Because these Chinese dai chow restaurants serve up the biggest and best variety of dishes.
Unless you’re not a fan of Chinese food, chances are as a local you’ve patronised at least five “dai chow” restaurants. The Cantonese term “dai chow” translates loosely to “big fry”, which essentially means that there’s a wide variety of stir-fried dishes you can order for your meal. This ranges from vegetables to double-boiled soups, meats, seafood, steamed fish, and more.
Naturally, with such a wide variety, it means you’ll need more people to dine with. Traditionally, dai chow restaurants are where Chinese families go when they don’t want to cook at home for all family members. The concept is similar to home-cooked food, where the dishes are laid out on the table to be eaten with a side of rice. With Malaysia being a melting pot of many cultures, over time you see more than just Chinese families patron these restaurants – the variety and homey feel of it draws everyone there.
What makes a dai chow restaurant a good one? Locals will tell you it’s worth a try if it tastes like home-cooked food – flavourful, with adequate “wok hei”, and little artificial seasoning. Others will point towards variety and a solid set of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Whatever the reason, our list of the best dai chow places in KL – yes, just the city alone – is one you should bookmark the next time you need a place to eat with your family or a group of people.
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This landmark in Pudu turns 71 years old this year, but it’s still very much relevant and popular with people – this is evident when you see the place filled to the brim even before lunchtime. Restoran Sek Yuen still has its old-world interior (albeit with refreshed paint), giving you a sense of nostalgia when you dine there. It specialises in Cantonese-style food with the pei pa duck (roast duck), crab meatballs, and steamed tofu with fish paste being one of its popular signature dishes. Be sure to make a reservation if you’re planning to head over for dinner time.
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Love steamed fish? Then you’ll have to visit one of the Chan Sow Lin neighbourhood’s longstanding restaurants, Chong Yen Steamed Fish Head Restaurant. It’s easy to find good steamed fish dishes in KL, but not steamed fish head specifically. Asian Carp is the fish of choice here with two flavours to choose from: dark soy sauce with chilli paste and an original sauce of garlic and ginger. Other notable dishes from the restaurant include pork with salted pickled vegetables and roasted chicken.
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Restoran Oversea along Jalan Imbi is also an iconic establishment that spawned many other branches across the Klang Valley. But for the original, always head to the one on Jalan Imbi. It’s one of the more comfortable establishments to dine in because it’s air-conditioned, but the food is also amazing. The best-selling items on the menu include the roast pork, char siu, herbal chicken, and braised pork with salted fish.
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When you think of Jalan Ipoh, the other dining establishment that comes to mind after dim sum is this restaurant. It’s a neighbourhood favourite with families patronising the restaurant often during weekends, especially if the matriarch of the house isn’t up to cooking. The fried yam and prawn is a crowd favourite, and if you don’t mind splashing out some extra cash, the red snapper assam curry is also worth ordering.
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There are two Restaurant Siu Siu outlets – the first one is in Seputeh, while its second branch is in Sungai Besi. For a relaxing ambience, try the one in Seputeh as it’s surrounded by trees and has a shady (literal, not suspicious) environment. As for food, patrons swear by the restaurant’s char siu, Guinness pork, and clay pot crab rice.
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Most dai chow restaurants in KL serve Cantonese food, hence it’s rare that you find some serving speciality dishes from other Chinese dialects. If you’re a fan of authentic Hakka cuisine, then you’ll have to try Chuan Kee Hakka Restaurant in Cheras. A must-try is the house-style tofu dish, and also other Hakka specialities including vinegar pig trotters.
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