Chinese Lunchtime Pop-Up Buffet in Kuala Lumpur

By Mark Wiens 14 Comments
All the signs of something delicious in Malaysia
All the signs of something delicious in Malaysia

Catering mainly to the day worker crowd, there are lots of street-side restaurants in Kuala Lumpur that pop-up for lunch.

While randomly browsing Kuala Lumpur, searching for something to eat, I bumped into a little Chinese buffet serving something known as Economy Rice (video).

It included all the great indicators of a delicious street food restaurant (a small gathering, stunning aromas, a few scattered tables and chairs, and often under a big shade tree), and I immediately knew I wanted to be part of whatever was going on.

The open air buffet line
The open air buffet line

Though Malay food and Indian food are also frequently served in this buffet manner, this particular street food establishment happend to be of the Chinese variety (which I didn’t know until coming closer).

Economy rice is just like nasi campur (one of my favorite things in the world), but instead with all Chinese dishes.

I eagerly motioned for a plate of rice, not the takeaway foam box version, and happily started analyzing what I’d carefully include on my plate.

Unlike having to fight in the buffet line in Vietnam, in Malaysia things are calm and organized. Everyone has an equal opportunity to fill their plate!

The tofu looked good as did the spareribs
The tofu looked good as did the spareribs

Just about everything looked good and freshly prepared.

The pan full of fried tofu chunks swimming in thick brown soy sauce was tempting and I placed a couple scoops onto my plate. I also couldn’t resist the pan of braised pork spare ribs which appeared to be incredibly flavorful.

At the far side of the buffet line were about 10 dishes of vegetables, mainly greens.

I arrive a little early and had the entire table to myself
I arrive a little early and had the entire table to myself

Happy with my plate creation I took a seat on one of the ancient plastic tables along the street.

I arrived at about 11:30 am, so I presume I beat the main lunch crowd, meaning I was able to get a table all to myself.

Malaysian Chinese food
The bronze nuggets of pork were the highlight!

See those glazed nuggets of pork?

Just as they looked, they were extremely meaty, fall apart tender and bursting with wonderful sweet and salty soy sauce and maybe a hint of black bean flavoring.

The full meal cost just 4.50 RM ($1.50). It was a normal everyday lunchtime meal, and it was pretty delicious.

I really have no idea about the hours or days they are open, but I can tell you that I ate there on a Tuesday at about 11:30 am.

And just in case you happen to find yourself in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur (video) during lunchtime hours and want some cheap and tasty Chinese food, here’s a map:


View Migrationology World Map in a larger map



14 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • sully86

    5 years ago

    mark: Hey mark. Thanks for the answering my questions. I will be getting back to you if I need some more information

  • Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans

    5 years ago

    The pork and greens look divine!

  • paul | walkflypinoy

    5 years ago

    I love love these street-side buffets. They have ’em in every city here in SEA, I think. Bangkok’s are the best, but with that price (a little more than a dollar) KL is a strong contender. Haha.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Paul, I agree, one of the best things about SEA!

  • Josh

    5 years ago

    That looks so good. Can you recommend a good street food cookbook for these simple but tasty dishes?

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Josh, thanks a lot. Hmm, I’m not sure, have you seen David Thompson’s book about Thai street food?

  • Rachel

    5 years ago

    That looks so yummy! That water spinach is perfect for your meaty, juicy spare ribs and tofu. perfect lunch. <3

  • Jessica

    5 years ago

    oh I love these kinds of pop-up buffets – Malaysia really offer so many wonderful dishes!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Glad you love them too Jessica, Malaysia is a food paradise!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    5 years ago

    While I never saw a pop-up version of these types of buffets, they have definitely been our one of our favorite types of food in KL & Singapore! Whenever we see the “good Chinese eggplant” (as we call it to amongst ourselves) we are pretty much powerless to resist! The only thing I dislike is that they seem to charge based on the number of dishes you sample, and I always want to try a bit of everything!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Steph, glad you also love the eggplant, it’s one of my favorite dishes too. Yup, they do often charge on how many dishes you take, but it’s still so worth it!