#BuroDiningGuide: 5 Restaurants to try for authentic or unique Malaysian cuisine
Just a five-minute walk from Changkat Bukit Bintang, this highly-regarded restaurant on Jalan Ceylon features a fine selection of Malay cuisine served in a homely, rustic al fresco setting. Dishes here are wholesome and prepared using recipes passed down through generations by the owners' family. There is the traditional kampong fare like masak lemak ikan and ikan panggang, as well as everyday dishes of rendang daging and cucur udang. A star dish on the menu is the opor rusuk, where beef ribs are slow-cooked to tender perfection in rich gravy of aromatic spices and coconut milk. After all that, you cannot miss out on the desserts here. Durian lovers will love the chocolate durian cake, a lush and decadent dessert made using D24 durians—yes, it is as good as it sounds.
3, Jalan Ceylon, 50200 Kuala Lumpur
There's much to be impressed by this new addition to Bangsar's vibrant food scene. The striking decor (you can't miss its neon pink sign, the exuberant mural of tropical flora and a hodgepodge of quirky tiles) will have you falling in love at first sight while, more importantly, the traditional Nyonya food with a modern touch accompanied by artisanal Nyonya-inspired gin cocktails will have you head over heels at first bite (or sip). For pre-dinner drinks, take a sit at the bar and order the pai tee (crisp and abundant with its fillings) and the West Winds Sabre, a pretty in purple gin with bunga telang-infused tonic (refreshing with a tinge of sweetness). When all your dinner guests have arrived, feel free to move to either the spacious royal blue booths or the outdoor seating area for feast.
At the top of our must-order list is the ikan goreng chili, a spread of sambal that packs a punch of flavour—though lacking in the true spiciness—over the fresh, meaty flesh of a perfectly prepared fish. The ayam sioh is a worthy dish as well, mostly for its tender meat and tamarind sauce. Once you're finished with your meal, don't leave Shelley Yu's till you have had the salted gula melaka butterscotch ice cream. Showcasing a rainbow of flavours for your tastebuds, the food here is certainly addictive.
49, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Restoran Rebung may have moved from its old spot along Jalan Maarof (it is now located on the 5th floor of Cascade Parking Bukit Aman), but it still retains its warm kampung-like charm, and continues to serve up delicious, authentic Malay cuisine. Owned by celebrity chef Dato' Chef Ismail and Malaysia's first astronaut Datuk Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie, the restaurant is known to offer a wide variety of home-cooked style traditional Malay dishes and desserts. From good old laksa and perfectly cooked begedil to after-meal favourites of sago gula Melaka and ais kacang, (good) choices here are aplenty, which is probably why the place is popular for its buffet spread—so you can have a little bit of everything, and then some.
Cascade Parking Bukit Aman, 5-2, Jalan Tanglin, Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
The antithesis to chef Isadora Chai's first establishment Bistro à Table, Antara Restaurant's name is an indication of the culinary affair at hand here: familiar local dishes with an avant-garde touch, walking the line between Malaysian and French but leaning heavily towards the former. Housed in a nearly century-old restored building on Raja Chulan, the space is clean and modern with a colonial flair—exuding a nostalgic charm that is reflected in the food served. The pie tee here is given an unconventional, flavourful twist with shaved foie gras and anago, done right with a delicately crisp outer. Also for starters, the cold yoghurt and mint soup was light and refreshing, gently paving the way for the tastebud-tantalisers that was to come.
One of Isadora's signature mains here is the Sarawak laksa, where the broth is painstakingly boiled over two days (fun fact: it takes 40kg of chicken bones to make 25 bowls of broth!) to culminate in a rich, fragrant bowl of laksa topped with Marron lobster. The Bintulu belacan on the side is brought in from Sarawak to really seal the deal. New to the menu is the Marmite chicken rice, a perennial local favourite with a difference. In this version, steamed chicken is paired with fried skin for the best of both worlds—so one can savour the tenderness of steamed chicken and revel in the delightful crunch that comes with the crispy (and tasty) skin. And as always, remember to leave room for dessert. We recommend the hazelnut roti jala with dulce de leche anglaise to end your meal on a sweet note. If you are up for drinks after that, head to the Abacus Bar, which is housed in the restaurant, to enjoy a bespoke cocktail or two.
2, Lorong Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur
Quite unlike the other places in this list, Dewakan is a restaurant that has forged a unique modern Malaysian gastronomic identity for itself—even columnist Fay Khoo has hailed it as the most exciting eatery in Malaysia today. Helmed by chef-visionary Darren Teoh, who is also a molecular gastronomy lecturer in KDU, the restaurant champions local fresh produce paired with modern culinary techniques. The result is complex creations and unassuming dishes that are refreshing yet familiar all at once, like cured blue mackerel garnished with local herbs, edible flowers and drops of ulam raja sauce—striking a nice, surprising balance with a myriad of flavours—as well as a smoked pike conger dish served with a beautifully done egg custard, and contrasted with the textural crunch of roasted okra—comfort food with a tasteful modern touch.
Lower ground floor, KDU University College, Utropolis Glenmarie, Jalan Kontraktor U1/14, Seksyen U1, 40150 Shah Alam
Check out other good eats to try in our Buro Dining Guide here.