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We adore Malaysian cuisine, so during our recent third visit to Kuala Lumpur we thought it might be nice to get off the tourist track and taste some more local and authentic cuisine on a Kuala Lumpur food tour. A few months previously we had joined a fantastic food tour in Chiang Mai with A Chef’s Tour, so we decided to book with them again. We loved eating with them because they have one simple aim – to create food tours good enough for chefs.
Our guide for the evening was Chef Faris, and as the tour was brand new and relatively unknown we got to have our own private experience! Chef Faris was born in Kuala Lumpur and owns his own catering business which he runs during the day (as well as juggling being a Grab taxi driver and a drummer for a band!)
Kuala Lumpur Food Tour – Chow Kit Market
We started the evening taking in the colours and smells at the bustling Chow Kit Market – Malaysia’s largest wet market. We stopped occasionally to sample some delicious and zingy local fruits such as Mangosteen and Longan (from the same family as the lychee and the rambutan). Chef Faris purchased a bag full of these for us to take back to the hotel which was really appreciated!
Our first tasting stop of the evening was at a small but absolutely packed stall outside the market. The dish they serve is Cendol Durian, which is a bowl of shaved ice, coconut milk, jelly noodles and palm sugar. This particular dish is very famous and many people eat it as a way to cool down in the sweltering Malaysian heat.
The locals LOVE it – me…not so much. I’ve never enjoyed the smell or taste of Durian, it’s a bit of a marmite love it or hate it scenario – I did give it another chance on this ocassion just to check to see whether my views had changed – but it had not (I did enjoy the rest of the dish ingredients though). Neil however doesn’t mind the taste and got his hands right into it (big mistake – that Durian smell lingers on your skin for hours haha!).
We hopped into Chef Faris’ car and drove over to a nearby neighbourhood called Kampung Baru, which is a traditional village that still has old wooden stilt houses. It is a small pocket of very authentic old Malaysia that sits surrounded by many modern skyscrapers.
The night market here is not known to many tourists and has a very authentic vibe – a world away from the crowds and touts at the popular food haven Jalan Alor. Here there are many stalls and basic restaurants with plastic tables and chairs selling delicious Malay specialities.
Nasi Lemak, Rendang Ayam and Satay
We stopped for a sit down meal of Malaysian Satay, Nasi Lemak and Rendang Ayam. This was accompanied by a cup of Teh Tarik, which is a hot milk tea beverage, commonly found in restaurants, outdoor stalls and kopitiams (coffee shops) in Malaysia. The name is derived from the pouring process of “pulling” the drink during preparation.
Nasi Lemak is Malaysia’s unofficial national dish and is traditionally eaten for breakfast but nowadays people order it any time of day. It is a fragrant rice dish consisting of coconut milk rice, served with spicy sambal, boiled egg, fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts and cucumber. Simple but packed with flavour!
Rendang Ayam is a curried and stewed meat dish which is extremely popular in Malaysia, especially during ceremonial and festive seasons. Rendang is made with beef and cooked with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and other spices. The dish is prepared by slowly simmering the stew for hours until almost all the liquid is gone, allowing the meat to absorb the spices.
The flavours of the rendang were heavenly – I’m a big spice fan and I couldn’t get enough of this fragrant melt in your mouth chicken dish. We had to hold back from devouring this feast as we know from having been on many food tours in the past – do not eat everything or you will be too full too soon!
To finish our feast at this particular stop, Chef Faris brought over some beef and chicken Malaysian Satay from a nearby food stall. The skewers of meat are seasoned and grilled over hot coals, then served dry with peanut sauce, spicy sambal and refreshing raw onion and cucumber. In my opinion from travelling around South East Asia, I think Malaysia does the best satay by far – I’ve never been disappointed, and these ones were delightful – so juicy yet crunchy, with a wonderful BBQ charcoal flavour!
Travelling around Malaysia?
Kuala Lumpur food tour – Burger special
After tearing ourselves away from that magnificent spread of food, we rocked up at a food truck to try a local fast food favourite – the Burger Special. Why is it ‘Special’? Well here is how it is prepared: an egg is cracked onto a hot plate and spread out into a thin omelette.
The beef burger (it is essential is is the popular Ramly brand) is then placed onto the egg and some Maggi pepper sauce, sweet chilli sauce and shredded lettuce are carefully placed on top. The edges of the egg are skillfully folded over to make a thin covering around the entire burger – then it is popped into a bun! Voila – a Burger Special!
It was a pretty messy thing to eat to be honest, but oh my it was delicious! I can see why this is a popular snack in Malaysia and I will definitely be ordering this again.
We are about to get messy again – this next dish is one you eat with your hands!
Nasi Kerabu is a really beautiful looking meal – all the elements are prepared separately and assembled on the plate for serving. The version we tried consisted of white rice and blue rice (cooked with the petals of the butterfly pea flower) served with keropek (deep-fried crackers), crispy skin fish, shredded salad and topped with fried coconut, spicy sambal sauce and a fermented fish sauce gravy.
It was a bit strange eating with our hands but it was fun, and the dish has so many wonderful textures and flavours – a winner for us, and one I am likely to order again when I next visit Malaysia.
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YES time for more satay!! Round two of the Kuala Lumpur food tour satay eating was on another level when we got to try chicken Satay Padang. Similar to the last satay we tried, only this one is served wet in a delicious aromatic thick curry sauce. Heaven on a stick (if anyone knows where I can get delicious satay like this in London please let me know in the comments).
We were feeling pretty full by this stage of the tour but had just enough room in our belly for our last big food stop at a local seafood restaurant. Chef Faris picked out some Swordfish and large juicy Prawns from a vast selection of chilled fresh seafood on display outside. These were taken away to be grilled for us to enjoy.
The food took a little while to arrive which was fine as we were pretty full by this point (and all was forgiven as the food was beautifully cooked)! However I struggled to eat everything despite how delicious it all was. I even left a prawn which was kinda upsetting as I adore prawns…Chef Faris fed us VERY well!
As we started wrapping up the tour and were heading back to the car, Chef Faris led us to a Kuih stall (a term used to describe a family of small sweet and savoury Malaysian snacks typically made with glutinous rice). We somehow managed to fit in one last bite to eat…. 🙂
Kuala Lumpur food tour – how to book
We LOVED this food tour and would recommend it for any adventurous eaters wanting to see a more authentic and local side to Kuala Lumpur rather the usual overpriced touristy spots such as Jalan Alor. Chef Faris was fun and is full of great foodie knowledge. This is a perfect evening for anyone who wants to learn more about Malaysian cuisine and would be a great addition to your Kuala Lumpur itinerary.
- 4-hour guided Kuala Lumpur street food tour led by a local chef
- 14 tastings
- Learn about the history and culture of Malaysian cuisine
- A guided walk and talk through a local wet market
- Refreshing Malaysian drinks and bottled water
- Limited to just 8 exclusive guests each day
Tip – arrive hungry and skip breakfast – there is a lot to eat! Tastings are also subject to change due to availability of street vendors.
A Chef’s Tour also offer food tours in nearby Thailand and Singapore, plus many other destinations.
Travelling around Malaysia?
Use 12goAsia to find the best route options for getting from Kuala Lumpur to other cities in Malaysia.
Download the Grab app
Grab taxis are widely used by both tourists and locals, and the fares are really cheap! Download the Grab app here and use the code GRABCKTRAVELS to earn a free ride when you sign up.
Sim cards and pocket WIFI
Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Malaysia with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from airports, malls and convenience stores (bring your passport along for identification purposes).
You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from KLIA2 airport. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.
Alternatively if you do not want to change your sim card then renting a pocket WIFI device might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it, however the downside to the Malaysian ones is that there is a data allowance of 1GB per day. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either KLIA or KLIA2 airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Other Malaysia blog posts
- Exploring Kuala Lumpur from above – KL Tower and Eco Forest Park
- The River of Life, Kuala Lumpur
- The perfect 2 week Malaysia itinerary
- The ultimate guide to the Cameron Highlands
- Top things to do in Melaka, Malaysia
- Top things to do in Langkawi, Malaysia
- A cheap day tour in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
- Eating like a local on a Penang food tour
- A guide to Georgetown’s street art in Penang, Malaysia
- Island hopping in Langkawi
- Jonker Street Night Market in Melaka / Malacca guide
Kuala Lumpur accommodation
Here are some highly rated Kuala Lumpur accommodation options for all types of budget:
Some other hostel accommodations that come highly rated include:
Sunshine Bedz KL
Small and friendly hostel with with free breakfast, bar, pub quizzes and organised pub crawls. Check out prices and availability for Sunshine Bedz KL
Mingle Hostel KL
Chinatown hostel located in a renovated 1920s clubhouse with with up-cycled furniture, free breakfast, rooftop bar and on-site café. Check out prices and availability for Mingle Hostel KL
Step-Inn Too Guesthouse
Social hostel located in the Golden Triangle neighbourhood with high-speed Wi-Fi. Check out prices and availability for Step-Inn Too Guesthouse
If you are looking for something mid range then these hotels are comfy and have great reviews:
THE FACE Suites
Spacious and modern apartments with infinity pool, fitness centre, bars and restaurants. Check out prices and availability for The FACE Suites
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Stylish hotel connected to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station via a link bridge with a gym, 4 dining options and a spacious outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Alternatively if you are looking for something more special then treat yourself to a stay at one of these beautiful hotels in Kuala Lumpur:
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Luxurious 5-star hotel with outdoor swimming pool, 3 on-site restaurants and bar overlooking the Petronas Twin Towers. Check out prices and availability for Grand Hyatt
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur
Stylish suites and serviced apartments overlooking the city skyline and KLCC Park with infinity outdoor pool, 10 award-winning restaurants and spa. Check out prices and availability for Mandarin Oriental
Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Stylish hotel connected to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station via a link bridge with a gym, 4 dining options and a spacious outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for Shangri-La Hotel
Disclosure: We were hosted on our Kuala Lumpur food tour by A Chef’s Tour, but as always, opinions are all our own.
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