I must have gained a couple of pounds from my recent brief sojourn to KL but I have no regrets. What I did regret was not being able to stop by Penang or Malacca or nearby Singapore which are veritable food haven in themselves. (The New York Times had a recent article on Malaysian food here.)
Because we were travellers on a budget, we didn’t get to taste all the five-star, tourist-y stuff but but we did savor the sights and flavors of KL”s street food as well as those in the restos and in the malls. A few highlights from our trip:
** Mamak stalls are the closest thing to an Indian carinderia. They are well-lit, almost full of bombays watching football on TV and open 24 hours. Hungry upon arriving in KL, we subsisted on roti canai in a mamak stall.This is an Indian pastry pancake served with mustard-colored dhall or curry. It takes a special skill to whip up a fine roti canai but in the stall, you can watch the cook make it in the open.
** KL’s Chinatown is in Petaling St. and you can find here Chinese eateries side-by-side with bazaars of designer rip-offs (I had fun haggling here. The trick is to move away when the vendors don’t accede to your price and they court you back). The resto where we ate in Petaling was a dud but am sure there are nice eats elsewhere. A common sight are those European/Caucasian tourists drinking beer al fresco.
** Upscale mall Suria KLCC in the basement of the Petronas Towers has two superb food courts. You just have to decide where. We waited four hours to be able to go up the Skybridge of the Petronas and in between I had a kopi tiam breakfast of chee cheong fun, lunch of beef rendang, and malling of course.
** It was such a blessing being in the middle of Bukit Bintang because the malls, bars and restos are just a few walks away. The place is also adjacent to Jalan Alor, a former red light district which is now famous for its rows of eateries representing the best of Malaysian cuisine.
Special thanks to my Malaysian friend, LK Chong of mobile88.com and his gracious wife May, for hosting us on our first night. If not for them, we will not be able to discover the superb food at Jalan Alor (it always pays to ask a local!) Our feast at the Shui Kee Restaurant consisted of hookien mee, baby clams or lala, barbecued sting ray, deep-fried chicken, kang kong sotong and the fruit rojak with prawn paste. I totally couldn’t forget this meal .. cheap and so delectable!
** Food in KL was cheap overall; prices in Manila feel like royalty already! I wanted to have a five-star buffet experience at the Genting Hotel but blew the money on the casino table instead. I ended up munching on Lenten fare of smoked salmon sandwich. What a way to end a super-filling trip. Next time, I want more…