24 April 2012
Kuala Lumpur Tour ~ Day 1 - Jalan Alor
In some cities we can get a feel for most street food options in a couple of days. Not in KL. For starters there's three main cuisines: Malay, Chinese & Indian, all of these influencing the other, overlapping and melding at the edges. Being an immigrant city there's regional variations from all over Malaysia, China and the Indian subcontinent. And then there's a strong presence from neighbouring Singapore, Thailand (we saw lots of Thai dishes on Chinese menus) and Indonesia. Even Western food gets a look in (kaya toast anybody?). In a week of solid eating we barely scratched the surface. And that's the way we like it.
We did the trip with fellow food nerds (and cat nerds) Terminator and Economical Bihun. We've all been to Malaysia a few times already so we didn't feel the need to knock off a list of 'must have' dishes or 'must try' restaurants. The plan was to simply eat what we we happened to find when we felt like it, with the exceptions of a mandatory roti for breakfast, and one special trip for roti babi (pork in bread).
With bags dumped in hotel we head straight for the infamous eat street, Jalan Alor, which is a great place to unwind, sitting outside with a cheap feed and a Tiger beer or three. Jalan Alor is popular with tourists and locals alike, and is centrally located in the Golden Triangle area.
BBQ dude, Jalan Alor.
The first of many friendly kuchings (pussycats) we meet. He's got a mutant tail but he's happy.
BBQ pork street stall.
Tops Malay nonna with ready-to-go goodies.
BBQ stick man.
I'd like to buy the world a Coke.
One of our favourite aspects of Asian culture is folks hanging out at a street food stall, rather than the pub or an over-priced restaurant.
Jalan Alor has some biggish restaurants as well as small street stalls.
We pick Restoran Dragon View for dinner, it's got a big menu and beer.
Braised kampung (village) chicken with white garlic - R22. Half of a tasty small chicken (they don't breed them oversized here) in an aromatic and flavourful broth. After the dehydrating effects of a plane trip, this dish gives you back some zip.
Claypot drunken frog with ginger - R20. The frog is so drunk it tastes like chicken. Again, the broth in this dish was wonderful, the slivers of ginger and black fungus adding some texture.
Hokkein style mee kway teow - R12. Has those lovely smoky wok flavours we love and a combination of meats. All of these dishes are a small size, all the better to order more and try more flavours.
Belecan Kang Kong - R12. Why does kang kong always taste a zillion times better in Asia than it does in Australia? Alison suggests the belecan (shrimp paste) is freshly made, not like the hunk that lies in the back of our fridge hermetically sealed to stop the smell invading everything.
Sting ray - R6 per 100 grams. A common find in Malaysia, the meat comes off in shreds and is coated on each side with a spicy sambal. Stingray has a neutral flavour so it goes well with a bit of spice, it's quite a safe bet. This serve was plenty for four people.
For dessert we try this tofu stand. These guys have a slight panda obsession.
Dessert under construction: sugar syrup is sloshed on before serving.
The white one is tofu, not as sweet as we expected, but quite nice with the sugar syrup. The black dessert is some kind of tasteless herbal jelly made edible with the addition of sugar syrup, ok but not a fave. Black and white desserts were all they sold - now we get the panda joke!
Durian off the back of a truck... we smelled it before we saw it.
Mobile corn stall. Steamed corn was on most street corners, often lacquered with a generous amount of Blue Band, that weird-tasting long life margarine popular in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Mobile roasted peanut stall.
Air mata kuching - 'water of the cat's eye' - an iced longan fruit drink that is absolutely delicious and said to cool the body.
Mystery parcels that we were too full to try.
Everybody has that special 7-Eleven treat they crave in this part of the world: ours is Tiger biscuits. These are plain and sweet-but-not-too-sweet, perfect for settling a wobbly travel tummy, Alison's go-to snack for a long journey.
As we pass out we're lucky to catch a bit of vintage Malaysian TV on the toob - something to do with a buck-tooth, hopeless chef and a glamourpuss niteclub singer.
Welcome to KL. We love Malaysia.