Kuala Lumpur (KL) has not always been traditionally pegged as a “foodie paradise” by all means. This fact especially rings true as placed to its north is the de facto food capital (according to Penangites, anyway) of Malaysia. Whereas, Melaka is also found southwards from the heart of the country. And to hit the proverbial final nail on KL’s attempts to declare itself a food haven, the eastern state of Sarawak is home to some of the most affordable, yet delicious local food around.
However, what KL lacks in (food) substance, it makes up for in the form of unique dining experiences that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. Of the lot, Michelin-starred restaurants offer the best fine dining experiences bar none.
If you aren’t already aware, any Michelin-recognised restaurant presents the peak of the gourmet world. Expect the highest quality dining experience with impeccable dishes, ambience, and world-class services when you dine at any Michelin-starred eatery.
Without further ado, here are some of the best places for Michelin-level fine dining in KL.
1. Babe by Jeff Ramsey
Helmed by head chef Jeff Ramsey, this restaurant aims to offer a fun and casual take on Japanese and Spanish fusion cuisine. The Japanese American Ramsey previously honed his craft as a chef in Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo where his contributions eventually led to the restaurant being awarded its first Michelin star. It, therefore, is unsurprising that Babe by Jeff Ramsey has fully adopted its head chef’s reputation as a Michelin-grade chef to boldly claim that the restaurant is the first of its kind in Malaysia.As for the menu, you may expect Spanish tapas to be a highlight here as elements from Japanese culinary techniques are seamlessly incorporated into the traditional method of preparing the Spanish dish — dubbed Japanese tapas or Japas.
When you dine at Babe, prepare your tummy space to accommodate up to 15 Japas dishes that changes every day depending on what the chef has in mind. With plenty of surprises in store, you’ll definitely be having an interesting dining experience at Babe.
Plus, the stunning night view of the city from the restaurant is just the cherry on top of an excellent fine dining experience in the heart of KL.
2. Nobu Kuala Lumpur
While on the topic of fusion cuisine, Nobu is a similarly renowned name in the world of Michelin-starred restaurants. And its KL franchise branch also represents its first restaurant in Southeast Asia.
Located on the 56th floor of Petronas Tower 3, the prestigious restaurant brings with it a smorgasbord of Michelin-starred cuisine. With an unparalleled view of the city centre as you dine, you’ll find this dining experience to be one of the most memorable on this list. A particular noteworthy appeal is the close proximity of the restaurant to the Petronas Twin Towers — giving you an awesome close up of the magnificent twins as you savour your meal.
Nobu’s offerings revolve around their artful fusion of traditional and gentle Japanese cuisine with the bombastic elements of spicy Peruvian fare. Of note, their flavourful signature octopus carpaccio (slices of octopus on a bed of leafy greens topped with jalapeño sauce) and Chilean sea bass cooked in red jalapeño miso are to die for.
3. Taka by Sushi Saito
Similarly, while we’re still on the subject of Japanese cuisine, Taka by Sushi Saito is one of those luxurious and indulgent affairs that you should at least try once in your life. This restaurant is the first branch of three Michelin star Sushi Saito outside of Tokyo.
Touted as the best sushi restaurant in the world, Taka is located inside the grandiose St. Regis Kuala Lumpur hotel. In creating the offshoot of the original Saito restaurant, great care was taken to replicate its interior — with a counter made of 300-year-old Hinoki wood taking centre stage.
And like any other sushi bar, seating space is limited here. Taka only seats up to 16 people at a time, so advance reservations are definitely recommended. Likewise, whatever you get (from the menu to the ingredients and even the sushi-making skills) at Sushi Saito, you’ll also find in Taka. More particularly, ingredients are flown thrice a week straight from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market. And even the chefs at Taka are personally trained and hand-picked by the man himself — chef Takashi Saito. But with such prestige and excellence behind the name, you can be sure that the levy will be just as high. In fact, this sushi restaurant is one of the pricier Michelin food experiences on our list. Though, we’d argue that the quality and experience of a team of world-class chefs bring is definitely worth it!
4. Din Tai Fung
Featuring the ever-popular Taiwanese restaurant franchise, Ding Tai Fung is next up. This restaurant’s status as a popular haunt among gastromands and food lovers alike is apparent judging by the number of outlets the franchise owns in Malaysia and all over the world.
Here’s a hint. Din Tai Fung’s restaurants number more than 100 outlets (so far) worldwide! But other than that, the restaurant franchise is often featured amongst the innumerable “best restaurants” lists out there.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that one of their branches in Hong Kong has been awarded the much-coveted Michelin star. But if you’re not one to hop on a plane to fly to Hong Kong just to sample their food, then we’ve got some good news for you.
The quality of food at all Ding Tai Fung branches are standardized, so you can be sure that you’ll be sampling the same Michelin-level cuisine when dining at any of their branches. As for their signature dish, well, their xiao long bao — each filled with a savoury broth and succulent pork — should not be missed!
5. Pang’s Kitchen
Last but not least, Pang’s Kitchen offers a homely affair with its traditional and scrumptious Cantonese cooking.
Originally located in Happy Valley in Hong Kong, the one Michelin star restaurant’s first foreign outlet is found tucked away rather unassumingly in the neighbourhood of Taman Desa. At a glance, you would not guess that this restaurant is a branch of a popular world-class eatery.
And with a massive menu of over 150 dishes to choose from, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. Some recommended dishes range from the premium goose palm and Bei Fong Tong crab to the simple Hong Kong-style stir-fries. Otherwise, the crispy chicken with garlic, steamed prawn with glutinous rice, milk with scallops, and the sweet and sour pork with strawberry should also be sampled if the opportunity presents itself. If you’re planning on visiting for dinner, make sure to get there early or book a reservation. There’s likely going to be a long queue snaking out of their doors during the peak hours. Might we suggest getting some games on your mobile phone ready for the inevitable wait?