Traditional Chinese kopitiams (coffee shops) are the most common type of restaurant you will find in Kuala Lumpur. They are pretty similar in appearance, with a basic set-up of plastic tables and chairs with hawker stalls on the margin of the restaurant, but it is the food and drinks served that set them apart from each other.
The drinks stall is usually run by the restaurant owner and local coffee brews are the highlight, with the most popular being bak ko pi (white coffee), which has a lighter colouring than regular java because its beans are roasted using palm oil margarine.
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Food & Drinks
Just keep a few things in mind when you order your coffee – kopi means coffee, ais means iced, o means black, kurang manis means less sugar, kosong means without sugar and teh is tea.
The traditional breakfast meal in kopitiams is roti bakar (coconut jam toast) and telur setengah masak (soft-boiled eggs) but, as locals will tell you, it is the hawker food served in each restaurant which makes them stand out. Order the hawker dishes but do not forget to sample a side order of toast and eggs while you wait!
A family-run institution that has been around for generations, this restaurant started out as a humble hawker stall selling hokkien mee (thick yellow stir-fried noodles in delicious, thick soy sauce gravy) in Petaling Street. It moved to more permanent surroundings in a corner lot restaurant and today it is over 100 years old. We love having this noodle dish with a cold mug of Milo ais (sweetened, chocolate iced malt) that this kopitiam specialises in.
Besides hokkien mee Restoran Kim Lian Kee also sells economy rice, fried kway teow (flat rice noodles) and luk ken thang (Hokkien-style pork slices in corn flour cooked in cabbage soup). Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 16:00 (chee cheong fun), 17:00 – 05:00 (Hokkien mee) closed on Wednesdays.
- Address: 49-51, Jalan Petaling, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2032 4984
- Cuisine: Chee cheong fun, Hokkien mee and more
Some might say kopitiams are Kuala Lumpur’s real tourist landmarks and we agree – after all, a trip to KL would hardly seem worthwhile unless you sampled the city’s vast array of cuisine choices. For wan tan mee – Cantonese noodles sautéed in sweetened black sauce and topped with char siew (barbecued pork) or chicken slices, we like to head to Restoran Koon Kee along Petaling Street.
What makes the noodles here great are their springy texture, flavoursome broth, the generously-filled wan tan (pork and shrimp dumplings) and the unusual garnishing of braised chicken feet with mushrooms. But another one of its standout features is the buzz-worthy atmosphere it has, with retirees and office workers on their lunch break gathering to grab some food and drink their favourite coffee (or even beer!). Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: Jalan Hang Lekir
- Cuisine: Wan tan mee
The food and drinks here are reason to visit the first time but it is the sense of history and laidback vibe thatkeeps you coming back to Pau Kee Restaurant, time after time. Sure it takes a long time for its signature dish, hor fun (flat noodles with light soy sauce, chilli and toppings), to get prepared, with the chef painstakingly preparing each bowl individually, but it’s worth the wait.
You’ll be sharing your table with a few other patrons patiently waiting for their noodles but at least you’ll have the restaurant’s kopi ais, kurang manis (less-sweetened iced coffee) to keep you company. Along with hor fun, other standout dishes here include curry mee (fat yellow noodles in spicy curry gravy) and wan tan mee.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 17:00
- Address: 10, Jalan Utara, Off Jalan Imbi
- Tel: +6016 375 1360
- Cuisine: Hor fun, curry mee, wan tan mee and more
If you don’t mind its not so glamorous surrounds, then stop by Restoran Hing Ang in Brickfields. Clean and fluorescent-lit, fresh ingredients and generous portions are the reason this kopitiam’s food stands out, plus after your meal you can go shopping in KL’s Little India district.
We especially love the telur setengah masak here as it is done extremely well, but it is also the best place for pan mee (flat rice noodles with thick, sweet soy sauce). The noodles are topped with crispy anchovies, lots of salty, flavourful minced pork and served with a side of spicy sambal belacan (a type of anchovy chilli paste).
- Opening Hours: Morning & afternoon
- Address: 19 & 21, Jalan Thambypillai, Brickfields
- Cuisine: Pan mee, chicken rice
If you are charting a course for a lazy weekend breakfast then we recommend you stop by Tang City Food Court for the best buttery, fluffy roti bakar and smooth, creamy kopi ais in the city. The best place to sit is outside where you can watch shoppers haggle for their ‘branded’ merchandise along Petaling Street.
If you would like a heavier meal, sample the other varieties of hawker food available: from fried kway teow and pan mee to Hainanese-style chicken rice and pork ball soup noodles, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dish that is not great-tasting. By far the best is the chap fan (economy rice) – freshly prepared and reasonably-priced, the pork dishes come highly recommended.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 - late
- Address: 55, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
- Cuisine: Char kway teow, chicken rice, economy rice and more