Food Safari, Kuala Lumpur

Food Safari KL

“I will commit heinous crime if these noodles became staple prison food”

~ Chopinand on Ah Kam’s home-style fried noodles

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This is the twelfth and final 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.

Bon appetite!!

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Singapore and Malaysia are fascinating destinations to visit during the Chinese New Year festivities. Our trip has been nothing short of spectacular because we manage to catch up with most of our family, relatives and friends to usher in the new year.

Mysaucepan and I are in Kuala Lumpur during this week leading up to the first day of the lunar new year and the city is abuzz with people doing their last-minute shopping.

Chinese New Year decorations at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

Chinese New Year decorations at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

Many shopping centres such as KLCC, Lot 10, Sungei Wang and Pavilion are decked out with elaborate decorations to attract shoppers and visitors to their premises.

KL is a good place to shop and if you are bothered to seek, you will definitely find some great bargains at the shops.

And when you are tired from shopping, there is awesome Malaysian food to contend with too.

As you can see, we have been slowly eating our way through and the second leg of our  Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013  in KL is no less spectacular than the first in Singapore.

Here is a round-up of our food safari in Kuala Lumpur where I am highlighting what I believe to be some of the quintessential eating experiences that KL has to offer. No doubt even with so much food, I know it is only the tip of a Malaysian gastronomical iceberg.

Roti tisu, Original Kayu Nasi Kandar

Roti tisu at Original Kayu Nasi Kandar

Roti tisu at Original Kayu Nasi Kandar

Malaysian food lovers are proud of their roti canai and roti tisu. These kind of street food can be found all over KL but the roti at Original Kayu Nasi Kandar is a little different.

This restaurant began as a humble stall within a kopitiam (coffee shop) back in 1974 and has since become one of the most popular mamak style restaurants in Malaysia.

Their wafer-thin roti tisu is legendary and is truly a spectacle just to watch how it is being prepared by the chefs. Dipped into a variety of dahl and curries, this is a must-try when in KL.

The best thing about this restaurant is that it is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year!

Malaysian char siew, Restoran Soo Kee

Malaysian char siew

Malaysian char siew

The Malaysian style char siew at this restaurant is legendary and is truly one of the finest interpretations of BBQ pork belly in the world.

When you visit this restaurant, there are three dishes that I would highly recommend you try.

Steamed Soon Hock or Marbled Goby, Restoran Soo Kee

Steamed Soon Hock or Marble Goby

Steamed Soon Hock or Marble Goby

Sang Har Meen, Restoran Soo Kee

Sang Har Meen or stir-fried fresh water king prawns in ginger & shallots with crispy egg noodles

Sang Har Meen or stir-fried fresh water king prawns in ginger & shallots with crispy egg noodles

Read my full review of Restoran Soo Kee here. 

Deep fried Sa-Teen chicken, Restoran Fei Jay

Deep fried Sa-Teen chicken

Deep fried Sa-Teen chicken

Soong Kee’s beef ball noodles, Lot 10 Hutong

Soong Kee's famous beef ball noodles

Soong Kee's famous beef ball noodles

Soong Kee’s beef ball noodles began after World War II in 1945 on Jalan Silang in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

This bowl of noodles is one of my all-time favourites. Mix the sprightly Hakka style noodles with the pork mince and dip the springy beef balls into a tangy and spicy chilli sauce.

Two bowls is the least I will settle for whenever I am at Lot 10 Hutong for this iconic KL beef balls which has been around for more than sixty years.

Soong Kee must be doing something very special.

KL style Char Kway Teow, Jalan Imbi market

KL style char kway teow with cockles

KL style char kway teow with cockles

Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf

Not tucking into a simple packet of nasi lemak when in Malaysia is as sinful as not slurping up a delicious bowl of ramen or munching on fresh sushi when in Japan.

Char Kway Teow

Takeaway Char Kway Teow in special styrofoam container

A smoky Char Kway Teow that is ladened with crispy pork lard, egg, crunchy beansprouts and cockles is a heavenly dream, except what you are looking at is real because I ate it.

If you decide on a takeaway, many roadside stalls clanging their woks to serve up this delicious noodles will go the distance to make sure the ‘wok hei’ or breath of the wok remains ever so strong.

Takeaway styrofoam containers now cleverly now come with holes to let out all the steam to prevent a ‘steam trap’ and moisture to form so your CKT don’t become soggy by the time you arrive home – ingenious!

Sambal hebi aglio olio spaghetti, Acme Bar & Coffee

Sambal hebi aglio olio spaghetti

Sambal hebi aglio olio spaghetti

Noble Banquet, Jalan Bukit Bintang

Braised baby abalone in special oyster sauce

Braised baby abalone in special oyster sauce

Our trip to Malaysia during this CNY is also to celebrate my father’s birthday.

My mum, being the best and most thoughtful wife, mother and grandmother in the world, arranges a beautiful dinner at Noble Banquet restaurant. She invites thirty of our family’s close relatives to honour my father’s birthday.

These are happy moments with my family because Mysaucepan‘s parents who live in Singapore as well as my sister who lives in Perth, have also made the trip back to KL to celebrate this happy occasion.

The food is exquisite and one of my favourites is the braised baby abalone in special oyster sauce. Personally, this is the best way to eat baby abalone as the gentle braise  makes it so tender and the savoury sauce is a perfect complement.

Tea-smoked free range chicken with lettuce

Tea-smoked free range chicken with lettuce

I love savoury dishes and this tea-smoked free range chicken is salty just to the right level to be wrapped with a piece of crunchy lettuce.

But what is amazing is the smoky tea aromas on the skin of this chicken.  This is one dish that is on my radar to replicate at home.

Sau meen or longevity noodles with chicken and crab meat

Sau meen or longevity noodles with chicken and crab meat

A sau meen is a must for a birthday to signify longevity.

The noodles have soaked up a good splash of Chinese wine but still so fresh and sprightly and the sweet and succulent crab meat adds a little decadence to a beautiful meal.

Sau bao or longevity buns

Sau bao or longevity buns

A sau bao is the Chinese equivalent of a birthday cake except it is more meaningful because it also signifies longevity and doubles up as a dessert.

These buns are usually stuffed with lotus seed paste and steamed in wooden steamers.

Chinese New Year Open House at home

Mandarin oranges

Mandarin oranges

We are having so much good food during our trip to Singapore and Malaysia but some of the best meals are often those at home at my parents’ house.

My mother is a great home cook and she has imparted her skills and recipes to Ah Kam, who has been a loyal home cook and housekeeper to my parents for more than twenty years. She began working for my parents in 1990 and through the years, she has developed a deep understanding of the tastes and flavours that my parents love when it comes to home cooking.

Ah Kam is like family to us all and as much as I love the street food of KL, I will rate her cooking as some of the best I have ever tasted anywhere in Malaysia.

Ah Kam’s home-style fried noodles

Home style fried noodles

Home style fried noodles

I love a good Malaysian style Hokkien mee but this dish is really special.

Instead of Hokkien noodles, Ah Kam’s home-style fried noodles are ‘low she fun’ or rice drop noodles stir fried with mince pork, bean sprouts and choi sum. These noodles have a smoky aroma from a searing hot wok and the small bits of mince pork go so well with the fat and slippery texture of the noodles.

Add a bit of Malaysian sambal belachan with a squeeze of lime juice, I will commit  heinous crime if these noodles became staple prison food.

Ah Kam’s Chinese style roast pork belly

5kg slab of Chinese style roasted pork belly

5kg slab of Chinese style roasted pork belly

How can anyone resist Ah Kam’s Chinese style roast pork belly?

This slab of pork belly is 5 kilograms, left marinating with Chinese five spice powder in the fridge for 24 hours  before being slowly roasted in the oven for 2 hours just before lunch.

It is a beautiful roast pork recipe which I have learnt from Ah Kam and it is always a hit whenever I have a roast pork dinner party back in Sydney.

Chopping up roasted pork belly

Chopping up roasted pork belly

Big tip: Hang around the kitchen with an ice cold beer or a glass of chilled rose when Ah Kam starts chopping up the roast pork.

Chinese style roasted pork belly

Chinese style roasted pork belly

Stealing pieces of succulent roast pork with that earth-shattering, crispy crackling and downing it with a gulp of icy cold beer is indescribable!

Hard boiled eggs to accompany nasi lemak

Hard boiled eggs to accompany nasi lemak

Ah Kam’s Malaysian style curry chicken

Malaysian style curry chicken

Malaysian style curry chicken

Ah Kam is equally adept to cooking either Chinese or Malaysian food  at home.

Today during this second day of Chinese New Year, it is a mix of Chinese and Malaysian because we are having nasi lemak too.

Malaysian chicken satays

Malaysian chicken satays

One of the great things about Malaysia is that food is so plentiful, tasty and cheap. Whenever you have a party or a large gathering at home, you have the added option of going down the street and summoning the local satay stall to cater for your party.

There are more than forty relatives and friends coming to my parents’ Chinese New Year open house lunch and these catered satays are as good as home cooked, minus the hassles of preparing and cooking it yourself.

Click here for my own recipe for Malaysian chicken satay.

Kids' delight: Deep fried onion rings

Kids' delight: Deep fried onion rings

CNY is about happy children and nothing lights up their faces more than these golden brown and crispy deep fried onion rings.

Ah Kam’s deep fried Spanish mackerel cutlets

Deep fried Spanish mackerel with curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves

Deep fried Spanish mackerel with curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves

Deep fried Spanish mackerel with curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves is one of my favourite Ah Kam dishes because the flesh is firm and so tasty. It is one of the best complements for nasi lemak as well.

Click here for my own recipe for pan-seared Spanish mackerel.

A view of the Petronas Twin Towers from my parents' house

A view of the Petronas Twin Towers from my parents' house, Kuala Lumpur

So dear readers, what is your favourite Malaysian food?

Original Kayu Nasi Kandar
64, Jalan ss2/10
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Tel: +60 3 7877 7745

Business hours: Monday -  Sunday 7am – 7pm (24 hours), open 365 days a year

Restoran Soo Kee
373- 1 4th Mile Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 4257 0767   Mobile +612 905 4607

Directions to Restoran Soo Kee:

If you are coming from KL city centre:

  • Head down Ampang road until you see a fly-0ver in front of you (The tall Ampang City complex would be visible on your left).
  • Bear left of the fly-over and do a U-turn underneath the fly-over (just before the traffic lights).
  • Restoran Soo Kee would be approximately 50 metres on your left after the U-turn.

Lot 10 Hutong
LG Floor, Lot 10 Shopping Centre
50 Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: +603 2782 3840

Restoran Fei Jay
3, Jalan Rimbunan Mawar 1,
Laman Rimbunan Kepong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: +603 6241 4618

Business hours: 10am – 2.30pm, 4pm – 10pm. Closesd every third Sunday & Monday of the month.

Imbi market (aka Pasar Besar Bukit Bintang)
Jalan Kampung (off Jalan Bukit Bintang)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Open everyday (except Mondays) from 6.00am – around noon.

Noble Banquet
235 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: +603 2145 8822

Acme Bar & Coffee
Unit G1 The Troika
19 Persiaran KLCC
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Tel: +603 2162 2288

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10 Responses to Food Safari, Kuala Lumpur

  1. celia says:

    So much food! That roti tisu is AMAZING, puts the little one we have at Mamak to shame! :)

  2. It all looks great but I’m gobsmacked by that roti tisu! How long was it?

  3. Raymund says:

    If you become an inmate I will be your roommate then :)

  4. milkteaxx says:

    im drooling just looking at the pictures~ how i wish to be back to KL again!

  5. Juliana says:

    Wow, wow and wow…so many interesting dishes here…I would love to try them all :)

  6. msihua says:

    OMG Hokkien Mee! OMG CKT! Arrggh!

  7. So much wonderful food! So many delicious choices- I’d like one of each please :)

  8. I’ve enjoyed your “safari” posts tremendously! The high regard you have for your parents and Ah Kam surely added to your enjoyment. What a wonderful celebration of food and family to conclude your series!

  9. We recently returned from visiting my parents in Malaysia — I’m already missing all the foods so much!!

    Glad you guys had a great family reunion to celebrate your dad’s birthday :)

  10. What a great post with tips for lots of wonderful places to check out in KL!

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