Ikan bakar is a popular dish of banana leaf-wrapped fish grilled over a charcoal fire and eaten with a spicy dip
Popular fish for grilling include catfish, stingray and red snapper. Other seafood such as squid and shrimp also make it to the grill.
Mat Teh Ikan Bakar, KL
If you are around the KLCC area, you can check out this ikan bakar stall in the Dato Keramat wet market, easily reached by LRT. Mat Teh Ikan Bakar does a smoking-hot trade, with dozens of banana leaf-wrapped fish lining the grill during peak hours. The cuts of fish are large enough to share, and each serving comes with a piquant sambal (a spicy condiment), soup, rice and a generous helping of ulam (raw vegetable salad). To complete the meal, order a refreshing mango juice to beat the heat. Best to go before the lunch crowd descends on the place.
In Chinatown, KL
Hidden behind rows of stalls is this no-name set-up that has been serving Portuguese-style grilled fish for over two decades. Your landmark to finding it is Hong Leong Bank. Ikan bakar fans should beat a path to this pavement stall for its hot and spicy fish, drenched in homemade chilli sauce and cooked wrapped in aluminium foil over a charcoal fire, a rarity these days. Don’t worry if you can’t take the heat, as they have non-spicy options too. If that’s not enough to sate your appetite, the neighbouring stall does a particularly flavourful Hokkien mee, or thick yellow noodles wok-fried in dark soy sauce with meat and vegetables.
Pak Din Ikan Bakar, KL
Operating out of a tiny food court just beyond Lake Gardens, this family-run business takes its fish seriously. So much so that Pak Din lets the fish do all the talking, that is sans marinade, sauce or even banana leaf, but simply seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric. His acute sense of timing, honed by years of grilling, results in fish with sweet, juicy flesh encased in lightly charred skin. Also try
the Malay dishes here; we recommend the dry chicken curry.
Ikan Bakar Jalan Bellamy, KL
Situated close to the former national palace is a trio of stalls specialising in grilled fish and seafood. All three have their merits but stall No. 3 does the briskest trade of them all, the freshness and size of its offerings a definite attraction for the hungry lunch crowd. At any time, an array of catfish, stingray, siakap and giant-sized squid is being cooked on banana leaves with lashings of aromatic chilli marinade to spice things up. What we love especially is the spicy dip. A drop of the stuff is enough to bring tears to the eyes.
You can choose your own fish and the size of it. Let the vendor know your requirements when ordering
Seafood Village, Portuguese Settlement, Melaka
Like their European ancestors, the Portuguese-Eurasians in the state of Melaka have a tradition of grilled fish, albeit with a whole lot more chillies and spices, thanks to their Malay heritage. The fish is wrapped in aluminium foil together with an aromatic chilli paste, then cooked over a grill. Watch as the foil packets puff up into shiny orbs. For variety, the Seafood Village at the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka has multiple stalls selling reasonably priced offerings such as grilled fish, steamed clams and fried squid. Some stalls are open for lunch, but most only run for dinner.
Umbai in Melaka is a hotspot for ikan bakar, with two food courts to whet your appetite. The older Medan Ikan Bakar has a clutch of stalls, but Ikan Bakar Parameswara is the most popular for its varied selection and perfectly grilled seafood. Choose your fish and have it prepared as you like. Not far off, Perkampungan Ikan Bakar Terapung is a brand-new complex situated over the Straits of Melaka, with gorgeous sea views. Come as the sun sets, for that’s when most stalls start operations, which go on well into the night.
Chinatown’s Portuguese Grilled Fish
Corner of Jalan Hang Lekir, Chinatown, KL
Ikan Bakar Jalan Bellamy
Stall No. 3, Lorong Bellamy, Bukit Petaling, KL
6013 259 8169
Mat Teh Ikan Bakar
Dato’ Keramat Wet Market, Jalan Dato’ Keramat, KL
Medan Ikan Bakar Umbai
Pengkalan Pernu, Umbai, Melaka
Pak Din Ikan Bakar
Stall No. 5, Kompleks Makan Tanglin, Japan Cenderasari, KL
6016 369 7894
Seafood Village, Melaka
Jalan Daranjo, Medan Portuguese Settlement, Melaka