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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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
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.