Malaysians are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Just think of the endless mélange of cuisines; from local favourites to western dishes – we have them all. Veering away from the typical staples, Kuala Lumpur is also a haven for Middle Eastern food aficionados.
When it comes to figuring out what Middle Eastern food is, it helps to know some of the countries in the region. Countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel have a rich culinary history influenced by the different cultures and civilisations that have lived, invaded or travelled throughout its history.
So just what is Middle Eastern food? It is characterised by a healthy blend of fresh ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, lamb and fish with an aromatic mix of spices and herbs that yield flavour in every bite. Wholesome, healthy and comforting – it’s no wonder that almost every major city in the world has seen a surge of Middle Eastern influence in their food scene.
For beginners, get familiar with Middle Eastern staples like tahini (sesame paste as an ingredient, dip or spread), hummus (mashed chickpea dip made with tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice), tabouleh (appetiser salad of bulgur wheat, mint, parsley and chopped vegetables), falafel (fried ball of chickpeas, onions and spices), and Baba Ghannouj (vegetarian dip of roasted eggplant and tahini). Those with a sweet tooth would definitely identify with the addictive Baklavas and Turkish delights.
The cuisine is definitely something that you’d like to enjoy with a large group of friends. Make space in your tummy as we put together 15 best Middle Eastern restaurants in KL – from authentic Lebanese and Yemeni food to Syrian inspired cuisines.
Sri Petaling folks highly recommend Al-Diafah for their delicious Arabic food. Praised for its fresh ingredients, on-point seasoning and meat dishes that are cooked to a perfect consistency, Al-Diafah has been keeping to these standards since its opening in 2013. Some must-try dishes include their biryani, lamb with rice dishes as well as their succulent kebabs.
Recommended dish: Royal Mandi Lamb
Al Diafah, 45, Jalan Radin Anum, Sri Petaling, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, +603 9059 6237.
Naab translates ‘pure’ in Farsi, and it is a representation of the pure and refined Persian cuisine you can find in KL. The interiors are inspired by the ancient Persian city of Yazd and there are various chambers within the restaurants catered to different events and occasions. Enjoy traditional lamb stews, meaty hummus, tabouleh and their selection of yummy dips.
Recommended dishes: Chicken Koobideh & Naabgoosht
Naab, No. 130 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2143 3949
For a delicious and hearty Yemeni treat, Wadi Hadramawt serves up delicious signature food including a variety of hummus, Shish Tawooks, falafels and various dishes centred on lamb. Located along Jalan Ampang, the beautifully ornate restaurant lends a great ambience to complement an enjoyable dining experience.
Recommended dish: Lamb Kabsa
Wadi Hadramawt, 226 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603 4253 3333.
If it is your first time sampling Middle Eastern food, try the amazing Mezza – a wholesome meal comprising of small dishes like tabouleh, hummus, Baba Gannouj and some chargrilled kebabs and skewers. At Arabesque, the ambience is relaxed and cosy, despite it being in bustling Chinatown. Finish it all off with their ‘sweet of the day’.
Recommended dishes: Falafel & Shawarma Platter
Arabesque KL, Jalan Sultan, 5 Elements Hotel, Petaling Street, 51000 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2022 1795
Bedouin simply means a nomadic Arab; synonymous to the restaurant’s philosophy of having great authentic food wandering into Kuala Lumpur. Tucked in TTDI, the elegant Arabic restaurant offers amazing crisp Lebanese bread, tender meat dishes and hearty dips like Baba Ghannouj and hummus at a very reasonable price.
Recommended dish: Fahsa Chicken
Bedouin Arabian Cuisine, 6 Jalan Wan Kadir, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, +603 7731 4712.
For a unique Middle Eastern experience, Al Halabi Gourmet Restaurant tempts you with authentic Lebanese and Syrian delights teeming with authentic flavours by Syrian chefs. The restaurant imports the best produce and ingredients, even from Syria – the food hub of the region. The menu has a variety of meat dishes including some vegetarian-friendly options.
Recommended dishes: Lamb Shamarwa & Hummus with Sambusa
Al Halabi Gourmet Restaurant, JW Marriott Hotel Lot No. H1, UG Floor, 183, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2144 6393.
Located adjacent to KLCC and KL main attractions, Samad Al Iraqi is definitely one of our top choices for visitors who want to have good Middle Eastern food. The price may be on the high side but the quality of food served is worth every penny. If you’re up for surprises, try their Quzi Al Sham (see picture) – a rice dish with a whole piece of meat and nuts inside a baked pastry shaped like a big ball.
Recommended dish: Konafa with ice cream
Samad Al Iraqi Restaurant, G-3, Menara Prestige, 1, Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2166 7766.
The award-winning interior design is truly on par with the authentic Yemeni cuisine offered here. Marhaba Restaurant is famous for their lamb or chicken Mandi and Madfoon; both flavoured rice dishes perfumed with Mediterranean spices and topped with chunks of grilled meat of choice. The interior spaces cater especially for large groups, with great resemblance to a traditional Yemeni restaurant.
Recommended dish: Lamb Hanith (go for the ribs)
Marhaba Restaurant, Mandi and Madfoon, D1-G4-01 No.1, Publika Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, Hartamas Heights, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +603 6207 8222.
Voted best Middle Eastern restaurant in 2002, Sahara Tent has been a household name for good Arabian cuisine in KL. The restaurant is the first to introduce Mandy Lamb in Malaysia and still stands by this dish. The menu has a lot of meat dishes with good options for kebabs, hummus and salads. Finish off with traditional desserts like Mahalabia and their famous Arabian coffee.
Recommended dishes: Foul Mudammas & Aqada Lamb
Sahara Tent Restaurant, 41 & 43, Jalan Sultan Ismail & Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2144 8310.
If you’re looking for a comfortable place to enjoy good Lebanese food, Al Amar provides the perfect setting and a great selection of tasty treats including Lebanese bread and hommos, falafel, makanek (Lebanese sausages) and kebabs. If you’re just up for coffee, their cardamom coffee comes highly recommended.
Recommended dish: Anything with hommos
Al Amar Lebanese Cuisine, Lot 6.10, Level-6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2141 3814.
Tarbush is the go-to place for a quick Arab food fix with branches in KL and PJ. The interiors are tastefully decorated with Arabic leitmotifs harkening back to the exotic region. From biryani options to Maklouba chicken, Tarbush has almost everything to satisfy your craving for a good Middle Eastern treat. For starters, go with their lamb items.
Recommended dishes: Lamb Kabsa & Lamb Biryani
Tarbush Restaurant, 138 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2142 8558.
Centred around the flavours of Yemeni cuisine, Hadramawt is known for their rice meals with perfectly cooked meat dishes like lamb, fish and chicken. Serving authentic food, one of the restaurant’s must-try items is their Malawah bread (Yemeni-Jewish fried bread). Portions are large too; so slow down on your orders especially if you’re super hungry.
Recommended dish: Malawah bread
Hadramawt Restaurant, 314, Jalan Ampang, Kampung Berembang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, +603 4256 0678.
In case you’re wondering, Hadramawt is a region perched on the southern edge of Yemen, across the Arabian Peninsula. Entering the restaurant, there is a commanding Arabian atmosphere that complements Hadramawt’s reputation for good Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is also perfect for big functions and private gatherings.
Recommended dishes: Lentil soup & Masoob
Hadramawt Palace, Lot No.251, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2143 3333.
At Marosh, patrons can enjoy a variety of Arabic food from Shish Tawook to Shawarma, fish dishes to lamb options. Don’t miss out on their selection of breads and dips that are all great for sharing. For those wanting to experience a good shisha session after meal, Marosh also provides really good recommended shishas at quite an affordable price tag.
Recommended dishes: Mandy Lamb & Moussaka
Marosh Restaurant, 001R, 001M, BB Park, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2110 3150.
It is hard to miss the Al Rawsha’s castle-like exterior when driving past Jalan Kampung Pandan. Serving delicious and an affordable Middle Eastern feast, diners can expect to enjoy an amazing selection of BBQ, stews, rice dishes, breads and dips. Make sure you make a booking as the restaurant gets filled up very quickly during peak hours.
Recommended dish: Lamb Maghdut
Al Rawsha Restaurant, Jalan Kampung Pandan, Kelab Golf di Raja Selangor, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 9200 6600.