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Satay is a quintessential Malaysian dish that every visitor to this country must have when they are here. It is a very likeable snack that doubles as both appetiser and main, depending on how you have the dish. While many may think of satay as a Malay dish, there are also other variations — Chinese-style and Nyonya-style — that differ based on its spices and the way the dipping sauce is prepared.

A good satay boils down to the marinade of the meat, the way it’s grilled and essentially, the peanut sauce that brings all the flavours together. The rich and thick peanut sauce, with a tiny hint of spiciness makes a good satay meal that is served with freshly cut cucumber, onion wedges and boiled rice (nasi impit). 

This Malaysian staple is one of the most crowd-pleasing appetisers that can be found everywhere — from fancy restaurants to street stalls all over town. But if you’re looking for only the best especially for visiting friends, here are the must-try places for gourmet satay in KL.

(Featured image: Spice Trekkers)

JP Teres, Grand Hyatt KL

No meal is complete in JP Teres without a good serving of its perfectly flamed satay. Choose between chicken or beef that comes equally succulent and tender. Take a generous dip of its peanut sauce that has a nice balance of sweetness and spiciness.

OpenHouse KLCC

If you’re trying to introduce some local food to your international guests, start with satay. The rendition at OpenHouse KLCC is flavourful with strong hints of cumin and lemongrass. There’s a choice between chicken or beef, but we’d say the latter is a better choice for first-time diners here. It is served with turmeric-infused rice and a beautifully balanced peanut sauce.

Leonardo's Dining Room & Wine Loft

Tucked in the quaint neighbourhood along Jalan Bangkung, dining in Leonardo’s is going to be a carnivorous feast — the restaurant is known for its pork ribs, gourmet sausages and crispy pork belly. But have a go at its delicious satay that is served with rice cubes and chunks of grilled pineapple. The peanut sauce is mildly spicy with a nice tartness to balance its taste. (Credit: Hungry Go Where)

Dancing Fish

For something slightly different from the typical Malaysian fare, try the satay offered in Dancing Fish that carries a strong Indonesian influence. It has a heavy smokiness from the char with strong marinade of lemongrass and soy. Instead of the regular peanut sauce, simply squeeze some calamansi juice onto the skewers.

Songket Restaurant

Located along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Songket is known for its authentic Malay cuisine. You’ll be able to watch live satay stations where these marinated meat skewers are grilled over charcoal fire. The satay is served with the usual condiments and mildly spicy peanut sauce.

BlackByrd KL

BlackByrd KL is slowly becoming a crowd favourite with its extensive menu of comfort food. One of its best-sellers is the Wagyu Beef Satay that is the perfect item for sharing. The meat, marinated with a soy-based sauce, is nicely charred with perfectly tender texture. While the peanut sauce complements the meat, the use of kaffir lime gives the dish a special tough — a zingier citrus note that cuts the fattiness of the wagyu meet.

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.