Nasi lemak. I’ve eaten it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and supper. And at tea time, in fact, with a cup of steaming teh tarik. Malaysia’s love for nasi lemak has even led to an onslaught of bizarre nasi lemak inspired dishes— burgers, ice cream, cheesecake, and even as a contraception flavour (and no, I don’t know if that tastes like the real deal).
As far as I can recall, I have never turned down nasi lemak. I mean, how can you say no to— salty, crunchy anchovies, a perfectly boiled egg, fluffy grains of rice cooked in coconut milk, fresh fragrance of pandan leaves, spicy sambal, a handful of peanuts, and slices of cool cucumber to balance the heat? But you know what? Let’s not waste any more time. Your tummy is probably rumbling. So here are 10 of the yummiest nasi lemak you can find in KL.
Pssst, I’ll let you in on a little secret. There are even claims that a plate of nasi lemak can do wonders for hangovers.
1. Nasi Lemak Wanjo
Established in 1963, Nasi Lemak Wanjo originally started as an ordinary roadside stall selling nasi lemak. Head over to the outlet in Kampung Baru today and instead, a huge refurbished restaurant sits in its place. There’s always an endless stream of customers and it’s not difficult to see why. I was spoilt for choice. There lay every possible side dish to pair with your nasi lemak— fried chicken, fried lungs, tempeh, ayam masak merah, chicken rendang, beef rendang, and even delicious deep-fried begedil!
Wiping the drool off my face, I finally settled for a plate of all its familiar toppings— sambal, a whole boiled egg, cucumbers, anchovies, and fried chicken (RM9). For those of you who like your sambal a little sweet, this is the place for you. Kampung Baru may be infamous for its limited parking but if you’re looking for a wide variety of dishes and speedy service, Nasi Lemak Wanjo is it.
2. Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa
In case you still have some space in your stomach, take a two minute walk from Nasi Lemak Wanjo and you’ll come across Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa. I arrived around 11am and was greeted by the usual fare of kerang sambal, fried chicken, chicken rendang— the options definitely paled in comparison to its competitor. Undeterred by the sweltering Malaysian weather, I opted for a traditional but topped mine with chicken rendang (RM6.50). One thing that immediately brought a smile to my face was seeing the dishes all snuggly, wrapped in banana leaf. The chicken was tender. Arguably the taste could have been better, but definitely worthwhile for such a price tag.
3. Nasi Lemak Tanglin
If there’s one eatery that most Kuala Lumpur folks would be familiar with, it’s none other than Nasi Lemak Tanglin. Since its inception in 1948, there has been an endless queue for a taste of the nasi lemak. Fun fact— the queue starts at about 7.30am and tapers down by about 10am. Plus, Nasi Lemak Tanglin started around 1948 by Suryati Jawirunnah and her recipe is now passed on to her son Zainal, which will soon be passed down to Zainal’s daughter. Talk about keeping it in the family!
Their nasi lemak was absolutely delicious. I added fried chicken to the traditional plate of nasi lemak (RM8) but the winning element in the dish is its nicely balanced sambal. Customers can also opt for their spiced ox-spleen, sambal kerang and kuah hitam daging.
4. Nasi Lemak Peel Road
Have you ever heard of Chinese style nasi lemak? Well if you’re game to try a plate— look for Nasi Lemak Peel Road in Cheras which has been operating for more than 40 years. They are known for their side dishes like wild boar curry, chicken rendang, cockles and mutton. According to rave reviews, the wild boar curry and sotong sambal are the best amongst all. So how much will this cost you? A plate of fragrant nasi lemak, crunchy french beans and savoury wild boar curry goes for RM11.
92, Jalan Peel, Maluri, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
+60 126 985 122
Fri to Wed: 11am – 8pm
Closed on Thu
5. Nasi Lemak CT Garden
Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa and Nasi Lemak Wango may be synonymous with Kampung Baru, but aren’t the only nasi lemak eateries in the area. Nasi Lemak CT Garden has been around in Kampung Baru for a long time. The nasi lemak (RM0.90) comes in small packets wrapped in banana leaves. After picking up your nasi lemak packet, go to the dishes section. The best part comes right after. You get to select from a wide variety of side dishes such as ayam masak merah, fried chicken, lungs, sambal tempeh, squid sambal and more.
Jalan Datuk Abdul Razak, Kampung Baru, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
+60 12 622 2228
Daily: 5am – 12am
6. Nasi Lemak Angah
Have you heard of Nasi Lemak Angah? If you haven’t, it’s definitely time to add this to your list to try. Located along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, it serves up its nasi lemak deliciousness in wrapped banana-leaf packets. They have many different kinds of dishes to go with their nasi lemak from ayam masak merah, cockles, lungs, beef. A must-try side dish here is the Sambal Paru— julienned pieces of lung, boiled, deveined and then fried in a sambal paste.
7. Big Tree Head Mamak
Crispiest. Fried. Chicken. These three words make the nasi lemak at Big Tree Head Mamak legendary. The fried chicken is prepared daily with a special freshly blended spice rub. In fact, the eatery has been cooking up their popular Nasi Lemak Ayam for the past 30 years. Can’t tolerate the heat of a spicy nasi lemak sambal? Fret not, as there’s an option of spicy or non-spicy sambal. A plate of nasi lemak, sunny side up fried egg, and a fried chicken here will cost you RM8.50.
Persiaran Mergastua, Kepong Baru, 52100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Daily: 2.30pm – 2am
8. Nasi Lemak Famous
If the stall’s name doesn’t explain it, I have no idea what will. Located in the hustle and bustle of Bangsar, the hype around Nasi Lemak Famous is definitely real. The nasi lemak (RM6.50) is even referred to as ‘nasi lemak ganja’, a nickname for how addictive it tastes. The ayam berempah at this eatery is a must-try item. It’s a specialty here and one that’s not to be missed. Although the ayam berempah is best-selling, the eatery also serves a wide variety of side dishes.
Jln Telawi 4, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Daily: 5pm – 2am
9. Gerai Pak Hassan Kampung Baru
Operating for more than 70 years, Gerai Pak Hassan Kampung Baru is, needless to say, famous. Be prepared to queue from as early as 7.45am. With customers coming in non-stop, Pak Hassan has a pretty systematic and organised operating system. Besides the nasi lemak, the roti canai served with chicken curry is also a big hit at this establishment.
10. Nasi Lemak Saleha
People of Kampung Pandan and KL area would be very familiar with the deliciously warm Nasi Lemak Saleha. Known for their freshly fried chicken, it’s no surprise to hear customers raving bout the crispy and juicy fried chicken. They say you can judge a good nasi lemak (RM2.80) by having it in its most humble form,and that is nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf and paper. And that’s exactly how it’s served here! There are also the regular nasi lemak side dishes such as chicken rendang, beef rendang, and squid sambal. The eatery also serves assorted Malay cakes and yellow sticky rice.
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