This is the tenth blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogposts in this series:
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore
- Teh tarik, Rafee’s Corner, Singapore
- Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore
- The Scarlet, a boutique hotel, Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
- Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, Singapore
- Food Safari, Singapore
- Restoran Soo Kee, Kuala Lumpur
- Restoran Fei jay, Kuala Lumpur
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
Here’s a quick question for you readers and the answer may not be as straight-forward as you might think.
As a visitor on vacation in Malaysia, what is the first thing that you should think about when you wake up in the morning?
Here are some possible answers and my response to them:
1. Food - Well, that’s a good answer but it might be a bit too general.
2. Shopping – Good option to hunt for bargains but the shops don’t open till mid morning.
3. Brush my teeth – We all do that anyway, so that goes without saying.
4. Take a cold shower - Understandable because this place is so freaking humid.
5. Morning run around KLCC – Very commendable answer. Need to burn off those 50 sticks of chicken satays from dinner last night.
6. Climb the Petronas Twin Towers – Not bad but you need the breakfast of champions to accomplish that feat.
7. Breakfast cereal with fruit and yoghurt - I know you’re on that health diet but with so much good food around, you just need to give that diet a break.
8. Big brekky with bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns and a good coffee – If you can have this awesome breakfast back in Australia, why have it here? Besides, unless you want to cook you own bacon, most hotels don’t serve pork bacon coz this is a Muslim country, unless you enjoy chewy beef bacon.
9. Curry laksa (First image above) – Now you are beginning to speak like a local.
Nasi lemak for breakfast
Loosely regarded as a national dish as well as a national breakfast staple of Malaysia, nasi lemak is probably one of the most popular breakfast choices among the locals.
Nasi lemak at its very basic, is essentially coconut flavoured rice that is usually baptized with a lashing of sambal (made from chilli and belachan or shrimp paste), hard-boiled egg, deep-fried anchovies, peanuts and cucumber.
Just like any kind of food, there are many variations to nasi lemak because the basic version is really a convenient “blank canvass” if you will, to add all kinds curries that complement it so well. Beef rendang, chicken curry, sotong or squid sambal, cockles sambal are just a few popular top-ups for this iconic Malaysian staple.
The decision on whether you want all the add-ons to your nasi lemak is similar to whether you want toast, sausages, hash browns, sauteed mushrooms added to your bacon and eggs in the morning.
Left: Nasi lemak with a piece of egg omelette on top Right: Nasi lemak mixed with the sambal
This basic version of nasi lemak usually comes in pre-made packets that are sold at road-side food stalls all over Kuala Lumpur and these are the ones that I prefer for breakfast.
One packet will be a good start for breakfast but it could leave you wanting so I opt to have two packets today. Now, find me a hearty breakfast in Sydney that can taste this good for just A$0.70 cents!
On another morning, I try a nasi lemak with some added sotong sambal and I am truly in heaven.
Fragrant and steaming coconut rice paired with a spicy sotong sambal sure beats any old cornflakes or weetbix with milk, that’s for sure!
Breakfast at Jalan Imbi market, Kuala Lumpur
One of my favourite breakfast haunts whenever I am in Kuala Lumpur is to head to the Jalan Imbi market located right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur near the district of Bukit Bintang (literally meaning Star Hill in Bahasa).
The market opens as early 6am every morning. It is a wet market where local come to shop for fresh foods such as meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables.
However, in addition to being a fresh food market, cooked food stalls abound and you can get most of your local hawker favourites such as nasi lemak, char kway teow, chee cheong fun and a whole variety of local cakes and sweets.
KL style char kway teow
The aromas from the char kway teow stall are simply irresistible!
This is not Penang style char kway teow but rather KL style where it is slightly darker from the caramel black sauce.
My tip is to order a mix of kway teow and egg noodles for a bit of textural contrast. There is something about KL style CKT that I love and I think it is the smoky aroma that is slightly different from the Penang style.
It is a little gluggy in a delicious way because the egg and cockles just makes this whole dish come alive with its flavour and the crunchy beansprouts just tops it all off.
Today, I am having two plates of this CKT all to myself – no sharing with others!! The way I justify this double portion of CKT is because the portion sizes in Kuala Lumpur are merely half of those in Australia. Come to think of it, a third plate is not too far-fetched either.
KL style wantan mee with shredded chicken and mushrooms
Unlike Hong Kong wantan mee, KL style wantan mee comes with some soy sauce and stock to mix with the noodles.
Personally, this is how wantan mee should be eaten – unadulterated with tomato or chilli sauce that Singaporeans like to splash into the mix.
This KL style allows all the flavours of the stock to soak into the noodles and a side of tangy green pickled chillies is all that is needed to complete this taste sensation.
Pork congee topped with deep-fried crispy pork intestines
This bowl of pork congee topped with deep-fried crispy pork intestines is superb on a cooler day.
Small pieces of pork fillet, liver and kidney have been simmered until tender and the crunch of the crispy intestines is the essence of this hearty bowl of goodness.
Pan meen with mushrooms and deep-fried anchovies
Pan meen is hand shreaded rice noodles in soup with mushrooms, cloud ear fungus and topped with crispy deep-fried anchovies.
Not quite my favourite but this seems to be very popular among the women folk.
Curry laksa with chicken and cockles
I love curry laksa and the good ones in Kuala Lumpur are just sublime – you just need to know where to find them.
I usually prefer just egg noodles without the rice vermicelli and a good laksa means the soup has a fair bit of spice flavour from the chilli, curry powder and pepper.
This laksa is piquant, spicy, peppery, gritty and the combination of tofu puffs, beansprouts, chicken and cockles in a creamy, coconuty broth is truly a breakfast like no other.
I can easily down two bowls but I am holding back because there is so much good food around.
Chee cheong fun or rice noodles with fish cakes
Chee cheong fun or rice noodles with fish cakes is another popular breakfast staple among locals. It is normally eaten with yong tau foo or an assortment of braised tofu and vegetable items that is stuffed with fish paste.
Ladle some hoisin and chilli sauce onto the rice noodles and sprinkle some roasted sesame seeeds and you have another delicious breakfast item.
Jalan Imbi market
After breakfast, there is the option of wondering around the market where fresh meat, vegetables, fruits and a host of dry groceries are for sale.
So dear readers, what is your favourite food to eat for breakfast?
Imbi market (aka Pasar Besar Bukit Bintang)
Jalan Kampung (off Jalan Bukit Bintang)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 55100
Open everyday (except Mondays) from 6.00am – around noon.