November 6, 2013
Believe it or not, I was only in Kuala Lumpur for four days, one of which was spent with family outside KL and another stuck in traffic in KL. Did I mention how terrible the traffic is over there? We spent 1.5 hrs in what should have been a 15 min journey. Sigh.
After arriving in KL too early in the morning and starving, my parents and I headed across the road from our hotel to the Food Republic food court in the basement of the Pavilion mall for some breakfast. My parents are more adventurous than I am when it comes to breakfast.
My dad had an assam laksa which was a little too fishy but nice and spicy. This is a sour noodle dish in a sardine-y broth beloved of Malaysians, served with white wheat noodles similar to udon but thinner.
My mum had congee to prepare herself for a full eating schedule ahead.
I was a wimp and had toast with kaya, a coconut custard jam.
The place had just opened and it was pretty empty but there were still people eating noodles and proper meals to start the day.
But the biggest discovery for me on this trip was prawn mee, the ubiquitous prawn noodle soup. But it’s nothing like I’ve ever had before. This is my brother-in-law’s favourite noodle soup and one which reminded him of his school days in Malaysia when he was a kid. Can you imagine having this for lunch at school? SWOON.
The soup was thick and chock full of prawney goodness which can only come from boiling up whole prawns, shell, brains and all and cooking it with lots of spices and chillies.
I had this from the Pavilion’s food court (Food Republic) and at Madam Kwan’s at the Petronas Towers in Suria KLCC (in another department store), and both were outstanding.
At Madam Kwan’s we also had the nasi lemak which Malaysians like to eat for breakfast. Coconut rice with fried anchovies, curry and an egg are the usual ingredients.
And a fabulous satay.
We also had acar — a sweet, sour and hot pickle similar to the Indian achar and Sri Lankan acharu.
And bubur cha-cha for dessert — sweet potato, yam and sago cooked in warm sweetened coconut milk.
For dinner we had steamboat (hot pot) at Elegant Inn, a restaurant specialising in Hong Kong cuisine. Apparently it’s a little high-end but the food, although simple, was delicious. Vegetables, fish, meat and noodles to finish all bubbling away in a hot chicken broth.
The steamboat is simple but we mix our own sauce from the condiments provided in our individual bowls into which we dip each mouthful. My favourite was the crunchy fried garlic in the middle.
Of the ingredients, the minced pork balls and the dumplings (a bit like gyoza) were incredibly juicy and full of taste.
We also enjoyed having coffee at the Old Town White Coffee Company which refers to the way in which the local coffee beans are roasted rather than coffee with milk. This is a popular chain that you can find everywhere including the airport.
The waitress was surly but the local coffee was good and strong as was the silk stocking (xi mut) milk tea which my mother sampled. Apparently they pour the tea through a silk stocking to get a creamier taste. Hmmm, I’m not sure.
As was the ice kachang, shaved ice filled with colourful bits of red bean, grass jelly and cendol (green noodle-like bits made of rice flour) topped with a huge ball of vanilla ice cream.
Our ice kachang was flavoured with a mild palm sugar syrup which wasn’t too sweet.
It was too short a stay in such a fantastic place and we only just scratched the surface of all the wonderful Malaysian cuisine available. I didn’t have time to eat roti canai (flakey flat bread eaten with curry) or all the Malaysian sweets (kuehs) that were beckoning me. And they also had a huge array of Japanese food and restaurants including Beard Papa and other fancy dessert places. I can’t wait to go back!
One note of caution is the liberal use of peanut oil in almost everything including plain soup noodles and for frying things so for those of you with nut allergies, please be aware and remember to ask, ask, ask! This goes for other food allergies such as egg and seafood which don’t seem very prevalent. But everywhere we went, the service was exemplary and accommodating.
Basement, Pavilion KL
Jalan Bukit Bintang
4th Floor, Suria KLCC
Menara Hap Seng 19_07
Jalan P Ramlee
Hap Seng Credit Sdn. Bhd.
50540 Kuala Lumpur