Patriotism runs high among Malaysians, especially where food is concerned. After all, the nation’s undisputed reputation as one of the most renowned food havens in the region is well documented, affirmed through illustrious restaurants that are in some instances even older than 66-year-old independent Malaysia herself.

In commemoration of both Independence Day (August 31st) and Malaysia Day (September 16th), take a moment out of your schedule to delve into the country’s rich culinary heritage and discover how the tethers spun across the dining table through decades continue to transcend time and bring us closer to one another.

From nasi kandar to plates of Hainanese chicken chop, here are our picks for restaurants that have been around for longer than post-independence Malaya. Each entry has been listed in chronological order, based on the most recent to the oldest.

10 restaurants older than independent Malaysia 

1. Noodle Descendants, since 1957 (66 years) 

Starting things off on our list is Noodle Descendants, which was founded in the exact same year that Malaysia gained independence from her Colonial masters: 1957. A stalwart of the Kuching food scene, the secret of their enduring success is all in the name, that being noodles.

The deceptively simple dish comprises al-dente noodles doused in black vinegar and shallot oil, accompanied by a hearty bowl of pork offal soup that cradles a delectably addictive umami sweetness. While it was first established from a small stall, they have since moved into a brick-and-mortar shop along Jalan Padungan.

Address: No. 188, Jln Padungan, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak
Operating hours: 8AM – 1PM (opens daily)

2. Sek Yuen Restaurant, since 1948 (75 years) 

This heritage name needs no introduction for those living in Kuala Lumpur. Sek Yuen Restaurant is much beloved among locals for being one of the remaining bastions of truly authentic home-cooked Cantonese cuisine, preserving a veritable treasure trove of recipes for posterity’s sake.

Housed in an art deco building that has since been declared a local heritage site, the restaurant continues to be manned by family members of the original founding brothers. Their signature dish is often credited to the Pei Pa Duck (butterflied roast duck), which is cooked to a brittle crisp and served with a piquant plum sauce.

Address: 313, Jln Pudu, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Operating hours: 11AM – 2.30PM, 5PM – 9.30PM (closed on Mondays)
Contact: +6 03-9222 9457

3. Tho Yuen Restaurant, since 1935 (88 years) 

While similar in name to Sek Yuen, this entry on our list predates the Kuala Lumpur fixture by 13 years. Located in Penang, Tho Yuen Restaurant similarly takes pride in being a veritable archive of Cantonese favourites that has miraculously survived unscathed through the decades.

The restaurant is especially popular among locals during the morning for its servings of dim sum, but late risers won’t have to worry about losing out as Tho Yuen is also known for its chicken rice served with lusciously succulent cuts of steamed chicken.

Address: 92 Campbell Street Georgetown, 10100 Penang, Pulau Pinang
Operating hours: 6AM – 3PM (closed on Tuesdays)
Contact: +6 04-261 4672

4. Yut Kee Restaurant, since 1928 (95 years) 

While familiar to many Malaysians as a cornerstone of locally interpreted Western fare, the chicken chop is in fact a local creation that can be traced back to Hainanese chefs working under British employ in Malaya, who adapted the dish to suit their tastebuds. And in Kuala Lumpur, no place is quite as renowned for its Hainanese chicken chop as Yut Kee Restaurant.

Having moved into a new shop in the Chow Kit area that is a stone’s throw from their old location, its bright vermillion facade is an easy identifier for those attempting to track it down. Beyond chicken, this entry for one of the oldest restaurants in Malaysia also serves a trifecta of pork dishes, including Roti Babi (Pork Bread), pork chops, and a roast pork special.

Address: 92 Campbell Street Georgetown, 10100 Penang, Pulau Pinang
Operating hours: 6AM – 3PM (closed on Tuesdays)
Contact: +6 04-261 4672

5. Lor San Restaurant, since 1925 (98 years)

Found further up north in the Peninsular in the quiet town of Alor Setar, Lor San Restaurant is easily the oldest eatery there by a considerable margin. But while pastoral life may take on a slower pace in general, you’ll want to act fast on making your way to their premises if you’re keen on sampling their bowls of herbal duck leg noodles in person!

As the name implies, broth served in each bowl carries a distinctively herbaceous body that is further accentuated by wholesome warmth from the addition of ginger, easily mellowing the gaminess of duck meat into savoury sweetness. But beyond noodles, their yong tau foo (beancurd stuffed with fish paste) is another major crowd draw that sells out just as quickly.

Address: 38, Persiaran Sultan Abdul Hamid, Taman Pesisiran Tanjung Chali, 05050 Alor Setar, Kedah
Operating hours: 7AM – 1.30PM (closed on Fridays)
Contact: +6 019-543 3433

6. Coliseum Cafe, since 1921 (102 years)

Steakhouses in Kuala Lumpur are a dime and a dozen, but steakhouses that have been around for over 100 years are a truly rarified breed. In fact, where the latter is concerned, only one name comes to mind — the Coliseum Cafe, which first opened its doors to customers in 1921 along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

A notable spot that was once frequented by the likes of Colonial military ranks and other members of gentry from the time, the original shop it occupied has sadly been vacated. With that said, the business continues to flourish with outlets in Jaya 33 as well as in Midvalley MegaMall, serving up consistently drool-inducing plates of sizzling ribeye and striploin as they have for over a century.

Outlets: Jaya33, Midvalley MegaMall, IOI City Mall Putrajaya

7. Hameediyah Restaurant, since 1907 (116 years)

Nasi kandar connoisseurs need no further convincing as to the near-mythical status that the original Hameediyah Restaurant occupies in Penang. Akin to a tourist attraction in its own right, both local and international travellers often make dining here an indispensable part of their itinerary.

And it’s no wonder why when one considers the perfectly spiced curries offered here, which gain an even fuller flavour when combined with a bed of piping hot, fluffy rice. Apparently, its very first outpost was founded under the shade of a tree along Lebuh Campbell many moons prior, easily making it one of the oldest restaurants still operating in Malaysia.

Address: 164 A, Lebuh Campbell, street, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Operating hours: 10AM – 10PM (opens daily)
Contact: +6 04-261 1095

8. Kek Seng Coffee Shop, since 1906 (117 years) 

As one of the most notable port cities to exist in the region back in the day, it’s no surprise why Penang continues to play host to many heritage businesses that have lasted through the decades, evidenced by the ones we have listed thus far. But where seniority is concerned, very few come as close as Kek Seng on Penang Road.

Occupying the same location for over a century (albeit with a refresh for modern-day comforts), the establishment draws in a massive crowd for its assam laksa and durian ais kacang. Where the former is concerned, expect a soupy broth that dances with sprightly acridity on the tongue. And if the heat proves too overbearing, a sip of cool, creamy richness from the ais kacang will do the trick.

Address: 382 & 384, Jln Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Operating hours: 9AM – 5PM (Tuesday to Saturday), 9AM – 5.30PM (Sunday), 11AM – 3PM (Monday)
Contact: +6 016-412 1300

9. FMS Bar and Restaurant, since 1906 (117 years) 

As is the case with Colisuem Cafe in Kuala Lumpur, the FMS Bar and Restaurant is considered to be yet another piece of the country’s Colonial heritage. Named after the Federated Malay States (hence ‘FMS’), this early incarnation of the modern-day gastrobar was conceived out of a demand for Western-styled dishes in the fledging town during the turn of the last century.

While it had shuttered its doors back in 2008 before falling into a state of disrepair, architect Seow Wee Liam has taken it upon himself to revive the restaurant under the new name of ‘Durbar at FMS’. With that said, much of the restaurant’s original charm remains largely intact, down to the use of teak furniture. Where food is concerned, try out the Classic Chicken Mornay and Scotch Eggs for a British Raj feast.

Address: 2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
Operating hours: 11AM – 10PM (closed on Wednesdays)
Contact: +6 017-797 7115

10. Yuit Cheong Coffee Shop, since 1896 (127 years) 

And at long last, we arrive at the oldest name on this list that still remains in business. Established in 1892, Yuit Cheong in Kota Kinabalu may very well be the oldest restaurant in Sabah, if not the entirety of Malaysia. First founded in Pulau Gaya, the owners eventually made the move over to the budding town of Jesselton, which eventually blossomed into modern-day Kota Kinabalu.

Staples that have made Yuit Cheong a household name continue to be served at each table, which includes strong cups of local coffee, coconut-infused roti kahwin, and sticks of fragrant satay fresh off an open-fire grill.

Address: 50, Jalan Pantai, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Operating hours: 6AM – 5PM (Monday to Wednesday), 6.30AM – 5PM (Thursday), 6AM – 2PM (Fridays), 7AM – 5PM (Saturdays). 7.30AM – 5PM (Sundays)
Contact: +6 088-252 744

Feature and hero image credit: Sek Yuen Restaurant/Instagram, Durbar at FMS/Instagram

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur

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10 Restaurants That Have Been Around Longer Than Malaysia
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