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Culinary Tour

Malaysian cuisine reflects the countries and cultures that have played a strong role in the region’s history — Chinese immigrants, Indian traders, Muslim sultanates, and Portuguese and British colonizers, to name a few. A culinary tour of Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, reveals a dizzying array of flavors, preparations and foods, from the spiciest chilies and curries to silky, savory congees and sweet cakes, and coconuts. From sunup to well past sundown, there’s always something new to sample.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Lighten Up!

    To ascend the 272 steps to reach the Batu Caves, you’ll need lots of energy from a light, healthy breakfast. Swing into Rubberduck for a Sunshine Smoothie Bowl (banana,
    pineapple, mango, chia seeds, granola and coconut flakes), an omelet with toast, or a slice of frittata.

MIDDAY
  • Brunch Bounty.

    Take dim sum at Li Yen, the award-winning Cantonese restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. Among the myriad options, be sure to try the cha siu bao (pillowy steamed buns with roast pork) and ha gow (shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers).

AFTERNOON
  • Just Desserts.

    The six levels of shops at Suria KLCC mall include designer boutiques, ambitious apothecaries and a shop that specializes in traditional Malay sweets. Take the
    bubble lift to La Cucur to try a slice of kuih lapis, a steamed nine-layer cake made from coconut milk, tapioca and rice flours, coarse sugar and pandan leaves.

EVENING
  • Crowdsourced Cuisine …

    If you’re game for an authentically bustling, open-air experience, head to Jalan Alor’s dynamic street-food scene after the sun drops. This makeshift outdoor eatery is noisy and full of energy, as vendors on both sides of the street roast, wok, fry and grill authentic Malay, Chinese and Thai dishes that attract thousands of hungry locals and visitors.

  • … Or Quiet Time.

    For a more intimate experience, Bijan serves high-end Malay cuisine in a sleek, chic modern setting in the old part of Kuala Lumpur. Start with golden cucur udang (prawn and vegetable fritters), then select your favorite entrée and pair it with wine. If the weather agrees, ask to sit on the terrace for an alfresco experience. 

  • The Right Notes.

    Nibble on croquettes and other tapas while you catch the evening’s concert at No Black Tie, where international artists perform everything from Malayan jazz from the
    1940s and ’50s to humorous, harpsichord-accompanied musical history lessons. 

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Day

2

MORNING
  • It’s Crunch Time!

    For a savory breakfast, order the soft-shell crab burger at VCR. The sandwich includes a deep-fried soft-shell crab with house-made tartar sauce, over a sunny-side-up egg, onion jam and quick-pickled cucumber. If you prefer a sweet start to the day, try a slice of The King, named after Elvis Presley — layers of chocolate-covered banana slices and banana cake, covered with peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with peanut nibs. 

MIDDAY
  • Hit the Streets.

    On your tour through Chinatown’s shops and kiosks, veer off Petaling Street, the pedestrian shopping mall, and onto Madras Lane. Here, you’ll find some of Kuala
    Lumpur’s best street-food booths — including Asam Laksam, which has been around for more than four decades, and Ampang Yong Tau Foo.

AFTERNOON
  • Currying Favor.

    Old China Café actually is one of Kuala Lumpur’s oldest eateries. The restaurant specializes in centuries-old recipes of Peranakan cuisine, which blends Chinese ingredients with Malay spices and cooking techniques. Spicy food is a star here, especially the stellar slow-cooked, dry-curry Beef Rendang, as well as Nyonya specialties such as braised-pork Babi Pongteh and Nyonya Laksa soup.

  • An Artful Excursion.

    Join the artists and filmmakers who gather for coffee at Aku Café & Gallery, created by a Malaysian film producer as a place where creative types and culture connoisseurs could linger. Cool down with a blended iced coffee or a banana iced chocolate.

EVENING
  • Lights-Out Cuisine.

    “What you get is what you see” is the antithesis of a successful dinner experience at Dining in the Dark. Here, after a round of aperitifs, guests are seated for a four-course dinner that’s served in a pitch-black room. To ensure adherence to the theme, guests leave phones and other lighted devices in lockers outside the dining room; servers who navigate the room are blind or visually impaired. 

  • Vantage Vintages.

    The floor-to-ceiling windows and 23rd-floor terrace at wine bar Claret offer stunning nighttime views of the city’s glittering skyline. Equally impressive: the curated selection of champagnes, burgundies and other vintages from France and around the world.