Malaysians start their day at various times, and with various dishes. The most popular here is, of course Malaysia's national dish, nasi lemak, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. There are thousands of stalls or warongs across the city and on roadsides selling nasi lemak. Some of the most popular places for nasi lemak in the city can be found here.
Nasi lemak is also available at lunch and dinner. Another popular Malay breakfast is pulut kuning, which is a sweet yellow glutinous rice. For Chinese cuisine, you have a variety of options including pau(a sweet or savoury steamed bun), loh mai kai (a glutinous rice dish with filling of mushroom and chicken) and carrot cake or radish cake. At Indian stalls, you can try thosai, poori, idly and spring hoppers.
Malaysian economy rice, roadside stalls or known as "mamaks" run by Indian Muslim traders and Chinese hawker centres are popular choices for lunch with options such as nasi kandar, nasi campur, chicken rice, pan mee (handmade noodles in a fishy broth) and wan tan mee (tossed egg noodles with chicken and dumplings).
Nasi kandar and nasi campur share similar concepts where customers are able to fill their plates with rice and specialty dishes from a buffet, all for less than RM10. Also high on the list for Malaysians is banana leaf — a gastronomical splash of Indian delights served on a banana leaf and eaten predominantly for lunch — with thousands of people queuing daily for their weekly fix. The most common areas in Kuala Lumpur for banana leaf are Brickfields near KL Sentral, Petaling Jaya and Lebuh Ampang.
If you still have room after lunch, there's plenty of Malay, Chinese and Indian delights to tie you over until dinner. These include rojak — a traditional fruit and vegetable salad — curry puffs, vadai (Indian-style doughnut), pisang goreng which literally translates to fried banana and yew char kueh, made out of deep fried dough to dip in your coffee. These delights can be found all across the city with pop-up stalls in Subang, Petaling Jaya, Ampang and throughout the Klang Valley.
The best night time street food in Kuala Lumpur are burgers and satay sticks, amongst others. A popular spot for satay is in Kajang, which is just over 25 km from Kuala Lumpur and accessible via the MRT. For more substantial meals, you can choose from a variety of restaurants that offer multi-cuisines, including Western choices.
At Malay restaurants you can have mee goreng or Malay-Thai inspired tom yam fried rice or soup, ayam kunyit (turmeric chicken), nasi paprika (rice with spicy chicken and dried chilli sauce) and pattaya (fried rice in an omelette). All of these can be purchased for under RM10.
At Chinese hawker stalls, you can try Cantonese and Hokkien-style noodles and soups as well as Chinese fried rice. For Indian tastes, tandoori chicken and garlic naan is a common combination.
For those who have a sweet tooth, Ais Batu Campur (ABC) — a shaved ice dessert containing multiple toppings and syrups — is a popular choice. Common ingredients include attap chee (palm seed), red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly and cubes of agar agar (jelly). A final topping of evaporated milk, condensed milk or coconut milk is drizzled over the mountain of ice along with red rose syrup and syrup made out of gula melaka (palm sugar).
So, if your planning on indulging in Kuala Lumpur's food scene, make sure to explore and eat like a local. You'll be rewarded with a never-ending collection of tastes and experiences.