Every guidebook ever written on Kuala Lumpur has undoubtedly featured a small section listing out Chinatown’s numerous virtues, but we are number one fans of its varied array of restaurants and hawker. The majority of them specialise in Cantonese snacks, seafood and Hakka noodles but you can also find charming bistros and cafes serving up mouth-watering western cuisine – in fact, our number one pick is an award-winning French-Italian restaurant!
A picturesque area full of sights and smells, most of these restaurants are open well into the wee hours of the morning, making it easy to grab a bite to eat almost anytime. To help you select some of the best eats Chinatown KL has to offer we have come up with a list of our favourite places – check out our selections and see if you agree!
The award-winning Cafe Cafe is a French-Italian fine dining restaurant that is a surprise entry to this list of chart-topping Chinatown restaurants. Most would assume that Cantonese, Hakka or some form of Oriental fare would top this inventory but that is not the case. Highly recommended, this unpretentious bistro practically transports you to Paris with a romantic interior of candlelit tables, French background music and crystal chandeliers.
Set along Jalan Maharajalela, it is a corner lot unit next to Bank Simpanan Nasional, with a kitchen serving top-notch European favourites such as duck confit, escargots in garlic-scented oil and truffled honey king prawns. Pricey but perfect for an extra special date night, we cannot forget its array of sinfully sweet concoctions, with the chocolate tart and tiramisu standing out as must-try dishes. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 18:00 – 24:00
- Address: 175, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2145 8141
Billing itself as the birth place of hokien mee (fat yellow noodles stir-fried and doused in delicious and thick soy sauce gravy) in Kuala Lumpur, this Cantonese restaurant set at the junction of Jalan Petaling and Jalan Hang Lekir, certainly lives up to its claim-to-fame. Over 100 years old, locals agree that it is one of the most excellent (if not the best) hokkien mee joints in the city.
It started out as a small hawker stall business run by the Lee family, until the owners expanded to include the current restaurant. At the original hawker stall they use charcoal fire to make the noodles, which gives them a richer, more satisfying taste. At the main restaurant they use a gas stove (which results in noodles that taste bland) and a charcoal fire, so be sure to request for the latter when ordering. On the menu is also typical Chinese tai chow (dishes) to be eaten with rice, but really it is the hokkien mee that draws in the crowd. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 16:00 (chee cheong fun), 17:00 – 05:00 (Hokkien fried noodles) closed on Wednesdays.
- Address: 49-51, Jalan Petaling, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2032 4984
Merchant’s Lane Kuala Lumpur offers a quiet getaway from the ever-bustling Chinatown KL, serving hand-crafted teas and coffees as well as fusion-style brunches and desserts. This hidden café is also a popular hangout spot amongst local youths due to its picture-perfect interior – think exposed ceilings, custom-made rattan furnishing, and wooden flooring paired with an array of colourful flower motifs, potted plants, and vintage knick-knacks. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:30 – 20:00, Saturday & Sunday 09:30 – 20:00
- Address: 50 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2022 1736
Chocha Foodstore KL
Chocha Foodstore KL, accessible within a five-minute walk from Petaling Street Market, offers diners a tranquil retreat thanks to its charming rustic setting. Occupying an antiquated shophouse along Jalan Petaling, the café is fitted with a sunlit central courtyard that’s decorated with potted herbs, wooden communal tables, and benches. Its menu mostly comprises local comfort food with an international twist, as well as a selection of Chinese tea, coffee, and imported wines. Signature mains include the Chinese pesto flat noodles (handmade noodles mixed with semi-dried tomatoes, ulam pesto, and crushed peanuts) and duck confit rice (pan seared duck with barley rice, ajitama egg, and pickled salad).
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 23:00
- Address: 156, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2022 1100
Restoran Koon Kee is one of the best places in the city to sample wan tan mee. A Cantonese dish popular in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, it comprises noodles sautéed in sweetened black sauce and is traditionally served with toppings such as char siew (barbecued pork slices) or chicken slices. The shop is over 50 years old and is located opposite Hong Leong Bank along Petaling Street.
Locals are especially partial to the noodles served here as their texture is springy and flavoursome – the perfect combination for wan tan mee. The usual toppings of shredded steam chicken, char siew (roasted sweet pork) and plump fried dumplings (generously filled with minced meat, prawns, white cabbage and diced Chinese mushrooms) is available. However you can also find uncommon garnishing for the noodles such as braised chicken feet with mushrooms. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: Jalan Hang Lekir
Arabesque Kuala Lumpur is a cosy Middle Eastern restaurant that’s been gaining a steady following of locals and tourists in KL city centre since opening for business in September 2014.The food here is fantastic and the service is warm and friendly, as you would expect from a family run operation. This eatery is easily distinguished by its black and white archway, maroon-hued walls, and a kebab station by the entrance while its air-conditioned interior is a simple layout of black furnishings, tiled floors, with several framed Arabic-themed artwork on the otherwise bare walls. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday 13:00–23:00, Friday 14:30 – 23:00, Saturday & Sunday 13:00 - 23:00
- Address: 92, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2022 1795
Restoran Platinum Chinatown
With a bright yellow and red exterior that is hard to miss, Restoran Platinum certainly stands out, whether for the sight of hawkers furiously frying food in their woks or the delicious smells wafting through the place. Located along Jalan Sultan (at the junction that leads into Petaling Street), no matter what you choose to eat every plate is well executed and carefully made.
Serving kopitiam favourites, whether it is the shrimp and pork dumplings, wan tan mee or soup noodles with beef tripe, everything tastes good, plus the restaurant’s strategic location and affordable prices prove to be a great pulling factor.
- Opening Hours: Daily, 08:00 – 00:00
- Address: 27 Jalan Hang Lekir (adjacent to Jalan Petaling)
Tucked away inside Central Market is Precious Old China, sister restaurant to the renowned Old China Cafe. Sporting slightly grander interior surrounds, it maintains the same level of hospitality and the menu only differs in the fact that here it is pork-free to entice more visitors, especially the Muslim crowd.
The kitchen specializes in Peranakan dishes that are savoury and spicy: we recommend a serving of the famous jiu hu char as starters – at RM10.80, the plate comes with generous portions of butterhead lettuce, a mixture of shredded cuttlefish, turnip, carrot, onion, mushroom and minced chicken, as well as sambal belacan. As for the mains, choose the fish head curry, pucuk paku belacan and lady’s finger belacan as companions to the blue-tinged coconut rice. The curry is thick and full of spices, and the lady’s finger is infused with ingredients such as chilli, onion, lime leaves, ginger flower, dried shrimp and lime juice, exuding a mouth-watering aroma. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
- Address: Lot M2, Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2273 7372
A charming little restaurant along Jalan Balai Polis, Old China Cafe certainly deserves its spot on this list, largely due to its lip-smacking Peranakan food. Housed in a heritage pre-war shop house along Jalan Balai Polis, expect to find old Chinese furniture such as marble-topped tables at least 100 years old, and Wild-West-like wooden saloon doors that flap as you push them to enter.
Here, spicy dishes rule the menu and as an introduction, try out their Nyonya pai tee: crispy deep-fried flour in a shape of a top hat comes with condiments such as bean sprouts, shredded turnip and carrots. For mains, we recommend beef rendang and fish head curry, and you can have it with a choice of either plain white rice, or the blue-tinged coconut rice. The cafe’s beef rendang is especially good - tender and spicy, just as how we like it. As for soups, try out the itik tim, which is a duck soup boiled with salted vegetables and lean pork meat, and ginseng soup, a great option for the health-conscious. For RM8.90 per bowl, this is one of the cheapest ginseng soups we have ever stumbled upon in KL. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:00 till late
- Address: No. 11, Jalan Balai Polis, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2072 5915
A standout in Chinatown for its wan tan mee (Hokkien noodles in black soya sauce with dumplings), Restoran Hung Kee started out in the mid-60s and has kept a loyal fan base among locals for its tasty food ever since. The noodles are springy and savoury and mixed very well with the black soya sauce, and topped off with either char siew (barbecued pork slices) or chicken slices. Each plate of noodles is accompanied by a large bowl of wan tan soup (dumpling soup): the filling for the dumplings is tender and juicy and the broth is delicious.
Though it specializes in wan tan mee, the kitchen’s menu includes must-try side dishes such as plump, juicy mushrooms, flavourful chicken feet and even tender and salty siew yoke (crispy roast pork). Over the years it has expanded to include two shop lots along Jalan Loke Yew in KL (near the pedestrian bridge): the first shop lot is air conditioned while the second is not. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 22:00
- Address: 28-5 and 28-6 Jalan Loke Yew, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur