Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2015

Food Safari Kuala Lumpur

You have limited time and calories during a food safari.
Make it count by eating the right stuff.

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

Whenever I am in Kuala Lumpur, I stay at my parents’ house in Ukay Heights. It’s a hilly, rain forest enclave which our family has called home for almost fifty years.

Back then, our family home was just one of two in the entire jungle-like area and I fondly remember childhood days of bike riding, skate-boarding, catching butterflies, spiders, frogs, snakes and driving mum’s car around the block when I was fifteen.

Much has changed in this area though it’s still green and leafy. But coming back each year to visit family and friends has always enticed me to check out some of the latest and best eats the vicinity of Ampang and Ulu Klang has to offer.

In 2013, we brought you Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013 ~ a series of twelve blog posts documenting our travels in these two countries culminating with Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2013.

And then, Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2014 brought you ten mouth-watering blog posts of some of the best eats in the capital city of Malaysia.

Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2015

During my recent 10-day trip to KL, I revisited some tried and tested eateries where food orgasm is almost guaranteed. At the same time, friends have also lead me to some new discoveries.

So here they are, in no particular order, organised by location for ease of logistics ~ twenty memorable dishes I am happy to eat over and over again.

These dishes form just the tip of a gastronomic mountain of great street food that is impossible to cover during my ten days in KL. So don’t despair if your favourite local dish is not on this list because I am definitely coming back for more in the near future.

Happy feasting!

A. Ampang / Ulu Klang

1    Fish ball noodles – Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop
2   Yong tau foo – Restoran Foong Foong
3   Steamed fish head – Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head
4   Hainanese chicken rice – Restoran Loke Yun
5   Chun-One nasi lemak Naan Corner

B. Kuala Lumpur

6   Beef ball noodles – Restoran Soong Kee
7   Char kway teowJalan Imbi Market
8   Chai tow kwayJalan Imbi Market (with video)
9   Nasi lemakJalan Imbi Market
10 Hokkien meeRestoran New Imbi Garden
11  Sang har meen Restoran Setapak Teochew
12 Pak mai fun Restoran Setapak Teochew
13 Curry laksa Madras Lane, Petaling street

15 Hainanese chicken rice – Nam Heong
16 Deep-fried sha chui Restoran Eight Treasure
17 Stir-fried lala clamsRestoran Eight Treasure

C. Petaling Jaya

18 Snake fish cooked 3 styles Kam Kee Seafood Restaurant

D. Port Klang

19  Crab congeeRestoran Perlama Seafood
20 Teochew fish ball and tofuRestoran Perlama Seafood

~~~~~

A. Ampang / Ulu Klang

1   Fish ball noodles – Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop

Rice noodles with fish balls and fish cake RM6 / A$2.10

Rice noodles with fish balls and fish cake RM6 / A$2.10

Simplicity is best when it comes to noodles in clear soup.

It says something about this fish ball noodles when the previous operator has been in business for at least thirty years.

Chopsticks, spoon and condiments

Chopsticks, spoon and condiments

It has been a while since I was last here and the premises have not changed even after so many years.

The proprietor Ah Choy preparing a bowl of fish ball noodles

The proprietor Ah Choy preparing a bowl of fish ball noodles

It’s already my second time here this trip and I have made friends with the new proprietor Ah Choy.

He tells me he’s only been here for less than two years.

Fragrant and full of flavour ~ crispy pork lard

Fragrant and full of flavour ~ crispy pork lard

There seems to be inconsistently because my first bowl of noodles came without crispy bits of pork lard.

Upon my enquiry, Ah Choy explained that he ran out of pork lard when I first came. This time, he compensated with extra pork lard for my noodles and this magic ingredient makes all the diffference.

Fish ball noodles 

Rice noodles with fish balls and fish cake RM6 / A$2.10

Rice noodles with fish balls and fish cake RM6 / A$2.10

I am eating with my friend David and his wife Caroline. They are both nodding it’s one of the best bowl of noodles in a long time.

I am indifferent to either rice vermicelli or rice noodles. Both are just as good though the later is smoother and silkier as it slithers down your throat. The fish balls and fish cake slices are bouncy with sprightly fresh beansprouts and bits of preserved tung choy.

Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop

Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop

2   Yong tau foo – Restoran Foong Foong

Yong tau foo mix platter RM22 / A$7.70

Yong tau foo mix platter RM22 / A$7.70

Just across the road from the Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop, there are three large restaurants selling yong tau foo which Ampang is so famous for.

We decide on Foong Foong, one of the stalwarts  for so many years.

Herbal tea

Herbal tea

Every item in this restaurant is geared for volume and herbal tea is no exception, whether warm or with ice.

In fact, these few restaurants get so packed during peak lunch and dinner time that food orders to the kitchen are announced by staff using a hand-held loudspeaker.

Yong tau foo mix platter

Yong tau foo mix platter RM22 / A$7.70

Yong tau foo mix platter RM22 / A$7.70

Unless you have particular favourites or dislikes for certain pieces of yong tau foo, my recommendation is a mix platter which comes with a selection of eggplant, chilli, okra, soft tofu, tofu puffs and beancurd skin stuffed with bouncy fish paste. Still, we requested the omission of stuffed bitter gourd for our platter.

Braised in fish stock and oyster sauce, this yong tau foo is a savoury delight when dipped into a mix of hoisin and chilli sauce.

Fried wantans 

Fried wantans RM13.20 / A$4.65

Fried wantans RM13.20 / A$4.65

Fried wantans are a must because the golden brown wantan skin offers crisp and crunch against soft yong tau foo.

“We need another plate of these wantans” David says even as he munches on one.

It’s similar to fried curry puffs except the savoury fish paste inside mixes so well with spicy chilli and sweet hoisin sauce.

Local jackfruit

Local jackfruit

Street food vendors are peddling a variety of fruit, roasted chestnuts, biscuits and roast duck on the back of bicycles, motorbikes and vans.

Street hawker slicing up jackfruit

Street hawker slicing up jackfruit

This jackfruit seller removes the seed from each parcel of fruit and cuts them into bite size pieces that sells for RM5 / A$1.75 per packet.

Street hawker chipping out "ting ting thong" or rock candy with a chisel

Street hawker chipping out "ting ting thong" or rock candy with a chisel

Ting ting thong in Cantonese literally means “ting ting candy”.

It is so called because a huge tray of rock candy is slowly chipped away with a chisel and small hammer, making a ting ting sound that is so familiar to Malaysian kids.

Truly a dying trade, it’s usually sold by vendors with that candy tray attached to the back of a motorcycle. I have not seen one of these hawkers in decades and I am sure glad to have caught a glimpse of my childhood memory.

Popular dishes at Orchard View Yong Tau Foo restaurant

Popular dishes at Orchard View Yong Tau Foo restaurant

Apart from yong tau foo, these restaurants also serve some of the most popular home cooked dishes such as pig trotters in black vinegar, steamed pork with yam and chicken parcels baked in paper bag.

3   Steamed fish head – Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head

Steamed fish head with ginger and light soy sauce RM29 / A$10.20

Steamed fish head with ginger and light soy sauce RM29 / A$10.20

“I’ll take you for lunch somewhere closer to your end of town for steamed fish head” my long-time colleague Wong Fei Hoong (not his real name) tells me.

“I love steamed fish head Malaysian style” I tell him. “It’s on my must-eat list too”.

Situated less than 500 metres from Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop, Restoran Foong Foong and the plethora of yong tau foo restaurants, Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head seems like the logical progression though this steamed fish head can also be an entree during your food safari.

Beansprouts with salted fish

Beansprouts with salted fish RM6 / A$2.10

Beansprouts with salted fish RM6 / A$2.10

It’s in a humble Ampang Mewah Food Court and we find hearty home style dishes that’s tried and tested.

We start off  with beansprouts lightly blanched and sprinkled with bits of salted fish and I see this as a savoury salad, Malaysian style.

Sprightly beansprouts with salted fish is a classic combination in local Chinese restaurants. Some are stir-fried, others blanched and although the former has more wok flavours, blanched is pretty good on its own and perhaps a little healthier with less oil.

Silken tofu in special soy sauce

Silken tofu in special soy sauce RM7 / A$2.45

Silken tofu in special soy sauce RM7 / A$2.45

The thing I love about these local restaurants is they are casual, reasonably priced and most importantly, the food almost always on the mark in taste and flavour.

Let alone its silky soft texture, the gentle taste of tofu is beautifully enhanced with a special soy sauce that elicit a tinge of sweetness and nutty flavour from sesame oil. Garnished with finely chopped shallots and minced ginger, this is probably the cheapest plate of world-class tofu.

Steamed fish head with ginger and special soy sauce

Steamed fish head with ginger and light soy sauce RM29 / A$10.20

Steamed fish head with ginger and light soy sauce RM29 / A$10.20

The pièce de résistance arrives blanketed with generous shards of fresh ginger, coriander leaves, freshly diced chilli and golden bits of crispy garlic.

Soong fish has a relatively big head so each serving comes in an identical half head from being precisely sliced lengthwise down the middle.

Chunks of succulent soong fish head with ginger and light soy sauce

Chunks of succulent soong fish head with ginger and light soy sauce

Check out the meat in this soong fish head – right here is another defining moment in my food safari.

Apparently the ten-minute steaming process is broken into two, five-minute cycles. The first cycle is to rid any fishy odour before special soy, glutinous rice wine and fresh ingredients such as ginger and chilli are added.

Timing is obviously crucial when steaming fish and there is bountiful chunks of succulent yet firm white meat falling off with a gentle nudge of my fork. Gelatinous bits of fish lips, eye lids and cheeks are some of the best parts of this fish.

Indeed, I can understand why locals are crazy about this soong fish specifically known for its smooth flesh in its meaty head.

Soong fish head ready for the steamer

Soong fish head ready for the steamer

As I walk pass this steamed fish head stall, the owner is busy steaming one fish head after another, a non-stop process I observed for the entire duration of our lunch.

A kitchen helper is dedicated entirely to just one task of slicing ginger shards.

Apart from special soy sauce, one can opt for a tangy assam sauce or a more spicy sauce made with fermented yellow beans. I have tried those two sauces in the past. The clean, fresh and savoury flavour of soy sauce is still my recommendation for this style of steamed fish head.

Food Court at Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head, Selangor

Food Court at Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head, Selangor

Thanks for Wong Fei Hoong for introducing me to yet another excellent food discovery.

4   Hainanese chicken rice – Restoran Loke Yun

Hainanese chicken rice RM7.54 / A$2.65

Hainanese chicken rice RM7.54 / A$2.65

I have been coming to Restoran Loke Yun since the 1980s when I was living in Kuala Lumpur.

Walking back into this restaurant brings back nostalgic memories of silky smooth Hainese style chicken and its fragrant jasmine rice.

Preparing chicken soup, Restoran Loke Yun

Preparing chicken soup, Restoran Loke Yun

There is a few more staff on the floor now and I say hello to the owners for the first time after so many years. Phang Kee Kam, the youngest son of Phang Kwi is the current owner of the business that his father founded back in 1971.

He seems a lot more relaxed now, sitting back in his chair in the back of the restaurant. Back in the 1990s, I remember him busy chopping chicken while his partner was taking food orders.

Special chilli sauce and ginger sauce

Special chilli sauce and ginger sauce

The chilli and ginger sauces are exactly how I remember them to be ~ freshly prepared each day, the chilli sauce having a sharp tangy edge redolent of kumquat.

Hainanese style chicken 

Hainanese chicken thigh RM7.54 / A$2.65

Hainanese chicken thigh RM7.54 / A$2.65

It’s heartening to see the owners still overseeing the operation of this obviously successful business.

Quality has been so well maintained and this is one of the best Hainanese chicken rice I have tasted in Kuala Lumpur.

The price of RM7.54 / A$2.65 cannot be any more honest when it gets you a plate of chicken, chicken-flavoured rice and a bowl of soup of this quality.

Adjoining new shop lot, Restoran Loke Yun

Adjoining new shop lot, Restoran Loke Yun

This restaurant has now expanded with a neighbouring shop lot that is air-conditioned and tastefully furnished with elegant Chinese style furniture.

Original shop lot, Restoran Loke Yun

Original shop lot, Restoran Loke Yun

Despite the more comfortable and air-conditioned dining room in the adjoining new shop lot, I sit in the original dining room today to soak up some nostalgia.

Proud history - Restoran Loke Yun

Proud history - Restoran Loke Yun

5   Chun-One nasi lemak Naan Corner, Ampang, Selangor

Chun-One nasi lemak RM1.20 / A$0.40 cents

Chun-One nasi lemak RM1.20 / A$0.40 cents

Needless to say, every Malaysian food blogger would have mentioned in their food blog that nasi lemak is the national dish of Malaysia.

Personally, I like nasi lemak in its most basic denomination ~ fragrant pandan and coconut-flavoured rice, spicy sambal with a wedge of boiled egg, crispy anchovies and a few slices of cucumber.

Chun-One nasi lemak RM1.20 / A$0.40 cents

Chun-One nasi lemak RM1.20 / A$0.40 cents

Pre-packed nasi lemak can be found in street food hawkers every morning until they sell out around mid morning.

But Chun-One located at the Naan Corner near Ampang Jaya takes it a few steps better where pre-packed nasi lemak can be found 24 hours every single day.  The difference between this packet nasi lemak and the rest is this pyramid-shaped packet remains in a gentle steamer until you order it, keeping the rice warm and fluffy.

Simple yet delicious ~ Chun-One nasi lemak in all its glory

Simple yet delicious ~ Chun-One nasi lemak in all its glory

This is the stuff I dream about when I’m back in Sydney.

A few Malaysian restaurants like Jimmy’s Recipe in The Galleries have come up with pretenders but pale in comparison to Chun-One.

The rice is fluffy, the sambal reasonably spicy and not overly sweet as it should be. A few crispy anchovies are still fine when they get a little soft and chewy.

Kopi ais or ice coffee RM2.50 / A$0.85 cents

Kopi ais or ice coffee RM2.50 / A$0.85 cents

Washed down with an ice coffee, this is Malaysian street food at its best.

B. Kuala Lumpur

6   Beef ball noodles – Restoran Soong Kee

Beef ball noodles RM8 / A$2.80

Beef ball noodles RM8 / A$2.80

Another dish I have been devouring since the 1980s is one of KL’s most famous beef ball noodles, most often eaten with friends for supper after an evening out in town.

Beef balls in broth

Beef balls in broth

The best street food in Kuala Lumpur keeps its standard by being consistent with the proprietors overseeing and managing the operations and this restaurant is the epitome of consistency.

Six bouncy beef balls with chopped shallots arrive in a bowl of hot broth. I sprinkle white pepper to lend some spice aroma.

Beef mince and noodles RM8 / A$2.80

Beef mince and noodles RM8 / A$2.80

Here’s yet another defining moment of my food safari. It’s not the most photogenic of dishes but it sure as hell is one of the tastiest.

I am told the mince meat cooked with dark caramel sauce is a mixture of brisket and other cuts of beef. I toss the noodles with a spoonful of hot broth to loosen so that it mixes well with the mince.

The beautiful al dente noodles can only be matched by the savoury and beefy goodness of the mince. Splash its signature tangy chilli sauce on the noodles and I am truly in heaven with each mouthful.

Dining room, Restoran Soong Kee, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee

Dining room, Restoran Soong Kee, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee

7   Char kway teowJalan Imbi Market

Char kway teow & mee with cockles RM5.50 / A$1.90

Char kway teow & mee with cockles RM5.50 / A$1.90

Jalan Imbi Market is legendary for so many reasons among food lovers in KL.

Conveniently located in the heart of the city off Bukit Bintang, this wet and dry food market has been in this same location for more than forty years and longer if you count back to the 1960s when it occupied the space which is now Lot 10 Shopping Centre.

Fish hawker, Imbi Market, Kuala Lumpur

Fish hawker, Imbi Market, Kuala Lumpur

I usually come to this market for breakfast to sample its huge array of street food.

But every time I am here, I am fascinated by the wet market which sells a variety of fish, seafood, poultry and red meats.

Whole chickens, Imbi Market

Whole chickens, Imbi Market

Live chickens are literally pulled from their cages, throats clinically slit and thrown into a large de-feathering drum.

Within minutes, these chickens are ready to be processed further into different cuts of meat.

Chicken hawker, Imbi Market

Chicken hawker, Imbi Market

Food hygiene and safety issues aside, I still find fascination at the sight of life chicken being openly slaughtered and processed despite having seen it during my childhood.

Scenes like these can never be found anywhere in Australia, not that I am aware of anyway.

Dried shrimp and anchovies, Imbi Market

Dried shrimp and anchovies, Imbi Market

Dry groceries such as shrimp, anchovies, oysters, Chinese sausages, shitake mushrooms and a plethora of other ingredients are readily available at this market.

Waxed duck Maryland, Imbi Market

Waxed duck Maryland, Imbi Market

Especially popular during Chinese new year, waxed duck can be found all year round.

Dried flounder, Imbi Market

Dried flounder, Imbi Market

Dried flounder adds glorious umami taste to Chinese soups, stews and is one of the most important ingredients for a good Malaysian style hokkien mee.

Dried squid, Imbi Market

Dried squid, Imbi Market

Dried squid is added to soups and stews for more savoury complexity.

Kai tan guo or Malaysian muffins, Imbi Market

Kai tan guo or Malaysian muffins, Imbi Market

Kai tan guo is a type of muffin-like cake that’s usually eaten for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Kai tan guo or Malaysian muffins, Imbi Market

Kai tan guo or Malaysian muffins, Imbi Market

They come in many different colour combinations.

During this trip to KL, I am seeing a lot of them in psychedelic pink and yellow.

Blanching wantan noodles, Imbi Market

Blanching wantan noodles, Imbi Market

Wantan mee is one of the most popular dishes at Jalan Imbi Market because it can be eaten any time of the day.

This lady is busy tossing wantan noodles as her orders from hoards of waiting customers appear to have no end.

Breakfast with the family - tucking into wantan mee at Imbi Market

Breakfast with the family - tucking into wantan mee at Imbi Market

As I squeeze my way through the crowded eating area, a family is tucking into nasi lemak, chee cheong fun, kaya toast and wantan mee.

Deep frying youtiao or bread sticks, Imbi Market

Deep frying youtiao or bread sticks, Imbi Market

Youtiao or Chinese deep fried breadstick is another breakfast favourite among locals.

Crisp and crunchy, these breadsticks are Malaysia’s answer to Spanish churros except they are usually dunked into local coffee instead of chocolate sauce.

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Nyonya cakes such as kuih talam and kuih lapis come in a spectrum of bright colours.

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Colourful nyonya cakes, Imbi Market

Nyonya pandan cupcakes

Nyonya pandan cupcakes

Deep-fried chicken curry puffs

Deep-fried chicken curry puffs

Preparing popiah, Imbi Market

Preparing popiah, Imbi Market

Sisters Crispy Popiah is one of the most popular stalls in the market.

A tissue-thin sheet of popiah skin made from wheat flour is firstly slathered with a combination of hoisin sauce, chilli sauce and har kow or light fermented shrimp paste.

Then, crisp and crunchy texture comes from generous sprinkling of roasted peanuts and deep fried shrimp. Snap-braised jicama (yam bean or turnip) is added over a medley of shredded lettuce, carrots, cucumber, omelette, Chinese lupcheong and deep fried eschallots.

These delicious rolls can be eaten as a snack or an entire meal, depending on your appetite.

Queuing up for yong tau foo, Imbi Market

Queuing up for yong tau foo, Imbi Market

There is a long queue for yong tau foo just about every time I am here.

Once you get to the top of the queue, pick up a pair of thongs and choose from a variety of deep-fried tofu, chilli, okra, eggplant and beancurd skin stuffed with fish paste.

Yong tau foo stall, Imbi Market

Yong tau foo stall, Imbi Market

Freshly made at the premises, these stuffed tofu puffs, okra, chilli, eggplant and bitter gourd continuously disappear as fast as they are replenished.

8   Chai tow kwayJalan Imbi Market

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with chilli, dark caramel sauce and egg

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with chilli, dark caramel sauce and egg

Cubes of soft and wobbly radish cake is spicy with intense smoky wok hei.

Add egg, fresh beansprouts and this chai tow kway is another one of my all-time favourite street food in KL.

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with dark caramel sauce and egg

Chai tow kway ~ stir fried radish cake with dark caramel sauce and egg

This guy is swishing a giant flat plate of radish cake that has been pre-fried to an intoxicating smoky aroma.

When orders are placed, he would add fresh egg and beansprouts.

Click on the video above to check out the speed of this guy dishing out chai tow kway to his long line of waiting customers.

Ayam masak merah, Imbi Market

Ayam masak merah, Imbi Market

Ayam masak merah in Bahasa literally means red cooked chicken.

This Malay style curry is spicy with the fragrance of serai or lemongrass. It’s always pre-cooked so the succulent chicken meat absorbs all the flavour from the rich curry sauce.

Sotong or squid sambal, Imbi Market

Sotong or squid sambal, Imbi Market

Sotong or squid sambal is dark fiery red and best eaten with nasi lemak.

9   Nasi lemakJalan Imbi Market

Nasi lemak with squid sambal RM2.50 / A$0.85 cents

Nasi lemak with squid sambal RM2.50 / A$0.85 cents

The best thing about packet nasi lemak is its simplicity.

Warm, fluffy and fragrant rice, crispy deep fried ikan bilis, cucumber, crunchy peanuts and a fiery sambal. Only in Malaysia, home to the best nasi lemak in the world!

Char kway teow stall, Imbi Market

Char kway teow stall, Imbi Market

The char kway teow stall owner is running off his feet with so many orders. I am lucky enough to snare one of his last few plates of kway teow mee combination.

Char kway teow & mee with cockles RM5.50 / A$1.90

Char kway teow & mee with cockles RM5.50 / A$1.90

This is KL (not Penang) style char kway teow.

The difference is this style is darker from the caramel black sauce and the tradition of not having prawns and lup cheong.

My favourite is a combination of kway teow with thin yellow noodles, egg, beansprouts & extra see hum or blood cockles. This interpretation is greasy and fragrant with smoky wok hei. For me, this is the best CKT in KL and a must-eat during my food safari.

Price has increased from RM5 in June 2014 to RM5.50 or A$1.95.

Roast duck van, Imbi Market

Roast duck van, Imbi Market

Roast duck is sold off the back of a van that is usually parked around the entrance to Imbi market.

Roadside fruit and vegetable vendor, Imbi Market

Roadside fruit and vegetable vendor, Imbi Market

10 Hokkien mee Restoran New Imbi Garden

Malaysian style hokkien mee RM22 / A$7.70

Malaysian style hokkien mee RM22 / A$7.70

Malaysian style Hokkien mee is another supper favourite among locals.

This should not be confused with Singapore style hokkien mee which is is pale in colour and cooked with prawns, squid and beansprouts. Penang hokkien mee is another version that is essentially Malaysian style prawn mee in a heady chilli and belachan-based broth.

Fiery woks at Restoran New Imbi Garden

Fiery woks at Restoran New Imbi Garden

Soo Kee’s Son (Meng Chuan) Prawn & Beef Noodles otherwise also known as Restoran New Imbi Garden is famous for its Cantonese style beef noodles and sang har prawn noodles.

Frying up Malaysian hokkien mee, Restoran New Imbi Garden

Frying up Malaysian hokkien mee, Restoran New Imbi Garden

I am with Fatty Loke, David and Caroline this evening. Following our noses, we detect aromatic fumes from half way down the street in Jalan Imbi.

Arriving at an elevated position on the footpath, we stare down at the hot woks and observe our hokkien mee being tossed in furious flames.

Malaysian style hokkien mee RM22 / A$7.70

Malaysian style hokkien mee RM22 / A$7.70

We have already been to this restaurant twice this trip because of one particular dish.

This Malaysian style hokkien mee with its intense, smoky wok hei, crispy bits of pork lard and unctuous dark sauce is one of the very best in Kuala Lumpur.

Come with a big appetite because these noodles are worthy of all its calories. Come with lots of face tissues too to wipe sweat and tasty pork lard off your face.

Dining terrace, Restoran New Imbi Garden, Kuala Lumpur

Dining terrace, Restoran New Imbi Garden, Kuala Lumpur

Most popular dishes at Restoran New Imbi Garden, Kuala Lumpur

Most popular dishes at Restoran New Imbi Garden, Kuala Lumpur

Restaurant New Garden Imbi, Kuala Lumpur

Restaurant New Garden Imbi, Kuala Lumpur

11 Sang har meenRestoran Setapak Teochew

Sang har meen or freshwater king prawn noodles

Sang har meen or freshwater king prawn noodles

There are slightly different styles of sang har meen in Malaysia but this one at Restoran Teochew Setapak is truly one of the most special of its kind.

This restaurant is my relatives  KK & WY‘s favourite and they have brought me here yet again.

Diced raw garlic and fresh chillies

Diced raw garlic and fresh chillies

Chinese tea is served thick and heavy at this restaurant. It is believed to be good in combating any excess oil in the food we consume.

The noodles are especially good and we prep ourselves up with generous dipping plates of fresh chilli and raw garlic while we wait for our noodles.

12 Stir fried white vermicelli Restoran Setapak Teochew

Pak mai fun or white rice vermicelli RM25 / A$8.80

Pak mai fun or white rice vermicelli RM25 / A$8.80

Pak mai fun or literally white rice vermicelli is beautifully stir fried with deep wok hei aromas.

What makes this dish special are wedges of fish ball and fish cake slices tossed with thin slices of onion, Chinese wombok cabbage and crispy bits of pork lard.

Sang har meen RM45 / A$15.80 per small prawn

Sang har meen RM45 / A$15.80 per small prawn

The signature sang har meen of this restaurant makes its entrance in a bubbling hot claypot with king prawns sliced lengthwise and homemade noodles that are slithery soft, yet retains a firm bite.

Sang har meen noodles

Sang har meen noodles

This bowl of fresh water prawn noodles or sang har meen is quite possibly the best of its kind in Malaysia and the world.  The rich gravy is heady and full of prawn and egg essence.

Prawns are sliced lengthwise to impart flavour into the noodles. Add some freshly diced garlic, chilli and soy to the noodles. Suck on the prawn head and shells for an orgasmic mouthful.

Restoran Setapak Teochew, Kuala Lumpur

Restoran Setapak Teochew, Kuala Lumpur

13 Curry laksaMadras Lane, Petaling street

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

Madras Lane at Petaling street has been a retail and street food haunt for decades.

Despite being extremely popular for its street food, this place was filthy with strewn rubbish until it was “cleaned up” many years ago by Dewan Bandaraya authorities, the local municipality of KL.

Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Located off Petaling street, I am here with fellow food safari comrades Fatty Loke, David and Caroline for breakfast.

Assam laksa stall, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Assam laksa stall, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Walking through the main entrance, we are greeted by two assam laksa stalls with their signature ingredients of mint leaves, pineapple, thinly sliced Spanish onions, julienne cucumber, fresh chillies and lai fun.

Curry laksa stall, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Curry laksa stall, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

But we are here for a curry laksa breakfast this morning.

Pots of pre-cooked curry chicken, sambal, raw cockles, curried snake beans and eggplant are making my mouth water with anticipation.

Curry laksa broth with fish maw and tofu puffs

Curry laksa broth with fish maw and tofu puffs

A large pot of curry laksa broth is gently simmering away with slices of fish maw and tofu puffs.

14 Chee cheong funMadras Lane, Petaling street

Chee cheong fun, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Chee cheong fun, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Chee cheong fun can be sliced crosswise or lengthwise.

Ladled on with hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, a dash of nutty sesame oil and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds, this slithery smooth rice noodles are the perfect starter for the curry laksa that I have been dreaming about since I arrived in KL.

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

A bowl of laksa with yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, tofu puffs and a good scoop of raw cockles arrive in its rich curry broth.

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

Curry laksa with fresh raw cockles RM7 / A$2.45

This red hot bowl of passion is gritty and piquant with the taste of raw cockles and chicken curry that has soaked up all the spicy and peppery flavours.

It’s only nine o’clock in the morning but sweat is streaming down our faces as David and I dig into our fiery laksa.

Within minutes, my comfortable UNIQLO T-shirt feels as though I am in a wet T-shirt contest. Too bad I don’t have a chest like my favourite US / Mexican actress but who cares when I’m already tucking into bowl of ecstasy.

Seating area for food stalls, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Seating area for food stalls, Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

15 Hainanese chicken rice – Nam Heong

Farm chicken half portion RM38.90 / A$13.65

Farm chicken half portion RM38.90 / A$13.65

It’s difficult to fathom Nam Heong has been selling chicken rice since 1938 during which time one of my favourite composers Sergei Rachmaninoff was still alive.

Singapore may claim the origins of Hainanese chicken rice but the mere fact Nam Heong has been operating in Malaysia even before World War Two may offer another avenue for a food fight between these two countries.

Dining room, Nam Heong, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur

Dining room, Nam Heong, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur

This restaurant on Jalan Sultan is an institution because of its longevity where it has even been a public listed company on the KL stock exchange.

I remember having lunch here with my family when I was a little boy in the 1970s though I am with my friend Fatty Loke today.

Beansprouts with special soy sauce RM6 / A$2.10

Beansprouts with special soy sauce RM6 / A$2.10

Beansprouts are fresh and crunchy in light soy sauce drizzled with sesame oil, chilli and deep fried onions.

Farm chicken half portion RM38.90 / A$13.65

Farm chicken half portion RM38.90 / A$13.65

A platter of farm chicken is lean and a little firm for my liking.

That silky smooth texture of chicken which I have tasted at Singapore’s Tian Tian and Restoran Loke Yun is missing here.

So I am rather disappointed with Nam Heong despite its legendary reputation as one of the best in Malaysia.

Nam Heong, Jalan Sultan

Nam Heong, Jalan Sultan

16 Deep-fried sha chui Restoran Eight Treasure

Deep fried sha chui or baby whiting RM4.80 / A$1.70 each

Deep fried sha chui or baby whiting RM4.80 / A$1.70 each

These deep fried baby whitings are delightfully crisp with a tangy chilli and onion salsa. But the best part is the crunchy head so full of flavour.

17 Stir-fried lala clamsRestoran Eight Treasure

Stir-fried la la or clams RM45 / A$16

Stir-fried la la or clams RM45 / A$16

These lala clams are smaller, more elongated and flatter than those used for spag vongole back in Australia. The combination of garlic, julienne ginger, spicy fresh birdeye chilli and crispy bits of har mai shrimp is magical.

A generous splash of Chinese cooking wine gives these clams a good bitter edge without being overpowering.

C. Petaling Jaya

18 Snake fish cooked 3 styles
Kam Kee Seafood Restaurant, Petaling Jaya

Kam Kee Seafood Restaurant, Petaling Jaya

Kam Kee Seafood Restaurant, Petaling Jaya

It’s as much a spectacle to watch this fish being cleaned as it is eating it.

Known as snake fish due to its appearance, a kitchen helper fetches one of these from a tank and throws it onto the floor. A couple of hard strikes with a wooden baton to its head stunt this carnivorous fish into submission.

It is then weighed to determine its price, which is approximately RM70 per kilo. Then, a wooden stick is shoved down its throat to keep this fish erect and straight so that it can be scaled and cleaned.

Snake fish in ginger broth with bitter gourd

Snake fish in ginger broth with bitter gourd

Snake fish in ginger broth with bitter gourd

Diners can choose up to five different styles to prepare snake fish depending on its size.

Tonight, we choose three different styles the most common being in ginger broth with bitter gourd and rice vermicelli.

There isn’t much fish in this soup except for head bones and off cuts which have been deep fried to add texture. This soup is rich, fragrant and gingery from the fresh bones of the fish.

Steamed snake fish with black beans and special soy

Steamed snake fish with black beans and special soy

Steamed snake fish with black beans and special soy

A second course of steamed snake fish is succulent with more intense flavours of fermented black beans.

Thin slices of fish is succulent with an elegant special soy sauce, bits of deep fried garlic and coriander leaves.

Stir-fried snake fish with ginger and shallots

Stir-fried snake fish with ginger and shallots

Stir-fried snake fish with ginger and shallots

By far my favourite among the three styles is stir-fried with ginger and shallots.

The holy trinity of Chinese cooking is at work with garlic, ginger and shallots. Chinese rice wine add complexity and the wok hei is unmistakably good.

D. Port Klang

19  Crab congeeRestoran Perlama Seafood

Crab congee RM60 / A$21

Crab congee RM60 / A$21

I rarely eat congee in KL due to its warm and humid weather.

But flavours in this congee are enhanced with chunky pieces of fresh crab on the shell, wedges of century egg, salted duck egg and lala clams. Garnished with deep-fried shallots and spring onions, this is truly one of the very best I have had anywhere in the world.

20 Teochew fish ball and tofuRestoran Perlama Seafood

Teochew style fish balls RM12 / A$4.20

Teochew style fish balls RM12 / A$4.20

This Teochew style fish ball is bouncy and pairs exceptionally well with chunks of pillowy soft tofu.

The winner in this dish is the broth that is slightly tangy with preserved sour plum and ham choy, thin tomato slices, gentle spice from green chilli and ginger shards.

~~~~~~

So dear readers, where is your favourite city and country to visit for a food safari?

Here’s some of my tips when planning a food safari in Kuala Lumpur:

  • Do some basic research on eat streets, hawkers and restaurants which are known for particular Malaysian style dishes to get some idea about whether the food is suitable for your tastes.
  • Local weather in KL is warm and humid, so do wear loose and comfortable clothing.
  • Comfortable footwear is important if you are planning to walk the streets of KL.
  • Carry bottled water and lots of face tissues for those deliciously greasy noodles.
  • Pace yourself and avoid snacking on all sorts of foods as calories do add up quickly.
  • Be very certain about what’s in your food if you have food allergies.
  • Carry medication for diarrhoea and food-poisoning, especially if you are consuming street food for the first time or have even built up resistance.
  • Be vigilant on the streets as some areas of KL are notorious for petty crimes such as snatch thieves and pickpockets. Avoid carrying loose handbags, large amounts of cash, important travel documents, credit cards and elaborate jewellery.
  • Be adventurous. Some types of street food might not win the photogenic prize but are sure contenders for best taste.

Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2015- ~ The restaurants and eateries:

Ampang Fish Ball Noodle Shop
Lot 574, Jalan Merdeka, Kampung Baru Ampang
Selangor

Tel: +6016 398 0858

Restoran Foong Foong
621-A, Jalan Merdeka, Kampung Baru Ampang
Selangor

Tel: +6012 209 5529

Bandar Baru Steamed Fish Head
Ampang Mewah Food Court
Gerai B.O.T Jalan Mewah 3, Taman Ampang Mewah,
Selangor

Tel: +6016 356 1187 / +6012 333 4963

Restoran Loke Yun
158 Jalan Besar, Ampang
Selangor

Tel: 603 4291 9884

This restaurant imposes a GST charge of 6% on menu prices above.

Naan Corner
Jalan Kerja Air Lama
Selangor, Malaysia

Restoran Soong Kee
86 Jalan Tun HS Lee (corner of Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin)
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +60 3 2078 1481

Google Map to Restoran Soong Kee GPS 3.14726, 101.69677

Opening times: 11am to 12am, closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Jalan Imbi Market (aka Pasar Besar Bukit Bintang)
Jalan Kampung (off Jalan Bukit Bintang)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: Everyday (except Mondays) from 6.00am – around 12 noon.

Restoran New Garden Imbi
(also known as Soo Kee’s Son (Meng Chuan) Prawn & Beef Noodles
Medan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Opening hours: Thursdays to Tuesdays 12 – 3pm, 5pm – 12am. Closed on Wednesdays.

Restoran Setapak Teochew, Kuala Lumpur
283 Jalan Setapak
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: +60 3 4023 8706

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7.30am to 4pm. Closed on Sundays.

Petaling Street
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8.30pm to 3pm

Nam Heong Restaurant Holdings Sdn Bhd
56, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur

Tel:+603 2078 5879

This restaurant imposes a GST charge of 6% on menu prices above.

Restoran Eight Treasure
20, Jalan Waras 1, Taman Connaught,
Cheras, Kuala Lumpur
MALAYSIA

Tel: +603 9130 1066 (Kathy Yap) / +6012 2717077 (Jenny Yap)

Opening hours: 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm. Closed on Wednesdays.

This restaurant imposes a 4% service charge on menu prices. In addition, a GST charge of 6% is imposed over and above the menu price AND 10% service charge.

Kam Kee Seafood Restaurant
10, Jalan 5/44 Bukit Gasing (off Jalan Gasing)
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Tel: +60 3-7783 8843

Opening hours:  Lunch 11.30am to 3.30pm Dinner 5.30pm to 22.30pm

Restoran Perlama Seafood
6, Jalan Tangki, Pelabuhan Selatan, Port Klang

Tel: +6 012 331 9908

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6 Responses to Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2015

  1. All of this food and the Hainanese chicken and ting ting thong made my heart sing. :) What an amazing ten days of food!

  2. taki says:

    Really enjoyed reading your blog.
    Great photographs by the way

  3. Raymund says:

    This sums up everything Ive been drooling for when I crave for Malaysian dishes, next time can you invite me when you go to a food safari :)

  4. Juliana says:

    Oh There are so many dishes that I have seen or even heard…I would love to try them all…one of this days…
    Have a great weekend :)

  5. Wow, I love the look of this food! Malaysian is one of my family’s favourite cuisines as it is so rich in flavours and spices. Will keep this post in mind if I get to go back to Malaysia!

  6. Mary Frances says:

    Your photos always make my mouth water! All those delicious stir-frys and soups have me inspired and curious about Malaysian restaurants in here in New York!

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