Food + Drink

7 Restaurants to check out for modern Malaysian cuisine in KL


By Ronn Tan

7 Restaurants to check out for modern Malaysian cuisine in KL

Whether you’re a fan of nasi lemak, murtabak, or char kuey teow, one thing’s for sure—the love and adoration for food is a humongous part of the Malaysian identity. The existence of a variety of different cultures and traditions mean that Malaysians are blessed with a plethora of unique delicacies.

Throughout the past few years, Kuala Lumpur has seen a rise in the number of modern Malaysian restaurants. The essence of these dining establishments are very much local but what they do differently is the way they concoct new versions of classics we all know and love. Even better—contemporary Malaysian cuisine does not strip away the authenticity and flavours that we recognise.

Without further ado, take a look at some of the best restaurants in town:

1. Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery

Photo by Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery

Helmed by Executive Chef Tyson Gee, Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery takes contemporary local cuisine to greater heights than one can imagine. Dishes are presented in unique concoctions that are different yet distinctly authentic. Heirloom ingredients and local produce are hand-picked—forming the very essence of the establishment’s philosophy. Classic Malaysian flavour profiles are reinterpreted to create a brilliant repertoire of extraordinary dishes.

Photo by Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery

Start with Fine de Claire oysters that are served with Sarawak white pepper, cucumber, and calamansi; or the Raw Beef Tartare with sambal asam, local herbs, smoked egg yolk, and rice crackers. As for mains, opt options such as Dry aged duck breast with Shah Alam fig, kelulut honey, and bronze fennel; Calamari with squid ink, sawtooth coriander, garlic, and belimbing buloh; as well as Wagyu Sirloin with variations of mushrooms, garlic flower, and spiced jus.

Address: The Ruma Hotel and Residences, 7, Jalan Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2778 0888

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2. Bijan

Photo by Bijan

Since opening in 2003, Bijan has made its presence known. Along with its intimate yet spacious interior, the restaurant offers a dining experience like no other, with wholesome flavours and modern presentations. Bijan specialises in innovative Malay food—using a combination of old recipes handed down over generations and fresh versions that are reflective of the current zeitgeist.

Dishes to try include Gulai Lemak Daging Salai dengan Jantung Pisang (Banana flower simmered in thick turmeric gravy and topped with chargrilled marinated Australian sirloin slices); Rendang Itik Bijan (Deep-fried marinated duck breast and leg topped with rendang sauce); as well as Ikan Siakap Sos Asam (Deep-fried seabass served with a blend of peanut and tamarind sauce, slices of raw four angled bean, red onions, and red chilies).

Address: 3, Jalan Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2031 3575

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3. OpenHouse

Photo by OpenHouse

Established to recreate the endearing “open house” experience Malaysians love and adore, OpenHouse is known for its fine craft of innovating royal household as well as traditional generational recipes  into modern Malaysian fare. For jungle produce, the team behind OpenHouse forages in the Malaysian rainforest.

Photo by OpenHouse

Options to try here include Umai Prawn Borneo (prawn ceviche, calamansi juice, ginger flower, dry-shrimp, chili padi, nuts, wrapped in a betel leaf cup); and Soup Ekor Kepayang (Australian oxtail soup, stuffed black nut, lemongrass, lime leaf, coriander, bay leaf, served with garlic toast). Notable mains include Beef Rib Kuzi (braised grain-fed short ribs in saffron, ginger, garlic, tomato sauce, kuzi aromatic spices, served with sultana raisins and almond flakes); and Smoked Duck with Ciku Salsa (cured smoked duck breast, spices, garlic, kafir lime paste with salsa of ciku fruit).

Address: G48, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2162 0888

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4. Dewakan

Photo by Dewakan

As the first and only Malaysian restaurant to be included in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list (46th in 2019), Dewakan—helmed by Chef Darren Teoh—is known for their innovative take on Malaysian cuisine. Ingredients sourced from Malaysia are utilised in every dish here while following the philosophy of simplicity. The Tasting Menu here changes and the wine pairing is meticulously crafted to complement your food.

Address: Level 48, Skyviews, Naza Tower, Platinum Park, 10 Persiaran KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2332 6900

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5. De.Wan 1958

Photo by De.Wan 1958

Established by Chef Wan, the restaurant aims to redefine Malaysian cuisine and food culture through the influences of the diverse Malaysian diaspora.

Photo by De.Wan 1958

Some dishes to try at De.Wan 1958 include Sup Singgang Samudera with Udang Galah, Asam Pedas Sea Bass, Daging Rendang Selangor, and Lamb Rack.

Address: Lot 2-2, Level 2, The Linc KL, Jalan Tun Razak, Taman U Thant, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 010 207 0383

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6. Isabel

Photo by Isabel

Set in a restored 1950s house, Isabel’s expertise lies in its palatable regional cuisine, which includes Malaysian highlights. Asian influences feature heavily on the menu alongside a welcoming tropical restaurant aesthetic. Isabel is established by the same team behind Alexis.

Address: 21, Jalan Mesui, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2110 6366

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7. Beta KL

Photo by Beta KL

Go on a magical culinary trip with Beta’s curated menu comprising of diverse Malaysian flavours. To highlight and showcase the hallmark palates of the different states in Malaysia, four distinct regions of Malaysia are demarcated as North, South, East, and West. Here’s a fun fact: Chef Raymond Tham is also the Head Chef for Skillet@163.

Address: Fraser Place, Jalan Perak, Kuala Lumpur

Contact: 03 2181 2990

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Wherever you choose to go next, expect flair and creativity with the way these restaurants transform a classic Malaysian dish. Spoiled for choice? Why not visit all of them?

For more restaurants to try in KL, click here.

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