Kuala Lumpur lives up to Malaysia's reputation as a cultural melting pot. While the title of ‘local cuisine' goes to the Malay sector, there are just as many reasons to list Chinese, Indian and even Portuguese cuisine as early movers in the culinary field.
Locals do most of their dining at hawker stalls, which can be found across the city. These feature everything from nasi goring (fried rice) to laksa (coconut curry). Other specialties in the mix include Indian roti and samosa as well as Chinese duck and dim sum.
But there are just as many upscale restaurants offering excellent value for money considering the talented chefs and quality ingredients that go into their gourmet fare. The best of these are found inside five-star hotels throughout the central districts and especially in the Colonial core.
One of Kuala Lumpur's central districts, Chinatown has the best noodle shops and Peranakan cuisine. Petaling Market operates a dense collection of hawker stalls, while Jalan Tar Nonya has a few mid-range Chinese and Malay options. This entire neighborhood is a favorite haunt for budget travelers.
Also known as Brickfields, this compact district follows Jalan Tun Sambanthan. It holds countless banana-leaf shops, named for the biodegradable plates used by the local hawker stalls. South Indian fare dominates at the street level, though there a few international restaurants of note in the local five-star hotel district.
Home of the Petronas Twin Towers, the Golden Triangle is Kuala Lumpur's hippest, most commercialized district. Though it primarily attracts shoppers, this is also a great place to stop for a bite to eat. Hawker stalls line Jalan Alor, while upscale international restaurants are found at the intersection of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail. The many food courts in local shopping malls are perfect for indecisive diners.
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Brickfields
Phone: +60 3 2263 7888
A critical favorite, this Lebanese restaurant is located on the eighth floor of Le Méridien hotel. The posh, Ottoman-style decorations are reason enough to visit, but the food is equally enticing. Diners on the terrace can smoke a house hookah and watch a belly dance performance.
Top Hat Restaurant
No. 3 Jalan Stonor, KLCC
Phone: +60 3 2142 8611
Housed in a 1930s-era mansion, this unique restaurant manages to pull all of Kuala Lumpur's culinary influences into a single menu. Expect traditional Malay, Portuguese and Peranakan cuisine with a heavy infusion of Thai and mainstream European flavors. A live jazz band plays at weekends.
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Hilton hotel, Brickfields
Phone: +60 3 2264 2264
Part of the Hilton hotel complex, a visit to Chynna feels as exclusive as it is affordable. An act as simple as refilling a tea cup becomes theatrical in this restaurant. The interior is a throwback to 19th century Shanghai. Guests can enjoy dim sum from the comfort of the dining room or book a table in the kitchen and watch the chefs at work.
Find more information about Kuala Lumpur and hotels in the area:
Kuala Lumpur hotels | Malaysia hotels
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