Chow for Children
At first glance, dining out with children may not be the easiest thing to do in Malaysia. If you discount local favourites, there aren’t many options available for families. But take heart, these restaurants do exist; it just takes a bit of perseverance to find them. TIME OUT MALAYSIA has done all the leg work so you don’t have to do anything other than turn up and dig in. Bon appétit!
No one can deny Malaysians are blessed with a multitude of cuisines and a variety of places in which to indulge our taste buds. Come dinnertime and restaurants are packed to the brim with three generations of the same family, cutlery waving in the air as food is sampled from various plates.
The chatter, the camaraderie, the comfort these families feel when breaking roti together, it’s unique to us and an integral part of our culture. Gossip is exchanged, parents are brought up to date on school exploits, children reprimanded for not eating properly, it’s all very much in your face and we love every bit of it.
However, if you were after a taste of something a bit less homegrown, you’d have to work a bit harder to find family-friendly dining options other than the ubiquitous fast-food chains.
Many Malaysian restaurants have yet to see the benefits of offering children’s menus and kid-friendly facilities. We found some that are streets ahead when it comes to catering for children. And mostly all are located in the Klang Valley area. But where KL leads, the rest of Malaysia follows and we’re sure it won’t be long before each state will have more to offer families who are seeking a meal out with a difference. For as lovely as a plate of Maggi goreng is, there are times when only spaghetti will do.
Stuff Your Face Café (Fourth floor, Bangsar Shopping Centre KL, 03 2287 3070) has a Dr Suess inspired Green Eggs & Ham on its menu. An unusual basil green omelette, served with chicken ham is one of the more imaginative choices on their breakfast menu and a firm favourite with kids. Perfectly situated on the 4th floor of BSC (KL parents will be more than familiar with the place!) and is always full of happy parents and children. As well as the afore-mentioned green eggs, the other firm favourite is Chicken ala Ritz which is Ritz biscuit coated chicken tenders made specially to tempt fussy eaters and served with mash. Kiddie sized meals are only for under-12s.
Almost bite size burgers at Stuff Your Face Cafe
We’re also fans of Fit For 2 Café (Third floor, Bangsar Village II, KL, 03 2287 5001/www.fitfor2.com), an outstanding outlet and unquestionably one of the best family friendly places in KL. The menu is fresh, interesting and good for the young ones, who can also have fun in the play area. Also on site is a room for workouts (for mothers pre- and post birth) and they host plenty of promotions and competitions to make a wonderful experience for parents and little ones alike.
Little Amigos will love the kids’ menu at Las Carretas (14 USJ 10/1E, Subang UEP, Subang Jaya, 03 56373058; 22 Persiaran Ampang, KL, 03 4257-1668; Lot B-0-7 Semantan Avenue, 10 Jalan Semantan, Damansara Heights, KL, 03 2093-0380/ www.lascarretas.com). The Mexican establishment serves grown-up favourites like steak and chicken, in kiddie sizes. There’s no compromise when it comes to flavourings but they do tone down the spice factor a notch, to suit younger taste buds. The menu does feature chicken nuggets but sometimes, you have to give in to nugget cravings and at least these ones don’t come from a packet. Lively atmosphere and friendly staff make this a place you want to keep visiting.
Grown-up favourites in kiddie sizes at Las Carretas
Marmalade’s kitchens (First floor, Bangsar Village II, Bangsar Baru, KL, 03 228 2830; Ground Floor Plaza Mont Kiara, Mont Kiara, KL 03 6201 1743; Level 2, Ramlee Mall, Suria KLCC, KL, 03-2162 1898/ www.ilovemarmalade.com) specialise in wholesome, hearty fare and they’re famed for generously sized salads and delicious sandwiches. It’s a very child-friendly place and the menu is balanced, with enough variety to satisfy each member of your brood. We love their smoothies, a delicious way to get vitamins into kids’ without force feeding them fruit and veg. And of course their kids’ play area makes this a favourite, for both parents and their kids.
Marmalade's famous carrot cake
If you have a yen for Japanese, then Sakae Sushi (various locations throughout the country/ www.sakaesushi.com.my) is another brilliant family-friendly restaurant. They love children at this sushi joint and have a monthly promotion where kids’ eat free every first Sunday of the month. There are over 30 varieties of kids’ sushi on offer, so little taste buds really are spoilt for choice. And tech-savvy children will love Sakae’s web-based interactive menu which lets them browse through the offerings and place their own orders.
The food maestros at Italiannies (various locations throughout the country/ www.italiannies.com.my) have a fantastic offer for children. Every adult main course purchased comes with a free main course from the kid’s menu and you’ll definitely be able to find something on there to whet little appetites. We recommend the kids spaghetti Bolognese - meaty and full of flavour - and the fried parmesan fish fillet with potato wedges. The adult portions themselves are huge and staff will bring an extra plate for your child in case you decide to share.
After something a bit more sophisticated? Then head towards Bijou (Ground Floor Damai Sari Mont Kiara, Mont Kiara KL, 03 6201 2131/www.bijou.com.my) where fine dining is accessible to kids. Run by a husband and wife team, who have a little girl, these guys know exactly what problems parents face when it comes to taking their kids’ out, and so, have made the dining experience as painless as possible for families. Besides their kids’ menu, they have child-friendly cutlery, diaper changing facilities stocked with disposable nappies in various sizes and best of all, a small outdoor play area and plenty of artsy-craftsy type distractions to keep young minds occupied. Bijou really is a gem and there is little to quibble with here.
Cupcakes at Bijou
Children are never too young to be introduced to new cuisines and Out of Africa (PJ Palms Sport Centre , No 1 Lorong Sultan, PJ, 03 7955 3432/www.outofafrica.com.my) takes African specialities like Boerewors (sausage) and Boboties (spicy mince meat and egg) and makes them accessible to children with their kids’ menu. The restaurant also has a play area outside where children can play after dinner while grown-ups share a bottle of wine.