Best café food in KL: The full list

Updated: 14 Jun 2013
Best café food in KL: The full list

Kuala Lumpur's burgeoning café scene has brought in some remarkable food. From sandwiches to salads, the Time Out KL team seeks out the 10 best café dishes and desserts that will feed you from daybreak to dinnertime. Photography Amir Rashid and Stacy Liu

To view all photos, see gallery.

ABC Surf & Turf burger at Acme Bar & Coffee, RM47 (pictured above)
Burgers are classic comfort food, but this one from Acme is no standard patty-bun combo. Slices of tender ox tongue (braised for eight hours prior) are layered with ripe Roma tomatoes on top of a charred focaccia bun. They’re then crowned with a trio of tempura oysters and topped with a layer of molten Gruyere, served along a side of Parmesan-dusted fries that are like sophisticated Cheezels. It’s a classic example of what Acme does so well, taking café standards and transmuting them into modern, delicious dishes.

Rosti with smoked salmon at Nosh, RM23
At first glance, the rosti looks like a fat roti canai – golden brown, lightly charred in some spots and steaming hot. But crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy inside, this is like no roti canai you’ve ever had. The rosti is perfectly cooked, the potato tender but not mushy, and it comes crowned with whorls of rosy smoked salmon, lemon wedges, a lick of sour cream and a lightly dressed green salad. If you’re after something sweet, you won’t go wrong with Nosh’s always-impressive desserts fridge – they do great things with Valrhona chocolate, and have a rotating menu of daily specials.

Rotkraut pastrami panini at Pickle & Fig, RM19
There are sandwiches, and then there is Pickle & Fig’s rotkraut pastrami panini, a fresh and hearty wholemeal bread upgrade that is hot-pressed to perfection. The star here is the rotkraut, an Austrian delicacy of red cabbage cooked in vinegar and apples that adds a tantalising sweetness and tang to the piquant Russian dressing-slathered beef pastrami. An accompanying side of chunky hand-cut potato wedges, triple-cooked to a golden crisp, and the bestselling Goji Me (RM12), a strawberry, apple, wolfberry, pineapple and yoghurt smoothie, provide the icing on the cake.

Cempedak Tutti Fruitti cake at Swich Café, RM13 per slice
Cempedak Tutti Fruitti cake at Swich Café [Pin It] Despite the best efforts of the seasonal mangosteen cake, Swich owner Cheng’s signature Cempedak Tutti Fruitti remains the fruity novelty pastry to beat around these parts. The silky soft sponge cake is liberally laden with creamy cempedak frosting and is complemented by the mango cubes-toasted coconut shavings combo, which results in a pleasing dessert that will not alienate non-cempedak fans. Another one to try is the glorious durian mud pie (RM14 per slice), which marries the intensely flavoured Musang King with a creamy Belgian ganache on a crumbly Valrhona cocoa crust.

The Daily Habit

Quinoa Salad at The Daily Habit, RM18
It’s a salad made up of miniscule ingredients that taste big. The clincher is the quinoa – a small, highly nutritious and protein-packed superfood that only needs a simple supporting cast to bulk up its flavour. Toasted walnuts, cubed pears, pomegranate seeds and fluffy, organic quinoa are tossed with macadamia nut oil and then served on a bed of rocket salad for a peppery bite. The finishing touch – a generous sprinkle of chopped spring onions – perfumes the salad with a feisty zing. Banish the vegetarian blahs with this dish and no one will be wondering why the meat is missing.

Boeuf bourguignon at Yeast Bistronomy, RM58
The acid test of any French eatery is its boeuf bourguignon, and Yeast delivers on every count. The beef short ribs are stewed in red wine and served with a puree of root vegetables and crispy onion rings, turning your standard beef stew into a very special meal. The meat is meltingly tender and imbued with the richness of the wine, gently falling apart at the nudge of a fork. For a lighter, earlier meal, they also serve the beef in a tart shell, or try any of their excellent pastries or breakfast egg dishes.

Bread Platter at The Carpenter’s Daughter, RM16.90
You won’t look out of place walking in to just order a plateful of bread here. But these aren’t ordinary breads we’re talking about. Completely organic with no additives, the dough is handshaped in small batches, while the longer fermentation time intensifies the resulting breads’ taste and texture. The best way to sample these goodies is by ordering the Bread Platter, which comes with six different types of bread (focaccia, ciabatta, batard, sourdough, whole wheat and seven-grain), a salad and a hearty tomato soup. For a bigger meal, the pasta carbonara and cottage pie will not disappoint.

Namoo on the Park

The King’s Bing Soo at Namoo on the Park, RM16.90
For the ultimate ice cream-meets-ice kacang concoction, there really isn’t anything like The King’s Bing Soo. The elaborate and massive Korean shaved ice dessert, ideal for sharing, comprises an abundance of rice cakes, red bean, mixed fruit, ice cream and multi-grain powder sprinkles, which combine to produce a refreshing mish mash of flavours. Order it to freshen the palate after the bibi rice burger (RM19.90), where a tender grilled chicken patty, vegetables and a fried egg are laced with a zesty mayonnaise sauce and sandwiched between fluffy rice buns.

Herbed chicken, mango and spicy chickpea salad at House & Co, RM29
House & Co has moved down from its perch on the top floor and now occupies a lovely, light-filled space at the bridge connecting BSC to Menara BRDB. The menu is filled with kopitiam classics gone high end – think classed up chicken rice, kuay teow soup and the like – but the café also excels in imaginative salads and fresh, flavourful sandwiches. The herbed chicken, mango and spicy chickpea salad balances tender chunks of roast chicken breast against cubes of ripe mango, scattered with chickpeas in a piquant sweet-sour dressing.

Mushroom and tomato quiche at Peter Hoe Beyond, RM25
Good quiches in KL are something of a mystical find, but the accompanying café of a souvenir store seems to stock some of the city's best slices. Savoury custard mix is poured into a tart shell and baked to a soft pudding-like consistency that avoids a mushy eggy mess. The tart's woodiness from the mushroom is only slight, but works great against a startlingly generous cracking of black peppercorns. The salad on the side is a mountain of crunch tossed in a classic French vinaigrette.