Breakfast in Kuala Lumpur

Breakfast in KL

This is the tenth blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogposts in this series:

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.

Bon appetite!!

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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.

10. Nasi lemak – Congratulations, you deserve a free trip to Malaysia courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism.

Nasi lemak for breakfast

Packet nasi lemak RM1.20 or A$0.38 cents per packet

Packet nasi lemak RM1.20 or A$0.38 cents per packet

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.

P1330080

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!

Packet nasi lemak with sotong sambal RM2.40 or A$0.75 cents per packet

Packet nasi lemak with sotong sambal RM2.40 or A$0.75 cents per packet

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

Jalan Imbi market food stalls

Jalan Imbi market food stalls

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 

KL style char kway teow with cockles RM4 or A$1.25

KL style char kway teow with cockles RM4 or A$1.25

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

KL style wantan mee with shredded chicken and mushrooms RM4 or A$1.25

KL style wantan mee with shredded chicken and mushrooms RM4 or A$1.25

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 

Pork congee topped with deep-fried crispy pork intestines RM5 or A$1.55

Pork congee topped with deep-fried crispy pork intestines RM5 or A$1.55

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 with mushrooms and deep-fried anchovies RM5 or A$1.55

Pan meen with mushrooms and deep-fried anchovies RM5 or A$1.55

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 

Curry laksa with chicken and cockles RM4 or A$1.25

Curry laksa with chicken and cockles RM4 or A$1.25

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 RM0.50 cents or A$0.15 cents per piece

Chee cheong fun or rice noodles with fish cakes RM0.50 cents or A$0.15 cents per piece

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

Capsicums and broccoli

Capsicums and broccoli

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.

Clockwise from top left: Old cucumbers, turnip, carrots and tomatoes

Clockwise from top left: Old cucumbers, turnip, carrots and tomatoes

Cutting jackfruit

Cutting jackfruit

Fresh chickens

Fresh chickens

Eggs galore ~ where do you find free range eggs in Malaysia?

Eggs galore ~ where do you find free range eggs in Malaysia?

Ready to go - whole chickens

Ready to go - whole chickens

Street vendor selling floor mats off the back of a van

Street vendor selling floor mats off the back of a van

Hot and cold beverages for sale off the back of a truck

Hot and cold beverages for sale off the back of a truck

Catching up on the news

Catching up on the news

Singing for a living

Singing for a living

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.

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18 Responses to Breakfast in Kuala Lumpur

  1. milkteaxx says:

    i was in malaysia early 2012 and my favourite was ipoh for its bean sprout chicken and its hor fun. so good! i loved kl for its amazing street food and shopping too!

  2. Amy Tong says:

    Looking at all these pictures make me want to fly over to KL right the way! I checked out your Singapore posts and love those Hainanese Chicken Rice….drooling, actually. I wish I can find good Hainanese Chicken Rice here in the States!

  3. Raymund says:

    You are killing me, I miss Malaysian food. That was my home for 3 years, long time ago. And the first thing I think of if its a weekend is go to a wet market and buy fresh produce but on a working day nasi lemak and teh tarik comes into mind first

  4. Norma Chang says:

    Your posts make me wish I was in Malaysia, hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to visit and eat all those delicious foods.

  5. msihua says:

    Dude you are making me so homesick right now!

  6. I want to eat Nasi Lemak which I haven’t had a chance to eat. It’s been my dream, to eat really good one for the first time… Asian breakfast (not really in Japan though) is so cheap and delicious. I love going to little stores/restaurants in Taiwan for breakfast. So cheap that making my own breakfast seems a little silly there. It’s so hard to adjust going back to the States every time… “Do I have to make breakfast?!!?” I was spoiled. Fun seeing your pictures!

  7. We just returned from Malaysia and I can definitely relate to everything you’ve said here. Also, the photos is not doing any good to me, sitting and drooling all over!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I would really like to try deep fried anchovies. Koreans use them for everything but I’ve yet to try them deep fried.

  9. Hotly Spiced says:

    Beef bacon? Never heard of it. And I have never had that kind of a breakfast. I love the look of the laksa xx

  10. Cubie says:

    How I miss those packets of nasi lemak. *drool~

  11. Dear Chopinand, did you need a kaftan after all this food?

  12. I love eating breakfasts in Asia-especially noodles which always feels a bit indulgent but I’m still happy to have them! :)

  13. Oh my…..looking at all these pictures is making me homesick! One thing I miss is the sotong sambal! Can’t get them in Sydney! Lovely photos, thanks for posting! I always enjoy reading Malaysian food posts :)

  14. Love the chicken in a bag photo! Great post and makes me want to jump right on a plane and get me some nasi lemak and char kway teow — two of my favourites. Sounds like you’ve both been having an amazing trip!

  15. Would love to go to Malaysia one day! Looks like such a cultural enriching trip; can’t believe the food is that cheap!

  16. Kim tan says:

    Hi there the food pornographer told me about your blog and I’m in KL now holidaying
    Where to get the yummy nasi lemak u posted ?
    The one in banana leaf ?
    Looks too good to eat!!!
    I try the nasi lemak at old town coffee and also on air asia too! but its not that great I was told now hunting the yummy one!! We leave tomorrow for Penang so really want to try good hawker food before we go :)
    Thanks

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