The locals’ guide to Kuala Lumpur

By embracing its multiculturalism and modernity, Malaysia’s capital city features an exciting culinary offering, as well as burgeoning art and fashion scenes

CITY BITES

KY Teoh is an award-winning food and travel blogger who knows his hometown of Kuala Lumpur inside and out

What’s the city’s food culture like?

KL probably has some of the most diverse food choices in the world. We have pretty much the best the Western world has to offer as well as a variety of cuisines from the city’s unique make up of ethnic groups including Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, and more. It’s not difficult to find more than 100 different dishes to order within a one-kilometre radius. Whether you want spicy, sweet, savory, steamed… we have it all.

What are the most popular dishes?

Almost everyone in Malaysia enjoys a pack of nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk) for breakfast. One of the most popular places for this is Village Park at Damansara Uptown, but personally I also really enjoy the more affordable version at Kampung Baru’s Restoran Nur Aisha.

A-taste-of-KL's-huge-variety-of-local-fare
A taste of KL’s huge variety of local fare

Where’s the best street food?

There are many ‘food courts’ within and around the major cities in Malaysia. Some are more modern while others are your standard stall-by-the-road set up (or even really old-fashioned food trucks if you like). They are literally everywhere. One of my favourites in KL is Jalan Sayur at Pudu.

What’s one of your favourite foodie experiences?

One of the quirkiest places to enjoy a cup of afternoon tea is at KL Bird Park’s Hornbill Restaurant & Café. While the food isn’t actually the focus here, you can and will get a visit by giant hornbills looking for handouts.

ART AND ABOUT

Cloakwork, is a graffiti artist and illustrator. Here, we get a glimpse of his visual world

What is the art scene like in Kuala Lumpur?

It’s growing slowly but definitely towards improvement. I’ve been seeing more and more new artists at exhibitions. And street art and graffiti are becoming more accepted. There have recently been quite a number of graffiti competitions organised by the government and private companies.

Where’s the best place to see street art?

There is no specific spot because there is art everywhere. I would recommend Laman Seni 7 at Shah Alam for the variety of works such as installations, murals, and graffiti. Take your time as you explore the area. There is a description on each of the pieces about the work and the artist.

What influences artists in the city?

As the city continues developing, billboards are installed on highways, and abandoned buildings are taken down and replaced by skyscrapers. Artists like to take on challenges and express ourselves. We feel there is need to balance the advertising out there and also keep creative freedom alive. I think the streets of Kuala Lumpur are the best galleries for street artists because it’s free and accessible for all ages.

One-of-graffiti-artist-Cloackwork's-pieces
One of graffiti artist Cloackwork’s pieces

Where’s the best place to buy local art?

Publika is the place. You will find small galleries there such as Galeri Titikmerah, which is a collective run by a few local artists. Occasionally, they will hold an exhibition and offer all kinds of affordable pieces from local artists. Besides that, White Box and Black Box offer wider spaces for exhibitions and shows.

What’s the most exciting cultural aspect of the city?

Food. As a multiracial country, we offer all kinds of fare and we are spoiled with so many choices. We also get to celebrate different festivities throughout the year, which is really exciting.

FASHION FORWARD

Malaysian fashion influencer Lucas Lau shares his insider knowledge of the KL style scene

What’s happening on the local fashion front?

It’s blossoming. Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week has grown with more brands and designers coming on board. And fashionistas are becoming more daring. Look out for the award-winning Melinda Looi, who is known for her signature avant-garde and vintage style as well as Kit Woo, an up-and-coming menswear designer.

What’s the look on the street?

At the moment, street style mainly consists of ripped jeans and black T-shirts – it’s common to have really cool abstract art or words on tees. You should always be really comfortable with the least amount of layering.

Is there any fashion etiquette travellers should know about?

It’s uncommon for women to wear revealing outfits. However, as I mentioned before, the overall fashion scene is evolving, and becoming more daring. Just wear whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.

Where do you shop?

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur – this mall carries a wide variety of brands from affordable through to high-street fashion and exclusive options. There are a number of local designers worth checking out, but you will rarely find them in typical shopping destinations. In saying that, Pavilion’s FashionValet showcases amazing items from homegrown brands and designers from across Southeast Asia. There, I recommend Materialipstick for handbags and Nelissa Hilman for heels, sandals and flats.

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