While the neighbouring Singaporeans may not agree, the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (K.L.) is an incomparable, inspiring place and home to some of the finest food produce in the world where eating is the primary pastime.
WORDS BY NAVJOT SINGH.
JUST like elsewhere in Malaysia, food is taken very seriously in K.L. and defines the rich cultural ethnic mix of Indians, Chinese, and Malaysians that make up the bulk of the population.
The city’s dining possibilities are endless and suit every budget, from sizzling satay sold by the myriad of street hawkers to luxury five-course meals available at the finest high-end eateries. All in all the variety of food and drinks are exceedingly impressive with Chinese food deriving from Sichuan to Cantonese cuisine, and Indian food deriving from Punjabi to hot madras! Some people claim that the Malaysians only have food – not cuisine. They are hugely mistaken.
There are numerous irresistible Malay culinary offerings to try, which include both halal and non-halal options. The most happening places for foodies tend to be scattered around the sprawling and bustling downtown markets and streets that are dedicated to nothing but food, such as Jalan Sultan, Jalan Hang Lekir, Jalan Petaling and Jalan Alor. It feels as if you have entered a gastronomic funfair where even a week would not be enough to absorb in the tastes of Malaysia.
You can opt to have a Chinese for breakfast, Indian for lunch and a Malay dish for dinner, and keep rotating the round-robin experiences. Every neighbourhood has a night market at least once or twice a week where you can go and choose your favourite ingredients or ready-made dishes to suit your tastes.
To gain an insight into K.L.’s culinary scene, commence your gastronomic adventure with breakfast at the famed hawker-style Lai Foong Coffee shop – known locally as Kedai Kopi Lai Foong. Located on Tun Tun Cheng Lock Street in Chinatown, this eatery has been a popular venue with locals and tourists alike since 1956.
Choose one of their well appreciated coal-black and sweetened coffees accompanied with equally tempting creamy egg tarts and pastries. Equally, you may well decide to try a pair of soft-boiled eggs cracked in a bowl and a spoonful of kaya, a syrupy blend of whipped coconut, eggs and sugar.
Next head to Jalan Doraisamy, located in an area known as Little India, where you’ll be welcomed by the smell of incense sticks, colourful flowers and an abundance of aromatic spices and Indian dishes. It is strongly recommended as the place to go to for trying “roti canai”, a highly popular local Indian dish. This is street food paradise at its best.
To get a true flavour of one of the many lively night markets in K.L., head to Taman Paramount in the upmarket Pataling Jaya where a dazzling array of fresh seafood, exotic fruits and sweet smelling vegetables will greet you. Other notable night markets include Taman Connaught and the Chow Kit Market with its all-night must try nasi lemak stalls.
Located on the lower floor of the trademark Petronas Towers, Suria KLCC is one of the most popular food courts around where you can pamper yourself with hot favourites such as the “char kuey teow” fried noodles, and the “curry laksa” soup (pictured above).