Penang and Kuala Lumpur: What & Where to Eat
Our first trip post covid in December 2022 to Malaysia felt like a breath of fresh air. It was so nice to be able to travel overseas again and I will not take anything for granted again.
Malaysia is a country that I will visit over and over again, it's where I grew up and it's still home to me in more ways than one.
And the one thing I always do when I am back is eat to my heart's content. Here are a few places that you may like to check out for your next trip to Malaysia :)...and some places where I share my honest thoughts of why I won't dine at again.
Komichi Tea House
Address: 20 Lorong Toh Aka, George Town 10100
Opening Hours: Thursday - Sunday (11:00am - 5:00pm), Monday - Wednesday (closed)
You can walk past this place without realising it's a Japanese tea house as it's located on the ground floor of a residential shophouse.
This tea house is not made for large gatherings as their dine-in space only consist of three tables indoors and one table outdoors.
They serve a really nice selection of items on their menu that is rotated on a regular basis.
We ordered the Matcha Passion, Lychee Wakocha, Iced Genmaicha, Yuzu Matcha Swissroll and Houjicha Mango Swissroll.
The Matcha Passion was easily my favourite, it's made using ceremonial grade matcha and passionfruit kefir, the taste was more citrusy than matcha but very delicious.
If you are a lover of all things matcha or Japanese-flavoured, Komichi Tea House is definitely worth a visit when you are in Penang.
Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay
Address: Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Masjid, 10200 George Town
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday (10:30am - 5:00pm), Monday (closed)
This quaint little place was established in 1933, the oldest store in Penang serving up nyonya kuih that is made fresh daily. Cavin Mook is a third generation kuih chef of Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay, who is carrying on his grandfather's legacy. All their kuihs are mostly handmade, everything is from the old recipes that have been preserved till today.
Looking at the history of Baba Nyonya, nyonya kuih is considered to be a kind of high class dessert of that era, the equivalent of today's afternoon tea. At Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay, their kuih is served in bite-sized pieces which I think is great because it's not messy to eat and I get to eat more of what's on offer.
In saying that, we personally did not enjoy the food that we ordered for lunch. We ordered the Nasi Ulam, Nasi Kunyit and Laksa; the flavours were there but lacking, and they were all served at room temperature which felt like the savoury food was an after thought compared to their kuih that they put so much TLC into making.
If you are in Penang and you are craving kuih, Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay is not a bad spot for it but don't have high expectations of the other food that they have on offer.
Address: 99B Lebuh Noordin, George Town 10300
Opening hours: Monday - Friday (12:00pm - 8:00pm), Tuesday (closed)
Saturday - Sunday (2:00pm - 10:00pm)
Matcho Cafe is located in an assuming part of town, in a row of heritage shophouses. A single bright neon sign on their front door that beckons you to make your way up the flight of stairs.
I loved the interior design of the cafe; it was simple, funky and very welcoming, a space that would be great to just hide away from the humid weather even it was just for a little while. I wished I stayed longer but I only popped into grab a quick drink, the Matcha Gula Melaka was very refreshing and a great drink to help quench your thirst without it being overly sweet.
I can't wait to visit Penang again and try out the other items on their menu.
Moody Cow Dessert Cafe
Address: 170 Jalan Transfer, George Town 10050
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (10:00am - 11:00pm)
Whenever I am in Penang, this place is a MUST VISIT for me because who doesn't love cheesecake?
My must orders are always the Musang King Durian Cheesecake and the Cempedak Cheesecake. It's decadent and oh so delicious and worth every single calorie.
You come to Moody Cow Dessert Cafe for their cheesecakes and their cheesecakes only coz if you are expecting top tier customer service as part of the experience, you are not going to get it. In saying that, I have never had a bad customer experience here, it may not be the friendliest but hey, I am only there for the cheesecake.
New Lane Street Hawker Centre
Address: Lorong Baru, 10450 George Town
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (4:00pm - 11:00pm), Wednesday (closed)
This is my second time eating at New Lane Street Hawker Centre, I wish I had good things to say about it but unfortunately, I don't.
The first time I ate here was from a previous trip back in 2018 and the food wasn't that great but it wasn't bad either so I thought during this trip, I would give it another go...highly regretted it.
The biggest letdown for us was the CKT from Charcoal Seafood Char Koay Teow. There was a long queue of people waiting to place their order, one would assume that when there is a line, it must mean the food is worth the wait, right? Well, it wasn't and it's highly overrated.
If you are after a solid (even decent) plate of Char Koay Teow, please do not waste your calories here. This was not good at all, there was no "char" to it, it was wet. I mean if you are after Koay Teow Basah, you may enjoy this but I doubt it coz it was under seasoned and lacking in flavour.
I wish I had nicer things to say about New Lane Hawker Centre but unfortunately, I really don't. There are plenty of other good hawker centres in Penang and New Lane is not one of them.
Utoo Boho Café & Patisserie
Address: 156 Victoria Street, George Town 10300
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (9:00am - 8:00pm)
A quaint little café with boho vibes; the entrance even has a teepee-shaped bamboo tunnel that is decorated with dried flowers and fairy lights, definitely the spot for a picture-perfect IG post...or should I say, pose ;)
It's not just the bamboo tunnel that is photo-worthy, but the rest of the café is as well. Everything in this cafe is just pleasant to look at, it's like having a picnic but indoors.
They were also announced as the winner for Best Café Design by Atap Design Awards 2022!
A really nice café for a spot of lunch and you have to try Utoo's signature desserts, they were absolutely delicious! We ordered the Earl Grey Regal, Blushing Strawberry and Ivory Oasis...we would have ordered more to try if only our stomach space allowed us.
Oh and their Panna Cotta was perfection on a plate, it was too pretty to eat but we had to.
Thai Crab Porridge
Address: 9 Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town 10100
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (12:00pm - 9:00pm), Wednesday (closed)
Thai Crab Porridge is located on the same street as the famous Penang Cendol (imo, I think their cendol is overrated).
This place is not fancy and the interior decor is simple and homely, a place in Penang where you can find delicious seafood items at reasonable prices.
The place was packed when we arrived for dinner and we didn't make a reservation but the boss lady was happy to accommodate us by setting up an extra table outside for us.
As the restaurant name suggest, their specialty is Thai Crab Porridge and is a must order as every table had a bowl of it. The porridge was soft and creamy, cooked with crab and ginger, it was gingery and you can also taste the sweetness from the mud crab.
Thai Style Sour Steamed Lala and Sotong, Sweet & Sour Lala, Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup and Stir-fried Kang Kung (Water Spinach).
We really enjoyed our dinner here, I actually had this place down as Option B on my well-organised travel itinerary but I am glad that we decided to chose this place for dinner over my original option.
Address: 11 Lorong Bangkok, George Town 10250
Opening hours: Thursday - Monday (11:00am - 8:00pm), Tuesday - Wednesday (closed)
I have always been a tea person, so this place is just my cup of tea :)
You can find a wide selection of teas here including Pu-Er Tea, Flower Tea, Japanese Green Tea, Oolong Tea and many more...there are also others than I have never heard of.
Tea: South Mountain Supreme (Oolong Tea) and Fei Zi Xiao (Black Tea)
I found it really difficult to choose which tea to drink but we really enjoyed the ones that were recommended to us. The wait staff will assist with brewing the tea right in front of you at your table.
The persimmon is dried, stuffed with cream cheese and walnut...it was not overly sweet which made it a nice pairing with the teas we tried. The osmanthus jelly was bouncy, refreshing with a subtle fragrance of flowers.
I really wanted to try the Black Tea Caramel Pudding but they had already sold out for the day.
They also have tea-related products that you are able to purchase.
Imi Teahouse is a lovely little place to escape Penang's humid weather and appreciate good quality tea whilst you are there.
Durian Baby & friends
Address: Lebuh Acheh, George Town 10300
Opening hours: Tuesday - Friday (11:30am - 8:00pm)
If you need a pit stop before you continue your exploration of Penang, look no further than Durian Baby & friends especially if you are a durian lover.
There are plenty of durian goodies here including gelato, egg tarts, cakes as well as fresh durian. Even if you are not a fan of durian, there are other yummy treats here that will make the whole family happy.
My three companions all got the Musang King Gelato and I decided to get the Sour Plum Calamansi Juice which was thirst quenching and very delicious.
KUALA LUMPUR Koi Thé Bukit Bintang
Address: Lot S.8, 101 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 11:00am - 11:00pm
I have been a fan of bubble tea since I was 10 years old? Maybe 11/12 years old, I don't quite remember. When I used to live in Malaysia, whenever we went to the night markets, I would always order Honeydew Milk Tea with Pearls. That was my go to order as a kid, but now as I have "aged", I much prefer the tea-based bubble teas and on the rare occasion, I will get the milk tea.
There are 24 KOI stores located in Malaysia; 15 of them being in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. If you are visiting KL, some of their locations include Bukit Bintang, The Gardens Mall, Pavilion KL, Sunway Velocity, Sunway Pyramid, Suria KLCC and 1 Utama.
If I had to choose one brand of bubble tea, hands down it would be KOI. Every time I am in KL, any chance I get, I would always get a drink from KOI...there was once, I even had it three times in one day.
I wish they opened a store in Melbourne.
Address: Jalan Kijang, Pudu 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday (6:00am - 3:00pm), Monday (closed)
ICC Pudu is easily my favourite place in KL to have breakfast, it's the best place to enjoy all the old taste of KL.
The stalls that you see at ICC Pudu all shifted from the legendary Imbi Wet Market that had operated for over 60 years before it made way for property development in 2016. I am glad that I was able to visit the Imbi Wet Market on one of my previous trips back to KL, ICC Pudu may not have the wet market atmosphere but it does not take away from the taste that the food stalls have to offer.
Here are a few of my favourites that I always get when I am there for breakfast:
Ah Fook Yong Tau Foo and Chee Cheung Fun (Stall G-78)
I always overorder and they look at me with the expression "are you sure you can finish all this?" and my face proudly informs them, "you bet I can."
Ann Nasi Lemak (G-24)
This is not your average plate of nasi lemak especially when there is pork skin curry involved! It's not the cheapest plate of nasi lemak on the block but their serving size is generous and it's worth every single calorie.
Imbi Kuih Bakul (G-11)
Fried Glutinous Rice Cake with Sweet Potato and Yam aka Kuih Bakul is my absolute favourite fried snack, crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside with the right amount of sweetness!
Hong Kong Famous Roast Meals (G-27)
The wantan mee and roast meats from this place has never disappointed, the husband really enjoys getting his noodles fix from here.
Lintang 138 (G-138)
I don't drink coffee but the husband who is a coffee snob really enjoyed the Hainan Iced Coffee from here. They use claypots to brew their coffee, it's thick and has a smooth finish.
There are so many food stalls for you to choose from and you will need to make multiple trips here to try everything, the best part about coming here more than once is that no two trips will be the same.
Din Tai Fung at Pavilion KL
Address: Lot 6.01.05, Pavilion KL, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (10:00am - 10:00pm)
Din Tai Fung (DTF) was founded in Taiwan in 1958 and is now an internationally recognised brand. Their xiao long bao (XLB) are world-renowned and loved by many including me.
So let me ask you...are you DTF? ;)
There are 14 DTF locations in Malaysia; some of them don't serve pork. The two locations that I have eaten at are The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley and Pavilion KL.
My must orders are always Pork XLB, Truffle & Pork XLB, Organic Pea Sprout and Spicy Shrimp & Pork Wonton.
Besides the OG Din Tai Fung, some say that the best DTF that they have had is in KL and I couldn't agree more.
Swiss Roll and Kaya Kok
Address: Jalan Yap Ah Loy (opposite Maybank), 50050 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday (8:00am - 1:30pm), Sunday (closed)
Madam Kwong, an 81-year old grandma who have been selling her delicious goods for over 40 years from her little stall in a tiny alley. She is known for her homemade Kaya Swiss Roll, Egg Tarts and Kaya Puffs.
The swiss roll was perfection; it was pillowy soft and buttery, swirled inside the roll is her homemade kaya. I mean it's kaya...how can anyone not love kaya?
Oh, and her kaya puffs were absolutely delicious; the pastry was buttery and flaky, and there's an extremely generous slab of kaya spread in the middle of the pastry.
I wanted to try her egg tarts too but when I enquired about them, Madam Kwong informed me that eggs are too expensive at the moment so she has decided to not make them for the time being.
On our last day in KL, I sneaked out of the hotel room and went to grab more goodies from Madam Kwong.
The nooks and crannies in any country is where you'll find the hidden gems, and Madam Kwong's stall is definitely one of them.
Petaling Street Market (Chinatown)
Address: Jalan Petaling, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Sunday - Friday (8:00am - 8:00pm), Saturday (8:00am - 10:00pm)
Petaling Street is the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur, it's a place where you can get most things from knick-knacks to cheap knockoffs but most importantly, local food.
These two stalls are my must visit whenever I am at Petaling Street Market, it brings me back to my childhood when my mum use to take me there and now, I get to bring my little potato there too.
Kim Soya Bean (义钦豆腐花) started as a family business nearly 50 years ago and is currently run by the second generation. It is famous for its homemade soya bean and tau fu fah, both of which are made fresh daily. The silky smooth tau fu fah comes in little plastic bowls; you can choose between the white or brown syrup, it also has a hint of ginger.
Madam Tang Muah Chee Queen has six local muah chee flavours to choose from that are rotated daily.
What is muah chee? They are soft and chewy glutinous rice balls. If you can't see her, just wait for her speakers to blare "yat lau yat lau, wat luet luet" which translates "top quality, silk smooth" and you know the Madam is here. The Muah Chee Queen is in her 70's and she has been selling her muah chee on Petaling Street for more than 50 years.
Restoran Mun Kee Steam Fish Head
Address: 492A Jalan Seladang, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (12:00pm - 10:30pm), Tuesday (closed)
Whenever I eat out, I love any restaurant that serves hearty and delicious Chinese zi-char.
What is Zi-char? It is one of Malaysia's favourite ways of eating where there is a wide selection of local dishes that are cooked to order and are meant for sharing. You know what they say..."sharing is caring" and "the more the merrier". And, it's even better when it's on a large round table.
At Mun Kee, they are known for their speciality of steamed fish head; the fish that they use is called "big fish head" in Cantonese aka bighead carp.
We ordered two steamed fish heads; one with ginger and the other with assam, both were delicious and the fish was super fresh.
The other dishes we ordered were salted egg squid, pumpkin braised tofu, stir-fried kai lan with garlic and stir-fried sweet potato leaves with sambal.
It was a very satisfying and delicious meal; the ingredients were fresh, good portions (based on the number of people we had) and the prices were very reasonable too.
Actually, I lie...the price was more than reasonable, the total cost for the meal for five people came to RM197...that's AUD $66!
What makes the meal even better, was that it was enjoyed in the company of good people, you can never go wrong with that.
P/s: We really enjoyed our meal here that we came back twice :)
Botak Nasi Lemak
Address: 13 Jalan SS3/37, Taman Universiti, 47300 Petaling Jaya
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (6:30am - 3:00pm)
Botak head, botak head
Go to school at half past eight
Teacher say "why so late?"
Because I had to shave my botak head...
This place claims to be the 2nd best nasi lemak place in PJ; whether this place is no.1 or no.2, it was a very delicious plate of nasi lemak.
We ordered the Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng and Sotong Sambal; the chicken was fried to perfection and the cuttlefish was cooked really well too. The thing I loved about the sotong sambal is that the cuttlefish pieces were generous and chunky.
All in all, it was a very generous plate of nasi lemak that will leave you feeling satisfied.
TK 1970 at Sunway Pyramid
Address: LG2. ECS.1, Sunway Pyramid, 3 Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Petaling Jaya
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (10:00am - 10:00pm)
The Original Omega Egg Tart - YUM.
Mochi Omega Egg Tart - YUM YUM.
What makes TK 1970's egg tarts different from normal egg tarts? They make their egg tarts with omega eggs, which makes them more fragrant and nutritious.
You will find a variety of freshly-baked pastries here but I highly recommend both the Original Omega Egg Tart and the Mochi Egg Tart, it's so damn good and worth the calories.
I was so glad that we had to meet up with some family friends at Sunway Pyramid because that meant, I had my second round of mochi egg tarts :)
Sek Yuen Restaurant
Address: 313 Jalan Pudu, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday (11:00am - 2:30pm and 5:00pm - 9:30pm), Monday (closed)
One of the oldest restaurants in KL, Restoran Sek Yuen was founded in 1948, a family owned business that is currently being managed by the 4th generation.
The name Sek Yuen, implies that it's a suitable place for gathering.
Their signature dish, Pipa Duck is a must order; it's roasted for about 45 minutes over charcoal and then, basted with hot oil.
What makes the meal even better, was that it was enjoyed in the company of loved ones.
Siu Siu Restaurant
Address: Lorong Syed Putra Kiri, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Tuesday - Friday (11:00am - 10:00pm), Monday (closed)
Saturday - Sunday (11:00am - 3:00pm and 6:00pm -10:00pm)
Siu Siu Restaurant is tucked away near Thean Hou temple, you can barely see this place except for a rather large 'Heineken' sign. Unless you live in the neighbourhood, you will not know that this restaurant existed...I know I didn't but am glad that I now do coz the food is DE-LI-CIOUS. It was that good that we came back twice in the span of four days.
They are well-known for their char siu which we all agreed that it was not too fatty, not too lean, it was just right. We noticed that every table had a plate of char siu. Thankfully, we managed to order some for lunch as they sold out of it pretty quickly during dinner time (make sure you order some when you make a booking).
The must order dish for us is the Red Wine Pork Ribs, it was finger licking good deliciousness. It was sweet, savoury and had just the right amount of stickiness that goes really well with rice.
Another must order is their fish dishes; whether steamed or deep fried, you can taste how fresh the fish is. I am always a sucker for steamed fish with lots of ginger and the one at Siu Siu was really good.
The next time I am back in KL, this place will most likely be a must visit as the Mr really really liked the Red Wine Pork Ribs.
Hai Kah Lang Seafood Noodle and Fish Head Noodle
Address: 42 Jalan Kaskas 2, Taman Cheras, 56100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday (8:00am - 5:00pm)
This place recently made its way into the Michelin's Bib Gourmand List 2023; 1 of 32 amazing food spots in Kuala Lumpur and Penang that will not break your bank.
This place was recommended to me by my cousin's wife, she said that I must visit here as I won't regret the calories. Lo and behold, it was on my list of food places to eat before they were announced to be in the Michelin's BG List 2023.
We ordered a number of dishes but if you were to order just one dish, I highly recommend their mixed seafood noodles. It comes with crab, clams, fish, squid, prawns and your choice of noodles in a deliciously sweet fish bone broth that has a hint of huadiao wine.
If you are planning to make a trip here, I recommend coming early as they get super packed by noon and there will be a queue out the door. We came at 11:00am and managed to grab a table for 7 adults and 3 kids for lunch. Hai Kah Lang closes at 5:00pm and they do not take reservations.
The places that I visited more than once on this trip include:
Swiss Roll and Kaya Kok
Restoran Mun Kee Steam Fish Head
Siu Siu Restaurant
If you are ever in Malaysia and visit any of these places, do let me know what you think!