Nasi lemak is a simple dish consisting of fragrant rice cooked with coconut milk (known as santan) and sometimes pandan leaf, served with a side of deep fried anchovies, ground nuts, an egg, cucumber slices, and sambal chili—a sweet spicy gravy. The national dish of Malaysia, it is usually sold by the Malay community in triangular packets of banana leaf or wax paper (termed bungkus). Here, we pick the best places in Kuala Lumpur (KL) to sample the dish.
1. Village Park Restaurant
This particular venue is a little far from Kuala Lumpur’s centre, located in Damansara Utama, but the trip to go and try out their fried chicken, alongside their signature nasi lemak, is well rewarding. Run by a Chinese-Muslim family, as well as nasi lemak—their main attraction—this establishment has pride in serving other sought-after South East Asian dishes, making choices plentiful and the patron feeling well satisfied.
Address: 5, Jalan SS 21/37, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 7710 7860
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat (7:00am-7:30pm) Sun (7:00am-6:00pm)
2. Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock
A little more modern, this kopitiam coffee-shop style restaurant is found in Petaling Street, where the artsy hubs are located. Standing out as a Malaysian hipster-style cafe, this place takes nasi lemak from its street roots and serves it up with a more urban twist. Nasi lemak ayam berempah, (nasi lemak with spicy chicken) is among many of the South East Asian delicacies served in this shop.
Address: Jalan Balai Polis 13, Kuala Lumpur, 50000, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 7832 3138
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (8:00am-7:00pm)
3. Nasi Lemak Tanglin
A hidden gem in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre and a truly traditional Malay-operated business, this little store has held its own since the 1940s for its humble authenticity. Finding it is an adventure in its own right, as it is located behind KL’s Butterfly and Bird Parks. Servings may be on the small side, but its exotic side dishes will be sure to introduce authentic Malay flavors.
Address: Jalan Cendarasari Komplex Makan Tanglin, Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Perdana Botanical Gardens, 50480
Phone: +60 19 397 2781
Opening hours: Mon-Fri (7:00am-12:00pm) (4:30pm-9:30pm) Sat-Sun (7:00am-12:00pm)
4. Selera Jaya @ 223
As much as we love spicy fried chicken, the most basic, triangle nasi lemak is the ultimate comfort food for many of us. It reminds us of our school days, it is easy to consume, nutritionally balanced and more importantly it is reasonably priced! There are two nasi lemak stalls at Selera Jaya to choose from – Suri and Yati.
Suri boast fluffy rice and her sambal is more on the sweet side (good for those who can’t take too spicy) while Yati’s spicy sambal literally makes her nasi lemak a pack full of kick. But one thing they have in common is that their nasi lemak is so popular that they are constantly dishing out fresh and HOT nasi lemak.
Address: Jalan 51A/223, Petaling Jaya, 46100 Selangor
Operating Hours: Daily (food court is open for 24 hours)
5. Mali’s Corner
Here’s a nasi lemak joint the tourists don’t know about – yet. While some nasi lemak places tempt you with rendang and sambal sotong, a plate of nasi lemak at Mali’s corner will make you forget about fancy add-ons. The rice is consistently fluffy and fragrant, the ikan bilis is crunchy and the sambal achieves that ideal balance between spicy and sweet. Complete the experience with Mali’s ayam goreng (fried chicken).
Address: Platinum Walk, 9 Jalan Langkawi, Taman Teratai Mewah, 53300 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon (5:30pm-4:00am) Tue-Sun (12:00pm-4:00am)