Kuala Lumpur Street Food: Part One

This is part one of this Kuala Lumpur street food guide. For part two of this Malay Street food tour, visit here.

Satay
Satay is a famous street food of Malaysia

When I told people in Thailand that my next stop was Kuala Lumpur, multiple sources gushed:

“Oh, the food there is the best.”

So, naturally, the first thing that I did upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur was to book a food tour touting the tastes of traditional Malay street food.

Let’s dive in!

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Finding the Kuala Lumpur Street Food Tour

I decided to walk the 30-minute distance from my hotel to our meeting point at the Kampung Baru train station and I couldn’t believe the difference in the scenery as I left the reaching skyscrapers and glittering hotels adorned with rooftop infinity pools behind.

Kampung Baru remains a distinct Malaysian village in the center of the city.

Kampung Baru is a village in the midst of Kuala Lumpur
The Kampung Baru village in the shadow of the City Center may not exist in two years.

As our tour group gathered together standing nearly in the shadows of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, our guide, Fadly, immediately explained to the group that he chooses to conduct his food tours in Kampung Baru not just for its convenient location, but because the village may soon be gone. It is slated for redevelopment due to its proximity to the city.

If you want to stay in the Kampung Baru neighborhood, peruse these available accommodations:

Fadly didn’t dwell on this sad news long, choosing instead to brighten the group with his simple and delectable itinerary:

“We walk and we eat, we eat, and we eat.”

The Three Kinds of Kuala Lumpur Street Food to Fight For

We started with the three types of street food that Fadly says all Malaysians will fight over since each person is devoted to a favorite Kuala Lumpur street food stand somewhere in the city:

  1. Satay
  2. Nasi Lemak
  3. Burger
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Wait? Burger? Like a Hamburger?

That’s right, Fadly assured us as he stood next to his own favorite burger stand. But this one is a special burger. The patty is wrapped in fried egg and topped with “plastic cheese,” grilled onions, white pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. The result?

“A candy burger!”

This Kuala Lumpur street food is a burger wrapped in fried egg, cheese, onions, and worcestershire sauce
A Malay street burger is wrapped in fried egg, cheese, onions and a special sauce.

I’m not going to lie. This burger may not be healthy, but it is absolutely delicious and it does taste a little bit like candy, especially with the char of the grill mixing with the sticky sweetness of the sauce-encrusted bun.

It’s delicious!

Satay it Up with this Kuala Lumpur Street Food

Fadly’s favorite satay stand sits on a non-descript corner with motorbikes zooming by and plastic chairs spread haphazardly around picnic tables. It must be like this, he assures us, gesturing his arms to take in the atmosphere complete with the wafting smoke from the nearby grill. Because he says:

“It’s about the quality of the food, not the quality of the restaurant.”

Teh tarik is a drink found at Kuala Lumpur street food stands
Teh tarik is the drink of Malaysia.

We started with steaming mugs of teh tarik, a mixture of black tea, condensed milk, and sugar, pulled through two different containers to bring out the flavors. This beverage is consumed from morning until night in Malaysia, despite the warm weather.

Beside our mugs, Fadly placed rice cakes topped with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce and crispy onions. A side of rice cake is common with satay, he explained, because the rice helped to fill the stomach when a family needed a little bit of chicken to feed a full family.

Rice Cake is a satay special at Kuala Lumpur street food stands

For this tour, there is much more than just a little bit of chicken, though. Fadly stacks two heaping plates of chicken, tripe, and tongue next to the rice cakes. The tender meat, spiced with lemongrass, ginger, cumin, and sugar, slides easily off the skewers. This is a Kuala Lumpur street food staple.

Satay: Malaysian street food
Chicken, tripe, and tongue, oh my!

Nasi Lemak: My Favorite Kuala Lumpur Street Food

Nasi Lemak is a delightful Kualal Lumpur street food
Nasi Lemak

This is the moment that I officially fall in love with Malaysian food. Nasi lemak is a flavorful rice dish cooked with coconut milk inside a pandan leaf. It is served with a spicy chili paste and a variety of sides, including hard-boiled eggs and vegetables.

A Kuala Lumpur Street Food Tour
Our Kuala Lumpur street food tour digging in!

We piled ours high with a special, slow-cooked meat served – like most Malaysian meat – at room temperature and sides of deep-fried mashed potato.

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Sorry, Did You Say Cow Lung?

Fadly wisely withheld the nature of the meat that had a beef jerky texture and taste until after we tried it. But the cow lung, deep-fried and then cooked again in chili paste turned out to be one of my favorite dishes on the tour!

Cow Lung is a staple Kuala Lumpur street food. It looks and tastes like beef jerky
The cow lung looks and tastes like beef jerky!

Stuffed Squid if you Please!

Fadly held up the huge squid, simmering in coconut milk and other juices, and had a good laugh at our wide-eyed reactions. He could sympathize. As a kid, he said, he avoided ketupat sotong. But, as he placed bowls of the squid stuffed with sticky rice, lemongrass, and palm sugar in front of us, he lamented the many missed years of enjoying this “dessert”.

Ketupat sotong is a sweet stuffed squid dessert found in Kuala Lumpur street food stands
Ketupat sotong is a sweet, stuffed squid dessert.

It did taste a lot like a dessert. I went back for seconds of the squid matched with deep-fried sweet potato that crunched from the palm sugar still cooking inside.

Drawing the Line at Blue Rice on this Kuala Lumpur Street Food Tour

Our last street-food treat was nasi kerabu, a rice that turns blue when cooked with the petals of a flower. Paired with egg, dried fish, and pickles, this one was a bit too fishy for my tastes, but most of the group devoured it.

Fadly wasn’t even close to finished with us, but the skies opened up and a torrential downpour nearly washed out our experience at the farmer’s market. Luckily for us, Fadly rustles up umbrellas and a plastic sack to cover his head, and we stick around for a colorful and flavorful adventure!

It rained on this Kuala Lumpur street food tour, but we didn't let it stop us!
The rain won’t stop us!

The Details on this Kuala Lumpur Food Tour

I am not sure if Fadly is still giving his tour in Kuala Lumpur. When I updated this post in August 2021, I couldn’t find Fadly’s Kuala Lumpur street food tour.

But I did find these Kuala Lumpur food tour options for you from TripAdvisor!

And here are other activities while in Kuala Lumpur:

GetYourGuide advert for things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Visit here for the next post on Kuala Lumpur street food, featuring beef knuckles and a forbidden fruit! If you enjoyed this post, please see more history and walking tours here.

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15 Comments on “Kuala Lumpur Street Food: Part One”

  1. I’m totally up for that cow lung. No point having a cow over a bit of lung. But that blue rice. Ughhhh. Dried fish. I couldn’t do that. Sounds like a great tour, it would be a shame if it isn’t still running.

  2. KL has some of the best food in the world. We enjoy satay and Nasi Lemak from street vendors too, so good. We were meant to return last year and still have flight credits so hoping we can get there at some point.

    • I’m so sorry you had to cancel your trip, Wendy. I hope we can all get out there again soon and enjoy that satay from the lovely street vendors of KL!

  3. My mouth’s watering over all of these dishes! I wasn’t keen on the cow’s lung, but on second thought, I’d like to give it a try. Nasi Lemak sounds delicious!

  4. I’d go for Nasi Lemak too (I don’t do nuts so satay is off the menu). Looks and sounds absolutely delicious, and your post leaves me almost smelling those delicious aromas. Feeling hungry too 🙂

  5. What a fun tour getting to try so many unique and delicious foods! Food is becoming my focus on any trip now. I love the quote “It’s about the quality of the food, not the quality of the restaurant.” So true! Some of the best places to eat can be street food. I’d love to try all of these dishes but not sure if I could do the cow lung. Haha. Would rather be told after what it was! ?

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  8. Wow, you have to be a special person to try all those Delicacies. I don’t know about some of them! LOL

    • It helps when you don’t know what you are eating until after you’ve tried it! (But most of it was absolutely delicious, meaning we should all try more things.)

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