Befitting an international city famous for its food, Kuala Lumpur is a treasure trove of famous local fare as well as mouth-watering cuisine from all over the world.
The Bukit Bintang area in the city centre has long been a hub for delicious Middle Eastern food, from the simple street-side kebab joint to more upscale restaurants. But it can be tricky to choose a truly authentic and tasty experience in such a touristy part of town.
For a meal that will top any taste test, check out our top five picks, which run the gamut of culinary delights from across the Middle East.
While the extended CMCO limits the ability to eat out, food delivery apps are at our service to bring the best of Bukit Bintang’s Middle Eastern cuisine right to our doorstep.
With two branches in Bukit Bintang and one in Penang, this mid-range brand continues to delivers consistently high-quality dishes covering all the favourites you’d expect from an Arab restaurant. Their kebabs are juicy, the hummus satisfying, the tabouleh refreshingly zingy, and the baklava stickily moreish.
You will be truly grateful when you discover their shakriya, a braised lamb dish with yoghurt and garlic, popular across the Levant. Super creamy yet succulently meaty, it’s great on rice, but you should definitely wipe up whatever sauce is left over with Arab bread for a final tasty mouthful.
Tarma Iraqi Street Food
There aren’t many places to sample Iraqi food in KL, but Tarma certainly packs a punch, in taste and style. The restaurant is located along the stretch of Jalan Berangan where the buildings have been painted in bright, block colours. Then you go through blue gates into a covered courtyard with mosaic floors, and through the doors into a space decorated with a youthful and hip interior design aesthetic, showcasing an unmistakable contemporary Arab flair. All in all, just begging to be posted on Instagram!
It’s a casual, friendly place perfect for relaxing over a leisurely meal, complemented by a pot (or two) of their Original Chai or Iraqi Coffee, both flavoured with cardamom. Alternatively, go for the tarma itself; a sweet and creamy milkshake blended with dates and bananas. Or shnina, unsweetened Iraqi yoghurt mixed with water, for an authentic and healthy beverage.
You should definitely try their quzi, a whole lamb shank served on rice with white beans in tomato sauce, and the pizza-like moajanat, available with various toppings. Another star dish is tashreeb, an Iraqi street staple in the form of a meat and bean stew, served on large pieces of soaked flatbread.
Meaning ‘pure’ in Farsi, Naab aims to bring the classics of refined Persian cuisine to KL. In the same spirit, the interiors are inspired by the ancient city of Yazd.
This 5-floor restaurant is broken up into chambers that can cater to different events, so keep this in mind when organising functions. There is even a ballroom that can take 120 people!
An award-winning KL favourite of many years, Naab draws everyone from locals, to Iranian expats, to tourists. With a large menu covering everything from kebabs to spaghetti, we recommend going straight to the Iranian favourites, like koobideh, ground meat kebabs with a choice of lamb or chicken, and Naab ghosht, a rich stew of mutton, beans, chickpeas, potatoes and tomato.
Their dips are also unbeatable, from the humble hummus to the many varieties of smoked eggplant concoctions. It’s too difficult to choose the best one, so try them all!
Located in Pavilion shopping centre, Al-Amar is the perfect place to enjoy authentic Lebanese cuisine. A multiple award winner for over a decade, they serve the best hummus in KL, bar none. Enjoy their cold and hot mezes while dining in their alfresco balcony area with a view of Pavilion’s main courtyard below.
We highly recommend the Lebanese bread, makanek (Lebanese sausages), shanklish (aged and dried cheese covered in thyme and Aleppo pepper), as well as kibbeh nayeh, a quintessential Lebanese delicacy often made for festive feasts. Not for the fainthearted, the dish consists of raw, ground lamb mixed with Arab spices and bulgur wheat.
End your meal with the delicate halawit el jeben, a cream cheese pudding bathed in traditional sugar syrup and topped with chopped pistachios, almonds, pine nuts and orange blossom flower.
With a fountain at the entrance and lit-up ornamented double-storey frontage, Hadramawt Palace is a fun and playful simulacrum of majesty. Not at all imposing, the welcoming atmosphere is perfect for families and large gatherings.
As Yemeni-Malaysians make up the biggest and oldest Arab community in Malaysia, Hadramawt Palace has many dishes familiar to locals. Top of the list is the lamb mandy, a traditional Hadhrami one-pot rice and meat dish similar to biryani, but is customarily made in an earthen oven underground with a mix of spices that is less hot, but equally fragrant, juicy and tasty.
The restaurant also has an exceptional lentil soup and a scrumptious masoob, Yemeni banana bread pudding made with cream and honey. The daily buffet is also famous in KL for a palatial spread at affordable prices.
Credit to some pictures taken from the website below: