Pak Din Ikan Bakar: RM12 charcoal-grilled fish with killer sweet-sour sauce, a hit with locals

If you grew up in Kuala Lumpur and had a penchant for ikan bakar, then you’ll surely be familiar with Pak Din Ikan Bakar. Founded in 1997, one can easily find the tantalising smell of grilled fish coming from the 25-year-old-restaurant located next to the scenic Perdana Botanical Gardens

It’s very easy to spot the stall— if you see 3 long charcoal-fueled grills at the storefront, you’re at the right place! It also helps that Pak Din Ikan Bakar is so popular that there’s always a lunch crowd teeming at this restaurant. 

Pak Din Ikan Bakar - ikan bakar
Pak Din Ikan Bakar - ikan bakar

What I tried at Pak Din Ikan Bakar

It was my first time here so I have to admit that the ordering system here is quite confusing. But I guess I wasn’t the first lost lamb as the staff took one look at my bewildered face and smiled knowingly. 

“First time? Head over to the little walkway first to get your rice and side dishes. You can then have your pick of grilled meat. Make yourself at home!” the server grinned. I chuckled, and suddenly felt right at home. 

Pak Din Ikan Bakar - sides
Pak Din Ikan Bakar - sides

And sure enough, at the end of the walkway is a stall featuring a selection of side dishes: fried eggs, fried chicken, tempeh, fried rice and gravy. I piled my plate high with steaming hot rice, gravy and eagerly stepped back outside (which is where the grilling is done).  

You’ll be spoiled for choice with the plethora of freshly-grilled options offered: squid, stingray, catfish, kembong and cencaru. Not big on seafood? No worries. The grilled chicken is one that’s not to be missed. 

Fueled by gluttony, I opted for the Grilled Chicken and Grilled Stingray. The staff plucked up the duo from the grill and placed it on a green platter before a healthy portion of their air asam sauce was slathered all over. 

Pak Din Ikan Bakar - food
Pak Din Ikan Bakar - food

The speciality of Pak Din Ikan Bakar isn’t only in the marinated grilled fish but also that it’s doused in their special sauce. It’s a deliciously thick, sweet, sour and spicy tamarind sauce teeming with onion bits and birds-eye chillies, otherwise known to customers as the ‘air asam’ sauce. Honestly you wouldn’t need gravy for your rice— I could just lap this sauce up with rice. 

Stall - ikan bakar
Stall - ikan bakar

Their Grilled Stingray (RM12) topped with their air asam sauce is one of their most popular dishes for a reason. The grilled stingray is marinated with just the right amount of turmeric, salt and pepper and is cooked to perfection, no doubt made tastier with charcoal fire. 

Stall - grilled fish
Stall - grilled fish

The charred parts of the stingray gave the meat this lovely smokiness. The meat was also unbelievably tender, with no existing fishy smell. The moist aromatic flesh when dipped into the sauce, developed a sweet-sour flavour with a slight hint of spice from the chillies. This dish is a must-try— put this down on your list!

Pak Din Ikan Bakar - rice
Pak Din Ikan Bakar - rice

Next was my personal favourite: the Grilled Chicken (RM12) topped with the air asam sauce. I was left at a loss for words when I bit into the chicken. Not just for its exceptional flavour, but also as a moist deliciousness that you can only get with charcoal grilling. 

If I close my eyes hard enough, I can still taste the crispy skin and the juicy meat. It probably has to be one of the best grilled chicken I’ve had in a while. And when eaten with the air asam sauce, it lends the chicken a refreshing palate— yes, you can be assured that I picked that chicken leg clean. If it wasn’t for the hefty price tag of RM12, I would have given this dish a solid 10. 

Final thoughts

Pak Din Ikan Bakar - fish
Pak Din Ikan Bakar - fish

Pak Din Ikan Bakar definitely dishes up some of the best ikan bakars in town. The combination of towering trees offer shade as you quietly relish the taste of freshly-grilled fish with steaming hot rice and air asam sauce— it really is hard to beat. 

Parking is also not an issue as there are plenty of lots right next door (and most importantly, it’s free of charge). However, I’d recommend you to come early as it’s not just locals who adore his grilled fish, but tourists have found out about this gem as well! Do take note that the price is slightly on the higher side, but can you really refuse the allure of good charcoal-grilled ikan bakar

Expected damage: RM15 – RM30 per pax

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