3 healthy spots for nutritious and wholesome food in KL

Explore a variety of different cuisines so you never get bored.

Jamboo KL serves customisable lei cha among other healthy meals (Photo: Jamboo KL)

While you do not need to wait for the new year to start eating healthy, the collective camaraderie derived from others making the same decision certainly boosts motivation. It goes without saying that a balanced diet is vital to maintaining a healthy body, but not everyone has the time to meal prep. So, allow these eateries to do the work for you and spend your extra hours being active.


Jamboo KL
If you are familiar with the queue that snakes around the block to Kafe Kleptokrat on Jalan Tun HS Lee in Kuala Lumpur, you would be relieved to know that Jamboo KL, directly across the street, is much less congested. This is, in part, owed to its newness, but the restaurant also seeks to serve a different crowd, specifically the health-conscious, in addition to the city cyclists (there are bicycle racks, air compressors and a water refill station) who make a pit stop in the area.

Jamboo specialises in lei cha, or thunder tea rice, a traditional Hakka dish comprising an assortment of vegetables and grinded tea soup. Despite it being an acquired taste — first-timers are often split into “love it” or “hate it” factions — lei cha is known for its wealth of health benefits (it is fabled that during a war in the period of the Three Kingdoms, the dish healed ill soldiers, helping them claim victory against their enemies later).


Jamboo KL is directly across the street from Kafe Kleptokrat (Photo: Emily Yap/The Edge)

The lei cha at Jamboo is customisable, and just for the fun of it, patrons are invited to pick their toppings off a wall of wooden tiles and add it to a bowl to order.  The Lei Cha (from RM18.90) was our obvious favourite. The jade-green paste, thinned out with their speciality tea, was balanced and incredibly fragrant. The dish’s comforting warmth revitalised our senses that rainy afternoon. It is the sort of nourishing meal that your body thanks you for and we thoroughly enjoyed the texture and crunch of the vegetables.

For those who are part of the “hate it” faction, worry not, as they also offer breakfast items, wholesome rice and smoothie bowls and snacks for sharing. A close contender to the lei cha was the Melakagu Bowl (RM24): brown rice topped with gula melaka-infused chicken, edamame, carrot, seaweed flakes and crispy potato with a yuzu aioli sauce. The Sarawak Laksa (RM26) was just ordinary and the consistency of the Frank’s Ocean (RM26) smoothie bowl was a tad runny, but all quite forgettable when compared with the overall dining experience and kind service.


Jamboo KL's assortment of healthy and hearty dishes (Photo: Emily Yap/The Edge Malaysia)

Our party was pleasantly surprised with the Crispy Cauli (RM16) and Otak Otak Fries (RM17) — the latter is made with a recipe of over 60 years from Muar — which were both served with sauces that warrant triple dipping. We took mental notes to reorder these and to try the Croissant with Leicha Butter when we stop by next time, perhaps by bike.

19G, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, KL. Mon-Frid, 9.30am-7.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8.30am-7.30pm. Closed on Tues.


Hinode Bento
The traditional Japanese diet is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world and such is reflected in the people’s average life expectancy, which is about 85 years old, and the high number of centenarians in the country. After all, the Japanese diet is well-balanced and largely unprocessed, favouring fish over red meat and incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables and minimal amounts of added sugars and fat.

Food is perceived as nourishment to the body and the respect and appreciation the Japanese have for produce and nature is evident in their cooking methods for washoku (Japanese cuisine), which strive to retain the integrity of the ingredients as much as possible and leverage natural flavours.


Hinode's revamped Bukit Jalil outlet (Photo: Hinode Bento)

The same approach is used at Hinode Bento, a food delivery service that is big on convenience. In the past, patrons could only order their rice boxes online, but late last year, Hinode revamped its Bukit Jalil outlet to accommodate a handful of diners. The same is being done to its two other venues in Petaling Jaya and Bukit Bintang, both bigger spaces to serve salarymen in PJ and KL.

Located within walking distance of the glamorous Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Hinode — which means “sunrise” — is a bright, pared-down space reminiscent of a kissaten, complete with cheery Japanese music playing in the background. It is a good place for people-watching, especially as footfall has been increasing thanks to the new mall.


Hinode's bestselling Gyu Yakiniku Don (Photo: Hinode Bento)

Bento options are aplenty, but we were encouraged to get the bestselling Gyu Yakiniku Don (RM25), which has grilled sliced beef, onions and the most perfect onsen egg. We also ordered the Hinode Chirashi Don (RM28), a mixed sushi bowl with saba, salmon, ebi, tamagoyaki, edamame and pickled vegetables. The sashimi was fresh and thick and the portions of both dishes hit the nail on the head.

Unlike many cost-saving restos, Hinode does not pack on the carbs and skimp on protein. In fact, it is quite the opposite. All the bento boxes are packaged in high-quality biodegradable poplar wood and can be reheated in the microwave for a few minutes, making them great grab-and-go lunches. And if it is a team lunch or friends gathering, bundles and party sets are available too.

F-5-1, Pusat Perdagangan Bandar, Persiaran Jalil 1, Bukit Jalil, KL. Daily, 11am-7pm. Closed on Mon. Order online here.


Sprout KL
Vegans will probably have Sprout KL on their go-to eat-out list, but for the uninitiated, this plant-based fusion restaurant in Bangsar Village may help you assimilate into the lifestyle a bit better. The eatery is hard to miss — its kitchen is disguised as a mint green food truck parked at a makeshift patio surrounded by faux plants with string lights overhead.

While there are plenty of lighter dishes on the menu, such as smoothie bowls and salads, one can also find heartier options in the likes of homemade pastas and whole wheat baguette sandwiches where meat alternatives are incorporated to ease the switch. Sprout’s selection of vegan quiches (RM15) is not to be missed. They come in wholes, not slices, making them sizeable for one but just right for two. We only stopped to think about how our spinach version was made three-quarters into the savoury pie and wondered what was used to substitute the eggs (tofu, if you must know).


Spot Sprout KL's food truck at Bangsar Village (Photo: Emily Yap/The Edge Malaysia)

We had high hopes for the Pasta Amatriciana (RM26) but was let down as the noodles were overcooked and the Choripan (RM25), a vegan take on chorizo, was not as flavourful as we thought it would be. But the Cocobanana Beach Smoothie Bowl (RM18) — a coconut and banana smoothie base topped with strawberries, blueberries, homemade granola and shredded coconut and drizzled with peanut butter — was divine while the Summer Rolls Royce (RM18) ordered by the people at the next table looked good too.

Lot F-13-A, Bangsar Village I, 1, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, KL. Daily, 10am-10pm.


This article first appeared on Jan 10, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


Follow us on Instagram