Malaysians are no strangers to Thai cuisine since it hails from our neighbouring country. In fact, its punchy balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy is so well-loved that many Thai dishes are served in local restaurants.
But a closer look at the cuisine reveals that Thai food is regional, with a marked distinction between the North and South. The North, being closer to Laos and Burma tends to dish up spicier fare. Popular dishes from this region ranges from the kow soy, in which noodles are served soaked in a delicious curry broth as well as larb, a meat-based salad that comes with a medley of fresh herbs, shallots and a fresh squeeze of lime.
The South meanwhile, is known for its deep flavour intensity. This includes thicker tom yum soups containing coconut milk and garlic, along with spicy sauces like nam prik, the equivalent of our sambal belacan. One iconic dish that the south is most known for is also massaman curry, said to be of Malay and Indian influence where spices like star anise, cinnamon and cardamom is used unlike in northern and central Thai curries.
So whether or not you’re a fan of Thai food, most would find something to enjoy. Heading out to a Thai restaurant for a group lunch or a date night would hence be a safe bet. But where should you go? We’ve scoured eight of KL’s best Thai restaurants for you.
Opened two decades ago, Rama V is considered the first Thai fine dining restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Just last year, the restaurant underwent a makeover, turning it into a fanciful glass pavilion that can host up to 300 persons. Dig in to their signature dishes such as the Chor Ladda (flower-shaped dumpling stuffed with minced sweet radish), crispy duck with tamarind sauce, and the river prawn tom yam in young coconut soup.
Rama V, No. 5 Jalan U Thant, Off Jalan Tun Razak, 55000 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2143 2663
Run by two Thai brothers, Erawan’s food is so authentically Thai that eating it would make you feel like you’re transported to Thailand. What’s more, the chefs also serve up a fusion of Thai and Western cuisines. Expect exquisite dishes such as grilled steak with Thai sauces and basil leaves, and also pandan salmon instead of the usual pandan chicken.
Erawan, Lot L1-17 & L1-18, First Floor, Damansara City Mall, Plaza DC, Damansara City, No. 6, Jalan Damanlela, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2788 4180
Kompassion Damansara Kim is the brainchild of Chef Nikom Uatthong, a Chiang Rai-born chef. The most popular dishes here are pork-based like pork satay and Balinese-inspired suckling pig. The executive chef recommends first timers to try their The Porky Platter, which includes suckling pig, pork belly, grilled pork and pork ribs, best shared with up to five people. If pork is not your thing, there’s also the Vietnamese smoked duck spring roll, pomelo salad with smoked duck, and standouts like the grilled fish fillet with miso paste.
Kompassion, No. 5, Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, +603 4881 3493
My Elephant is one of the most popular Thai eateries in KL. It has three outlets in Klang Valley that serve timeless authentic Thai food such as Tom Som (Thai aromatic herbal soup), snow fish (as pictured) and special homemade Tod Man Pla (spicy fish cake). Be sure to also order their popular Pandan Cooler drink, which has been the restaurant’s signature thirst quencher since 2007.
My Elephant, No. 20-G1, Jalan Sri Hartamas 8, Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +60 362010649
Moobaan Thai is a quaint two-year-old Thai restaurant whose name means Thai village. Driven by their love for Thai food, founders Joe Koh and James Thian uses top quality ingredients in their best-selling dishes. Think along the lines of Pad Kra Prao Moo (stir fried minced pork cooked with Thai holy basil), Gaeng Kiaw Wan Gai (chicken green curry-pictured), and the Tom Yam Nam Kon (a creamy tom yam soup cooked with lemongrass, chili paste, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, evaporated milk and served with a garnish of Thai parsley).
Moobaan Thai Food, 15, Jalan Bukit Desa 5, Taman Bukit Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 58100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2858 5623
Tiffin’s by Chef Korn is named after metallic tiffin carriers, or otherwise known as mangkuk tingkat. Ala carte dishes are served in these compartments, such as the tender pork knuckle (stewed for 4 hours topped with homemade preserved vegetable, kalian and egg) and the Fireball (deep fried minced pork salad with ground roasted rice, ground roasted dried chilli, spring onion, coriander and shallot served together with fresh vegetables). On top of that, its village-like interiors lends the experience of dining in a Thai home.
Tiffin’s by Chef Korn, T-068 & 069, 3rd Floor Mezzanine, North Court, Mid Valley Megamall, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, +603 22017368
Photo by @gourmethunterkl
Opened in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail back in 2011, Surisit Thai Kopitiam is the first kopitiam-style Thai restaurant in Malaysia. The chefs are from Phuket, so expect an intensity in their signature fried chicken (chicken wing stuffed with chicken and shrimp) and catfish mango salad. Those working in TTDI, can keep their eyes peeled for the weekday set lunches, which includes a main course and one drink.
Surisit Thai Kopitiam, No.17 Grd Floor, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, Taman Tun Dr Ismail,, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, +603 77100173
Known by some as ‘mee sampan’, boat noodles are served in little bowls and originated in the floating market of Ayutthaya. The dish is made famous by Boat Noodle, which came to Malaysia in 2014 and now has 26 outlets across the nation. Because of its small size, people are known to order up to a dozen each visit. It’s no big deal for most as the noodles’ two main sauces are remarkably tasty: Ayutthaya (creamy dark broth intensely flavoured with no less than 10 herbs) and Pathumtani (dark soy sauce derived broth, sour and spicy).
Boat Noodle, Lot 30-A, Level G3, Publika Shopping Gallery, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Damansara 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +6014 6445287