We’ve entered into Ramadan, a month of whole-day fasting practiced by Muslims worldwide. In Malaysia, something else kicks off as well — underneath oversized and colorful umbrellas and canopies, the maze-like Ramadan bazaars are in full swing every afternoon throughout the fasting month.
If you’re a foreigner and will be visiting Malaysia during the holy month, you might wonder then, what’s the big deal with Ramadan bazaars? Well, this is where you can find all (and we really mean ALL) local and traditional cuisine as well as Ramadan favorites such as nasi tomato (tomato rice), ayam percik (grilled chicken), bubur lambuk (rice porridge), and murtabak (stuffed pancakes). Even non-Muslims enjoy this once-in-a-year occasion!
Rich in Malaysian culture and festivity, a visit to the Ramadan bazaar is a highlight for every tourist or local. We’ve selected five top Ramadan bazaars in Kuala Lumpur that will have you parting with the money in your wallet in no time. Let’s go shopping for food!
1. Kampung Baru
The iconic Kampung Baru, which is frequently photographed with the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower as its backdrop, has always been known as a food haven. But come Ramadan, it turns into a mile-long street food market. From all types of nasi campur (rice with side dishes) to scrumptious Singapore murtabak, this bazaar has everything you need to satisfy your cravings!
Pro tip: Look for the stall selling bubur lambuk, a type of rice porridge cooked with various herbs and spices. It’s one of the best selling foods in the bazaar so you might need to wait in line for a bit, but don’t let that dampen your spirits! It’s all part of the experience.
Address: Jalan Raja Alang, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur
2. Taman Tun Dr. Ismail
The TTDI Ramadan bazaar is one of the more popular ones in Kuala Lumpur, as it is close to various densely populated neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. Stroll along Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad and you’ll be salivating at the tantalizing sight and smell of food cooking at the stalls. There are plenty of rice dishes here such as nasi ayam (chicken rice), nasi tomato (tomato rice), nasi hujan panas (literally translated as hot rain rice!) and nasi kerabu (rice steamed with butterfly pea flower and served with local vegetables and herbs). Some of the quirkier dishes available only during the Ramadan includes the murtabak Maggi, which is fried instant noodles, then compressed to look like a pancake!
Pro tip: Brace the heat and get to the bazaar early to find the pulut udang as it tends to be sold out by 5pm. The rich taste of sticky rice is balanced well by the sweet and spicy prawn sambal inside. Mmm… yummy!
Address: Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad, Taman Tun Dr Ismail Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur
3. Jalan Raja
This Ramadan bazaar has moved to Jalan Raja (near Dataran Merdeka) this year, from its usual spot in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. One of the biggest bazaars in KL with more than 300 stalls, you can get some of the most popular Malaysian dishes such as nasi lemak, char koey teow, asam laksa, spring rolls and many more here. Apart from food, the bazaar also sells clothes, shoes and toys. If you’re a tourist visiting Malaysia, this is a must-visit as you can taste all the local food all in one big bazaar.
Pro tip: Make a beeline to the serunding (meat floss) stall. Usually eaten only during the Raya festival, when Muslims have completed the month-long fasting season, this meat floss goes well with everything. We like to add some of it in our bubur lambuk for an extra crunch!
Address: Jalan Raja, Kuala Lumpur
This affluent neighborhood is one of KL’s food havens and it’s no surprise that the Ramadan bazaar is also packed with all the good stuff. The bazaar, while not as big as the others on the list, offers a variety of grilled meats and seafood including fish and squid, and here is where you can get excellent ayam percik (grilled chicken in Malay) as well. Located next to the Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq mosque, it’s just a 15-minute walk from the Bank Rakyat-Bangsar LRT station.
Pro tip: We love the putu piring, a classic Indian snack made with rice flour with palm sugar folded inside. It’s great as an appetizer for breaking fast!
Address: Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
5. Taman Melawati
This Ramadan bazaar is considered to be the biggest and the most crowded in Kuala Lumpur. Fans of seafood would be happy to know that you can get them cooked whichever way you would like, from grilled to fried. You’ll also find all the classic Ramadan dishes here such as popiah basah (spring roll), tauhu bakar (grilled tofu) and roti john (omelette sandwich). The bazaar is also famous for local celebrity-spotting and if you’re lucky, you might even see them manning a stall for fun’s sake!
Pro tip: While the bazaar has an array of the classic Ramadan pickings, it’s also where you may find some specialty dishes such as claypot-baked chicken, fried stuffed bean curd and tepung pelita (rice flour dessert wrapped in banana leaves), which we love!
Address: Lorong Selangor, Taman Melawati Ampang, Selangor
Lastly, note that most of the stalls in Ramadan bazaars start setting up around 3.30pm and close right after Maghrib prayers, or when it’s time to break fast. Crowds start trickling in at about 4.30pm, so you might wanna get there early to avoid large crowds or disappointment of not being able to sample your favorite Ramadan bazaar dish. Ramadan is also a time to practice patience and moderation. So, do refrain from over-buying when at the bazaar. After all, you can always make several trips throughout the month!