Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia as a whole is known as a food haven in Southeast Asia. With the combination of Malay, Indian, Chinese food, the English-influenced love for tea and their own coffee culture, there is no better way to explore a city like Kuala Lumpur with your mouth and stomach.
In 2019, I had a chance to visit Kuala Lumpur for the third time, and since I have already seen almost all the tourist attractions in the city, my goal for the visit was to explore another side of the city, the more delicious side to be exact.
Through my local friends and my personal taste (take that as it is 😅) for good atmosphere and delicious coffee, here are the best restaurants and cafes in Kuala Lumpur that you have to check out before you leave.
Looking for a complete guide to Kuala Lumpur? Top 10 Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur.
- Kuala Lumpur Cafes and Restaurants Map
- What to Eat in Kuala Lumpur
- 8 Best Places to Eat and Drink Coffee in Kuala Lumpur
- Further Reading for Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Cafes and Restaurants Map
What to Eat in Kuala Lumpur
First thing you have to know before exploring a food scene of a country is what to eat. Here are a few things you should try in KL when you are in these restaurants and cafes I listed below:
- Kaya Toasts: A well-known snack-style breakfast in Malaysia (and in Singapore). As you can tell from the name, the toasts are prepared with kaya, sugary coconut milk mixed with egg bread spread and sometimes sandwiched with a cold block of butter, giving a unique flavor. Something to look out for when ordering breakfast at a traditional Chinese cafe.
- Kopi: Or coffee in Malaysia comes with different varieties such as Kopi-O (coffee, no milk), Kopi-C (coffee with milk), Kopi-Cham (coffee with milk tea) and more. Knowing which one to order at a cafe is essential as the menu often give no explanation as to what these are. To learn more about these coffee lingo, visit the Kopitiam Lingo page).
- Teh Tarik: While we are on the beverage topic, another thing to try is Teh Tarik (Pulled Tea), a combination of black tea, condensed milk and the pull-technique resulting in a bubbly delicious sweet milk tea, perfect for hot weather.
- Nasi Lemak: A delicious Malaysian dish that comes with rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf, fried chicken, cuttlefish in chili, small fried fish and peanuts. Highly recommended!
- Laksa: Another popular dish in Malaysia, Laksa is serve with rice noodles in spicy curry (coconut milk) or sour broth (tamarind). Laksa requires a certain taste as some people might not like it as much. I love it!
- Roti Canai: An Indian dish often found in one of the many Indian restaurants in Malaysia. The dish comes with a crispy flatbread (roti) and 2 - 3 different sauces with a variety of spiciness to your liking.
- Kway Teow and Mee: May it be Mee Goreng, Hokkien Mee or Char Kway Teow, these different types of noodles have one thing in common, it's freaking delicious. Basically, a Kway Teow is the flat and wide strips rice noodles whereas Mee is the yellow noodles we all know and love.
8 Best Places to Eat and Drink Coffee in Kuala Lumpur
1. Sin Hoy How (Breakfast + Lunch)
Sin Hoy How is a traditional Chinese Kopi Tiam (coffee shop) located near Masjid Jamek, one of the oldest mosque in Malaysia and a popular tourist attraction. It opens from 7 AM until 2 PM so it is the perfect place to have a nice early breakfast before you start the day.
They serve regular breakfast dishes and coffee such as Kaya Toasts, Kopi, Milo and for lunch, their famous curry mee. The cafe itself is what you would expect from an old-school traditional Chinese cafe, with spacious area, wooden chairs, and tables.
2. LOKL Coffee Co. (Breakfast)
Perfect for: Western breakfast, local/western coffee, great for work (reliable WIFI and power sockets avaialble).
Very close by to Sin Hoy How and Masjid Jamek, another great cafe to check out if you are looking for a nice western breakfast or a place to sit and work, is LOKL Coffee Co.
They serve international-style breakfast and coffee in their atmospheric setting, perfect for a meetup with friends for brunch or just sit and work. Their drink menu also combine the best of both worlds with both local and western offerings like Kopi Susu or a regular western-style latte, whichever style you are craving for that day.
3. VCR (Coffee-Break + Work)
Perfect for: Western breakfast, western coffee, great for work (spacious area with reliable WIFI and power sockets).
VCR is one of my favorite cafes to sit and work in Kuala Lumpur. The cafe is located in a 2 stories old traditional house in a quiet area of Kuala Lumpur.
There are a variety of seating areas on both floors, with plenty of space and great ambient especially on the second floor, which is perfect for me to sit quietly and work while enjoying a nice cup of their delicious Flat White.
They also serve excellent breakfast/brunch dishes and they open early (8:30 AM - 11 PM) so VCR is another good place to have a quiet breakfast in the early hours.
4. Yut Kee Restaurant (Lunch)
Now, we are on for a more wholesome KL lunch experience starting off with one of the most popular restaurants among locals in KL. Yut Kee restaurant is a traditional Chinese restaurant serving all kinds of local food from the delicious Mee Hailam to chicken chop. They also serve local breakfast/snack dishes like Kaya toasts as well if you are there for breakfast.
It is affordable, and often jam-packed with people especially during lunch on weekdays and in the morning on weekends so you might have to share tables if you are visiting during those times.
The place is well-run with lots of tables, waiters/waitresses and waiting area for those in big groups, although is it not air-conditioned so can be warm during the day. The atmosphere has a typical old-school Chinese feel to it making it a great place to experience the heritage culture of KL.
5. Merchant's Lane Cafe (Lunch)
Tucked away in a small building in China Town, KL, Merchant's Lane Cafe is a vintage cafe to try when you are in the city. Its excellent vibe, great ambient and a variety of delicious local/western/fusion dishes for you to indulge yourself in, makes it a great place for brunch or lunch.
The place can be hard to find as it is sandwiched between Kiat Leong Stationery and Sin Chew Daily Shops. In between those 2 shops, you will find a wooden door with the Merchant's Lane Cafe sign on top. The door will lead you up the stairs where the restaurant is.
The restaurant can be quite crowded during lunch time so try to visit a little earlier or after 12 PM to avoid the queue.
6. Transparent Coffee (Coffee-Break + Work)
If you are looking for a stylish but quiet place to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and work on your laptop, I highly recommend Transparent Coffee located in Bangsar area, the residential suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
The coffee shop serves delicious direct-sourced western coffee perfect for those coffee enthusiasts. They also serve sandwiches and toasts to go with your favorite cup.
The place is small and often quiet which makes it a good place for people to switch environment and work here. There are a few locals who live around the area sitting and working on their laptops when I was there.
7. Village Park Restaurant (Lunch/Dinner)
Enough with the cafe, you say? Here comes the best Nasi Lemak dish in your life. Village Park restaurant, located in Petaling Jaya, way out of the city center where most tourists stay, is one of the best places for Nasi Lemak in Malaysia.
Their Nasi Lemak comes with a large piece of their famous crispy fried chicken, small fried fish, peanuts and spicy cuttlefish that will leave you dreaming for it once you tried once. I'm already drooling just writing about this!
Getting there is not too difficult with a KJL train from KL Sentral to Pasar Seni where you can transit to a direct MSBK train to TTDI station where you can either walk for 20 minutes or call a Grab for a short ride to the restaurant.
8. Restoran Al Bidayah (Dinner)
Last but not least, if you are craving a local Indian cuisine that is not touristic and affordable, a few minutes Grab ride away from Village Park Restaurant, you will find Restoran Al Bidayah where you can try their delicious Roti Canai and Teh Tarik.
If you are not so keen on traveling so far out to Restoran Al Bidayah, there are several Indian restaurants that serve similar dishes and are as good such as Restoran Sri Nirwana Maju and Fierce Curry House, both in Bangsar area so give them a go.
Extra. Old Town White Coffee & PappaRich Franchises
Perfect for: Working (Reliable Wifi, power sockets everywhere, accessible locations in popular areas and big malls).
I might get flagged by locals for recommending Old Town White Coffee and PappaRich local franchises but I love them!
For you digital nomads out there, if you are looking for a reliable place to work, not just in KL but all across Malaysia, with solid WIFI, plenty of power outlets and a constant supply of kaya toasts, kopi-c and Mee Goreng (or any typical Malaysian dishes).
Old Town White Coffee and PappaRich are like Starbucks, not in the typical sense but in the reliability and accessibility of the place. They are literally everywhere and you are guaranteed to have good wifi and power sockets, making it the perfect place to work from.
Further Reading for Malaysia
Malaysia may often be overlooked by travelers, but the country has so much to offer that you can’t get anywhere in Southeast Asia.
Here is a selection of articles you might want to read about Malaysia:
- Looking for a complete itinerary and travel guide for Malaysia? 10 Days Itinerary for Malaysia.
- Are you planning to travel to Malaysia as part of a big Southeast Asia trip? Check out our 3 months backpacking itinerary for Southeast Asia.
- Kuala Lumpur is where you will likely land when you are traveling in Southeast Asia and from the outside, it may look like your typical Asian cities but KL is so more and at a cheaper price too. Here’s a complete guide on things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
- If you are looking for a day trip from Kuala Lumpur or somewhere to stop on your way to/from Singapore, Melaka is a great place to stop and learn a little bit about this ancient port city. Check out my 8 Incredible things to do in Melaka travel guide here.
- Cameron Highlands is a break from the hot humid weather and the bustling city of KL you need. Surrounded by mountains and tea plantation, here is a complete travel guide on things to do in Cameron Highlands.
- Cameron Highlands is high up in the mountains with the cool breeze making it the perfect place to go hiking and there are over 14 trails to pick. Check out my ultimate hiking guide to Cameron Highlands.
- Penang is the food heaven of Malaysia and it is a must-stop on your way to/from Thailand. Here are 7 delicious things to do in Penang.
- Want to go off the beaten path in Malaysia? Let’s head over to Borneo with a complete travel guide and a 2 weeks itinerary for Borneo and Brunei.
- Want to know where to go after Malaysia? How about spending 3 days in Singapore or go snorkeling on Koh Lipe, Thailand?.
- For all articles about Malaysia, visit Malaysia Travel Guide page.
- Looking for more travel guides for Southeast Asia? You can find more on my Southeast Asia Travel Guide page.
- I have also compiled all of my favorite photos I took in Southeast Asia into one post. Check out 64 photos of Southeast Asia that will inspire you to travel.
- For more of my travel guides, visit All Destination Travel Guide page.
And there you have it, my top 8 favorite cafes and restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. Did I miss anything from the list? If so, feel free to recommend them in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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