Thursday, February 17, 2011

Asia tripping - part I: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I’m recently returned from an overseas jaunt to three countries in Asia, and probably a little heavier for it. This is the first of several brief posts of my trip: photos, food and a few thoughts.

The Petronas Towers or KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
First stop was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city, known for cheap shopping and food abounds. By the end of the trip, I found it hard not to consider the capital as a giant shopping centre, for the amount of time I spent in centres scattered throughout the city.

Chicken rice from Mid Valley Megamall food court, Kuala Lumpur
My first meal in Malaysia invariably had to be chicken rice. Having heard so much about it and only tasting mediocre versions back home; the combination here of roasted chicken, cucumber, chilli sauce, flavoured rice and chicken stock turned out to be just the thing for brunch after a sleepless economy flight and arrival.

This was at Mid Valley Megamall, a behemoth shopping centre near Bangsar, where the food court is a lot like a hawker centre with tonnes of individual store fronts, each selling a different type of food - think chicken rice, laksa, yong tofu, hotplate, nasi kandar - under a united front; that is, signage and uniforms.

Young coconut
The exceeding heat of the fiery red chilli sauce from my chicken rice was tempered by the juice (and soft jelly flesh) of a young coconut.

Festive display at Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur

Pink dragonfruit gelato

Bak kwa (like pork jerky) from a Bee Cheng Hiang store
An entire day spent wandering Mid Valley Megamall was at least a week’s worth of exercise. Add to that an evening at Sungei Wang Plaza and a late dinner along Jalan Alor, and a seat, was more inviting than ever.

Restaurants and diners of Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Fruit stall on Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

More restaurants and diners of Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
Picking a restaurant out of the street lined with eateries was the hardest part. Although Jalan Alor is said to be rather pricey and targeting tourists, there seemed to be quite a few locals out for makan as well, filling the many plastic outdoor table sets in the sticky evening air.

Water snails at Shui Kee Restaurant, Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
Finally settling on a restaurant that drew us in on enticing wafts from satays on the grill, we sat down next to a tank of water snails of some sort, quite seriously recommended by the friendly Chinese-Malaysian owners.

RestaurantTiger beer and peanuts
Our Tiger beer arrived with salted peanuts, and not long after, our ordered food hit the table before we even had time to touch the nuts.

Satay on the grill
The small skewers of chicken or beef are placed onto the grill as ordered and cooked over hot coals that are fanned to turn up the cooking temperature.

Chicken and beef satay
The meat skewers take in the smoky charred flavour from the coals and are tenderly dipped into a peanut-strong satay sauce, alongside sliced cucumber and Spanish onion. Seriously satisfying satay.

Fresh seafood including stingray (left) and chicken fish (right)
From the fresh seafood range (which included chicken fish, I was told), we had a portion of grilled stingray on my companion’s insistence.

Grilled stingray
Arriving fragrant and covered in a thickly ground brown sauce, this was the first of many stingray experiences in Malaysia, as well as my first ever. I found it similar to most flat fish with few bones in the way aside from the edges, though the skin was thicker than normal fish skin and the flesh a little meatier.

The grilled aroma came through the spicy and sour sauce nicely, enhanced with a squeeze of green kumquat and just a touch of the garlicky green chilli dipping sauce.

Char kway teow
As if running through a list of Malaysian classics, I also have my first char kway teow in Malaysia; a flavoursome dish of thick, flat rice noodles with the ‘breath of the wok’, deeply coloured from soy and belacan (shrimp paste), with prawns, fish cake and bean sprouts scattered throughout.

Ais kacang
Upon questions about dessert, the friendly owners also offered to fetch us an ais kacang, a shaved ice dessert with pandan-green cendol noodles, red beans, grass jelly cubes, corn and more.

This version had the oddest topping over the ice – what seemed like a thick gula melaka, palm sugar syrup, that had hardened to a toffee-like state and which lifted off the top in one solid piece.

Tea and vanilla coffee ice blended drink from The Coffee Bean, Mid Valley Megamall
We woke up to another grey day and trundled into The Coffee Bean, a coffee franchise in similar vein to Starbucks, with prices to match. I think I could get a few chicken rices for the price of one ice blended coffee drink, but the drawcard for us and many local students was the free wi-fi.

Coffee Bean's Eggs Ben
Their rendition of eggs benedict wasn't too bad either; soccerball ham on a soft white bun with a nicel poached egg drowned in a pleasant hollandaise sauce.

The side salad garnish was also appreciated as I found my ordering of food in Malaysia involved little in the way of vegetables. After caffeine and a quick meal, we were ready to face the bus station.

More Asia tripping posts to come, including more Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.


Fiona said...

mmm young coconut - so refreshing!

susan said...

i have never been to malaysia before but so want to go. I can't wait for the rest of your holiday posts!

Tina said...

Hi Fiona - It is, but not too much, apparently ;)

Hi Susan - It's a very diverse place, as you'll see from future posts :)

thang @ noodlies said...

Wow, purple rain, dragon fruit ice cream.. now that is new.. great trip.. so envious!

foodie and the chef said...

I'm crazy about young coconut... great photos. Loving dragon fruit too at the moment.

john@heneedsfood said...

KL is possibly my favourite foodie city and looking at all that great food you've just shown us, how can it not be?

Tina said...

Hi thang - Yeah, the coulour is crazy!

Hi foodie and the chef - Yes, pink dragonfruit for the first time for me!

Hi John - Oooh, I dunno - there are some other contenders in Malaysia alone - you'll have to check back ;)

Julie said...

so looking forward to my trip to malaysia! I am going in September!

I will await for my Malaysia posts from your end :)

Tina said...

Hi Julie - They're on their way ;)

jenius said...

I'm dying to go to Malaysia!!! Can't wait to see the rest of your Malaysia posts! Keep 'em coming ;)

Tina said...

Hi Jen - Was a great trip - posts on their gradula way!


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