a brunch guide to Kuala Lumpur: what to order + where to go

I wrote my first brunch guide years and years ago when I realized I spent an abundance of my time in ordering coffees, cafe hopping being something I truly find joy in. However, there have been one or two of these brunch guides that have only offer a few options— NOT ENOUGH! We like as many cafes as possible. So, when I returned to Kuala Lumpur thanks to Air Asia, this time, I spent a week in Malaysia, and more than a few days in its capital city so that I could take in all the adventure and eat all the brunch {literally like two brunches a day were had}.

FOR THOSE WHO ANSWERED MY INSTA-POLL WANTING A BRUNCH GUIDE, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU.

Those who are long-time readers of this blog will know I went to Second Sunday for delicious french toast and LOKL for a perfect glass of Kopi O in 2016. While I didn’t make it back to either of these two joints this time around, I’ve included LOKL in this guide {Second Sunday is permanently closed} so that every spot is found in one comprehensive guide. You can read my original post about my visits for brunch at both Second Sunday and LOKL here.


keep reading for my list of best brunch spots in kuala lumpur


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A LITTLE ABOUT MALAYSIAN CAFE CULTURE

Coffee, or Kopi as it’s called, was supposedly introduced by the English military during British colonization. Traditionally, Malaysian’s drink their coffee with condensed milk, similarly to the way coffee is taken in Laos and Vietnam. Despite this, cafe culture in Kuala Lumpur only recently took off. In the last few years, young Malaysian coffee lovers have seen cafes popping up with a variety of signature drinks and dishes and design-styles, uniting in the name of a good roast.

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FLAT WHITE AT VCR CAFE IN KUALA LUMPUR

FLAT WHITE AT VCR CAFE IN KUALA LUMPUR

VCR Café 

Plane delays meant that I arrived back in Kuala Lumpur at 2 AM. I checked into my AirBnB half-asleep until my host mentioned that VCR Café was located just a few doors down. WHAT?! How serendipitous that one of the many cafes on my list to try in KL was right down the same street as my accommodation. Hallelujah, amen. Walking into VCR, I was instantly in love with the modern, minimal design and the soundtrack filling the airwaves of the cafe {Paper Kites and Vance Joy, yesssss}.

The food menu offered something for everyone. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and kosher diets are all catered to at VCR. There were so many digital nomads and freelancers working away thanks to the speedy WiFi and variety of seating options. If I were based in KL, VCR would be my workplace of choice. VCR Café is about a 10-minute walk from the Hang Tuah monorail train station, or a walk down the block for those staying at the Casa Residency.

WHAT TO TRY: The avocado toast with roasted quinoa, fried eggs, and feta is delicious. The flat white was top quality too.

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @VCRLOVESYOU

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: daily from 8 AM to 11 PM

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LOKL

LOKL is a favourite amongst coffee lovers located in central KL. One of my favourite touches at LOKL is the coffee menu being divided between Western coffee and Local coffee, making it easy for visitors to try their caffeine Malaysian-style. LOKL has subway tiles and wooden tables that compliment the Malaysian art that hangs from the walls in 3D frames.

WHAT TO TRY: a glass of Kopi O {black and iced} goes perfectly with their fluffy pancakes

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @LOKLCOFFEE

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, on Tuesdays when they are open from 8 AM to 3 PM

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BREAKFAST THIEVES

When I read about Breakfast Thieves, I made it a top priority to get out to the Bangsar area of Kuala Lumpur. It’s now my top pick for brunch in Kuala Lumpur— my very top pick. It’s no surprise I loved the cafe given that Breakfast Thieves has Australian roots…well, sort of. Two Malaysians opened Breakfast Thieves in Melbourne, Australia. After it being such a hit in Aus, the two founders decided to bring it home to Kuala Lumpur.

Breakfast Thieves Kuala Lumpur is located in a 63-year-old printing factory building that resembles a greenhouse just a short walk from the monorail or a 5 RM {USD $1} Grab ride from Thean Hou Temple. I walked in to warm smiles and excellent customer service. The staff opened the door, asked us where we’d like to sit, and explained the menu to us. The cafe is plastic-free, earning major points in my book, and the food is absolutely to die for. Service was fast and the portions were heaping. I accidentally over-ordered which made for a laugh, but “managed” to eat all of what I ordered. I mean, who wastes Vegemite? Not me.

The industrial design, the light fixtures, the marble tables, the open kitchen, and the giant windows that let sunlight stream in all culminated in the perfect brunch experience. Did I mention I had the best flat white of my life outside of New Zealand?

WHAT TO TRY: TOAST WITH VEGEMITE, PACHED EGGS, AVOCADO, AND A SPICY LENTIL SCRAMBLER— YOU ARE WELCOME.

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @BREAKFASTTHIEVESKL

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: from Tuesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM, closed on Monday

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Lim Kee Cafe

It had been an early morning filled with explorations and I realized I hadn’t eaten. Searching off my list of brunch spots, we staggered to the highly recommended Toast Co., which was closed. Walking back and forth down the road in quest of the now permanently closed establishment, we decided to try Lim Kee Cafe, just a few doors down. While the menu isn’t extensive, it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Eggs, toast, coconut jams, coffees, and teas— it was just enough to hit the mark for two tired travelers. After grabbing some toast with coconut jam and a coffee, my eyes perked up and I instantly realized how pretty the place we were eating was. The rattan chairs outside and the giant bamboo blinds had a caffeinated Tara very excited we’d stumbled in.

WHAT TO TRY: The toast with coconut jam was shockingly good, we even ordered seconds

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes, but the food menu consists only of toast and eggs so it’s limited for everyone

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @LIMKEECAFE

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: daily from 9:30 AM to 6 PM

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CAFE ETC.

If you’re in the Chinatown area of Kuala Lumpur, you might stumble right upon Cafe Etc. Minimal in its design, the menu is so affordable I almost couldn’t believe it. I had been feeling a bit sick, so after visiting the nearby Sri Mahamariamman Temple, my travel partner suggested we grab some tea. It was between “Lucy in the Sky” Cafe and Etc., both located right across the road. Looking at the menu, Luke gravitated toward the affordability of Etc., while I was intrigued by its neon light and white historic building. The menu is incredibly affordable and offers both breakfast and lunch fare. I didn’t have a coffee, but the tea was yum.

WHAT TO TRY: Give their honey jasmine tea a try or their curly fries, which comes in a heaping portion for less than USD $2

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @CAFE_ETC

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 10 PM, closed on Mondays

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MERCHANT’S LANE

My AirBnB host, Andrew, suggested Merchant’s Lane after finding out I was writing a brunch guide. "It used to be a brothel, you’ll love it”, he texted. I’m still not sure what he meant by that…but I went and I did, in fact, love it. I had seen pictures of Merchant’s Lane on a list of brunch spots in Kuala Lumpur, but it wasn’t until Andrew, a Kuala Lumpur native, made the suggestion that I decided it must be worth the trek to find the obscurely located cafe.

The vintage China dish ware, the scandalous history of the building, and the floral decorative pieces all made me giddy. I opted to sit outdoors, but there are two other indoor seating areas that have air-conditioning for those not use to Southeast Asian climates.

WHAT TO TRY: Their carrot walnut cake and “Better Than Sex” dessert are two of their signature sweets, but I had the big breakfast and passed on the meat, eggs, and beans to my travel companion who eagerly lapped them up

VEGGIE FRIENDLY? Yes

CATCH THEM ON THE ‘GRAM: @MERCHANTLANE

CATCH THEM IN REAL LIFE: weekends from 9:30 AM to 10 PM, weekdays from 11:30 AM to 10 PM, closed on Wednesdays

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CHECK OUT THE BRUNCH SPOTS FROM THIS POST ON THE MAP BELOW

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brunch guide to kuala lumpur