Honeycombers has been hopping over to KL and we’re loving the food and shopping scene: here are our top picks for 48 hours in the city.
I recently spent a couple of days in KL with a pretty ambitious mission: hit the markets, track down a boutique I’ve been dying to visit and stuff myself stupid at modern Indian fine diner Nadodi, plus cram in as many local treats as possible. Oh, and find the best nasi lemak in town. Throw in some serious recommendations from the Honeycombers team and here’s the choose-your-own-adventure style itinerary for your next jaunt over the causeway. Hell yes Kuala Lumpur has cool things to do.
WHERE TO SHOP
Malls, schmalls. We’ve got more than enough of that in Singapore. Here’s where to scratch that shopping itch in KL when you’ve got a taste for something unique…
Nala Designs Kampung House
My taxi driver asked me “Why are you going all the way to Bangsar?”. To finally check out the Nala Designs boutique, of course. After months of stalking this colourful, print-driven brand on Instagram, the boutique, set in a traditional house just off Jalan Kemuja, didn’t disappoint. You’ll spend far too long here browsing fabrics, stationery and gorgeous homewares, fashion and accessories – and you’ll spend far too much on a haul to bring back to Singapore. If you’re hooked on the label, Just Gaya’s stocks Nala Designs here in Singapore, available through its online store, or at the new TheWYLDstore boutique in Joo Chiat.
Nala Designs Kampung House; 8 Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We love this independent boutique – and not just because it’s a fantastic social enterprise that works with local artisans and trains and employs women from low-income backgrounds. Check out the handmade shibori kimonos and beautiful batik homewares and accessories, from cushion covers and printed napkins to scarves and fun tote bags. Check out the nasi lemak print!
The Batik Boutique; 3, Jalan 26/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
First-timers in KL head to the famous Central Market, and sure there’s loads of the usual stuff you can just walk on by, but the vintage stalls are where it’s at. Rummage for treasure and try to resist the vintage sunglasses and handbags – we all know good vintage goodies are like gold dust here in Singapore. Besides, who can resist a shot outside that baby blue art deco facade?
Central Market; Jalan Hang Kasturi, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Riuh in the City
This is a monthly pop-up showcasing great local labels and independent design, so stalk Riuh in the City’s social media feeds and time your visit wisely so you can catch them at their next weekend session! If you want to discover local talent (think woven leather shoes by the likes of Fireworks and beautiful metalwork purses by Nia & Mr Daddy) and get into the modern street food scene, this is just your thing.
Riuh in the City; various locations around KL so follow the on Insta for deets!
WHERE TO EAT IN KUALA LUMPUR
We like the full spectrum of dining options, no matter where we go. Of course we want to indulge in fine dining and catch local talent at the top of their game; but we’re down for street eats just as much as we love shamelessly hanging at hip cafes. Here’s what made the shortlist:
Believe the hype: Nadodi has been getting some serious buzz for its modern South Indian menu and concept of ‘nomadic cuisine’ that spans Tamil Nadu to Kerala and across to Sri Lanka. Executive Chef Johnson Ebenezer and Chef de Cuisine Sricharan Venkatesh are playful in their interpretations of childhood favourites, street foods from their hometowns and regional dishes like you’ve never had them before. In multicultural KL (the city of dosai and roti prata) this means familiar, comforting flavours arrive in unexpected – and spectacular – ways.
Case in point: tender spring chicken is served with a cloud of coconut smoke, and fish head curry arrives as a light-as-air mousse. You will be blown away. To celebrate its first birthday, the restaurant rolled out an epic anniversary menu that showed off the team’s talents. I lost count after the 10th course, but to give you a taste of what this young and supremely talented team can do, check out that starter above: all the flavours of nasi lemak distilled into dainty bites. The cocktails are equally impressive – yes, that is a cocktail you see below. Dinner at Nadodi is worth the trip over the causeway alone.
Nadodi; Lot 183 of, Jalan Mayang, Kampung Baru, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A KL-based journo I met gave me a hot tip on this local favourite that serves home-style cooking, and from the way he talked about the butter-fried kailan and deep-fried eggs, I knew I had to drop my plans and enjoy a second breakfast here. Restaurant Muar has been around for ages and isn’t for fussy diners, but the service was incredibly friendly and better than you get at most Singapore spots (yes, I said it). The kailan – crispy, buttery and so umami-ish – is ridiculously good. And those eggs in kecap manis have ruined me forever. Yeah I splurged a whole eight bucks here, but this is hands-down my favourite KL experience.
Restoran Muar, No 6G, Tengkat Tong Shin, Kuala Lumpur, 50200, Kuala Lumpur, WP Kuala Lumpur, 50200, Malaysia
If Dr Inc came to Singapore, it could be our regular hang. With its chill vibe and modern brunch menu (who can resist a brekkie called Eggs Cumberbatch?), this little gem in Bangsar Village puts on special buffets and market nights too, so keep an eye out. And the decor? The gorgeous tiles, colourful patterned tablecloths and cushions are divine – no wonder, this place is run by the same folks as Nala Designs. See below for more…
Dr Inc; 8, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wong Ah Wah Roast Chicken Wings
This is a plastic chairs affair on the famous Jalan Alor food street, and is quite possibly the most famous chicken wing joint in KL. Fellow Honeycomber Delfina swears these sticky, smoky wings are the best she’s had in her life – big call – so it makes the list despite reports of dubious service and the guy smoking while flame-cooking those wings. We’ll turn a blind eye because it’s so damn good.
Wong Ah Wah Roast Chicken Wings; 16, Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tamarind Hill & Tamarind Springs
Yes we have a Tamarind Hill here in Singapore, but the KL branch is divine. Make your way up the paper lantern-lit steps to a swish, serene space in the city where Thai and Burmese cuisine rules. Ask for an outdoor table by the pool, and yes you should go for the signature River Lobster in Tamarind Hill Spicy Sauce. Perhaps even more divine is sister restaurant Tamarind Springs, which serves an extensive – and amazing – Indochinese menu. With its winding stone paths and traditional terrace house design surrounded by lush tropical greenery, this is one amazing dining experience you need to add to your Asian bucket list.
Tamarind Hill; 19A Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tamarind Springs; Jalan 1 Taman Tun Abdul Razak, 68000 Ampang, Selangor Malaysia
Village Park Restaurant
And the unanimous fave for nasi lemak? This dish needs no introduction, and neither does this eatery in Damansara. But we all know the best nasi lemak has to have a chicken leg that’s crazy crispy while still super juicy. Village Park nails it, and wins for its kickass sambal.
Village Park Restaurant; 5, Jalan SS 21/37, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
WHERE TO STAY
Right in the CBD near Petronas Towers, but with a peaceful garden view while you enjoy that essential buffet breakfast, Mandarin Oriental has that essential combo of great central location and luxe escape. Don’t we all love five-star stay? You’ll appreciate that it’s also walking distance to Nadodi, so you can avoid that crazy traffic situation and arrive on time for your dinner booking. Grab a room with a view of the towers so you can take in that skyline by night.
Mandarin Oriental; Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Now this is an urban escape: Villa Samadhi is a serene little spot in the city you’ll appreciate after a hectic day of hopping from restaurant to cafe to market and back again. Think rustic resort vibe in the city. The property is under the same group as Tamarind Hill and Tamarind Spring restaurants, so you’ll enjoy a free shuttle service to your dining destinations – foodies, this is the stay for you. And we have to say, the breakfasts here are brilliant: the roti canai and nasi lemak are spot on.
Villa Samadhi; 8, Jalan Madge, Taman U Thant, 55000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Luxe escape Banyan Tree just opened its doors in KL – and its swish rooftop bar, Vertigo, is the highest in the city. Of course, it’s all about the spa at Banyan Tree, and the signature treatment here is dubbed the ‘Malaysian Bliss’, which involves an indulgent body scrub and Nusantara massage. Psst: until 30 September you can snap up a stay from MYR828 nett per night, which includes a MYR 150 spa credit for a massage or treatment package, plus other perks. Sweet!
Banyan Tree; 2 Jalan Conlay, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Some real talk:
Yes, the traffic is real here and it’s a bore. If you’re staying in the CBD, consider walking to the nearby malls and restos, but if you don’t mind taking a gamble on getting stuck in a cab during peak hours, be consoled by the fact that taxi fares are incredibly affordable here.
The good news? KL is under an hour away by plane, but do factor in possible waiting time getting through immigration – we’ve all become seriously spoiled by Changi Airport!
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