Ikan Bakar – Malaysian Grilled Seafood Worthy of a Pilgrimage

By Mark Wiens 24 Comments
Is this the most beautiful sight in cuisine... ever?
Is this the most beautiful sight in cuisine… ever?

There is absolutely nothing that will prepare you for the gastronomic wonders that welcome you upon entering Medan Ikan Bakar Gerai No. 3 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Even if I returned frequently, I’d still be in awe of the mass of seafood slowly smoldering away on the griddle every single time.

Food intoxication is unavoidable.

Medan Ikan Bakar Gerai No. 3
Medan Ikan Bakar Gerai No. 3 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The restaurant is located on a quiet hillside near the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur (video).

Not knowing exactly how to get there, it was a bit of a local food adventure that required me to sprint across a number of highways, and hop over a couple of fences, until I finally arrived.

And I was hungry!

Ikan Bakar Medan
Smoke billowing from the slow roasting seafood

What greeted me was an utterly organized hot mess of cuisine, billowing smoke like a forest fire, and bubbling luscious chili filled steam.

It may sound a little overboard, but I can honestly say I wanted to bathe in a sauna of the fumes produced from the grill.

Ikan Bakar Medan Gerai No 3
Cooked and Ready

What is Ikan Bakar?

In Malay, bakar means roast or burnt while ikan means fish. Put the two together and you’ve got burnt roasted fish.

The seafood is marinated and grilled, often splashed with bright orange chili sauce as it roasts. Mackerel or squid may be roasted directly on the heat while items like stingray are normally wrapped in a banana leaf before being cooked.

The chilies packed marinade is extremely flavorful, but not overly spicy.

Rice and a few sides
Rice and a few sides

Medan Ikan Bakar Gerai No. 3

As you can imagine, after about an hour walk and seeing the unbelievable grill, I was more than than a little excited.

Along with the fresh seafood, they had a full nasi campur buffet near the rice stand. I didn’t go for any curries as I ordered from the grill, but I did top my rice with a few salads and some tempeh soybean cake.

Ikan Pari Bakar - Grilled Stingray
Ikan Pari Bakar – Grilled Stingray

The stringray steak (ikan pari bakar) was what I was most thrilled about.

Succulent tender pieces of grilled stringray
Succulent tender pieces of grilled stringray

Its flesh, which had a similar texture and feel to chicken, easily pulled away in stringy yet ever so tender pieces. The char-grilled exterior of the fish was heavenly.

Sambal Sotong - Roasted Squid
Sambal Sotong – Roasted Squid

Due to how beautiful it looked on the grill, I couldn’t resist the squid either.

Not overly chewy, not overly soft, but it was that sweet spot right in between and included the same wonderful sambal flavoring.

Ikan Bakar Medan Gerai No. 3 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sambal roasted prawns

After the owners of the restaurant saw me photographing and shooting a self video (which you can watch by clicking here), they graciously brought me a free platter of sambal roasted prawns. Wonderful!

Dark soy chili sauce for Ikan Bakar
Dark soy chili sauce for Ikan Bakar

Two different, equally marvelous, sauces accompanied the fish.

One was a chili garlic sauce similar to Thai style roasted fish sauce, while the other was a combination of onions, chilies, garlic and calamansi juice all swimming in dark sweet soy sauce (Kicap Lemak).

It was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in my entire life.

While I’m normally a pretty good money saver, this was one of those meals that I would have gladly exchanged for the entire contents of my wallet.

I had to waddle out of the ikan bakar restaurant, very top heavy, not having a clue where I was going, but beyond satisfied.

How to Get to Medan Ikan Bakar

The easiest way would be a car, but after completing the feast, I discovered a pretty easy way to get there by foot.

Take the Monorail to Tun Sambanthan station (you can also walk from KL Sentral). Walk towards the river and cross over the river and highway on the foot bridge. You’ll exit near a big school and to the left side you’ll see a paved path heading through the forest. Follow the path until it turns to a road which is Jalan Bellamy. Walk up the hill and you’ll see the series of Ikan Bakar restaurants.

Believe me, it’s worth the trek!

Open: 11 am – 11 pm on Monday – Friday (I arrived at 11 am and things were just getting started but not yet busy)
Price: Came to 25 MYR (including 2 teas) – that’s $8.20 (but remember they did give me the prawns for free).
Address: Jalan Bellamy, Bukit Petaling, Kuala Lumpur 50480, Malaysia

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

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  • Ryan

    9 years ago

    We went here for lunch today based on this post and your video. It was amazing seeing that grill full of seafood. We had a ray wing, a whole squid, a whole fish and a plate of shrimp…all of that + rice & drinks for two for around 60 MYR! Seriously tasty and a great experience, thanks!

  • Yfa

    10 years ago

    Nasi Lemak, Nasi Campur, Ikan Pari Bakar & Chettinad Cuisine are on top of my list! I’ll be in KL next month and I really want to try those restaurants that you posted but I’m not sure with the locations lol. My brother-in-law already booked us a hotel somewhere in Bukit Bintang. Can you recommend us some Thai, Seafood & Indonesian restaurants that are near in BB? I’ve read about Jalan Alor but I’m not so sure if the restaurants there are halal -_-

  • Aroona

    10 years ago

    I just came across your site, just loved it, reading it was delicious! I am going to Penang , Langkawi and KL as well as Singapore on the 3rd January for 2 weeks. Any restaurants you recommend in these places?

  • Andy

    10 years ago

    Just wanted to say thanks for this recommendation and the info. I’d never have found it otherwise. I took the trail you described and after a 5 minute walk from the station I was settling down to a feast of ikan bakar and squid. One of the sauces took me by surprise – spicy but fabulous. Really worth the effort.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Andy, awesome, glad you found this place and loved it. It’s still one of my all-time favorites. Thanks for sharing!

  • tacayunus

    11 years ago

    hi mark…!!

    tho is my fvaourite place of ikan bakar too.. i used to frequent this place when i was studying in kl with my boyfriend… even the environment can get quite hot and sometimes unbearable *sigh* but i just love the food!

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey, great to hear you love this place too!

  • zaid

    11 years ago

    I’ve been watching your videos and love your facial expressions when you taste the food! Glad you loved KL, and I can’t wait to go home! Ikan bakar is defintely the best man..

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Thanks a lot Zaid, ikan bakar is one of the greatest foods on earth. Hope you can go back home soon and thank you for watching my videos!

  • sully86

    11 years ago

    mark: Your the bakar man mark!!! so enthusiatic about it. LoL

  • Colleen

    11 years ago

    I think you just helped me decide my next destination. Can’t tear my eyes from those pictures of grilled seafood!

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Haha Colleen, great to hear that, you’ll love the seafood!

  • Arianwen

    11 years ago

    Looks delicious. I wonder if I went there. It was years ago I was in KL, but I know I had a lot of great meals…

  • Mike@EarthDrifter

    11 years ago

    As I was scrolling down along the first photo, before I got to the text at the bottom, something along the lines of: ‘Is this the most beautiful sight in cuisine… ever?’ was rolling around in my mind. ‘Billowing smoke’ can indeed be a gorgeous sight. The stingray looks phenomenal.

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Haha, yes Mike, it certainly ranks as one of my favorites… and I like to think that every meal, at the present time, is the best meal of my life!

  • Jam @icoSnap

    11 years ago

    I love seafood especially fish with rice! I can’t wait to go to Malaysia 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Thanks Jam, glad you like fish and rice too!

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica

    11 years ago

    These photos are great! I would definitely do a food pilgrimage for this 🙂