Breakfast is often the most important meal of the day, and also the most fun for Malaysians. In the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, breakfast comes in many forms, from street favorites and hawker traditions, to modern Western twists, all providing a way to kick start our tummies for the day. Here are our suggestions for the best places to start the day in KL.
Cafe, Food Kiosk, Malaysian, Asian, Chinese, Street Food, $$$
Lum Cheong Mai Fan (Crispy intestine and rice vermicelli) | (c)Yun Huang Yong / Flickr
Imbi Market is practically an institution for Kuala Lumpur’s rich food history. Although its traditional street-side setup has been encroached upon by expansion projects, resulting in its move to an indoor complex, many of the popular hawker stalls have thrived in their new location. Wake your stomach up with a selection of hot foods for brunch, or grab an egg tart and a roll of popiah to snack on on the way to work.
A true breakfast treat for anyone who loves authentic Malay foods, the Chawan provides a great spread of local treats. Try street snacks like cucur (deep-fried balls, usually with seafood fillings), keropok lekor (fried fish in stick or cracker form), toast and soft-boiled eggs, or a full meal of nasi kerabu (blue steamed rice with rendang curry sides) and lontong (rice cakes in spicy coconut milk soup). The variety of local homegrown coffee blends are also worth trying. Be sure to note how different Malaysian coffee is to the foreign blends served at international coffee shop chains!
Those familiar with Melbourne may recognise this shop from its sister location and original establishment in the land down under. Brought to Malaysia by its original founders, Breakfast Thieves present classic Melbourne favorites with stronger Asian touches. Located in an industrial chic space in the hip neighbourhood of Bangsar that was once an old printing house, enjoy a lip-smackingly good brunch that will last all day.
Paying homage to the retro medium of video tapes, VCR radiates homey feelings to its nostalgia-prone patrons through comfy decor and picture-perfect foods made from local ingredients. It’s also a popular spot among trendy youth seeking Instagram-able eats. VCR serves brunch recipes that push the boundaries of flavor pairing, and most items can be made to suit vegetarian diets on request. The affordable squash toast is a great hit, as well as the soft shell crab burger.
The cutely-named Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf is a hit for their hearty meals and variety of platters. A winning feature is their pork-laden, non-halal menu, rare in majority Muslim Malaysia. Brunch at this place means large plates of scrambled eggs and fat pork sausages, or pork patty burgers, washed down by a delicious milkshake.
If you’re looking for a big breakfast, Antipodean is the place to go. With a large hearty menu serving all-day meals, beautiful and nutritious spreads in the morning, and the best Indonesian coffee from small farmers, this KL chain is popular among those looking for New Zealand-inspired delicacies. Antipodean also donates money to outreach programs in support of small farmers in the coffee industry.
This hidden gem frequented by the people of Mont Kiara served up acai and poke bowls long before the trend hit KL this year, and continues to provide wholesome healthy comfort foods from breakfast to lunch. Enjoy smoothies, home-baked pastries and hot meals such as an omelette wrapped around salted beef served on toast, all in an alfresco setting. The madeleines are a crowd favourite, so get there early to snag one to accompany your morning coffee.
The Fancy Breakfast Club has an active testing kitchen dedicated to putting a new spin on familiar breakfast items. Its minimalist setting has patrons focusing on what’s truly important: the spread of food and beverages that are worthy of a magazine page. Previously an underground brunch club of sorts, the cafe maintains its communal seating with a large mess-hall-like table, and keeps weekends for reservations only, ensuring a tight-knit and low-crowd flow.
Providing brunch like no other, Hoppers prides itself on its Sri Lankan and South Indian roots, and serves modern, interesting spins on the appam, a coconut crepe/pancake shaped like a bowl. (The name refers to the Anglicization of appam). An exciting hopper-based brunch can be had with sweet or savory options, ranging from treats like palm sugar (gula Melaka) and Milo dressings. Alternatively, there are great buttermilk shrimp or chicken curries. The building is a little hidden, being away from normal KL attractions; just look for retro Bollywood posters hanging above a quaint set of dining seats.
Classic Dim Sum | (c)Jason Jacobs / Flickr
Dim sum are a popular Chinese breakfast dish: little steamed dumplings filled with meat and soup, served in bamboo baskets. Restaurant Ful Lai is quite popular, and is patronised by a set of loyal local regulars. With seemingly no closing time, stop by any time of the day (including after normal breakfast hours) to enjoy popular dim sum like pork-stuffed siew mai, or har gaw rice paper dumplings filled with shrimp.