kuala lumpur food guide

The only thing I heard about Kuala Lumpur was that the food is great. Go for a stop over, eat, and then move on. Okay, so I’m having a few issues. For one, my stop over has turned into 3 weeks. Secondly, the food is delicious however you need to know a few things. Since Malaysia is a very multi-cultural country the food in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia is very diverse. Basically, you can have Indian, Chinese, Satays and Malaysian/Indonesian.

If you’re vegetarian, like me, there’s plenty of options but Indian is the best bet. You can find vegetarian food everywhere even at the Chinese there’s sautéed spinach with garlic and in KL Chinatown you can find mushroom or eggplant Satays. Yum! For the vegans, it can be harder if you are strict. P.S. Chicken is often considered a vegetable here!

Food in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia is not always and pretty often not what you order. It can be up to the chefs, the waiters, the barista, the gods…to determine what you will be eating and how they will treat you today. I order Roti Cheese and I get Roti sugar + a drop of cheese. I order a butter naan and get a plain thosai. Vegetarian fried rice with the emphasis no meat, no meat “yeah yeah no meat no meat” is chicken fried rice…And I hope you like sugar because sugar is in everything. Sugar in the cheese, in the bread, in the garlic cheese rolls, the teas and coffees are overdosed with it.

Ordering Tips in Kuala Lumpur

Reverse Order
Many menu items in the Malaysian language is reverse from what we know it. So if you want a Cheese Naan or Cheese Roti, order Naan Cheese, Roti Cheese. Ice tea is Teh Ais (pronounced almost the same as tea ice). If you don’t order in reverse, you probably will get a confused waiter who will forget the order and bring you something entirely different, To make things simple, read exactly as it says on the menu.

What to Order Drink-wise 
Teh Ais, ice tea
Kopi Ais, ice coffee, there’s also Nescafé Ais (from Nescafé instant coffee packet)
Lim o Ais, ice lime juice
Milo Ais, iced milo
Lassi, yoghurt drink (ordered plain comes mixed with salt, raw onion and spices over ice…go for mango!)

Sugar, Yes, No, Maybe So
I have to make a whole category about sugar. Malaysians love it. There’s more sugar than coffee in a regular Kopi Ais.

Sugar free = Kasong
You can say without sugar, or no sugar and the waiter will repeat seemingly understandingly

“Teh Ais no sugar?! Okay no sugar”

Then, you get ice tea with more sugar than tea, ice or water.

I finally learned the word “Kasong” it sounds like croissant when they say it. So I’ve been saying “Teh Ais croissant” and it has been working. But it’s really Kasong!

Teh Ais Kasong, sugar free ice tea
Kopi Ais Kasong, sugar free ice coffee
Lim O Ais Kasong, sugar free lime juice

Don’t even try asking for “little sugar” and any gestures, you still get half a cup of sugar. If you don’t mind the sugar though, it is delicious cane sugar!

Smoothies and Juices WARNING!
Important note: The smoothies and juices also contain sugar, ice and water. Ask for your juices Kasong, no water, for the most delicious pure juice

Basic Basic Words and Phrases
Bagus, (Bah-Goose), Good

Terima Kasih, (Tare-eh-ma-ka-see), Thank you

Sama Sama, (sa-ma sa-ma), You’re Welcome

Kasong, (saying croissant works here 😉, No Sugar

Note: Malay and Indo language repeats words. For instance they will say Bagus Bagus “good good” Jalan Jalan “walking walking”

What to eat for breakfast?
This has been my biggest struggle. After having Indian Thosai with curries for breakfast, lunch and dinner…I really needed something sweet and well breakfasty for breakfast.
The solution is Roti Pisang: It is a roti – fried butter bread, kind of like naan, with banana pieces, served with three savoury curries. Try asking for this “manis”. You might get something delicious and sugary
+ a smoothie or jus (juice)

The Night Markets
Bangsar Night Market is a big one they talk about online…okay it’s actually the same size as other night markets in town (I’ve been to three different ones and they all are pretty much same same but different). Whatever part of town you’re in, the night markets are great. We’re talking coconut icecream, bean curd Satays, young tofu, fried things like samosas, seafood and even fried durian, bamboo shoot steamed polenta, cane juice, fresh fruits like mangosteen and so much more yummy goodness.

My Convenient Go-tos:
Thosai Ghee, this is a fermented type of sourdough pancake covered in melted ghee and served with curries, dhal or chutney
Paper Thosai, this is a huge, crispy thosai. Share with friends as a snack.
Roti Manis, sweet, sugary, doughy fried dessert or breakfast
Roti Pisang, sweet, doughy, fried banana meal
Naan cheese, the classic naan with just a dash of melted cheese inside
(Yes I eat a lot of Indian!)
Tempeh, fermented soy bean cake – Malaysian staple 

Other Musts:
Find a Pakistani Restaurant in your area. Amazing.

Special Treat:
Coconut ice cream from the night market
Grass jelly drinks and desserts (try The ABC)
Avocado chocolate drink

coconut icecream kuala lumpurKuala Lumpur Food Guide: Coconut Ice Cream (6-10 Ringgit)

Other Popular Specialtys:
Chicken rice
Fish Head Curry

Kuala Lumpur Food Guide: Too many durian

Restaurant Picks
In Central Market go to Best India Food – cheap, friendly staff, delicious. It’s just at the entrance to Central Market.
Avoid: Chinatown! Definitely doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s overpriced and a bit dodgy

Food by Price Range
Indian cheapest (2-6 ringit for meal and drink), Malaysian cheap to middle range (4-10 ringit for meal and drink), Chinese more pricey (6-10 ringit for meal and drink)

3 Ringit is around 1.3 USD, 1 AUS, 0.8 NZD (my very rough estimates from the currencies I use) which is all around 1 😛

And if you’re really hungry, go for the banana leaf set with unlimited table service curry top ups
kuala lumpur food guide banana leaf set

Yum, have you been to Kuala Lumpur yet?

P.S. Do you even tourist?