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04

Aug
2014

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In Food
Malaysia

By kanannie

What Our Bellies Did in Kuala Lumpur

On 04, Aug 2014 | No Comments | In Food, Malaysia | By kanannie

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Dinner time on Jalan Alor!

After spending two weeks with a total of 3 dining options in Tanote Bay we, and our bellies, were very excited to get to Kuala Lumpur. KL is the federal capital of Malaysia and one of the more diverse cities we’ve visited in Southeast Asia. The three main ethnic groups are Malay, Chinese, and Indian which is only important to me becaue it means I can get deliciously diverse food. If you’re interested in the cultural, social, or political dynamics of these peoples living together go read another blog because I can only tell you about how these three cuisines intermingled in my belly.

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A typical food court with hawker stalls around the perimeter. Some of the best food comes from these stalls.

You’re probably familiar with Indian and Chinese food, but Malay food isn’t as common. At least not in the U.S. Malay food is like a marriage of Indian and Chinese cuisines, but I’d say it’s an unequal marriage because you can really see the Indian influence in the strong spices used in most dishes. If you didn’t know Malay food, you could easily mistake it for Indian. Popular Malay dishes include nasi lemak, satay, and nasi goreng. Just to name a few. Another popular cuisine in Malaysia is Nyonya food which came from the literal marriage between the early Chinese migrants and the local Malays parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. If you’re like me you’ll call it “Malaysian” food, but technically it’s a distinct cuisine with it’s own history and signature dishes. KL isn’t known for Nyonya food so if you want the best of this cuisine you will have to go to Penang or Melaka.

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Just in case your food isn’t spicy enough.

I love Indian food. I love it so much that if I couldn’t marry ice cream and cake I would marry Indian cuisine. Wait, who says I can’t marry ice cream and cake? I figured since same-sex marriage is legal food marrying should be too. Damn these religious zealots and their lies!

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Vegetarian thali lunch at Sangeetha in Little India which is not to be confused with “big India” at Brickfields.

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Is that a giant dosa on the table or are you just happy to see me? (Sangeetha)

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A fantastic “not spicy” but damn spicy rogan josh with freshly baked plain naan and garlic naan. (Betel Leaf)

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Eating on banana leaves like real Indians who eat on banana leaves.

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Roti with various side dishes. (Chapati House Restoran Santa)

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You know what they say: When in Malaysia, do like the Indians.

I’m less enthusiastic about Chinese food, but there are some great dishes in KL that you should try while you’re there. We were lucky enough to have a local introduce us to some of the best Chinese chow in KL.

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Sticky wings grilled over hot charcoal. A misleading blog said this place is only open until 4pm, but we went around 7pm and it was in full swing. (Wong Ah Wah)

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If chickens had four wings then we could have four times as many sticky wings! I’m a genius. (Wong Ah Wah)

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Malaysian Mickey wants you to eat chicken wings at Wong Ah Wah.

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Pearl noodles with minced beef and beef liver topped with a raw egg in a clay pot. This looks better than it tastes.

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All sorts of beef in a beef noodle soup. So much beefy goodness. (Lai Foong Beef Noodle)

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This cart may not look like much, but it serves up a mean bowl of beef noodle soup.

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Hokkien mee topped with a raw egg. Mix that shit up! (Lian Bee in Chinatown near Lai Foong Kopitiam)

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Don’t be put off by the entrance to this “restaurant” where you will find one of the best charcoal cooked Hokkien Mee in KL.

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Beef noodles with beef soup. The sliced beef is unbelievably tender and the beef balls are the tastiest I’ve had. (Shin Kee Beef Noodles Specialist. They’re so good they’ve called themselves specialists.”

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Jumbo deep-fried prawn from Fat Brother stall in Chinatown. It was supposed to be grilled, but lazy Fat Brother fried it. Skinny Sister still enjoyed it.

Of course, when you’re in Malaysia you have to try Malay and Nyonya cuisine. These cuisines aren’t as well-known as their other SEA cousins, but we’re familiar with it because we’re from NYC where you can get pretty much every kind of food. We only managed to have Malay and Nyonya food a few times and unless I’m totally ignorant, I found the food in KL to be very similar to the food that we’ve had in NYC. I don’t have a picture of the popular Malay dish, nasi lemak, because we ate it almost every morning for breakfast at the hotel and didn’t think to snap a photo. Der.

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Nasi kandar, a traditional Malaysian dish from Penang. This was good, but you should go to Penang if you want the real deal.

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Malay satay. Malay satay. Malay satay. Fun with captions!

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If I’m ever on death row, I would like Musang King to be part of my last meal. Along with cake, ice cream, custard, chocolate, pizza, cheeseburger, buffalo wings, cookies, other desserts, a few India dishes, uni, raw oysters, an assortment of seafood, and more cake and ice cream.

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Cendol from a stand in Brickfields where our lovely host took us.

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ABC also known as ais kacang from a food court in PJ. Thanks to our host for taking us here too!

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An insanely delicious durian dessert from Old China Cafe. It’s supposed to be a durian custard with cream, but it tasted like straight up durian and it was heaven in my mouf!

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Steamed fish head with ginger and garlic. They weren’t kidding about the ginger.

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Laksa, a traditional Nyonya dish, at Old China Cafe. Boo liked it here, but I wasn’t crazy about it.

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Beef rendang at Old China Cafe. This is a traditional Nyonya dish that I’m usually crazy about, but the beef at OCC was tough, thin and oddly rectangular shaped.

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Salt and pepper shrimp. A tad heavy-handed on the salt.

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The local crab in their special chili sauce. It was fine but I wouldn’t go out of my way to have it at this restaurant again. (Mei Keng Fatt)

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Steamed buns to dip in the chili sauce

Here’s the list of restaurants that we went tried in KL, but there are a ton of other places that we didn’t have time to visit, so we might have to come back.

Indian
Betel Leaf: Clean, proper restaurant, very tasty food, pricier than other places
Address: 77A Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Sangeetha: Clean, proper restaurant, good Thali lunch special
Address: 65 Lebuh Ampang | Merdeka Square Area, Kuala Lumpur
Restoran Santa Chapati House: Clean, cheap, fresh chapati and roti
Address: 11 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur

Chinese
Wong Ah Wah: Clean, delicious wings, salted egg squid is divine, good for sharing
Address: At the far end of Jalan Alor if you’re walking from the Bukit Bintang BTS station
Lai Foong Beef Noodle: hearty beef noodle soup with all manner of beef bits
Address: 138 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur (look for the stall with the Lai Foong name)
Lian Bee: Fantastic Hokkien Mee topped with raw egg
Address: On Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lok, opposite the Chinese style arch, about one block from Petaling Street
Shin Kee Beef Noodle Specialist: minced beef noodle with beef noodle soup set is excellent
Address: 9 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
Fat Brother: We didn’t like it much. Nothing special. Tourist trap.
Address: Stall on Petaling Street in Chinatown
Chinatown Seng Kee: Not recommended, salty and greasy food
Address: 52 Jalan Sultan, KL

Malay
Food court at Mid Valley Mall: Lots of choices, decent price, good if you’re in the area
ABC and Cendol Stand in Brickfields: Considered the best in KL, introduced by a local
Address: Beside 7-Eleven, Jln. Tun Sambanthan 4
Old China Cafe: Laksa was good, durian dessert was amazing, didn’t like the beef rendang, pricey
Address: 11 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Mei Keng Fatt: Not recommended, hard to get to, overpriced, poor staff
Address: 1, Lorong Awan 6, KL

Petaling Jaya and the Best Durian in the World
Scenes from Kuala Lumpur

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