Although Malaysia has the usual dim-sum staples of har gau (prawn dumplings) and char siew pau (or char siu bao, for barbecue pork buns), its distinctive take is to serve them with garlic chile sauce and thick, black, hoisin-based dipping sauce, alongside Chinese tea or local coffee. The crispy wu kok (yam puff), pai kuat (steamed spareribs) and lo mai gai (glutinous rice with meat) are particularly good here, too. Phangkey is known mainly to residents of the suburbs, allowing you to escape the larger crowds of the more famous shops.
BTW: The main shop, with the large signboard, is where the dim sum is prepared. The food is served in a tented row just opposite, so look out for staff holding large bamboo steamers of fresh dim sum.
65, Jalan Lazat 1, Taman Bukit Indah, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
The Malaysian flagship store for Singapore’s PPP Coffee, Pulp has quickly become a favorite breakfast and brunch spot. It’s got everything: an Instagrammable location, big Asian flavors and, most important, great coffee. Pulp takes coffee so seriously, it organizes workshops about it.
BTW: Pulp occupies the space that was once the paper-cutting space of a former printing factory. The factory area has been repurposed into a food-beverage-events space.
29-01 Jalan Riong, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
This ground-floor hidden gem, in the former blue-collar, suburban neighborhood of Sentul, is one of the best places to try Malay and Padang-style cuisine. Order the nasi padang and you’ll be armed with a plate of plain rice and let loose upon a selection of rich meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The almost-black beef rendang is unlike rendang found anywhere else, and it is best paired with chili potato chips, salted egg and a selection of the homemade belacan, and other kinds of chili pastes.
BTW: Cool down with the indulgent avocado smoothie.
Minang Salero, 1088, Jalan Sentul, 51000, Kuala Lumpur
Vishal Food & Catering
Typical of South Indian-style dining, rice at this Little India mess hall is piled onto a banana leaf, along with crispy papadam, a selection of vegetables, and a heap of sambhar (or dhal gravy). Complement it all with curries, fried fish, mutton varuval, rasam (tamarind soup) or cooling tairu (Indian-style yogurt).
BTW: Once you’re finished with your meal, fold the leaf lengthwise by bringing the outer edge towards you. This signifies a satisfactory meal; folding the leaf away from you is a no-no.
22, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
Borneo Restaurant and Bar
The new kid on its neighborhood block, Borneo already stands out as one of the few places in Peninsular Malaysia where you can find dishes and ingredients hailing from Sabah and Sarawak, in East Malaysia. The hinava (think eastern Malaysia ceviche), olive-fed fried pork and pasta with engkabang butter are a treat.
BTW: Tuak (a fermented rice wine) is hard to come by in Kuala Lumpur, but Borneo has a sweet sparkling variety.
11, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
K.R. Mani Curry House
Crowds pack this South Indian spot for lunch and dinner, but the best play is to stop at the stall just outside. Grab a cup of spiced badam (almond) milk there: It’s warm, creamy and very, very filling. Just make sure to keep stirring it, or else the tasty chunks of coarsely ground almond will sink to the bottom.
BTW: The milk is only available in the evenings, but don’t go too late. They usually run out fast.
KR Mani Curry House, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Sentul, 51100 Kuala Lumpur
Kuchai Lama food court
This large, popular food court is usually busy, even at 2 a.m., but the seats and cuisine options are plentiful. The non-halal wild boar nasi lemak is a must-try, as is the grilled fish (they’re found at the stalls advertising those foods by name).
BTW: The food court used to be in Kuchai Lama, another neighborhood farther northeast along Old Klang Road. It retained the name (and its following) when it reopened.
Kuchai Lama Food Court, Jalan Klang Lama, Taman Oug Square, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
Coley Cocktail Bar
Coley’s boasts that it will tipple you pink, and we strongly recommend you let it. Amid the less glamorous, corporate part of Bangsar, this sleek bar is visually inviting, with a dusty-rose-colored, yet industrial, feel. Coley’s is defined, above all, by its array of interesting and localized cocktails. Although most will sit happily in your tummy, gin aficionados rate Coley’s particularly highly.
BTW: Try the Gin & Coconut, with fresh coconut pulp.
6-G, Jalan Abdullah off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Bangsar