There’s so much good food in Malaysia — from Penang’s Assam laksa with its spicy and tangy broth to the gloriously jumbled up mess of cut-up fruits, vegetables and youtiao (deep-fried dough) that is rojak; and of course, chendol, a shaved-ice dessert drenched in coconut milk and gula melaka.

But when I say “national dish of Malaysia”, what is the first food item that pops into your head?

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NASI LEMAK!

Right? Me too!

Nasi lemak is a coconut rice dish that is served with spicy sambal, slivers of cucumbers, ikan bilis (crispy anchovies), peanuts and a hard-boiled egg. More often than not, these basic ingredients are topped up with a side of ayam goreng (deep-fried chicken).

Nasi lemak is probably most definitely one of mankind’s greatest gastronomic creation.


History of Nasi Lemak

Now, for a quick history lesson on nasi lemak before we delve into the heart of this article…

According to heritage historian, Ahmad Najib “Nadge” Ariffin, this national dish originated from within the Malay society in South-East Asia. However, given that these people were very mobile, the idea of “coconut milk rice” spread slowly and surely throughout the different communities.

On why nasi lemak is typically eaten for breakfast, Nadge revealed that this was traditionally eaten for breakfast by farmers. Farmers required a hearty meal in the morning for when they need to toil away at the farm and nasi lemak is abound with energy-giving ingredients.

The Top 3 Nasi Lemak in KL

So we asked our followers on Instagram to tell us where they go to get the best nasi lemak and here are the top 3.

  1. Nasi Lemak Tanglin

tanglin nasi lemak
Image Credit: VITDAILY | Facebook

It’s very likely that you’d have heard of Nasi Lemak Tanglin from Food Wars Asia hosted by Michele Lean where Nasi Lemak Tanglin won the title of “Best Nasi Lemak in Malaysia”.

And it’s no wonder that they won.

Each perfectly-cooked grain of rice is richly infused with fragrant coconut milk. Their sambal is a concoction that is more sweet than spicy which explains the generous scoop that they usually heap onto your plate that no one ever declines. Some dishes that you must order to go with your rice are the sambal sotong, ayam goreng and beef rendang.

It’s best to be there before 10am. Since Nasi Lemak Tanglin closes at 1pm, most of the dishes would be sold out if you’re there too late. Best-sellers like the beef rendang, ayam goreng and fish are likely to be sold out by then.

Address: Tasik Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Malaysia

Opening hours: 7am – 1pm daily

Phone: +60 19-397 2781

  1. Nasi Lemak Village Park

village park restaurant nasi lemak
Image Credit: Village Park Restaurant | Facebook

Don’t be perturbed by the bright-red of the sambal chili! Just like at Nasi Lemak Tanglin, it is more sweet than spicy. The rice here is also very fragrant but what makes this place stand out from the others is its ayam goreng. Fried to a greasy and crispy perfection, every bite is an explosion of flavor that will leave you wanting for just one more piece of their fried chicken.

Address: 5, Jalan SS 21/37, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Opening hours: 7am – 7.30pm weekdays, 7am – 6pm weekends

Phone: +60 3-7710 7860

  1. Nasi Lemak Bumbung

nasi lemak bumbung
Image Credit: @kittyhingyee | Instagram

During the wee hours of the night when you’re suddenly hit by this incomprehensible urge to down a plate of nasi lemak, Nasi Lemak Bumbung is the place for you. Its operating hours begin in the early evening up until 4am the following morning.

A regular plate of nasi lemak here comes with ikan bilis, peanuts, a sunny-side up with a gooey yolk and most importantly, sambal. The sambal here is quite unlike the ones from the previous 2 places. Here, the sambal deceptively hits your taste buds with its sweetness first, and then gives way to a slow burn.

The ayam goreng that most people usually add on is marinated and dipped into a batter that includes some Indian spices such as cumin and fennel seeds before being deep-fried. This unique blend of spices is what gives the ayam goreng at Nasi Lemak Bumbung such an aromatic and interesting taste.

Address: Jalan 21/11b, Sea Park, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Opening hours: 5.30pm – 4am weekdays, 5pm – 4am Saturday, 5.30pm – 12am Sunday

Phone: +60 16-493 9204


What do you think of these nasi lemak places that made it to the top 3? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

If you’re not from Kuala Lumpur and would like to travel here for a short trip, check out Booking.com for some of the best accommodation deals.

*Featured Image Credit: @paulynzz | Instagram