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  • Writer's pictureSia Hualim

Expat Living: Must-Try Good Food KL for Culinary Adventures


Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a vibrant city that tantalizes not just the senses with its dazzling skyscrapers and bustling streets, but also the taste buds with its incredible culinary scene. As an expat settling into this dynamic metropolis, you're in for a treat. From fiery curries to melt-in-your-mouth satays, KL offers a kaleidoscope of flavors waiting to be explored.


This guide dives into the must-try good foods for expats living in KL, ensuring your culinary adventure gets off to a delicious start. We'll explore iconic dishes, hidden gems, and even vegetarian options, all readily available in this food paradise.


Malaysian Staples - Good Food In KL:

A colorful plate of Nasi Lemak, Malaysia's national dish. Fragrant coconut rice is surrounded by fried anchovies, crispy peanuts, a red sambal chili paste, a wedge of hard-boiled egg, and a piece of crispy fried chicken.
  • Nasi Lemak: Considered the national dish of Malaysia, nasi lemak is fragrant coconut rice served with a variety of accompaniments. Think fried anchovies, crispy peanuts, sambal (a spicy chili paste), hard-boiled egg, and your choice of protein like rendang (braised beef) or fried chicken. It's a complete and satisfying meal, perfect for breakfast or lunch.



A close-up photo of satay skewers on a plate. The marinated chicken, beef, or mutton is grilled to a delicious char and served with a creamy peanut sauce. A wedge of lime adds a refreshing touch.
  • Satay: These skewers of marinated meat (usually chicken, beef, or mutton) are grilled to perfection and served with a peanut sauce that's both creamy and slightly sweet. A squeeze of lime adds a refreshing touch. Satay is a popular street food, often found at hawker stalls where you can sample various types alongside other local delicacies.



A plate of Char Kway Teow, a Southeast Asian stir-fried flat rice noodle dish. The noodles are cooked with prawns, bean sprouts, cockles, and a dark soy sauce for a savory and smoky flavor.
  • Char Kway Teow: This stir-fried noodle dish is a symphony of textures and flavors. Flat rice noodles are cooked with egg, prawns, bean sprouts, cockles, and a dark soy sauce, resulting in a savory and slightly smoky goodness.






Beyond the Classics - Expat Living Experience:

A close-up photo of a roti canai, a Southeast Asian flatbread.
  • Roti Canai: This flatbread is a staple across Southeast Asia and comes in various forms in KL. The classic roti canai is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, often served with dhal (lentil curry) or sugary condensed milk for dipping. For a richer experience, try the roti telur, which comes with a fried egg inside.




A colorful bowl of cendol, a Southeast Asian shaved ice dessert.
  • Cendol: Beat the KL heat with a bowl of cendol, a refreshing dessert made with shaved ice, green jelly noodles, coconut milk, and palm sugar. Variations include adding red beans or durian (a fruit with a strong, pungent odor).





A steaming bowl of Curry Laksa, a Malaysian noodle soup
  • Curry Laksa: This rich and flavorful noodle soup is a Penang specialty but widely available in KL. Aromatic coconut milk broth is infused with turmeric, lemongrass, and chilies, housing thick rice noodles, fishcake, prawns, and other seafood. Be sure to squeeze some calamansi (a citrus fruit) for a tangy twist.





Vegetarian Delights:

A colorful plate of Nasi Kandar, a Malaysian steamed rice dish
  • Nasi Kandar: This steamed rice dish from Penang lets you choose from a vast array of vegetarian curries and side dishes. Think creamy dhal, stewed vegetables, crispy fried tofu, and more. It's a fantastic way to sample a variety of flavors in a single meal.



A colorful plate of Mee Goreng Mamak, a Malaysian stir-fried noodle dish
  • Mee Goreng Mamak: This stir-fried noodle dish, popular at Mamak stalls (Indian-Muslim restaurants), is easily customizable for vegetarians. Opt for a mix of vegetables like bean sprouts, cabbage, and carrots, along with tofu or tempeh (fermented soybean cake) for protein.





A close-up photo of a golden brown Apom Balik, a fluffy Malaysian pancake
  • Apom Balik: These fluffy pancakes are filled with a sweet mixture of peanut sugar and corn. While traditionally filled with grated coconut and egg, many vendors offer vegetarian versions that are just as delicious.



Embarking on Your Culinary Journey:

KL offers several ways to experience its food scene:

  • Hawker Centers: These open-air food courts are havens for budget-friendly, authentic Malaysian cuisine. With dozens of stalls under one roof, you can mix and match various dishes for a customizable and affordable meal.


  • Mamak Stalls: Open late into the night, Mamak stalls are a great option for a casual meal or late-night snack. Don't be afraid to try their signature roti canai or indulge in a steaming bowl of teh tarik (pulled milk tea).


  • Night Markets: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of a night market, filled with stalls selling everything from clothing to souvenirs – and of course, food. Sample local favorites like satay, grilled seafood, and fresh fruit juices.


Ready to start savoring life in Kuala Lumpur?

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and delectable cuisine of Kuala Lumpur? As you embark on your culinary journey through the bustling streets and hawker centers, don't forget that finding the perfect place to call home is essential for a fulfilling expat experience.


Look no further than Upstairs Downstairs Kampung Pandan, where comfort, affordability, and community converge to create a truly enriching living experience.


Nestled in the heart of this dynamic city, Upstairs Downstairs offers more than just a place to stay – it's a gateway to endless exploration and connections. Imagine coming home to a fully furnished room equipped with modern amenities, where you can unwind after a day of culinary adventures. Whether you're seeking solitude or craving company, our co-living spaces cater to your every need, providing the perfect balance between privacy and sociability.


Why settle for ordinary when you can elevate your living experience with Upstairs Downstairs? With a variety of room options and amenities to choose from, there's something for everyone. Explore our Bukit Bintang and Kampung Pandan rooms to discover the possibilities that await you, or better yet, reach out to our team today to kickstart your co-living adventure.


Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to experience the best of Kuala Lumpur while living in comfort and style. Join us at Upstairs Downstairs and make your expat journey truly unforgettable. Your new home awaits – seize the moment and start living your best life in Kuala Lumpur today!

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