Malaysia – Madam Kwan’s Restaurant – Malaysian cuisine

Restaurant: Madam Kwan’s Restaurant
Cuisine: Malaysian
Last visited: April 23, 2010
Location: A few locations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1.16.00, Level 1, Pavilion KL (In Pavilion Mall food court)
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03 2143 2297
Price Range: $10CAD or less – about RM 15/main ($5CAD/main)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Authentic Malaysian cuisine
  • Very popular for locals
  • Traditional and popular Malaysian food/dishes
  • Located inside Pavilion mall food court
  • Offers Hawker (street food) favourites
  • Some Chinese-Malaysian dishes
  • Lots of seating
  • Clean
  • Casual
  • Great for families
  • Busy during peak hours
  • Cheap eats, quick service
  • Menu in English, Chinese & Malay
  • Open during mall hours (throughout day)

**Recommendations: Malaysian Otak Otak, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Bojari, Curry Laksa, Assam Laksa, Ice Cendol (dessert)

I was packing light so don’t judge me for the black heels…I would have worn white ones.

Madam Kwan’s is a Malaysian restaurant located inside the food court of Kuala Lumpur’s biggest shopping mall The Pavilion. It specializes in local Malaysian favourites and traditional Malaysian food. My friend who is born and raised in Malaysia brought me here, so I can trust that it is a place that locals flock to. It’s packed with locals anytime of the day and is a nice casual place fit for everyone.

I know. It sounds so “un-foodie-ish” to go to a somewhat mainstream ‘chain-like’ restaurant for authentic Malaysian food. Being located in a nice shopping mall I did question it’s authenticity. Sure you can get similar dishes on the street for 1/4 of the price, but not everything is available on the streets.

Malaysian food has Chinese influence so there are some Chinese-Malay or Malaysian-Chinese dishes.

What you can expect at Madam Kwan’s is reliable, good traditional Malaysian dishes in a clean atmosphere. It may not be the best Malaysian food in Malaysia, but it’s a great place to start and sample good and popular Malaysian favourites in a clean and comfortable restaurant. It’s still super cheap from a North American perspective too.

On the table:

Grass Jelly Drink

  • Served cold. Probably about RM 5.90 – about $2CAD
  • It’s a popular Asian drink that’s very sweet and almost tastes like sugar cane tea. It’s quite aromatic, but strong in flavour.
  • I’m not a fan, but a lot of people love it.
  • Sometimes there’s little jellies at the bottom.

Teh Tarik – 3/6

  • Malaysian sweetened milk tea. Served hot. RM 5.50 – about $1.80CAD
  • This is “pulled tea” a traditional Malaysian tea that made by repeated pouring of the tea at an elevated height from container to container. It’s supposed to make it very frothy.
  • It’s sweetened with condensed milk and/or evaporated milk.
  • It was good here, but not as frothy. The best one I had was in Singapore.
  • This is something you can find better on the street.

Teh Tarik2.5/6

  • Malaysian sweetened milk tea. Served cold. RM 5.90 – about $2CAD
  • It’s better hot than cold. There’s more flavour when it’s hot.

**Malaysian Otak Otak – 6/6

  • A traditional Malaysian/Singaporean (debatable) fish mousse or fish cake. Probably RM 9 – about $3CAD
  • This is a traditional Malaysian appetizer or snack. Or it’s usually served with bread or white rice or along side a salad.
  • It was my first time trying it. I’ve never seen it served in restaurants in Vancouver, BC. I loved this!
  • It’s minced white fish, red curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, chili, lime and eggs made into a cake and steamed or grilled in a banana leaf.

  • This one was pan fried and then steamed I think. I prefer the grilled version I tried in Singapore (except that one wasn’t grilled at best). I didn’t see this on the streets of Malaysia either so I’m glad I tried it here.

  • This so so full of flavour! It’s very soft and very spongy. I thought it was very soft chicken meatballs or tofu at first.
  • It’s packed full of flavour and it’s so light and airy. Tangy, salty, and slightly spicy, it’s perfect!

  • It came with Rojack sauce which is almost like a Malaysian Hoisin sauce except it’s sour. I didn’t need it with anything because everything was so flavourful already.

**Nasi Bojari4/6

  • Madam’s tri-coloured rice with assam prawns, beef rendang and deep fried chicken drumstick RM 21.90 – about $7CAD
  • This is a very traditional Malaysian combination platter. It gives you a sample of everything so it’s perfect if you’re dining for one. It’s a nice introduction to popular Malaysian favourites.
  • I did wish they gave more beef rendang though – it was a Costco sized sample.

  • The chicken is actually really good! The skin was very crispy and the meat was very juicy and well marinated.
  • It has a light flour batter and it’s marinated in a garlic and cilantro paste with fish sauce. It’s very flavourful and not spicy.

  • I love beef rendang. Beef Rendang is shredded beef that is cooked in coconut milk and spices until all liquids are absorbed back into the meat. It’s almost a dry dried meat in the end.
  • The meat is packed with flavour, but I found it drier and not as flavourful as ones I’ve had before. For me, the best beef rendang is from Kedah House on South West Marine Drive in Vancouver, BC. It’s awesome there!

  • The prawn assam prawns came with 2 prawns and lots of onions as a filler. It was very sauce and tasted like chili tomato sauce. It was quite thick.
  • It’s spicy, but sweet from the caramelized onions and quite tangy from the tamarind sauce. They were good, but I think it could get better. It reminds me of sambal prawns.

Assam Laksa3/6

  • Lai fun served in aromatic tamarind broth with fish, cucumber and onions RM 13.50 – about $4.50CAD
  • I liked it and thought it was good, but it’s not for everyone.

  • The noodles are “lai fun” which is a chewy thicker round noodle that’s almost like Japanese Udon. They top the bowl with lime leaves and red onions.
  • It has a very strong and pungent fish flavour and the broth is quite sour from the tamarind. There’s some lemongrass in it to balance things out.

  • It made with a lot of boneless white fish flakes and bits, fish sauce and shrimp paste so the taste is predominantly fishy+sour.
  • There’s some chili in the broth so it’s also very spicy. It reminds me of hot and sour soup broth with lemongrass.

They served Assam Laksa with soy chili sauce and fresh kalamansi (type of lime). I found it sour enough and so I didn’t use it.

Rice Noodles with Chicken & Prawns3/6

  • Stir fried rice noodles with chicken, prawns, green beans and vegetables.
  • I quickly learned that authentic Malaysian food is extremely saucy.
  • This was one of their Chinese inspired Malaysian dishes. It reminded me of Chinese stir-fried rice noodles with chicken.

  • One thing different for sure is the fact that they used 2 kinds of noodles for the dish. They used the thick flat rice noodles and then these round thin egg noodles that is used in won ton noodle soup. It gave it an interesting texture so I didn’t mind.
  • The sauce was a thickened chicken broth and it was very creamy especially with the added egg whites.

Dried Fish Floss

  • I don’t remember what they called in on the menu, but it was a side dish I ordered.
  • It was called “fish fluff” or “fish floss”, but I wasn’t expecting this…I know what this is and I’ve tried it before so I was a bit caught off guard.
  • I love this stuff though. I can eat it plain. It’s like dried fish and the texture of course cotton. Nice and salty and great with rice or just plain.


All the desserts they offered are very traditional Malaysian dessert. You can find most on the streets for $1CAD, but they actually do a good job with them here. It’s cheap anyways so I just tried them here. I tried 2/3 dessert – I skipped the fried banana because those you can find on the street for $.20CAD.

**Ice Cendol – 2/6

  • Traditional Malaysian shaved ice dessert.
  • I recommend to try it here because they go all out on the toppings. I’m biased on the rating because I don’t really like Asian desserts. A lot of locals were ordering this though and a lot of people do love it – especially locals.
  • It reminds me of the Taiwanese shaved ice with some different toppings.

  • It’s a pile of shaved ice topped with Asian toppings (from a jar) like mung beans, grass jelly, sweet corn, raisins, red beans, grass jelly, cashews, hearts of palm, and of course cendol (the long green strands – it’s cooked dough made of pandan leaves and green pea flour).

  • It’s topped with really fake sugary syrups and condensed evaporated milk or coconut milk. It’s just way too sweet and preserved tasting for me.
  • The only part I liked was the hearts of palm a fruit from the stems of wild palm trees. It’s like a firm fruit jelly that’s mildly sweet, almost like rambutan. (The clear/white round bulb you see in the pic)

Coconut Sago or Tapioca – 3/6

  • Served with brown sugar syrup called “Gula Melaka” on the side. Probably RM $5 – about $1.60CAD
  • I liked this. You can get this in Vancouver and I like the one from Kirin.
  • This one was quite thick and sweet already so I didn’t need much of the brown sugar syrup. It’s a Malaysian thing to serve it with the syrup on the side.
  • The gula melaka syrup here tastes like sweet thick brown sugar molasses, but a good kind will taste slightly herb like and it’s made with palm sugar and the sap from a coconut tree.



  • you’re in my hometown! KL!!!
    Granted, I moved to Canada when I was 4, and have only visited MAlaysia 2x since then 🙂

    I love the roti canai and dahl from all the hawkers there. mmmm
    And the night market shopping.

  • Mijune says:

    Hi Tia! Really?!?! So cool!!! Oh then make sure you keep visiting because you’ll be drooling all day from other Malaysian food posts I have prepared… you’ll LOVE some of them! I know it!

  • KimHo says:

    OK, here goes the questions:

    1) Compared to Bo Laksa, which bowl of laksa would you order again?
    2) Have you been to Seri Malaysia?

    BTW, you look great regardless… 😉

  • Mijune says:

    1) Assam Laksa is completely different than the traditional Curry laksa we’re used too. In Malaysia and Singapore there are 20 different kinds of laksa. I prefer Curry Laksa over Assam Laksa though.

    2) No I haven’t! Shall I do a comparison!?

    and lol thank you!…it’s a bit embarrassing =p

  • TimeToChow says:

    Nice post! Looking forward to catching up on your travel postings. Love your candid honesty, and well thought facts and comments.
    I am sure u tried other places besides madam kwan. I think this location is near the twin towers.
    A Malaysian friend invited me to lunch here. Not a
    foodie friend. I was REALLY dissapointed. This is NOT a great representation of Malaysaian food. Some of the items are ok though. But you are right about the expensive price and the clean environment to eat in. So there is definitely a market for this restaurant. And again agree with ur thoughts of trying highbrow and low brow places dining places.
    The best Assam laksa would prob be in Penang. Ur right about the many versions of Laksa. Some are very regional and not available even in the capital, KL. And they hoisin-ish sauce is har gou(shrimp paste). Which they also use in the Chinese fruit rojak you tried. The beat rojak for me is the Indian-mamak rojak with shrimp fritter shredded cukes etc. Totally different version.
    Hard to find stalls that serve otak otak. I agree it is delicious. Not that easy to make well at home either. It is light custardy, creamy light….. Just yummy!
    Looking forward to reading ur postings. Pic of you is nice. Pic of food, not so much.

  • KimHo says:

    TTC, on, c’mon, give Mijune a break with her pictures. Some food bloggers don’t have/own an SLR!

  • Mijune says:

    TimeToChow – Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read! Nice to know that for “foodie” standards (from someone who is Malaysian like yourself) Madam Kwan’s did not meet an authentic Malaysian food palette… however for the majority I guess it does considering it really was packed with locals…? For me I thought it was fair and nothing tasted bad although I haven’t had home cooked Malaysian food before so I had nothing to compare to there.

    That Indian-mamak rojak with shrimp fritter sounds absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to try it one day!

    Yes my photos are not “SLR quality” but I do my best with a point and shoot that I love 🙂

    Thanks for posting TimeToChow and KimHo!

  • TimeToChow says:

    Oh! Kimho and mijune. Sorry I meant the picture of the food didn’t look good. Not the quality of the pics. The food looks palatable, not delicious. Sorry for the confusion.
    You were right in your post about what said regarding this restaurant. It is busy. But so is captus club, earls and milestones If u know what I mean.
    I really like ur postings. I find u really give a great overall perspective about what it would be like to dine in the restaurants in your reports.
    I feel Malaysia is one of the best food stall capital in the world. Unfortunately it requires a lot if driving and time to get to each location. I would just hope that u were lead to the very best food Malaysia has to offer. Since it is so far away….

    Re Bo’s Laksa. It is a very good laksa. SE Asian influenced instead of just Malaysian laksa. Has a stronger lemongrass taste not common in Malaysian laksa. Great curry broth. And definitely better than madams kwan Assam laksa. Bo, Burmese makes a really good beef rendang. Better than the the Kedah(marine dr) buffet rendang.
    Seri Malaysia does a more Malay-Malaysian home cooking.

  • Mijune says:

    TimeToChow – oh no worries about the picture/food confusion… it’s fine :)…I do know what you mean about it being busy but not necessarily being busy becuase of the food. Nice to hear from another local perspective as well.

    Thanks for all the Malaysian food recommendations! I can’t wait to try Bo Burmese now since I really like beef rendang. I should have asked you for some recommendations when I was going to Malaysia too!

  • EnbM says:

    ahem .. Señor KH tiene buen gusto 😉
    Penang laksa is an acquired taste, sourish, not oily with lot of fish and mint leaves.
    Dried fish floss is sold here in Vancouver. But I wonder why they serve that in a restaurant. It is often eaten between two slices of bread as snacks in between meals.
    That brown sugar with Tapioca/Sago is usually palm sugar aka ‘gula Melaka’ that comes in chunks or slabs. The darker the color, the better the quality.

  • Mijune says:

    EnbM – Thanks for commenting! Yes Penang laksa is acquired, but I didn’t mind the sour fishy taste.

    Yes, dried fish floss is sold at T&T here, but in Malaysia I think it tastes different. The beef jerky is definitely different than Chinese or Vietnamese beef jerky. It’s nice and spicy!

    Thanks for your helpful tips!

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