Food and nature: two things Malaysia is known for, and the two things we crave the most whenever we’re out of country!
What if we could have the best of both worlds? Dining out doesn’t always have to be plain and simple — why not take it up a notch with scenic natural backdrops, refreshing our senses, and tingling our taste buds?
We’ve put together some of the out-of-the-ordinary, out-in-nature dining experiences you can find throughout our beautiful Malaysia. From fancy to fairly affordable, you’d never guess you could indulge in a meal in these unlikely places.
Dine in a river in Ampang: BBQ Lamb KL Kemensah
Not into mainstream dining? Perhaps dining in an actual stream will give you a rush! BBQ Lamb KL Kemensah sets their dining tables right in the middle of a gushing river, so you can soak your feet in the water while feasting on a spread of barbecued meats and seafood.
The set meals add a sophisticated touch to their casual and chilled vibes. Flavourful and juicy, their Meat Set serves Western-style grilled beef, chicken, duck, and lamb with different sauces and sides. If you feel like splurging, go for the lobster and enjoy the tender crustacean served whole with melted cheese.
Address: Jalan Taman Zooview, Kampung Kemensah, 68000 Ampang, Selangor
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm
Dine amid the paddy fields of Sekinchan: Ninja Private Kitchen
Sekinchan’s paddy fields are magical enough during the golden hours and golden harvest, but did you know that you can have an omakase private dining experience here? Ninja Private Kitchen is a by-reservation-only gastronomic experience set against a panoramic paddy field. Perfect for social distancing and gorgeous photography (especially since it was founded by a world-renowned photographer)!
Here, the town’s signature fresh seafood and rice are transformed into elevated Teochew-style cuisines. In true omakase fashion, the menu isn’t set, as it depends on the catch of the day. Some of the dishes you may get are the Teochew stuffed squid, salted shrimp, cold crab, and saito (Wolf Herring) fish balls.
Address: 186, Jalan Sungai Labu, Taman Seri Sekinchan, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor.
Opening hours: Advanced booking required.
Dine in a treehouse in Johor: Rainforest Treehouse Café
Imagine being whisked away into the wilderness, sipping on coffee in a treehouse. That’s the unique café experience that Rainforest Treehouse Café offers its guests at Kulai, Johor. Within the premise, there are tatami-style and high stool seating to bring out its rustic beauty while welcoming in the lush rainforest views.
We recommend trying their homemade bread, which is freshly baked in an earth oven and goes wonderfully with a cup of hand-poured coffee. There are also breakfast mains and plates of pasta, as well as sweet delights like Basque Burnt Cheese Cake, Matcha Cream Cheese Cake, and Madeleines.
Address: 25, Jalan Air Terjun, Kg Sri Gunung Pulai, 81000 Kulai, Johor
Opening hours: Thursday and Friday, 9am to 3:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 4:30pm. Advanced booking required.
Dine by the sea in Terengganu: Tanjong Jara Resort
What’s more romantic than having a majestic sea view all to yourself and your beau? Tanjong Jara Resort has several private dining experiences promising an unforgettable meal set against the stunning South China Sea. Dine on the rocks, on a gazebo by the sandy beach, in a lush jungle, or under the stars – you’ll be starry-eyed by the end of the five-course meal.
Their menu puts a luxurious twist on Asian and Western flavours, with some taking inspiration from traditional cooking methods. While the resort can set up the table anytime during the day, the best time to make full use of this experience is during sunset.
Address: Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun, 23000 Kuala Dungun, Terengganu
Opening hours: Advanced booking required.
Dine at the rice fields of Langkawi: Kerisik Restaurant, Laman Padi
The next time you’re in the Rice Bowl of Malaysia, save your stomach for this Bali-esque culinary experience in Langkawi. Exuding a laidback kampung ambience, Kerisik Restaurant embraces the ‘Balai’ concept, whereby guests can enjoy their meals in a little balai (thatched hut) at the heart of a lush paddy field.
Their authentic Malay cuisine is served on a generous sharing platter, consisting of rice with meats, vegetables, sides, and spicy sauces. Try the Nasi Set Sunda for their aromatic spiced coconut rice with Ayam Penyet and Daging Salai Berlada. Whether you’re here for the nostalgia or novelty, a meal here will complete your trip to Langkawi!
Address: Muzium Laman Padi, Kampung Lubok Buaya, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah
Opening hours: 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 8pm.
Dine at a tea plantation: Cameron Highlands Resort
Having a picnic amidst the emerald tea plantations of Cameron Highlands will turn your Alice in Wonderland tea party fantasies into a reality. You won’t have to worry about our Malaysian heat when you’re up in the highlands too!
The Signature Picnic Experience by Cameron Highlands Resort starts off with a private factory tour and a tea tasting session at the BOH Tea Centre. Then comes the fun part – a spellbinding and intimate picnic spread with a panoramic view of the plantation, along with a selection of sandwiches, cakes, salads, cheese, strawberries, and fresh juice. Did we mention that you also get your very own butler?
Address: Cameron Highlands, Pahang, 39000 Tanah Rata.
Opening Hours: Advanced booking required. Only available for guests of Cameron Highlands Resort.
Dine inside a cave in Ipoh: Jeff’s Cellar, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
Ever wanted to sip on fine wine in a cave? Hidden in the 260-million-year-old limestone hills of Ipoh is a geological wonder by the name of Jeff’s Cellar, which offers a one-of-a-kind fine-dining experience commended by the likes of CNN and Lonely Planet.
Illuminated by candlelight and serenaded by Italian arias, guests get to pick from two luxurious degustation menus of gourmet delights with flavourful twists to local ingredients. Don’t forget to check out the extensive wines – it’s not named one of the world’s most magnificent bars for nothing!
Address: 1, Persiaran Lagoon, Sunway 3, 31150 Ipoh, Perak
Opening hours: 6pm to 11pm. Advanced booking required
Dine on a pond in the forests of Hulu Langat: Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant
This is your sign if you’re a big fan of fresh seafood. Veg Fish Farm serves you authentic Thai cuisine and mouth-watering seafood dishes in the lush forests of Hulu Langat. Moreover, the vegetables used in dishes are cultivated on their pesticide-free farm, so you get an authentic farm-to-table experience.
Produce from their farm is also sold in-store so that you can bring fresh vegetables home. Plus, the crops here are reputedly watered with mountain spring water, adding natural minerals and nourishment to the vegetables. To top off the experience, since the restaurant circles around a pond, food is delivered to your table by speedboats to save time!
Address: KM4, Jalan Hulu Langat, 68000 Ampang, Selangor
Opening hours: Daily, 11am to 11:30pm
Dine in a traditional palace in Bentong: The Lemuni
This hidden gem in the forest is surrounded by cool air, has spectacular landscape views, and serves authentic Malay dishes. You’ll need to make reservations in advance because it is just that popular to dine here! But there’s much more to it than the scenic views here — the buildings you feast in are replicas of historical Terengganu palaces from the 1800s.
These palaces used to be homes for the wife and daughters of the Sultan of Terengganu. The replicas were constructed in Terengganu before they were installed at Janda Baik, their new home. Imagine the bliss of savouring a traditional Malay meal, in a house of stilts and high-peaked roofs, while filling your lungs with cool, fresh air.
Address: Lot 9756, Kg Chemperoh, Kampung Janda Baik, 28750 Bentong, Pahang
Opening hours: Friday to Sunday, 8am to 5pm; Advanced booking is required.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 05 November 2021 and has been updated to include more locations.