Kuala Lumpur food guide and city highlights

Kuala Lumpur food and city guide

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author claire coupland



The sparkling PETRONAS towers, shopping centres and designer shops could fool you into thinking Kuala Lumpur has no soul.

But peel back the layers and you will soon see a place steeped in a rich history and a strong culture.

After living here for a year I want to share with you the other side to the city I love, the city I call home – Kuala Lumpur (KL)

The heart of KL – Malaysian food culture

kuala lumpur food culture

Malaysia is a country proud of its heritage, proud of its beautiful parks and islands and very proud of its food.

Locals will ask you ‘have you eaten yet?’ as a greeting, and fall over themselves to recommend places to eat.

Food is life here and people enjoy nothing more than sharing long lunches with friends or whiling away hours in a local coffee shop, eating noodles and catching up.

Where to eat in KL

You can get every cuisine here and after much taste testing I can tell you the following are in my opinion, great examples.

KL’s best dim sum

best dim sum in kl - kuala lumpur food guide

My favourite place to find Chinese is Din Tai Fung in Pavilion Shopping Centre.

A lover of Dim Sum this is the best place for my Dim Sum Sunday feast.

Dolly Dim Sum is also excellent, in the basement of Pavilion (food courts and restaurants are often in basements here, don’t be put off).

Din Tai Fung – 06, Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Dolly Dim Sum – Lot 1.102.00, Level 1 168, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Bintang Street, Bukit Bintang

Best food courts in KL

KL food courts
The chic art of food court eating in KL. Images: Claire Coupland

Food courts are good ways to try local food at reasonable prices.

Often a collection of stalls; you can order lots of different things to sample a wide range of dishes.

Lot 10 is a tourist friendly food court attached to Isetan the Japan Store, that’s well worth a visit.

Malay street food

cendol - what to eat in kuala lumpur

Malay food is often found on mamak stalls by the road or in buffet style restaurants.

But if you want to try the classic dishes I’ve found a great place, just out of the centre called Makan House.

Best things to try are the rendang, the prawn and pineapple curry and the Malay favourite cendol.

  Cendol is an iced sweet dessert that contains droplets of worm-like green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.

Ben’s at both Suria KLCC and Pavillion do a selection of good Malay classics too.

Makan House – 5, Jalan Bangsar, 59200 Kuala Lumpur

Ben’s Suria KLCC – Lot No. 140, Level 1, Suria KLCC, Persiaran Petronas, Kuala Lumpur –  bookings and menu

Click to discover a mouth watering KL food tour

Best Indian food in KL

banana leaf - best indian food in KL
Image: Claire Coupland


Indian food has always been my favourite cuisine and KL doesn’t disappoint. Banana leaf is the classic dish here, rice and dhal served on a banana leaf, which apparently aids digestion.

Brickfield’s, the city’s Indian area, is full of places to sample this staple, but be warned it won’t be fancy inside, but it will be delicious.

I recommend Vishal Food & Catering, where they bring around freshly cooked side dishes and the staff are friendly.

If you want a more upmarket curry I recommend Passage thru India or my absolute favourite The Ganga Café. Yes it’s a taxi from town but you wont regret it.

Go for their Sunday buffet, but don’t have breakfast and get in early as it can get busy.  

Passage Thru India – Bukit Bintang Street, Imbi, Kuala Lumpur

The Ganga Café – 19, Lorong Kurau, Taman Bukit Pantai, Kuala Lumpur

Where to get coffee in KL

best coffee in kl - where to eat in kuala lumpur

The coffee culture is rapidly taking off here and there are quite a few places to grab a good cup of Joe.

My favourite coffee is at Pulp, in fact APW Bangsar in general is worth checking out, full of restaurants and they also have monthly fun events.

VCR has two places, which do yummy brunch options.

And Isetan the Japan Store is a great place to wander around, they also happen to have excellent coffee.

Pulp – 29, Jalan Riong, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur

VCR – 2, Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Where to drink in KL

Drinks with views in KL - where to drink in KL
Images: Claire Coupland

There are plenty of excellent bars in KL but my favourites are Marini’s on 57 for the view, Pahit, a hidden gin bar and PS150 for the cocktails.

All the major hotels have excellent bars with views and it is definitely worth a wander up Changkat.

But after seeing the night life street of KL walk around the corner to Jalan Mesui, where you will find a great jazz bar and a few, more refined establishments!

There is also a great craft beer place just up the road, called Taps.

Marini’s on 57 – Level 57, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC,  Kuala Lumpur

Pahit – 3, Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

PS150 – 50 Ground Floor, Jalan Petaling, City Center, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Taps – Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Click here for more places to eat and drink in KL

Top 5 places to visit in Kuala Lumpur

thean hou temple - things to do in kl
Image: Claire Coupland

KL is full to the brim with temples, museums, and parks to wander around.

1 | The Thean Hou Temple is a favourite of mine, especially beautiful at Chinese New Year.

2 | Visit the Lake Gardens but go early and take water, as it gets humid.

3 | Go to the Islamic arts museum to see the beautiful patterns and colours.

4 | Wander around China town, Brickfields and Central Market picking souvenirs and don’t forget to haggle!

5 | Lastly go to KL tower to see the city. Do this at the end of your trip; I like to try spot the places I’ve already been.

Want to know the most Instagrammable places in KL? Click here

Kuala Lumpur culture

Kuala Lumpur has 20 public holidays a year due to its many celebrations.

The biggest is Merdeka Day or Independence Day, closely followed by Malaysia Day.

Chinese New Year and Christmas is when the city looks its best, filled with colourful displays and fireworks.

malaysian culture kuala lumpur
Images: Claire Coupland

My Favourites: the Hindu celebrations for Thiapusam at Batu caves and the Buddhist procession for Wesak Day in China Town, both spiritual and fascinating.

The celebrations here are experiences not to be missed, it’s worth checking what is on before you book your trip.

Where to stay in KL

My favourite hotel in KL is Villa Samadhi. I stayed there a few years ago, before I lived here, and it was an absolute delight. A peaceful haven right in the middle of the city, off a main road, but you could be in the middle of nowhere.

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[/wc_column] [/wc_row]Swim up rooms and stunning interiors, it’s the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring. Children under 12 are not allowed, so it’s not the place for a young family but is a great romantic getaway.

The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is the place to go to get an idea what colonial Malaya might have been like.

The hotel’s exterior is the same as it was when it was built in 1932 and it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful buildings in KL.

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Although its interior has been updated it still feels like stepping back in time.

The Grand Hyatt is where you stay if you want a view, and boy does it have one and if you’re lucky you might get one with the PETRONAS Towers in it.

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A restaurant where you can see the whole city, a spa and right in the centre of town, it’s a great option for those who want to be in the thick of things.

Kuala Lumpur is a magical place to explore, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Click here to check out Claire’s guide to Penang – another great foodie city

If you are planning to explore more of Malaysia, take a look at this great 10 day itinerary.


Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on one of these links that we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our full disclosure policy

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Wander Mum

14 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur food guide and city highlights

  1. Sandra says:

    Wow, there really are intense quality tourist spots in Kuala Lumpur.
    The Petronas Twin Tower is so popular. I’ve always wanted to personally witness its spectacular view.

    • Katy Clarke says:

      I think you would be fine on the gluten free front. Lots of rice based dishes and incredible seafood. KL is wonderful – hope you make it there soon

  2. Zenbabytravel says:

    We spent time in Kuala Lumpur on our way to Bali – exquisite dim sum, nice pool and views from the Traders hotel. But in all fairness felt very new and a bit soulless. Maybe going back with the kids will be different 😉 Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Katy Clarke says:

      What I love about cities in Asia are their diversity. You can certainly get a hit of culture in KL and nature adventures nearby too. KL is definitely worth a second look

  3. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    This has made me want to go back to KL – aided with some local knowledge. I Mrs a great city with extremely good food. Love the look of the hotels described too. Thanks for linking #citytripping

  4. Sarah Shumate says:

    Din Tai Fung is my favorite place to get dim sum in Singapore, too! 🙂

    I’ve been to KL several times, but I haven’t explored the foodie scene there as well as I could. Will definitely use your suggestions the next time we’re there!

  5. Rashmi and Chalukya says:

    During our last visit to KL, we didn’t have much time to experience the foodie options. After reading through this post we are sure we missed a lot and a revisit is a must. We would love to try the Indian restaurants recommended here.

  6. Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays says:

    I confess that KL has not been on my list due to the glittering towers and seeming lack of soul. I am now both converted and very hungry!

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