab at Restoran Tai Thong

The whiff of siu heng wine and clouds of steam are the first indications of a steamed crab cooked right. The crustacean, boasting juicy and firm flesh, is served on a bed of custardy steamed egg, showered with parsley and sliced ginger.

Prices from RM50

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Cheras
Thosai at Jaipur Curry House
Photo: Daniel Chan
20/27

Thosai at Jaipur Curry House

Jaipur serves up a good-to-eat-it-on-its-own version of thosai with slightly charred ends. There’s a tinge of sourness that comes through from the dough, but once dipped in the sweet tomato or spicy coconut chutney, the flavours blend together perfectly well.

RM2.30

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TTDI
Roast chicken at Choon Yien
21/27

Roast chicken at Choon Yien

KLites can go on an impassioned debate about the best roast chicken in the city but nothing is quite as tender as Choon Yien’s. We suspect that the side of ‘oily’ rice – cooked with rich chicken stock – jazzes up the experience.

From RM15 (small)

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Seksyen 17
Roti canai at Raju's Restaurant
22/27

Roti canai at Raju's Restaurant

A staple for breakfast, lunch or dinner, roti canai is close to the hearts of KLites. For good roti, head to Raju’s, where they pride themselves in using quality ingredients. There’s a fluffiness and crisp to the roti canai here, making it tasty on its own. But dipping it in dhal or chutney makes it even better.

RM1.50

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Petaling Jaya
Steamboat at Coco Steamboat
23/27

Steamboat at Coco Steamboat

Trust a pork bone soup to make everything better. The milky broth, humming with heat from ground pepper, turns the blandest ingredients (like tofu) into main players. Add vegetables (cabbage, turnip and crown daisy) for sweetness, and a quick swirl of pork and lamb slices in the broth gives it pep. There are other soup bases too, but really, why bother.

From RM19.90 per set; additional RM22.20 for pork bone soup

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Cheras
Thali at Bakti Woodlands
Photo: Shawn Lor/Pixelpix
24/27

Thali at Bakti Woodlands

When faced with the extensive menu here, the best option is the Madras thali: an all-you-can-eat, little-bit-of everything vegetarian meal, loaded with over ten small bowls of dishes served on a round metal plate to allow for maximum sampling in minimal sizes.

RM7

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Masjid Jamek
Roast duck at Restoran Sun Ming
25/27

Roast duck at Restoran Sun Ming

Recommended

The crispy skin is just a distraction from the real prize – the flesh, served with a slight pink blush, is the star. The meat is not at all gamey, thanks to the crucial layer of lovely fat that seals the roast’s juices and deep flavours. A smoky undertone permeates the meat, rendering the accompanying sweet sauce completely unnecessary.

From RM12 (small)

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Cheras
Fish head curry at Restoran Sin Hiap Kee
26/27

Fish head curry at Restoran Sin Hiap Kee

The unassuming Sin Hiap Kee attracts customers by the dozens who relish its Indian-style fish head curry. The force behind this special dish is Madam Tang, who cooks red snapper fish heads in a heady mix of spices, tau fu pok and a melange of vegetables like lady fingers, eggplants, tomatoes. Complete your meal with a plate of crunchy papadums.

From RM10 per piece of mackerel; from RM60 per piece of red snapper

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Pudu
Char siu at Restoran Spring Golden
27/27

Char siu at Restoran Spring Golden

Recommended

Perfectly caramelised, nicely charred and sticky from all angles, the honeyed barbecued pork is rimmed with a layer of translucent fat, hence its name ‘glass char siu’. If we had it our way, we’d glaze every centimetre of the meat with the restaurant’s special char siu sauce and eat it on its own without rice.

From RM10

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Shah Alam

Have these snacks after your meal

The best local snacks in KL

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.

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By: Time Out KL editors

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