Restoran Fei Jay is arguably Kuala Lumpur’s best for mud crab dishes.
This Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2017 is our fourth food safari of Kuala Lumpur in the last five years.
Please check out the previous blog posts below:
- Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2013 – A series of 12 individual blog posts covering top eats in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
- Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2014 – A series of 10 individual blog posts on top eats in Kuala Lumpur.
- Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2015 – A blog post of the top 20 eats in Kuala Lumpur.
Our ChopinandMysaucepan Instagram feed also provides a quick and easy food guide as I only post food worthy of its calories.
Kuala Lumpur is a food haven for street food lovers. Over the last decade or so, the quality of some well known street food hawkers have deteriorated due to the influx of migrant workers taking over from the so-called pioneers of the trade. Flavours are never quite the same when these pioneers are no longer hands-on and workers from Myanmar, Indonesia and Philippines take over some of the daily chores.
Rising costs of raw materials without a corresponding rise in real wages in Malaysia have also contributed to this decline in food quality.
So beware, unless you are familiar with Kuala Lumpur, you can easily fill yourself with “wasted calories”. It is a cliché worth repeating that one needs to know where to go in order to find really good street food, especially in the food maze of KL.
As Mysaucepan and I try to visit Singapore and Malaysia every year to catch up with family and friends, we try to renew and sharpen our food radar by “testing the old eateries” and discover new ones on the advice from our network of food lovers who live in both cities.
Once again, I set out some of the most enjoyable eats this trip – twenty two specific recommendations to be exact, in no particular order of preference. Some are the truly tried and tested, the must-eats if you like. Newbies are from word of mouth and my own research before hitting the streets.
Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2017
1. Nasi lemak – Pasar Basah Kuala Ampang
Nasi lemak street hawkers can be found all over Kuala Lumpur from as early as 6am every morning.
Many of these hawkers also sell other popular breakfast meals such as meehoon goreng, curry puffs and Malay style kuih / cakes.
I love this particular nasi lemak because the sambal is fiery hot, the rice warm and fragrant with coconut flavour, the ikan bilis and peanuts are fresh and crunchy.
If you like chicken rendang and sambal sotong, you can upgrade this basic nasi lemak with these additions and push the price to a princely sum of about RM5.00 / A$1.50.
2. Roti canai – Pasar Basah Kuala Ampang
This freshly made roti canai is crisp and fluffy, the perfect “mop” for the spicy sambal and fish curry sauce.
3. Chinese char siew – Restoran Soo Kee, Ampang
My family has been dining at this restaurant for at least two decades.
The must-eat char siew is always melt-in-the-mouth tender. Alternating layers of fat and lean meat is savoury sweet and charred to just the right level of crustiness.
4. Fish cake spring rolls – Restoran Soo Kee, Ampang
Fish cake spring rolls are diagonally sliced lengthwise to open up the fishcake surface for a chilli dipping sauce.
The crust is super crispy, making this entree the perfect snack to accompany an icy cold beer in the humid Malaysian weather.
5. Soon hock / marble goby fish – Restoran Soo Kee Ampang
Soon hock fish is one of the most prized freshwater fish in Malaysia.
Our family love this fish steamed the classic Cantonese style in special soy sauce. Chunks of white meat are firm yet succulent and sweet with sprigs of fresh coriander and shallots garnishing.
6. Stir-fried garlic chives with roast pork – Restoran Soo Kee Ampang
Garlic chives comes with a smoky dose of wok hei.
Strips of roasted pork belly are always part of the reason why we order this “vegetable” dish.
The iconic Imbi market has finally been closed and the food hawkers relocated to a new and larger indoor premise call ICC in the Pudu district of Kuala Lumpur.
Far from the open air premises of the old Imbi market, the new food court, called Medan Selera, is equipped with ceiling lights and fans.
The food court is totally packed with breakfast diners on this Saturday morning a week after the start of Chinese New Year.
I order a Hainanese style ice coffee to start proceedings.
7. Hian Kee Char Kway Teow – ICC Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
This char kway teow is rambunctiously orgasmic with fantastic wok hei.
I love this KL (not Penang) style char kway teow with blood cockles only. There is no lup cheong or prawns in this version. My preference is also a mix of mee with rice noodles.
8. Madam Eng’s Curry Mee with blood cockles and chicken, ICC Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
Next to Hian Kee char kway teow is Madam Eng’s superb curry mee.
Gritty, peppery with spicy chilli heat, I slurp down this bowl of curry mee laced with slices of chicken, soft tofu puffs and beansprouts.
9. Steamed fish head – Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head
When a friend introduced me to this steamed fish head during my last trip to Kuala Lumpur, I vowed to come back again with more people so that we can try the different styles of steamed fish head.
Today, I am here with my family and relatives and the owner warned there is going to be a long wait. After more than an hour, three large steamed fish heads arrive.
We order the Teo chew style – with tomatoes, silken tofu, ham choy or preserved mustard greens and sour plum, ginger style and garlic style.
The fish heads are super fresh and the consensus among our group is the ginger style and Teochew style are best.
A side of silken tofu in special soy sauce complements our meal beautifully.
As this steamed fish head is immensely popular, the tip is to call and book your fish to avoid the long wait.
10. Sang har meen – Restoran Setapak Teochew
I dare say the sang har meen at this restaurant that has been in business for more than a century is arguably the best in Malaysia if not the world.
The noodles are freshly made in the premises and the prawn flavour in the rich sauce is at another level.
It is mandatory to suck on the prawn head to extract all the heady prawn flavours while slurping up the noodles and sauce.
11. Roast goose, Grand Imperial Restaurant, Bangsar Shopping Centre
The Grand Imperial group is a trusted brand throughout South East Asia.
We are having dinner tonight with our family and relatives and as expected, the food is truly exquisite. The skin of this roast goose is super crisp with an orgasmic layer of goose fat and succulent meat.
12. Braised tofu with salted and preserved egg – Grand Imperial Restaurant
Braised tofu is delicately soft and silky in a rich eggy crab meat sauce.
Diced salted egg and century egg add beautiful salt complexity to sprigs of firm and crunchy baby bok choy.
13. Linguine with enoki and black truffle – Grand Imperial Restaurant
An Italian style linguine is al dente with gloriously fresh and crunchy enoki strands.
The earthiness of shaved black truffle makes this pasta one of the best I have tasted be it at Italian or Chinese restaurants anywhere in the world.
14. Deep fried mini chicken with glutinous rice – Grand Imperial Restaurant
Deep fried mini chickens are halved and sit on a bed of flavoursome glutinous rice.
The deep honey golden brown skin is gloriously crisp with a savoury marmite flavour. The meat is tender and juicy with subtle nuances of Chinese rice wine.
15. Kwai fah meen with egg, and crab meat – Restoran Fei Jay
Our family love Restoran Fei Jay for the quality and consistency of its food. The owner Pi Jay is ever so gracious with her table service and recommendations. It helps when her husband Ah Koo is a true master in the kitchen.
Kwai fah meen is yee meen tossed with generous amount of egg and chunky pieces of crab meat. I am told this dish needs to be pre-ordered because of the time-consuming task of extracting crab meat.
This huge platter of noodles is one of the best I have ever tasted, especially laced with fresh chilli and soy or with a luxuriously rich XO dipping sauce.
16. Sa-Teen kai – Restoran Fei Jay
Sa-Teen kai or padi field chickens are the size slightly larger than a quail.
Halved and deep fried to golden honey brown, the skin on these little birds are beautifully crisp and the meat juicy and tender.
This is another must-have dish at this restaurant.
17. Braised lamb ribs with celery, onions and chilli – Restoran Fei Jay
Lamb ribs and cutlets have been braised in a savoury sweet sauce.
I am not a big fan of sweet sticky marinades but this particular one has a subtle sweetness just enough to tease the palate. The meat is tender and thinly sliced strips of celery, Spanish onions and chilli is the perfect combination to lend some crunchy texture to this sauce.
Stir-fried kangkong is smoky with wok hei and packs a punch with bits of chilli padi.
18. Yim guk or salt baked crab – Restoran Fei Jay
Restoran Fei Jay is perhaps at its best with its mud crabs dishes done in an array of different styles. It is always advisable to call and pre-order the number of crabs you wish to have for your meal. For today, we have pre-ordered three mudcrabs.
Yim guk or salt baked crab is perhaps the purest way to taste and appreciate the sweetness of crab meat.
There is an appetizing saltiness on each piece of crab. Be sure to lick the shells before discarding them.
I couldn’t resist dunking this crab claw in a bit of fresh chilli and soy before ripping the meat off in one bite.
19. Chilli mud crab – Restoran Fei Jay
Mud crabs in a rich eggy chilli sauce is another classic.
Sweet crab meat dunked into this spicy, tomatoe-y chilli sauce is mouth-watering and good to the last finger-licking bite.
Deep fried and crispy man tou is the perfect pillow to soak up this delectable chilli sauce.
When your hands are totally smothered with mud crab chilli sauce, a tissue dispenser like this one is indispensable.
20. Beef ball noodles – Restoran Soong Kee
Soong Kee beef ball noodles is iconic in Kuala Lumpur because it first commenced business after World War II in 1945.
It was a favourite late night haunt when I was living in Kuala Lumpur. I am here for supper tonight with David and this bowl of noodles topped with minced brisket is still just as good and consistent after so many years.
The son of the founder Mr Siew Wei Han, who for so long was dunking noodles has maintained the quality of the business his father started over seventy years ago. Tonight, we spot him seated in a corner, busy punching on his mobile phone with one leg comfortably crossed on the chair. He appears to run an open cashier system as waiters bring him the cash takings and sorts out change from all the coins scattered on the table.
21. Indian style rojak – Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir
Operating off the back of a van, this vendor offers Indian style rojak, mee rebus and chendol at the parking area of Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir.
Freshly julienned cucumber, turnip, crisp and crunchy deep fried prawn fritters, boiled egg wedges, sotong (squid) are tossed and mixed with a spciy sweet peanut sauce.
Cooling down with an icy cold chendol after this plate of rojak is the standard procedure for the locals.
22. Chinese style rojak – Segambut Yong Tau Foo
The Chinese style rojak at this Segambut Yong Tau Foo restaurant is perhaps even more popular than the yong tau foo it serves.
Slices of young tangy mango, pineapple, cucumber, turnip, crisp crackers topped with roasted peanuts are a flavour bomb when mixed with a delightfully spicy and pungent chilli shrimp paste.
You can choose whatever combination of ingredients to make up your own rojak.
Here’s some of my tips when planning a food safari in KL:
- Do some basic research on eat streets, hawkers and restaurants which are known for particular Malaysian style dishes to get some idea about whether the food actually suits your tastes.
- Local weather can be warm and humid, so do wear loose and comfortable clothing.
- Comfortable footwear is important if you are planning to walk the streets of KL.
- Carry bottled water and lots of face tissues for those deliciously greasy noodles.
- Pace yourself and avoid snacking on all sorts of foods as calories do add up quickly.
- Be very certain about what’s in your food if you have food allergies.
- Carry medication for diarrhoea and food-poisoning, especially if you are consuming street food for the first time or have even built up resistance.
- Be vigilant on the streets as some areas of KL are notorious for petty crimes such as snatch thieves and pickpockets. Avoid carrying loose handbags, large amounts of cash, important travel documents, credit cards and elaborate jewellery.
Pasar Basah Kuala Ampang
Lorong Awan 12, Kuala Ampang
Restoran Soo Kee
373- 1 4th Mile Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 4257 0767 Mobile +612 905 4607
Hian Kee Char Kway Teow
Tel: +60 17 485 9939
Madam Eng’s Curry Mee
Tel: +60 16 629 6263
Jalan Kijang, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head
Ampang Mewah Food Court
Gerai B.O.T Jalan Mewah 3, Taman Ampang Mewah,
Tel: +60 16 356 1187 / +60 12 333 4963
Restoran Setapak Teochew, Kuala Lumpur
283 Jalan Setapak
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 4023 8706
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7.30am to 4pm. Closed on Sundays.
Grand Imperial Restaurant
Lot T5, 3rd Floor, Bangsar Shopping Centre,
No. 285, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2283 1118
Restoran Fei Jay
3, Jalan Rimbunan Mawar 1,
Laman Rimbunan Kepong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 6241 4618
Business hours: 10am – 2.30pm, 4pm – 10pm. Closesd every third Sunday & Monday of the month.
Restoran Soong Kee
86 Jalan Tun HS Lee (corner of Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin)
Tel: +60 3 2078 1484
Opening times: 11am to 12am, closed on Sundays and public holidays.
Mee Rojak Chendol
Taman Tasik Ampang
Segambut Yong Tau Foo
67 Jalan Segambut, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 10 311 1034