Expat Newbie Tips – 10 Must Eats in KL

Expat Newbie Tips – 10 Must Eats in KL

where to go in kl
City Centre as Viewed from Sky Bar, Traders Hotel

Over the next few weeks lots of newbie expat friends will be arriving to Kuala Lumpur to make Malaysia their new home for the next part of their lives. It can be both exciting and nerve wrecking arriving as a resident, not as a tourist, knowing that the loves and frustrations of a place that is not your own cannot merely be brushed aside and marked as “an experience” on holiday, but must be embraced and accepted if you’re going to last your contract. In the hopes of both orienting you to the delights of your new environment and also providing a little introduction to where you can find a comforting piece of home, I dedicate the next two posts to you…

1. 10 Things to Do As a Tourist in KL – Must Eat Experiences
2. 10 Expat Restaurants – Comfort Foods for a Little Piece of Home
First up:

10 Things to Do As a Tourist in KL – Must Eat Experiences to Begin to Get Settled

 * Disclaimer – this is a merely an introductory list and does not even claim to scrape the surface. You will (hopefully) be here for a while so this is a small spattering of the delicacies to entice you to further explore the rich and vibrant foodie scene in Malaysia. You might also use it later for visiting friends and family as:

10 Places to Take Overseas Guests in Kuala Lumpur.
(Click on the title links to see photos of the food, prices, contact details and a map)
Makan Kitchen – Ease yourself into the delights and variety of Malaysian cuisine at this buffet spread. Serving Chinese, Indian, Malay and Sarawakian cuisine in distinctly designed environments, it’s a wonderful way to try a few different dishes in a hygienic, air-conditioned and beautifully adorned restaurant.
top 10 restaurants in kl
Makan Kitchen
Suzi’s Corner – cheapest (and possibly the tenderest) tenderloin in the city. Visit before this local legend disappears! (There are rumours it will shortly be closed due to nearby development. It’s across from Ampang Point, not far from the ISKL Ampang campus.)
best restaurants kl
Suzi’s Corner
Marini’s on 57 – have a drink at the bar and look down on the KLCC Skybridge. Best to go between 5 and 9pm for the beverage deals, but also to avoid the smoke and noise that starts to fill the place after 7pm. Although if you’re having a good time you could just move to the outdoor terrace if either bother you and catch a bit of fresh air. If you’re just as fascinated with the towers as I was when I arrived, try out our Pub Crawl Route (map linked). It will take you in a semi-circle around the towers capturing them from almost every angle.
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Marini’s on 57

For more spectacular views but in a far less ritzy environment than Marini’s on 57, make your way up to the Heli Lounge Bar. It is literally a heli pad, so cocktails on the rooftop are subject to good weather and no helicopter landings. It’s good fun and a must do. 

best bars in kl
Heli Lounge Bar
After you’ve explored Central Market and Petaling Street (Chinatown) – get a taste of Nyonya cuisine (must try the Nyonya Laksa) at Old China Kafe and then head to Coffee Amo for 3D latte art (the coffee is good too, not just the milk masterpieces) and a slice of home made rum and raisin cheesecake. PS. Do take the train, don’t even think of driving! LRT is so easy.
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Old China Kafe
best cafes Kuala Lumpur
Coffee Amo
Zaini Satay – Try legendary satay from the “king of satay”, with a recipe that’s over 60 years old. (Naan Corner is between the SPCA and ISKL Ampang Campus. There are two satay stalls, be sure get the right name to partake in history.)
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Zaini Satay
Another legend used to reside not far from Zaini Satay across the road from Ampang Point. Mr. Aru was famous for preparing the best tandoori in the area. Known for his succulent chicken, smoky naans and delicious spinach dip, he sadly has recently retired and you’ve missed the icon. Not to lament too much though as we’ve heard an unconfirmed rumour that his recipe was passed on and again breathes new life in the city centre at My Papa’s Naan. (*** has changed location – we have not visited the most recent outlet)
best street food in KL
My Papa’s Naan
Proof that local food can be paired with wine and enjoyed in an elegant setting are both Enak KL and Bijan restaurants. Serving traditional Malay cuisine, the plating, service and ambience are taken up a number of notches turning classic recipes into elegant dining experiences. If checking out Enak KL you’ll find yourself in the basement of Starhill Gallery. Do allow time to stop and wander through the beautifully designed assortment of restaurants. Check out the bathrooms and don’t leave until you have walked through the ‘hallway of stars.’
best malay restaurant in kl
Enak KL
best malay restaurant kl
best restaurants kl
Fisherman’s Cove – one of the uniquely designed restaurants on the Feast level of Starhill Gallery

Get a taste of dim sum at Kedai Kopi Mee Bon in Jalan Ipoh. Never mind that you might not be able to converse, just point to what you want as it’s passed around and your silver plates will be tallied at the end to determine the bill.

best dim sum in kl
Kedai Kopi Mee Bon

Too much Roti Canai consumption in our first year in KL caused our doctor to give us a good scolding about our elevated levels of cholesterol. So… if you’re going to eat it (and believe me it’s hard to resist once you’ve had a taste) go for the most delicious one in town at Valentine Roti.
Wishing you many delicious adventures ahead. The Yum List 😉
You may also like:

Bocuse d’ Or, Malaysian Representative Wins a Place to Compete in the Culinary Olympics in France!

July 19, 2014

10 Expat Comforts – Restaurants, Cafes, Supermarkets and Beverages for a Little Piece of Home

July 21, 2014


  1. I absolutely love this series of photos, and your descriptions are fantastic! The tenderloin looks divine, the views in your first and 4th are gorgeous, and the food presentations are lovely! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. What a great list! thanks for the effort 🙂

  3. Oh gosh! I've not even to 1 of the 10. Gotta look out for these the next time I hop over, thanks for sharing.

  4. Mmm Zaini Satay.
    Oh I miss satay so much!!!
    Do they make proper ketupat?

  5. Top first picture. Will certainly visit Traders later this year.


  6. Hello! Its my first time in KL and I will only have one night out to enjoy a drink with a view.
    Which bar would you recommend? Preferably with an open perch to get that picture perfect Petronas Towers as a background. Saw your post on Marini's and Skybar…. Need your expertise to help me decide.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Adiryana,

      If you want 100% open air and no fuss, then Heli Pad is the place to be. Marini's however does have an open terrace, and the new sister of Marini's, M8 (also on this blog – not a sky bar, but with fab views of the towers) is a good perch with outdoor terrace. In inclement weather Sky Bar is covered, but does have glass walls which are half open so you still get a bit of the open feel. Enjoy your trip!

  7. Pingback: 10 Expat Comforts – Restaurants, Cafes, Supermarkets and Beverages for a Little Piece of Home | The Yum List

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