I regularly get asked about eating recommendations in Malaysia and last week was no exception. My journalist friend Steph emailed me to say she was planning to travel through Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Ipoh and Penang (among other places) in May and asked if I could suggest people and food she should look up. She will be travelling alone and is considering using a tour guide for at least part of her trip.
This was what I sent her – it was very quickly thrown together so there are likely lots of places that slipped my mind at the time of writing. Steph specified she wanted hawker food and traditional offerings which is why I’ve deliberately left out some other places that would otherwise have made the list. I thought I might reshare it here as a blog post for others planning to travel a similar route on their next visit to Malaysia. Let me know in your comments if you’ve got any suggestions of your own 🙂
Recommended tour guide – Mr. Shaukani Abbas – twice winner of Tourism Malaysia’s tour guide of the year.
Eating Guide – Kuala Lumpur
1) Kampung Baru KL – a Malay enclave in the middle of Kuala Lumpur – with lots of Malay and especially Kelantanese food (Kelantan is the northernmost state in Malaysia and borders Thailand)
– Suraya Seafood (Kelantanese restaurant) – (every dish we ordered was delicious)
– Nasi Lemak CT Garden (I was brought here because apparently it’s much better than the other, more well-known Nasi Lemak place also located in Kampung Baru)
2) Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang
The oyster omelette at this place (sadly I don’t know the stall name) is quite different; it’s thin and crispy instead of the gooey, soft version you may come across in Penang –
There are a number of outdoor “restaurants” along the Jalan Alor strip – the tables are filled by a mix of Western tourists and locals and they’re generally all pretty decent. Go local with dishes like frog in ginger and shallot sauce, anything with salted egg yolk sauce, kangkung belacan, butter prawns etc. Don’t do what most Western tourists do, i.e. order sweet & sour pork, lemon chicken and that sort of stuff.
3) Brickfields (a.k.a. Little India)
Look for Visalatchi’s (which is located in a back street rather than the main strip in Little India) – it does Banana Leaf Curry but it’s Chettinad-style (that’s like a sub-sub-sub Indian immigrant group in Malaysia) and it might just be one of the best meals you eat in Malaysia) –
Banana Leaf Curry Chettinad-style in Visaalatchi’sVisaalatchi’s in Brickfields (aka Little India) in Kuala Lumpur
Posted by Jackie M. on Tuesday, March 1, 2016
4) Petaling Street (a.k.a. Chinatown)
There’s a pseudo wet market there in the morning along with food stalls serving breakfast dishes like rice noodle rolls with yong tau foo (tofu and vegies filled with fish paste). Petaling Street comes alive at night with its street market and more food stalls. This is frog with ginger and shallots from my Petaling Street supper –
5) Jalan Imbi
Breakfast at this place –
Restoran Win Heng Seng – was pretty good – they had those rice noodle rolls with yong tau foo as well, along with a few other dishes. These types of “restoran” i.e. restaurants are really like mini food courts – you’ll find a number of different hawkers subletting spots within the premises and they all sell different dishes.
This is those rice noodle rolls and stuffed tofu/vegies I mentioned –
For dinner, Fatty Crab is a well-known seafood restaurant (you’ll have to catch a cab/Uber there) and their food is very reasonably-priced.
Eating Guide – Penang
1) Pulau Tikus Wantan Mee –
This place has a number of different offerings (also from different hawkers in the same building) but its claim to fame is the wantan mee i.e. wonton noodles.
2) Char Kway Teow at Excellent Cafe, Ayer Itam
This place has my favourite CKT. This is the husband/wife team (so look out for them) –
3) Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng –
They’re famous for their fishball noodles in clear broth (breakfast).
4) Line Clear is a famous Nasi Kandar (Indian-Muslim rice/curry buffet) restaurant in Penang –
5) Ayer Itam Laksa is famous for its Penang Asam Laksa –
Pasar Air Itam Laksa lives up to its reputation for sensational Penang Asam Laksa. One of the places I visited during a 4-hour food trail courtesy of Metro limousine service, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Golden Sands Resort and my film crew J&A Productions. #penang #jackiemlife #malaysia #travel #jackiemtravel #asianfood #malaysianfood #shangrila
Posted by Jackie M. on Tuesday, June 9, 2015
6) Kedai Kopi Genting (Genting Coffee Shop) –
Lots of great food in this place (various vendors). Especially look for this dish –
It’s Penang Pasembur (vegetable salad with sweet potato sauce) but Chinese-style, which is lighter and has jellyfish strips in it.
Also, Richard Poi (based in Sydney; ex-assistant director of Tourism Malaysia Sydney) – firstname.lastname@example.org– is running a 5-day (I think) foodie tour of Penang in May. I think price is around the A$890 mark and covers 4-star accommodation plus guided food tour for the duration, if that’s something you want to consider (assuming his dates correlate with yours).
Eating Guide – Ipoh
TBH I haven’t spent enough time in Ipoh to give specific recommendations; I was given Mark Ng (pron. Erng) from http://www.simplyenak.com/ by Tourism Malaysia’s PR agency as someone to contact re: Let’s Do Coffee when we talked about filming in Malaysia. It looks like they do walking tours (quite expensive by local standards but may be worth checking out).
Eating Guide – Melaka
1) Definitely check out Amy’s Nyonya Restaurant – best Nyonya food I’ve ever tried – you have to call at least a day or more ahead, and she only takes about 30 guests per lunch or dinner (everyone else gets turned away) and the food will take at least 45 minutes to prepare.
Address: Bandar Hilir 75, Jalan Melaka Raya 24, Taman Melaka Raya, Melaka, 75000, Malaysia
Phone:+60 6-286 8819
2) Melaka is also famous for its Ikan Bakar (grilled fish) and there are a number of coastal restaurants that come alive at night that sell this. It’s a good drive out of town so you’d be best advised to have a guide to take you there. We went to this place –
– which was great, but it wasn’t the first choice for my guide (his favourite restaurant was shut that night).
FYI Melaka is Shaukani’s hometown so even if you only use him for the Melaka leg it’ll be well worth it.