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It’s easy to find chicken rice anywhere in Malaysia. But when you want only the best plate of Hainanese chicken rice there is in KL and Petaling Jaya, here’s where to go.

Hainanese chicken rice is comfort food that nobody could possibly dislike. It’s simple in flavour, uncomplicated in style, and generally appeals to most palates. It’s difficult to make a horrible dish out of it. Head to any traditional coffee shop or hawker centres and you’ll definitely find a prerequisite stall selling it, which shows just how much of a staple it is.

Hainanese chicken rice originated from Chinese immigrants from Hainan island who relocated to Southeast Asia. It’s the style of chicken rice that we’re most familiar with: poached chicken and seasoned rice. You might think – how different can a plate of poached chicken be? Indeed, there isn’t much science and skill to poaching chicken, but the secret of a good plate of Hainanese chicken rice lies in its rice.

Because of the general simplicity in the flavour of the chicken, the seasoned rice will truly make or break the dish. The rice is usually cooked with a combination of chicken broth and its fat. It’s what distinguishes a place selling great Hainanese chicken rice and a mediocre one you can find in any traditional coffee shop. Taking it one step further is each store’s signature concoction of chilli sauce and ginger paste. These two condiments are the perfect accompaniment to your plate of chicken rice, giving it the spicy kick that every Malaysian can’t do without.

Bring your daily lunch staple one step further with our roundup of the best places where you can get amazing Hainanese chicken rice within the Klang Valley:

Restoran Nasi Ayam Chee Meng

It’s a story from rags to riches, dating all the way back to the 1960s. Founder Yeok Kai Seng first started out his humble little Hainanese chicken rice stall along the streets of Jalan Klang Lama, and soon it became so popular that it branched out all over the Klang Valley. The Bukit Bintang branch is a popular one, right smack in the city centre. It ticks all the boxes with perfectly poached chicken that’s silky bathed in a plate of soy sauce, paired with fluffy seasoned rice and a mandatory bowl of soup. The chickens are also halal-certified, so Muslims are more than welcome to enjoy this too.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @eiddamajid)

Coffee Shop Ban Huat Heng

You already know Happy Mansion is a treasure trove of hip cafes – but did you know that it also has a good selection of affordable, local cuisine? This coffee shop is your standard local joint with several hawker stalls, but the pull factor here is the chicken rice store that has established its own fan base – which means there will be a crowd.

Get your fill of poached chicken rice here, but make sure you load up on the mashed ginger condiment to go with the dish.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @winshianliew)

Restaurant Loke Yun Ampang

The year was 1971, and Pang Gui took his wife’s advice to quit his job and start his own chicken rice business. From a humble stall in Nan Yuan Restaurant, his business bloomed so well that he was able to move into a full-fledged shop, bringing Restaurant Loke Yun to life. The restaurant still resides in its original location, making this a definite pilgrimage to anyone looking to taste “authentic Hainanese chicken rice”. Another plus point to visit is that the chickens used in this restaurant are all free-range chicken instead of the usual industrial ones.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @allenwu)

Restoran Kar Heong

While Subang Jaya is not technically within the KL or PJ area, it deserves a mention because it’s a cult favourite with its denizens. The Hainanese chicken rice here takes on the Ipoh style, served with a side of poached bean sprouts. If you notice that the bean sprouts are thicker than the usual ones you get in KL, it’s because these are specially brought over from Ipoh.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @poonstepher)

Nam Heong Chicken Rice

You can list down the best Hainanese chicken rice places in the Klang Valley without giving one of the originals a shoutout. Nam Heong Chicken Rice, the one along Jalan Sultan has been around for over 80 years now and doesn’t seem to be slowing down on the popularity. Using only kampung chicken (basically our local version of free-range chicken), the poached chicken is juicy and silky, going well with the oiled rice that you can’t help but order second helpings of. It’s not the cheapest plate of chicken rice in town, but you can be sure that it’s one of the best.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @kn_m1128)

Restoran Nasi Ayam Kam Kee

Don’t want to wait for the long queues over at Nam Heong? Don’t worry, there’s another option – just a few doors away is Restoran Nasi Ayam Kam Kee that serves an equally delectable plate of Hainanese chicken rice. Dishing up free-range chicken in a humble setting, you’ll see that a restaurant doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy to present excellent food.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @justejinny)

Kim Kee Nasi Ayam Hailam

Yet another Muslim-friendly place, Kim Kee Nasi Ayam Hailam manages to please both ends of the spectrum with delectable Hainanese chicken rice while being halal. Another plus point is its affordable price. Try it out with a side plate of poached bean sprouts for that extra crunch factor.

(Image credit: Instagram/ @hazwanazman)

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.