In a bustling metropolis like Kuala Lumpur, the workday week is a serious and often demanding time. One of the best ways to de-stress daily is by indulging during the lunch break with the tasty treats on offer all across this gastronomic capital.
The city centre offers a wide variety of lunch options from the cheap and cheerful to world class fare sure to satisfy the most demanding palate.
A favourite with nearby office workers, “Café Old Market Square” at the corner of historic Medan Pasar provides a touch of nostalgia alongside its menu of local favourites which includes kaya toast and coffee in old-fashioned cups and saucers, nasi lemak with spicy fried chicken, mee rebus, rojak, yong tau foo and Hainanese chicken rice.
A refurbished kopitiam, the café can trace a nearly 100-year history, originally known as “Sin Seng Nam Restaurant”, started by three Hainanese brothers in the 1920s.
The new owner, Datuk Ghani Abdullah, used to eat there as a young lawyer. “The building is a central part of the Malaysian heritage and there is a rich culinary journey attached to the restaurant too.
“The story of the food, which was once served here, is a melding of different cultures and cuisines.
I decided to retain the same food, cooked by the same people where possible or using the same recipe at least,” he told the Star.
For those who want to impress even international clients, “Cantaloupe Sky Dining” in the Troika building is tough to beat. An award-winning fine dining restaurant offering French cuisine, the views over the KL skyline is an awe-inspiring bonus.
Located on the 23rd floor, reservations are a must if you want to secure an alfresco table on the balcony. The restaurant offers carefully curated menus to take the headache out of choosing between all the fancy offerings, but if you want to show off your culinary prowess, you can create your own tasting menu from 24 different dishes.
For those further afield, Bangsar and the Brickfields area around KL Sentral offer equally scrumptious fare for hungry workers.
Known as Little India, Brickfields is the place to go for affordable and tasty Indian food. Servicing the KL Sentral lunch crowd may seem like a big task, but the area is brimming with delicious possibilities.
“Lawanya Food Corner” has been plying their trade in homecooked vegetarian specialties for 33 years. The family-run stall is tucked away in an alley off Jalan Scott, and is a stalwart with weekday workers and local residents due to its affordable and wide choice of delectable dishes served in clay pots.
Vegetarian delicacies include rare finds such as stir-fried banana stem, deep-fried bitter gourd fritters and a sourish dish of brinjal, red sorrel leaves, ginger and garlic.
“All the vegetarian dishes we serve have a lot of health benefits, like the banana stem is good for the kidneys and red sorrel has a lot of fibre.
“Our food finishes in less than two hours, that is why we always tell people to come for an early lunch,” owner and cook P. Challam told the Star.
Fried fish and chicken is also on offer as well as mutton curry and chicken varuval. Lunch can be had for as low as RM4. Even with three or four dishes, the final bill rarely comes to more than RM8.
For more European tastes, head over to the affluent neighbourhood of Bangsar. “Roost” on Jalan Telawi 3 presents some tantalising choices. Chef Albert Frantzen from Denmark brings modern Nordic cuisine which utilises local sustainable ingredients in a farm-to-fork ethos.
Diners can choose gorgeously presented dishes such as the mackerel salad with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and capers. Another beauty is the crispy battered and fried zucchini blossoms, stuffed with a homemade mozzarella, and harmonised with chilli and mint.
“Roost is very good as a working lunch. It’s also not heavy on the carbs so I can avoid the post-lunch slump,” Priya Narayanan, a Bangsar resident, said.
“The restaurant is also very chic yet comfortable,” she added.
What’s certain is that diners in KL will never run out of culinary adventures, suitable for every wallet, whether to share a simple meal with colleagues or to entertain the fussiest business guests.