Coming from Sungai Petani, a northern state of Malaysia, where paddy fields are aplenty, living in Kuala Lumpur is, quite honestly, a totally different experience for me. This modern metropolis is as fast-paced and bustling as my hometown is laid-back and relaxing. Of the many things the city is famous for – Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves, Aquaria KLCC, to name a few – there are, perhaps, two things visitors usually come here for - food and shopping. When you put the two together – food and shopping for food, there can be no holiday more fitting or fun for foodies. So, come with me for a taste of Kuala Lumpur.
Sampling Malaysia on a Plate
Kuala Lumpur, being the capital of the country, is probably the best place to sample the wide selection of Malaysian cuisine. Of the many local dishes beloved in the country, my all-time favourite is nasi lemak (coconut milk-flavoured rice usually served with sweet sambal, crispy fried anchovies and nuts, eggs, cucumber and an assortment of meats). I always recommend that my residents try it at least once for breakfast. To me, nasi lemak represents the ultimate comfort food. It is versatile and can be eaten with so many different accompanying dishes, from fried fish to deep fried chicken, curries, and vegetables. It is a breakfast staple but can be savoured any time of the day. There is very little about it not to like. This being a famous street food, you can find nasi lemak at almost every street corner and food court.
For consistent quality, though, the version at Madam Kwan’s can always be counted on. The restaurant chain named after its founder serves Penang fare. There is one just a five-minute walk from my property. Their nasi lemak comes with curry chicken, a hard-boiled egg, spicy ikan bilis (dried anchovies), cucumber, achar (pickled vegetables) and dried shrimp floss – a mini buffet in itself.
While you are there, try another of my local favourite, assam laksa . This laksa from Penang consists of rice noodles in a spicy-sour tamarind and fish broth.
Another dish I love is rojak , a perfect street snack. Its name means “mixture” in Malay and it is indeed a mix of many things – fried dough fritter, tropical fruit, vegetables – tossed in a sticky, thick shrimp paste. I enjoy the riot of tastes - sweet, spicy, savoury and tangy.
For Malaysia’s most popular bread, roti cannai (a flat bread known also as roti prata ), Nasi Kandar Pelita at Jalan Ampang, a 10-minute drive from Ascott Kuala Lumpur, is my choice. The Indian-Muslim eatery has over 60 different dishes you can have with your roti cannai including curries, and rendang (spicy meat stew). Pile on the gravy, I say.
If you feel peckish at night, take comfort in the fact that Kuala Lumpur is a city that does not sleep. So your supper options are plentiful. Try the Saturday Night Market at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, about 20-minutes away. The street is a popular traditional shopping area and every Saturday, the roads are closed and turned into a street bazaar from five in the evening till 10 at night. I love the ayam percik there, a barbecued chicken slathered in a spicy chilli, garlic and ginger sauce mixed with coconut milk for a full-bodied taste.
Kuala Lumpur may not have durian farms but you can still have your fill of the King of Fruits. For under RM$25 (US$8), you can indulge in a durian buffet at Durian SS2 at Petaling Jaya just outside Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. You don’t get to pick your fruit. But if they give you a dud durian, you can always try again. That is the beauty of a buffet, apart from the fact that you can eat all you want.
For desserts, Nonya Colours, a chain that has outlets in Kuala Lumpur, has a mind-boggling array of nonya kuehs (cakes and puddings often flavoured with coconut milk) both sweet and savoury; and local desserts like red bean soup, green bean soup, black glutinous rice soup and bubur cha cha (sweet potatoes, yam and tapioca pearls in sweet coconut milk). If you want to enjoy them in the comfort of our own serviced apartment, they do deliveries, too.
Seeing the Food-related Sights
For food lovers, Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, a 15-minute drive from Ascott Kuala Lumpur, is a must-see. There is a tour, there is an endless supply of chocolates, there is very little more you can ask for. The chocolate showroom has shelves and shelves of different types of chocolates that are made on site – tiramisu, tongkat ali (a local flowering plant), durian, fruit fiesta, chilli, banana and more. You can learn about how the chocolates are made, view the chocolate-making equipment and have free samples of the chocolates.
Shopping for a Piece of Local Cuisine to Take Home
If after all this feasting, you want to take a little bit of Malaysian cuisine home with you, go to the Central Market, 20-minute drive from Ascott Kuala Lumpur. The traditional market housed in a two-storey historical building has stalls selling anything from handicraft to clothes, accessories, home décor items, souvenirs, and, very importantly, food. There are several stalls that specialise in Malaysian snacks from cookies, to pineapple tarts, banana chips, and prawn crackers. These will leave you with a taste of Kuala Lumpur for a long time to come and make great gifts, too.
Kuala Lumpur has enough to keep you eating round the clock. When you have satiated your appetite, come stay with me at Ascott Kuala Lumpur. Here, you can have a good rest at a serviced residence that is centrally located before you go on another food trail in the city.
Stay with us:Ascott Kuala Lumpur
Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur