An ode to street food in Kuala Lumpur

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Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur
March 16th 2014
Published: March 23rd 2014
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After an hour long taxi ride from the airport, we arrived at our Kuala Lumpur hotel (Ancasa Express) just after midnight. Our arrival was surreal (to say the least). The taxi driver didn’t know where the hotel was, so he’d called ahead and asked for directions from the reception staff. We turned into a bus station and then started ascending a dark multi–storey car park. As we climbed the extremely narrow floors, angry taxi drivers were yelling at our taxi driver to get off their patch. Ren and I were convinced we would eventually arrive at a dead end on top of the car park, which meant descending through the gauntlet of angry taxi drivers. However, we finally snaked our way onto the fourth level and our hotel entrance was right in front of us. It was a weird feeling to be staying on top of a bus station and multi–storey car park, but the view was brilliant and the location was ideal (just outside Chinatown). We checked in and headed out for some water, but the long day had well and truly caught up with us, so we crashed soon after. We had been travelling for 21 hours.

We woke the next morning and grabbed a quick and mediocre hotel breakfast (juice, cornflakes, roti, curry and coffee) before heading out to pick up a few last minute travel items. It was literally pouring – the first rain in KL for a month – and I could hardly keep my grip on the slippery pavement. The rain didn’t look like easing, so our options were limited. We decided there was only one thing to do – jump on the Hop on Hop off bus (the locals call it the HOHO bus) and get an idea of the city while staying relatively dry. We could hardly see anything, as the cloud cover was thick and the rain torrential, but we managed to get our bearings.

We made our way to Madam Kwans (Petronas Towers) at midday to catch up with a friend for lunch. On his recommendation we ordered fried pork dumplings and nasi lemak (chicken curry, coconut rice, dried anchovies, spicy sambal, boiled egg, peanuts and side dishes), which were both fantastic. I’d been looking forward to trying teh tarik (pulled sweet milky tea), and it was fantastic. This was to become our drink of choice in Malaysia, and it was particularly welcome with this meal, as we were drenched and shivering in the sub–zero air–conditioning of the twin towers. The place was very popular – there was a queue forming outside as we finished and made our way to Haagen Dazs for desert (banana split for Ren and espresso for me).

We jumped on the HOHO bus and made our way back to Chinatown. We wandered the wet and narrow streets until we found two small temples – Sri Mahamariamman and Kwong Siew – wedged between buildings and almost hidden from view in this bustling streetscape. Once inside, they served as a sanctuary from the exciting commotion of KL, and I welcomed the stillness until I was dressed down in Tamil by an angry man who took umbrage to the fact that I was carrying our shoes. We initially left them outside, but I discovered the temple had two entrances (the second of which was closer to our hotel), so I decided to go back and get them to avoid retracing our steps. Bad decision!

Having recovered from the embarrassment of being a clueless tourist in a foreign land, we decided to make our way back to the hotel. A young tourist couple witnessed the whole event, and they felt our embarrassment. We kept running into them as we navigated the narrow streets on our way back to the hotel. They’d smile and laugh uncomfortably, as if to say: “I’m glad that happened to you and not us.” The rain had finally stopped, and we were beginning to feel comfortable in this lively city.

We got back to the hotel, freshened up and headed out to dinner at a local hawker market. It was a short walk from the hotel, and we opted for Restoran Meng Kee Grill Fish, one of many tiny stalls in narrow, crowded street filled with the smoke and aroma of freshly grilled food. We sat outside at a round plastic table and shared a smorgasbord of grilled sambal stingray, dry chilli fried frog, fried butter plant, stir fried cuttlefish, satay beef and grilled chicken. I had a Tiger beer to take the edge off the heat, and Ren had a coconut juice. We finished the meal with durian fruit. It’s the first time I’ve tried it, and I think its bad reputation is a little unjustified. It basically tasted like caramelised onion, but the tasted lingered for a very long time. The rain poured down during the meal, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. The meal was fantastic (bar the cuttlefish, which was overcooked).

We wandered back to the hotel and retired early. We had a long day ahead, and we were still trying to adjust to the three hours we lost between Australia and Malaysia.

We got up early, grabbed another quick and mediocre hotel breakfast (juice, cornflakes, toast and coffee) and headed out into the morning heat. We caught a train to Bangsar and wandered through the suburban backstreets of Brickfields. Ren was offered a flower bracelet in a small side street just before we entered the bustle of Brickfields main streets. We started our Indian food tour at Tarani Food Corner, a small, non–descript outdoor street cafe with plastic tables and chairs and a makeshift tarpaulin roof. How appearances can be deceiving! We began with plain and egg–filled roti canai (flat flaky Indian bread) on thali plates with curry sauce and dhal. Amazing! We were then served teh tarik halia in glass mugs, which is similar to teh tarik but with the addition of ginger. I thought the spice was cardamom, so I was surprised to hear it was ginger. After a long walk in the heat of the morning, it was the perfect tonic, and it was the highlight of the meal. Idlis (steamed fermented rice flour cakes) was next with coconut mint chutney (yum), and then thosai (thin crispy fermented rice flour pancakes), which we dipped into bowls of dahl. We finished the meal with banana roti. This was a truly memorable breakfast!

We then sampled a tiny street stall of colourful Indian snacks (for want of a better word). The chilli ginger, which I think was pickled, was a standout. The affable vendor informed me – with hand gestures – that it was a good tonic for constipation. He was reading the bible when we arrived, and he had to finish the passage he was reading before serving us. With our plastic bags full of snacks and a very loud but friendly “Jesus loves you” farewell from the vendor (along with some free Christian paraphernalia), we walked passed Vivekanada Ashrama offering free meditation courses, before arriving at a Sri Lankan / Tamil street stall making fresh deep fried snacks that were incredible (and damn stodgy). This is not food for the health conscious, but it was fantastic. Banana fritters, curry puffs, onion baji (onion fried in a tempura style batter), hard masala vadais and soft ulundu vadais (lentil fritters). Man this was good, and the family running the stall were so incredibly friendly.

We then soldiered on to Restoran Sentral Chappati House, a tiny street front cafe where we snacked on sweet sticky gulab jamun (milk dumplings in sweet syrup) – just in case we hadn’t had enough stodge already! We ate standing on the pavement, and the taste was sweet and fantastic. We then wandered through a small Confucian temple before making our way to a tiny cafe for one of the highlights of the day – cendol. It was midday, the sun was intense and we were seeking shade wherever we could find it. I would normally have opted for a cold beer, but suddenly I had a bowl of coconut milk, shaved ice, palm sugar and pandan noodles in front of me. It may sound simple, but words can’t describe how refreshing this was.

Feeling completely re–energised, we made our way to the Masjid Jamek Bandaraya mosque, but we arrived an hour early. We decide to change plans, as it was too hot to linger. We opted instead for KL City Gallery. It’s hard to walk around a city and not run into something totally kitsch, and we had it here by the bucketful. The miniature replica of KL that “came to life” in a data projector–driven light show tipped me over the edge – I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but it was fun in its own quirky way.

We then made our way to Little India in Masjid Jamek. We settled outside at Kafe An Nasuha Beverages, a small street front eatery with plastic tables and chairs, and the food began arriving instantaneously. Chicken biryani (rice cooked with spices and chicken), lamb curry, chicken curry, beef curry, pappadums, fried chicken, bitter gourd chips – the tastes were incredible. We also had lime iced tea to rehydrate and recover from the heat. This was amazing street food, and the chicken curry with biryani was possibly the dish of the day for me.

We then walked to Menara KL Tower. We had to seek shelter along the way from a rain deluge that had been threatening all afternoon, but the cool(ish) change was welcome. We headed up the tower and enjoyed the 360 degree views of KL, then jumped in a taxi back to our hotel. I recovered in our room with a cold Tiger beer, caught up on my travel notes and reflected on our Indian food tour of KL. We travel to experience different cultures (especially the food of different cultures), and this was a memorable travel and food experience.

While it was hard to imagine the prospect of dinner after such a food–focused day, it was a prospect we managed. We headed out for dinner at 7pm. On our way we stopped at a tiny street stall selling everything imaginable on skewers, which they literally threw into a boiling broth and then served on a plastic plate. I don’t think my giblet stayed in the broth long enough, as it was extremely chewy…

We kept walking into Chinatown and ended up at Restoran Big Mouth, which was located in a narrow lane right next door to the small Kwong Siew temple we had visited the day before. We’d planned to sit outside, but the appearance of a large rat scurrying around the pavement changed the seating arrangements. We headed inside and ordered (bat kut teh) (pork meat in pork broth), pork knuckle in vinegar, claypot tilapia (fish claypot) and choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage). We were given small bowls of chopped garlic, chilli and soy which we added to each dish. The food was fantastic. The pork broth was very refreshing, and the tofu skin on top was sensational. The fish claypot was amazing, and the choy sum was a perfect accompaniment. I wasn’t a big fan of the pork knuckle, but the vinegar sauce it was cooked in was thick and tasty.

At the end of the meal, we wandered back through Chinatown and picked up a thick pancake type dessert filled with nuts, and another pancake with a distinctly caramel flavour. As we approached our hotel we ran into Ae, a guide that had taken us through southern Thailand a few years before. She was taking a group from Singapore to Bangkok, and just happened to be on the streets of KL at the same time as us. She was an incredible guide, and it was good to see her. We eventually arrived back at the hotel at 9.30pm. It had been a long and fantastic day of food and cultural experiences in KL. This is why we travel.

Ah – Asia! Where walking out of the airport (even late at night) is like stepping into the spotlight of your personal giant hair dryer. We arrived at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport (KLIA) at 9pm at night. We had the smoothest of landings, and worked our way through the airport with ease. It really felt like we’d spent the day on internal flights in Australia considering how easy the transfers, customs, immigration and baggage handling all were. We had intended to catch the KLIA Express train to town, but realised that two train tickets to the central station in the city would cost only marginally less than a taxi direct to our hotel. The decision was made, and we lined up to get a voucher for the airport–approved taxis.

More commonly called ‘KL’, Kuala Lumpur is a mix of unplanned 21st century urban jungle and repository of old–school religious traditions and cultures. Apparently this city exists mainly due to the tin deposits found by Chinese prospectors in the 17th century, and then further developed and flourished from a Malaria–ridden swamp, despite (and probably because of) the power struggles between the local Malay Sultans, Chinese Kapitans and British rulers. Kuala Lumpur apparently means ‘muddy confluence’ of two rivers.

The last time we were in KL we stayed out of the city centre, so this time we were looking forward to staying in the thick of things. (If you are interested, our last blog on Malaysia is Melting Malaysia).

As we walked out of the airport to catch our airport taxi, we could see and smell smoke. We’d received a warning from the Australian High Commission about the smoky conditions a few days before we left home. There had been a few bush fires flare up along the highways after a long hot month with no rain. Thankfully there had been a rain shower just before we landed, and the smoke started to clear as we approached the city. We had a very good taxi driver who was also very happy to chat about KL and his life as a taxi driver here.

Our hotel – Ancasa Express Hotel in Chinatown – was a bit hard to find. It was on top of the Pudu Sentral Bus Station, which had to be accessed through a car park. When we got to the hotel entrance we were pleasantly surprised at how inviting and comfortable it looked. Our room was small but clean, and more than adequate for two days here. Plus it had an impressive view of Menara KL Tower. We sorted our luggage and went for a quick walk to the 7–11 to stock up on water. Of course I also spent the mandatory 30 minutes looking at all the weird and wonderful drink, chip and lolly flavours I want to try – like the ‘bbq curry dude!’ Twisties...although I might stay away from the ‘Kickapoo’ juice brand. 😊

We were walking zombies by this stage, having been up for 21 hours – it was 3am Australian time and midnight Malaysian time. We crashed heavily, even with the street noise seeping in through the window. However, with our bodies still on Australian time, we were wide awake at we wrote notes and organised ourselves for the next few days in KL. We realised that we hadn’t packed toothpaste, so we did a quick run to the tiny local corner store; shopping in a new country is always fun!

We hadn’t booked breakfast with our room, but they offered it to us, so we checked out the breakfast buffet. Although most of it was predictably bland, the roti canai and curry sauce was delicious. Roti canai is a flat, flaky bread cooked to order in front of us on a hot griddle. It’s a perfect breakfast dipped in dhal and light curry sauce. Walking down any busy street, we would be met with the sight of roti dough being kneaded at street stalls. We have been feasting on roti for breakfast almost every day!

We had a full free day before our trip with Intrepid Travel started. During our two day stay here, our mission was to check out the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Chinatown, Little India and the area called Golden Triangle. Our aim as always was to explore, get really lost, and then find our way back to the hotel again.

Like most of its Asian cousins, KL is typically built–up, busy and bustling with action. And like many of its cousins, it seems to be in a constant envelope of construction dust and associated mayhem. I’m starting to realise that ‘rapidly developing city’ is code for ‘one massive building site’. There are very few tourist attractions in mainstream terms, so KL is probably most popular for its food and shopping.

Regardless of how long we’ve been travelling, we always seem to make the classic mistake of doing too much on the first day. When we are energised with excitement, it’s hard not to jump right in and get amongst it. However, we’ve now learnt to try and force ourselves to take the first day slowly and allow ourselves the luxury of acclimatising to weather and time differences, as well as getting our bearings. We had planned on walking to Little India and then on to Merdaka Square, and in the process do a bit of sightseeing. However there was a torrential downpour right after breakfast which put paid to our plans. So we went with Plan B and decided to walk down to Jalan Sultan and buy tickets for that most touristy of things – the Hop on–Hop off bus! The bus gave us a very quick idea of the layout of the area, and based on what we saw, we made mental notes as to what we’d come back to ‘Hop–off’ at. We also used the Hop on–Hop off stop at the KLCC Park to meet our lunch date – Shane Dallas, also known as Travel Camel.

We met Shane at the box office of the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, on the ground floor of Tower 2 of the Petronas Twin Towers. Shane had made a lunch reservation at Madam Kwan’s in the Suria Mall. The food of Malaysia is a centuries–old blend of delicious foreign influences, and a combination of these cuisines has created an identity that’s unique. Like in many Asian countries, the ideal savoury dish is a delicate balance of sour, sweet, salty and hot. Shane recommended the nasi lemak, and it was every bit as awesomely delicious as promised. Nasi lemak is the unofficial official traditional breakfast dish of Malaysia. A Malay dish of pandan flavoured rice cooked in coconut milk, served with spicy sambal, fried peanuts, ikan bilis(deep fried dried sardines or anchovies), cucumber and a boiled egg. For lunch and dinner it often comes with a side serve of chicken or beef curry and pickled vegetables. We had ours with an extremely delicious chicken curry.

We also tried teh tarik for the first time – and it was incredibly refreshing. Teh tarik is a strong black tea that is mixed with condensed–milk and frothed and cooled by ‘pulling’ – i.e. being poured theatrically between two metal cups, which are held metres apart. We then made our way downstairs to Haagen Dazs for dessert. Andrew had an espresso, and I had a very delicious banana split with macadamia, chocolate and tiramisu flavours.

The Hop–on Hop off bus ticket is valid for 24 hours, so later that afternoon we decided to finish the loop we had started earlier, which also brought us back to Chinatown. We made note that we wanted to return to and further explore the Central Markets, Masjid Negara (also called the National Mosque), Merdaka Square and the Menara KL Tower at a later point. When we got off at the Chinatown stop, we navigated our way into Jalan Tun HS Lee and stopped by the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. This is the oldest Hindu Temple in Malaysia, and is full of colourful deities – it is also heavy with incense and the perfume of flowers. It was whisper quiet apart from a few devotees camped in one corner of the entrance, eating and drinking and looking very much like they were staying the whole day. The whole complex had a feeling of significant spirituality about it.

On our way back to the hotel we stumbled upon the tiny Kwong Siew Temple, which by contrast felt full of hustle and bustle with people lighting incense sticks, praying at the altars or getting their fortunes told at a small table near the main altar. It really made me want to sit for a while and absorb the atmosphere and colour of the temple.

That evening we gathered for the Real Food Adventure Malaysia Intrepid Travel trip’s first group meeting. Aldrin is the group leader and we also met Kris (US), Brian (US), Susan (Aus) and Alice (Aus) who we will be travelling with for the next ten days. It was immediately apparent that Alice and Brian were very laid back and shared a similar sense of humour to us, so it was predicted that some laughs were going to be had. This was the inaugural Intrepid Travel food trip in Malaysia, and in a way we were going to be guinea pigs for Intrepid, but it was also very exciting. 😊

We headed to Jalan Alor for dinner at a hawker stall. The walk between Chinatown (where our hotel is) and the Golden Triangle area was surprisingly quick. We sat down at Restoran Meng Kee Grill Fish and shared many dishes from a few different stalls. The standout dishes were the grilled stingray with chilli sambal, frog legs fried in dry chilli, stir fried butter plant (I think it’s a relative of bok choy) and grilled chicken. We also tried cuttlefish with kangkung (water spinach/morning glory), but it was hard and rubbery and not to anyone’s taste. The term sambal is generic for any concoction of chilli paste/sauce that can be added at the cooking stage or sits on the table as a condiment. Sambal belacan (chilli sauce with shrimp paste) is the most popular, and it’s addictively spicy. I also love the sambals that have a good lime hit in them.

Aldrin decided that our dessert would be some durian that he claimed was the smaller musang king variety and thus sweeter than normal durian. We all tried it but there were no converts. I spent the next few minutes picking at leftovers from the table and sucking on the remnants of my coconut juice to try and get rid of that cheesy–onion taste from my mouth. However, I have to admit the smell didn’t repulse me as much as it normally does. We walked back to Chinatown and I was in bed by 11pm – it had been a long day.

On our second day we woke at 3am again but convinced ourselves to go back to sleep until 5am. We had a light breakfast of cornflakes and tea, as we had been warned we would be eating a lot during our food walking tour with Urban Adventures. We caught the LRT train from Pasar Seni to Bangsar and met Charles, our guide for the day. KL is not known as a walking friendly city, so we braved the concrete overpasses, the crisscrossed construction barriers, the narrow and sometimes non–existent pavements and walked our little hearts out. It was an overcast morning which was great for walking, but not for photography.

Charles took us through hidden backstreets and narrow alleys of KL’s suburbs to check out the local food off the touristy paths. To me this felt like the real heart of Kuala Lumpur.

We first explored the Indian influenced neighbourhood of Brickfields, where the architecture, music and food is all colour and noise. We walked through the residential housing estates with pockets of large old kampung (traditional village) style houses dotting the neighbourhood. They represent owners who haven’t sold out to corporate apartment–building companies that would love to get their hands on such prime real estate.

We then walked through an arcade of flower stands making garlands for the local Hindu temples. They made the four girls in our group little bracelets of jasmine, which was a cute touch. We crossed into the commercial area of Brickfields and walked past stores full of Indian music and DVDs, traditional clothing and grocery shops full of very Asian veggies like okra, bitter gourd, drumsticks and snake beans.

We made our first food stop at a little covered street stall area called Tarani Food Corner for breakfast. We sampled delicious roti canai with dhal and curry sauces, idli with coconut and mint chutney served on a banana leaf, thosai (thin crispy fermented rice flour pancakes) with a light lentil sauce, and finished with banana roti. All of it was utterly delicious. However, the most memorable taste for me was the teh tarik halia (pulled hot sweet tea with ginger). The humble plain teh tarik is lifted to another level with the addition of fresh ginger juice.

We then stopped at a street vendor selling all sorts of goodies in massive jars. They were not lollies as I had first thought, but full of persevered fruit, dried fruit, sweet and savoury nuts and other wonderfully exotic munchies. We tasted many things and then got to pick a little take away pack of anything we desired. Most of the group went for the pickled sweet ginger strips that were coloured bright red and were very spicy. Some went for sugared mace strips, while Andrew picked the spiciest of the murukus (crispy fried rice flour shapes with fried peas).

Along the way we stopped at a little Sri Lankan Tamil stall that sold all manner of deep fried and steamed snacks. We sampled curry puffs, onion bajis, banana fritters, and two types of vadais (lentil fritters) – small hard crispy masala vadai, and soft savoury doughnut–like ulundu vadai. Then straight off the steamer we had a brown sweet made from ragi flour, a taste I remember from my childhood. The really lovely woman on the steamer table had come over from Jaffna (in Northern Sri Lanka) six months ago and was missing home very much. However, working in a street stall in KL was still a better option for her than living in Jaffna.

We walked a bit further into Jalan Thambipillai which Charles explained had been the red light district of KL, and probably still is. Incidentally, it was also an area famous for blind massages. Here I got to indulge in those sweetest of sweet Indian desserts gulab jamun (deep fried balls of dough soaked in sticky syrup) at a North Indian stall. We detoured down a small side street to visit the very tiny Tokong Sam Kow Tong Temple which was also a Confucian Association House. A few committee members were present and were very welcoming of us.

We then doubled back to the main road to stop for a famous sweet snack from a street cart – cendol (a drink/snack of shaved ice, fresh coconut milk, smoky palm sugar syrup and short green pandan noodles). A related dessert is ais kacang – but this is made with evaporate milk instead of coconut milk, and it has the addition of rose water, red beans, sweet corn and coconut milk jelly or grass jelly. But I think cendol is used as a common term for most shaved ice desserts. The cendol was deliciously cold and refreshing.

After this we walked back to KL Sentral and caught the LRT to Masjid Jamek. At the point where the Sungai Klang river meets Sungai Gombak (the confluence for which Kuala Lumpur is named after), a small mosque – Masjid Jamek sits at the mouth of the two rivers. Unfortunately, our timing didn’t work out and we arrived at prayer time so had to content ourselves with a view from outside. We decided to walk back to the Indian shopping area and have a cold, freshly pressed sugar cane juice to console ourselves! By now the sun had come out from behind the clouds and it was fiercely hot.

We then walked to Merdeka Square. Merdeka Square commemorates Malaysian Independence in 1957. While the square itself it not that pretty (apart from claiming to contain the world’s tallest flagpole (I’m serious!), it is surrounded by beautiful architecture. Malaysian colonial buildings are a mix of British, Moorish and Indian influences. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building with its eye catching copper domes and stripy brick work was designed by one of the more prominent British Architects – AC Norman – who also designed the tiny and unassuming St Mary’s Cathedral across the square.

While we hadn’t intentionally set out to do so, we had visited the places of worship of the four main religious groups in Malaysia in our first two days here. To be in a city where the Muslim call to prayer, Cathedral bells ringing the start of a Mass, Hindu festivals and Buddhist ceremonies all take place side by side is something quite symbolic.

The KL City Gallery on the other end of the square was a good stop off point for some much needed AC cool down and to check out the weird but strangely cool scale model of the city upstairs. The model (quite unexpectedly) had its own light show and soundtrack, and I think I liked it more because I was in slight shock rather than because it was actually good. The gift shop was one of the kitschiest I’ve ever seen.

When planning this trip and looking at a map of KL, I got a bit confused as to whether Brickfields or the Masjid Jamek areas were Little India. They both have large Indian populations and many shops that showcase Indian culture, although Brickfields seems to contain more Hindu temples, while Masjid Jamek is home to the Masjid Little India Mosque, the main mosque for the Indian Muslim population in KL.

I absolutely love having so much delicious Indian food at my fingertips. The Indian food is a mixture of strictly vegetarian Hindu food and mamak food (Muslim food with meat). The main Indian language in both areas seems to be Tamil, as I recognised a few words. Even though Charles was of Tamil heritage, he hadn’t grown up with the language at home and had to learn it to run these trips through these areas.

We stopped at the row of Indian mamak stalls by the Gombak River. We ordered chicken biryani, grilled chicken, lamb curry (my favourite dish of the meal), beef curry, deep fried bitter gourd chips and a chicken sauce to ‘flood’ the rice. It was a fantastic meal, but considering we were all already full before the meal, we were absolutely full to the brim after the meal! I don’t know if we would be able to find this row of stalls again, but I hope we can, as we really want to go back for more lamb curry and grilled chicken with chicken curry sauce to ‘flood’ our rice. 😊

I was beyond thrilled to be able to taste dishes that were very closely related to Sri Lankan dishes and ingredients that I haven’t had in years, and it is of much better quality than we get in Australia.

We had one more stop on our walking tour, and that was to the Menara KL Tower we could see from our hotel room window. We were supposed to walk through Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve – the dense old world forest sanctuary at the base of the tower. Unfortunately, the walk was closed as they were building a new bridge. Or maybe it was fortunate, as by now the heavens had opened and we were walking in a heavy rain downpour, and running past sections of the roads with big puddles so as not get splashed by the passing busses. We sheltered in the Bukit Nanas Park office for a while and then walked to the base of the tower to catch the shuttle bus to the entrance of the tower at the top of the hill. Charles bought tickets to the viewing deck in the bulb of the tower. The view was rainy but still quite fabulous. We could even see our hotel room window through the binoculars.

It had been a fabulous day of eating and walking, and we said a slightly sad farewell to Charles who had been a very interesting, engaging and hilarious guide for eight hours. As we piled into taxis for the ride back to the hotel, we couldn’t believe that Aldrin was making plans to meet up for dinner in Chinatown! But not ones to miss out on anything, we agreed and met at 7pm to walk down to a little lane off Jalan Tun HS Lee for some Chinese dishes at Restoran Big Mouth. We had just picked a table in the small lane when Kris spotted a rat that she said was bigger than the restaurant’s cat, so we had to move inside for dinner. We had bak kut teh, literally meaning ‘meat, bones and tea’. This delicious, chunky soup is a combination of pork meat, bones and offal boiled for hours with a selection of spices. We ate it with steamed rice and Chinese tea. Oh my god, it was fantastic. It was exactly the soothing meal we needed after a day of non–stop eating. We also ordered stir fried choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), fish in claypot, and pork knuckle in a vinegar sauce. Apart from the pork knuckle, it was all so very delicious.

As we waddled back to the hotel via the night market on Jalan Petaling, I willed myself to stay awake. We were out like a light at 10:30pm.

What a most excellent day! It was also the perfect way to celebrate our eighth anniversary. 😄

Next we travel to the state of Melaka to visit Melaka City!


23rd March 2014

Who needs sights?
Wow, with food like that, who needs to go sightseeing? I was sitting at my desk at work just salivating over some of your food pictures and descriptions. This sounds like a heck of a start to the trip!
24th March 2014

Re: Who needs sights?
Food and sightseeing all rolled into one! I think we've found our favourite way to get to know a city quickly :)
23rd March 2014

Kickapoo Juice?????
You guys are making me hungry....and I've just had breakfast and coffee! Sounds like you're having a fab time, I am once again insanely jealous of you both. Enjoy, and please please please Ren have a Kickapoo Juice for me ;o). (p.s. thank you for the lovely pressie for Mr B) xxx
24th March 2014

Re: Kickapoo Juice?????
Thanks Tegs! Andrew tried the Kickapoo juice...sadly it wasn't as interesting as the name implied. Hope Bailey liked the pressie xx
23rd March 2014

Ho Ho
Hey guys you have done it again! Malaysia is not on our top ten countries at present, however, after reading your blog, it just might get on there. As usual you have taken some stunning pictures to go with the interesting read. The food and the Ho Ho bus have won me over! Keep writing!
24th March 2014

Re: Ho Ho
Rom I think you would love the food and the Ho Ho bus! I'm remembering a lot of food tastes from SL in the food here... especially the sweets. xx
23rd March 2014

seriously, I don't know how you could move after all that... but it sounds amazing. we are off to Singapore next week and are also planning to hunt down some authentic Asian meals. (we have one child who will get stuck into almost any food up to her elbows, and another who will be equally happy with plain steamed rice at every meal... so that mostly works) enjoy the rest of your trip!
24th March 2014

Re: yum
Anita I can hardly move after most meals here! Enjoy your time in Singapore, the hawker centres may be the best bet with the kiddies. Looking forward to seeing your photos :)
23rd March 2014
sri mahamariamman temple

Happy Anniversay, Champion Eaters!
"Sour, sweet, salty and hot" with sides of spirituality and kitsch--a perfect start to your holiday! I'm completely impressed with your abilities to consume copious quantities of yummy, though sometimes bizarre, foods--clearly you two were made for each other! Have fun grazing through Malaysia--cheers!
24th March 2014
sri mahamariamman temple

Re: Happy Anniversay, Champion Eaters!
Thanks Tara! We are really enjoying the Malaysian culture of loving all things related to food and drink. I may have to go on a salad diet when we get home :)
24th March 2014
nasi lemak

Fond Memories
Great to finally meet you both - and over a delicious meal of Nasi Lemak no less! You certainly did have a busy time during your visit to KL. Look forward to hearing more about your food experiences when we next meet.
24th March 2014
nasi lemak

Re: Fond Memories
KL did get all kinds of crazy, and was much busier than we had planned for... on the plus side we know parts of it very well for having only spent a short time there. It was lovely to meet you!
24th March 2014

Foodies have been let loose on KL
Just like on the food network where they try to eat all the food in any given city in one day. Maybe you are secretly doing an audition for the show? My my the descriptions of the food are amazing and the photos speak for themselves. It is hard to fall in love with a durian no matter how hard you try. I'm glad Charles took you off the main path to experience back door foods. I would be moving fast if I'd seen that rat. No need to waste your time taking photos of buildings. LOL. Happy anniversary!
24th March 2014

Re: Foodies have been let loose on KL
Thanks Merry Jo. We certainly hit the ground running in the food department! Most of us were actually ok to stay out in the lane, but apparently it was a BIG rat... :)
24th March 2014

food glorious food
Sounds like the perfect day! What a great idea, going on a full day walking food tour of the city. Might have to look Charles up when we are in town. And to spend your anniversary o/s as well.... very nice. Loving the foodie photos.
24th March 2014

Re: food glorious food
Thanks Vince and Suz! We highly recommend Charles...he really brought the Brickfields area to life for us. And remember not to eat breakfast before the tour :)
24th March 2014

Pavlov's dog
24th March 2014

Re: Pavlov's dog
We have the same reaction to every food cart we walk past! :)
24th March 2014

The Malaysian food is did you manage to eat so much, have you been starving yourselves in the run up to your hols?! Seems like you are off to a great start, looking forward to the rest of your blogs x
24th March 2014

Re: Food!
Thanks Donna and Neil! I really don't know how we are consuming this amount of food either... I think it will have to stop soon or I will have to buy an extra seat on the plane home!

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