The Best Restaurants in Malaysia

Table setting
Table setting | (c) Alpha / Flickr
Sarah Anne Lee

If there’s anything Malaysia is known for (besides historical monuments and vibrant multiculturalism) it’s the distinct food. Here are some of the best restaurants in Malaysia, serving the most delicious tastes.

Dining in the Dark KL

Restaurant, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Malaysian, Fast Food, Street Food, Asian

Eating blindly has never been so exciting at this one-of-a-kind sensory experience restaurant. Utilizing the heightened awareness of your taste buds by dulling your sense of sight, treat yourself to an amazing food selection from the ever-changing menu. Try something familiar to test how well you remember flavors, or something new to expand your palette and discover tastes undisturbed by visual distractions. Don’t worry about dropping forks or knocking over glasses as it’s all part of the wholesome fun dining experience. You’ll probably come away laughing, but with a new appreciation of the challenges of being visually impaired.

Y Not Restaurant and Cafe

Cafe, European, Vegan, Vegetarian

This backpacker bar serves fun European food, with vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. A favorite among expats and modern locals, Y Not is located in the central tourist area of Penang Island. A true international zone, one can meet people from all over the world for a good time and trade travel tips and fun memories over reasonably priced beer and great burgers.

The Spice Kitchen

Restaurant, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vegetarian

The Spice Kitchen offers a spice extravaganza, taking your tongue on a tour of popular Thai cuisine, Northern Indian delicacies, and unique Chinese Indian foods. Most visitors swear by the authentic traditional biriyani rice and naan breads, and the vegetarian selections have even won over meat eaters. A note to keep in mind is that many of the savory Indian dishes can take time to prepare, so it’s not uncommon to have to wait a while during busy lunch and dinner periods.

Ban Lee Siang Restaurant

Cafe, Restaurant, Chinese

Satay celup is a Melaka specialty, and the Ban Lee Siang restaurant has been a pioneer of putting this exciting dish in the spotlight. Perfect for late-night snacking or a small dinner, this hot pot-like delicacy of traditional Chinese skewered foods like beancurd and crabsticks are dipped into spicy peanut broth, like satay. A word of warning for those new to Southeast Asia: the communal pot in the middle of the tables may not be appealing to all diners, as the sauces are simply left heating, waiting for the next diners to come along. If you don’t want to miss our, it’s advisable to go very early, before anyone else has dipped their food into the pot that day.

Pinoy Ihaw-Ihaw

Restaurant, Filipino

True to Malaysia’s diversity, Pinoy Ihaw-Ihaw serves up some of the best, most authentic Filipino cuisine. This cozy, family-run restaurant brings the best of the Philippines to Kuching, and some of the best pork dishes around, including the famous Crispy Pata (deep-fried pork leg) that rivals the local Chinese Siu Yuk (roasted pork). Perfect for families and those with hearty appetites, drop by to enjoy some of the best non-halal Southeast Asian delicacies around.

Bayleaf Steak House

Restaurant, Asian, Steakhouse, Malaysian

Serving some of the best Hainanese-Western food on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Bayleaf Steak House has been steadily gaining popularity for its delectable Western and seafood menu in the tourist hub of Pahang. Many flock here for the halal options and affordable prices. Sharing some freshly grilled tenderloin steak and special fried rice and top it off with local fruit juices and a little creme brulee for dessert.

Warung Pok Nong

Cafe, Restaurant, Seafood

This unassuming but popular little seaside shack serves up simple treats. Specializing in seafood, as Terengganu is known for, the Warung Pok Nong is a stand out: freshly deep fried fish, shrimp, whole squid, and calamari slices. The secret is in the fresh oil. Avoid peak hours and school holidays as the waiting crowds can get a little unbearable.

Anjung Keli Restaurant

Restaurant, Malaysian, Halal, Asian

The most authentic form of Northern Malay food awaits at a beautiful buffet spread in the Anjung Keli Restaurant. Life here is a little slower than in central Malaysia, but this is a popular place. Be sure to try the bamboo shoot soup, a delicacy not found in most urban establishments, or the hearty bone broth.

Restaurant Yau Kee

Restaurant, Chinese

Tucked away in the sleepy university town of Kampar is Restaurant Yau Kee. Its unique signature dish is Chinese chicken curry in a bowl of wax paper, baked and served in a large soft loaf. The gently spiced curry is available with a whole or half chicken, lamb chunks, and herbal chicken options. While this restaurant may be a little off the beaten path from major tourist attractions, the journey there is a wonderfully quiet road trip away from the crowded city.

Annalakshmi Vegetarian Restaurant

Restaurant, Vegetarian

Bringing South and North Indian cuisine to fine-dining levels, the Annalakshmi provides extravagant spreads of delicious vegetarian curries for extremely reasonable prices. Head to the basement level, where you can buy meals according to a pay-as-you-see-fit system, although you must pay at least RM12. Run by a temple of fine arts, the concept behind the restaurant is spiritual, and it’s staffed mostly by volunteers. Proceeds support students of traditional Indian arts. Its a little way from central KL, but worth the trip.

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