Authentic Malay restaurants in KL

It goes without saying that Malaysia is home to the best Malay food in the world. While popular dishes like nasi lemak and satay are so famous they’ve become a staple in the typical Malaysian diet, there are plenty of underrated Malay dishes that deserve our appreciation.

Here’s a list of under-the-radar Malay restaurants around Kuala Lumpur that have received stamps of approval from locals themselves:

1. Nasi Dulang Daun Pisang – comes with 4 sides of curries & sambal (from RM7.50)

nasi dulang sets
Image credit: @doraa.hood

Nasi Dulang Daun Pisang made it on our list of spiciest food in KL with their grilled squid (about RM20) that’s made with enough cili padi to make you sweat buckets. But if spicy food isn’t your thing, it’s worth your while to try their regular nasi dulang sets instead.

Each set comes with a bowl of gulai masak lemak, a creamy coconut curry to balance the flavours of the additional 3 types of sambal. You can pair these with a selection of seafood, chicken, and beef. 

nasi dulang ikan bawal
They offer other types of fish too, like bawal (RM12-RM15), keli (RM7.50), and kembung (RM7.50).
Image credit: @khazlianakassim

Their Set Dulang Ayam is priced at RM7.50 – a price that’s worth paying for a meal that comes with a variety of sambals and a generous piece of fried chicken. We personally recommend the Set Dulang Talapia Merah (RM9): the fish is fried till its bones are crispy but the flesh remains juicy and tender.

nasi dulang restaurant
Don’t let this picture fool you. We waited about an hour for our  food when we visited during the weekend, which only goes to show how legit this place is.
Image credit: Ummar Mohd Ali

Address: Pt 75024, Jalan Besar Sungai Ramal Dalam, 43000 Kajang, Selangor
Opening hours: 10.30AM-4PM, Daily
Telephone: 012-323 0220

2. Ikan Bakar Terangkat grilled fish coated in sambal (from RM12/set)

ikan bakar (1)
Image credit: @saramysarahoag

Tell people you’re from Kajang and the first thing they’d say is, “wah, you must eat a lot of satay”. But this town has other delicious gems to offer, namely its other local specialty: ikan bakar

ikan bakar (2)
Image credit: @ikanbakarterangkat

While you’re in the ‘hood, head over to Ikan Bakar Terangkat for grilled fish that’s slathered in an addictive homemade sambal paste. It’s a secret recipe, but it’s obvious that they’ve thrown a bunch of onions and ikan bilis into the mix. That, and being grilled on a banana leaf helps the flavours seep into the fish’s flesh. 

Go for their Set Jimat Terangkat (RM12), if you’ve got a big appetite. Each set comes with a choice of either fish or squid, omelette, rice, clear soup, sambal belacan, and teh o ais. For those coming in a group, the restaurant has a full seafood set that comes with clams, crabs, prawns, and fish (RM79 for a group of 6).

Address: No. 1, Lot 3083 Jalan Ayer Itam, Kampung Sungai Merab Luar, 43000 Kajang, Selangor
Opening hours: 5.30PM-12AM, Daily
Telephone: 012-466 2869

3. Semangkuk’s Mee Bandung Gearbox Kambing bone marrow noodles (RM14.50)

A huge part of Malaysian diet is asking for things to be extra kaw. Point in case: kopi kaw, wanting our curries to be thicccc, and having our noodles in super rich broth. 

Mee bandung is already quite a rich dish, but Semangkuk has taken it up a notch by adding decadent bone marrow into each bowl of noodles. The Mee Bandung Gearbox Kambing (RM14.50) is a must-try if you’re in Nilai. 

mee bandung gearbox
Straws are given so that you can easily suck out all the good stuff inside the bone marrow
Image credit: Semangkuk Batang Benar

The chunks of meat around the bone also helps enrich the gravy with the slight gaminess that you usually get from lamb. The sprinkle of cilantro helps to balance out some of that richness.

Address: 3265, Kawasan Perindustrian Nilai, 71800 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8.35AM-6PM | Fri 8.35AM-1PM & 2PM-6PM | Sat-Sun 8.30AM-6.25PM
Telephone: 011-1002 5981

4. Sedap Malam Station –  late night snack of Kacang Pool (RM7.50)

nasi lemak and kacang pool
Kacang Pool and Nasi Lemak Bungkus
Image credit: @eat.lady_

We were left with a big question mark over our heads when we made the discovery of Kacang Pool. If it sounds alien to you too, here’s the breakdown of this supper food item that locals have been raving about: it’s a stew made from fava beans and herbs and spices like cumin, garlic, and chilli pepper. 

Sedap Malam Station whips up their own version with minced beef for extra flavour. 

kacang pool
The Kacang Pool here costs RM7.50
Image credit: @sedapmalamstation

It’s served with a thick slice of toasted bread that’s fluffy enough to soak up the savoury gravy. The addition of an egg makes the dish feel a little more familiar, kind of like a classic egg on toast. 

meal at sedap malam station
Set Ayam Geprek Fryerzone (RM10.50) and Claypot Asam Pedas (RM8.50-RM18.50)
Image credit: @rino2110

They have pretty affordable mains on their menu too. Their Nasi Lemak Bungkus (RM3) has always been a crowd favourite, but if you need something more filling to get you through the day, they have a range of Claypot Asam Pedas dishes like the kembung and white rice set (RM8.50).

Address: Blok P-1-21 & 26, Plaza Damas, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 11.30AM-3.30PM & 6.30PM-10.30PM, Daily
Telephone: 019-3886510

See all locations here.

5.  Restoran Barra lamb fried rice (RM9.90)

lamb fried rice
Image credit: @jommakan.2019

Fried rice is a dish that even noob cooks can quickly put together in the kitchen. But there are some places in KL that do it exceptionally well. Aside from Uncle Soon Fried Rice, another name that comes to mind is Restoran Barra for their tasty, charred lamb fried rice. 

Their Nasi Goreng Kambing (RM9.90) is worth its price tag as it has generous chunks of tender mutton thrown in. The rice is stir-fried with thick mutton curry in a wok, which gives it a smoky aroma. 

Address: No. 2, Jalan 6/7A, Seksyen 6, 43650 Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Telephone: 03-8912 0040

6. Nasi Kukus Dapur Mama authentic Kuantan Nasi Kukus (from RM7.50)

nasi kukus with pajeri nenas
Image credit: @nasikukusdapurmama

Nasi kukus is nasi lemak’s more elaborate but less well-known counterpart, except that red sambal is swopped out for a curry-like kuah and its rice doesn’t have pandan flavouring. For those who appreciate authenticity, Nasi Kukus Dapur Mama prepares it exactly how it’s originally done in Kuantan.

The ayam berempah comes out of the wok golden brown, with crispy skin, and its kuah is packed with a meaty flavour.

nasi kukus with ayam masak merah
Image credit: @nasikukusdapurmama

Those hailing from Kuantan will relish at the sight of pajeri nenas in Dapur Mama’s Nasi Kukus, a relish made from a huge slice of pineapple. It has a juicy, sweet and spicy bite to it that goes really well with the kuahdrenched rice. 

Address: Blok B-G-01, Jalan SS6/20A, Dataran Glomac Kelana Jaya, 47301,Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 10AM-10PM, Daily
Telephone: 03-78030112

See other locations here.

7. Restoran Itik Salai Masthar – duck with masak lemak cili api (from RM7)

masak lemak cili api dishes
Image credit: @zahidzidane

Most of us have eaten our fair share of Chinese-style roasted duck, the kind that comes with a sweet and sour plum sauce. But if you haven’t yet tried other styles, you’ll want to go for Restoran Itik Salai Masthar’s rendition. 

After being roasted and smoked for 90 minutes, the duck meat is cooked in masak lemak cili api. The creamy masak lemak curry complements the strong flavour of duck while the chilli padi packs in some heat to help off-set this heavy dish. 

meats being grilled
Duck, chicken, beef, and fish are grilled over charcoal and coconut husks to impart a stronger flavour
Image credit: @nizamarchibald

You won’t need to set aside too much cash for a meal here as a bowl of Itik Salai Masak Lemak will only cost you RM7. Their Ayam Salai Masak Lemak is even cheaper at RM5

Address: Medan Selera Adikku, Itik Salai Masthar, Kampung Sungai Ramal Dalam, 43000 Kajang, Selangor
Opening hours: 11AM-10PM, Daily
Telephone: 019-255 3645

8. Tempat Makan Lesehan 22 kinds of sambal (from RM5/rice set)

22 sambals
Image credit: Tempat Makan Lesehan

Most Malaysians can’t properly enjoy their meal unless they have some trusty sambal on the side. Be it Chinese, Malay, or Indian cuisine, we’re always up for some spice in our food. Here at Tempat Makan Lesehan, they’ve come up with a whopping 22 types of different sambal to go with your mains. 

nasi berlauk bawal penyet
The fried fish in Nasi Berlauk Bawal Penyet (RM12) is slathered with a thick coat of sambal
Image credit: Tempat Makan Lesehan

This place has quickly caught the attention of true spice kakis out there who are headstrong in sampling all the sambal. Those who are keen to try must not miss out their sambal kedondong, made from ambarella fruits that are tart with a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Your standard rice packet of nasi berlauk will already come with 2 types of sambals but you can add-on any of the 22 for as cheap as RM3/per sambal

nasi berlauk
Image credit: @tempatmakanlesehan

All their meals are affordable too, like the Nasi Berlauk Pecel Lele (RM5) that comes with deep fried catfish, sambal, tempeh, and a bowl of clear soup. If you prefer chicken, go for their Nasi Berlauk Ayam Penyet (RM6).

tempat makan lesehan interior
Slip off your shoes and get comfy as you settle in for a traditional Malay dining experience
Image credit: @tempatmakanlesehan

Address: Jalan LP 7/2, Lestari Perdana, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor
Opening hours: 12PM-11PM, Daily
Telephone: 014-963 2457

Check out our video here:

9. Smoke Texas – crispy beef rice(from RM10)

crispy beef (1)
Nasi Crispy Beef cooked with BBQ Sweet Sour sauce
Image credit: @hantarmakankl

“Crispy beef” are 2 words that we don’t often hear together but it’s a signature menu item at Smoke Texas. It looks like a beef version of ayam goreng kunyit thanks to its sweet-savoury glaze, and the shreds of onion and carrot. 

Just like the name suggests, the beef in the Nasi Crispy Beef (RM10) is lightly battered and then deep fried to make it crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.

crispy beef (2)
Nasi Crispy Beef with Sambal Cili Thai sauce
Image credit: @hantarmakankl

Your order of crispy beef will be cooked in your choice of sauce. You’ll be able to choose from Sambal Cili Thai, BBQ Sweet Sour, Black Pepper Herbs, and Cheezy Spicy. From looking at the crowd, BBQ Sweet Sour seems to be the most popular choice. 

Address: No 10, Jalan 2A/27A, Seksyen 1 Wangsa Maju, 53300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 12PM-12AM, Daily
Telephone: 013-380 5567

10. Nasi Kandar Salman nasi kuning drenched in 5 kuah (RM5)

nasi kandar (1)
Image credit: @fitrahcitrahhh

Nothing beats a good plate of nasi kandar, especially when the chicken has just been fried and there’s plenty of stir-fried cabbage to go around. But even mamak food doesn’t come cheap these days, with some costing as much as RM10 for a standard plate of nasi kandar.

Not here at Nasi Kandar Salman though, where you can still get nasi kandar for RM5. And no, it’s not for a plate full of veggies. It’s the Nasi Kandar Ayam Biasa (RM5) that comes with a sizable piece of fried chicken. 

nasi kandar (2)
Image credit: @salmannasikandar

Price aside, they ladle in 5 different curries onto your nasi kuning. Once you get your plate, you’ll see that your rice has already been drenched in a mix of fish and beef curry as well as kuah hitam for some savoury sweet action. 

Address: Lot 6741E, Jalan Bistari, Kampung Sungai Tangkas, 43000 Kajang, Selangor
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11PM-8PM | Sat-Sun 11PM-8Pm (Closed on Fridays)
Telephone: 013-380 5567

Malay food in Kuala Lumpur

From curry-laden rice to bone marrow noodles in the city, these are only a few of the hidden gems we’ve discovered while on the hunt for good Malay food. Whether it’s because you’re always on the hunt for cheap and good eats, or you simply love Malay food, these options will promise you a satisfying meal without burning a hole in your wallet.

Check out these articles for other food haunts in Kuala Lumpur:

Cover image adapted from: Semangkuk Batang Benar, @hantarmakankl, and @nasikukusdapurmama

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