Malaysians love seafood. Steamed, stir-fried, baked, barbecued, in a spicy soup or a claypot curry; saltwater, freshwater, shellfish, salted fish … we simply can’t get enough of the stuff. Even our national dish nasi lemak is nothing without sambal ikan bilis!
Because of the premium on freshness, most seafood restaurants in the city tend to be on the pricier side. However, given the near-constant seafood cooking across all cuisine in Kuala Lumpur – from banana-leaf-barbecued fish to Chinese chili crab – variety in preparation means a variety in price, and affordable options abound if you know where to look.
Here are just some of the best budget seafood restaurants in KL.
MAT TEH IKAN BAKAR – Dato’ Keramat wet market (Dato Keramat LRT)
11am-4pm. Closed on Sundays.
Address: Kampung Datuk Keramat, 54000 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
To find Mat Teh Ikan Bakar, just follow the crowds (and the mouth-watering smell of fresh fish grilling in fragrant banana leaves) at the Dato’ Keramat wet market. For around RM20 they’ll plate up a generous portion of stingray (or mackerel, tilapia, or seabass) with Malay-style salad, soup, sambal and steamed rice. The banana leaf method keeps the fish beautifully flaky, and the side dipping sauces are perfect complements. Wash it all down with their famous mango juice.
TAK FOK HONG KONG SEAFOOD (Desa Aman Puri, Kepong)
Opening Hours: 12 PM – 3 PM, 6 PM – 11 PM
Address: 2-2A, Jalan Desa 1/3, Desa Aman Puri, 52100 Kuala Lumpur, Selangor.
Tak Fok Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant has been satisfying locals’ crustacean cravings for over a decade, serving up a huge selection of succulent crabs cooked in all sorts of delicious ways. At RM56 per kilo*, they are a much better budget option than some significantly more expensive seafood restaurants in KL. However, a bargain price does not mean any compromise on quality or fault in freshness. From the Black Pepper Fried Crab to Butter Cheese Crab (a firm favourite) – the variety is exceptional (there’s even crab cooked with Marmite sauce). The mustard squid is a great side dish too. No wonder the queues start early in the evening …
ANUAR’S FISH HEAD CURRY (Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden, Bangsar)
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (Sundays Closed)
Address: Bangsar At the corner of Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
This busy stall in Bangsar draws a large crowd at lunchtime thanks to its legendary fish head curry, and is equally popular because of the price; a plate of rice, beansprouts, curry and fried chicken (or fish) comes in at a mere RM3. Budget-friendly by any standards (let alone Bangsar’s), this famously frugal meal deal has been a hallmark of Anuar’s for over 30 years. The fish head curry itself comes in between RM20-80 per portion depending on the size, but even the smallest fish head will comfortably feed two or more people. It’s fresh fish in a rich, red, spicy and sour gravy; the tender meat will fall off the bone before melting in your mouth.
KIN SAN KINCHI (Jalan 27/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 KL)
Opening Hours: 12 PM – 2:30 PM, 6 PM – 10:15 PM
Address: 16, Jalan 27/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Sri Hartamas, Kin San Kinchi is the economical way to enjoy excellent Japanese seafood; some say it’s the best salmon sashimi in town for both its flavour and fair price. 10 pieces of fresh, raw, succulent salmon will set you back only RM44, and the menu is stacked with à la carte options for sashimi, sushi rolls, and other seafood specialities, as well as a selection of sake (Kin San Kinchi is non-halal). For the best value for money, try the teishoku (set meal) option; the sashimi set, featuring fresh salmon, tuna, butter fish, octopus, and cuttlefish with prawn roe is a great way to sample some of the wide selection of seafood without balking at the bill.
FAT ONE STEAMBOAT BUFFET (Jalan PJS 8/17, Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya)
Opening hours: 4:30 PM – 12 AM
Address: Jalan PJS 8/17, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Pasar malam patrons in the Klang Valley will recognise the Fat One brand; their fleet of over forty trucks deliver delicious lok-lok (skewered meat) to locals across the city. They now have a more permanent headquarters as well, in Bandar Sunway, where for less than RM50 a head, you can eat as much seafood as you can stomach from their brilliant steamboat buffet. Fat One offers over 300 steamboat ingredients, with a healthy variety of seafood (including prawns, various fish and mollusc), meat and vegetables. It’s one of the best budget binge-eating experiences in Kuala Lumpur.
SAMBAL SHRIMP! Whip your very own seafood dish at home!
Check out the video here!