Chinatown food in Kuala Lumpur – Blending the traditional and the modern
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Chinatown food in Kuala Lumpur – Blending the traditional and the modern

By Nick Kellingley

CHINATOWN in Kuala Lumpur can be found on Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street). Crowds flock to the street from early in the day to score cheap clothes, watches, and more. Wander in among the stalls and make sure you have your haggling hat on to pick up the best bargains.

The entrance to the street is easy to spot from the road as you can see. Pic: Auswandern Malaysia, Flickr.

Traditional Chinese medicine

If you’re worried that a trip to Malaysia might leave you missing home comforts – particularly if you’re from China – don’t worry. In Petaling Street you’ll find plenty of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners ready to whip up a concoction to cure your ills. However just like TCM in China, these cures often don’t taste that great.

Chinatown Food in Kuala Lumpur

If you’d prefer tastier fare, then you’re in the right place. Petaling Street is home to dozens of Chinese restaurants and even more in the surrounding areas. It’s worth noting most of these restaurants do not serve halal food, so if you’re Muslim choose carefully.

While there’s plenty of traditional Chinese food available the more adventurous visitor will be pleased to learn there are uniquely Malay-Chinese dishes available too. Malaysia’s rich history offers a unique fusion of Indian, Chinese, Malay and even Western cookery and Chinatown’s food is no exception.


A traditional Chinese favourite Hokkien Noodle dish is easy to find. Pic:avlxyz, Flickr.

You have to try the assam laksa, which can be picked up at any number of stalls. This hot sour fish soup with noodles, mackerel and shredded cucumber was voted one of the world’s most delicious foods by CNN in 2011. Its a direct combination between Malay and Chinese culinary traditions and a mouth-watering reminder there’s great food outside China too.

Check out the Chinatown Seng Kee Restaurant for their justly famous claypot of rat-tail noodles (lou shu fan) and their BBQ Pork if you fancy Cantonese with a touch of Anglicisation.

You’ll have to search for the next place as it’s in a very discrete location behind the wet market, but it’s worth the hunt. Hong Kong Mee is famous for its speciality dish, the wok chai mee. This is a noodle dish that is served in a tiny wok on your table, and kept warm throughout the eating with a mini burner.

If you’re missing the congee of China, then why not try the Malay equivalent? A good spot to visit for the tong sui (Malay Porridge) is the Maybank Tong Sui. The stall has been there for over 20 years and as you’ll see from the queues it won’t be going anywhere, any time soon.

For something a little out of the ordinary with just a hint of Macau, you could pick up some grilled fish from Portuguese Grilled Fish near the Hong Leong Bank. Drenched in a spicy chilli sauce made to a unique recipe and then wrapped in foil and grilled, you’ll love its smell and taste.

A huge favourite amongst visitors to Chinatown is the smoked meat, Daging Salai in Malay. From seafood to swine, you’ll find it all at Syarikat Makanan Salai Kew Brothers which has a justly deserved reputation as the best place to buy from in town. Many Chinese tourists can be seen loading up bags to take home as it keeps very well for travel.


You’ll always be able to find something appealing to the eye and to the palette. Pic: Frenkieb, Flickr.

If you’d like a little dim sum, you’ll want to get up early and head to Yook Woo Hin’s place, which is so popular that the dim sum barely makes it through breakfast.

One thing you’ll really want to look out for if you fancy something you definitely won’t be able to find elsewhere in the world, is the Marmite BBQ Ribs, which are sold at several restaurants in the area. They are made with real Marmite (a salty yeast extract that is popular in Great Britain) and are extremely tasty.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website


About the author…

Nick Kellingley (UK)
Nick Kellingley is a full-time writer based between Shenzhen, China and Siem Reap, Cambodia. He has been published in many different media and is an award winning blogger. He spent his honeymoon in Malaysia and loves the country and its people.

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