Monday, March 14, 2011

Asia tripping - part III: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (again)

This is the third of several brief posts of my recent trip to Asia: photos, food and a few thoughts.

For me, new year’s eve 2011 looked a little like this...
After Muar, the hot wait at the Muar bus station and the hot cab ride from the bus station in Kuala Lumpur, I spent new year’s eve in Kuala Lumpur with an unexpected room upgrade at the Dorsett Regency Hotel in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur.

I also picked up a new dress and shoes for the big night from Sungai Wang Plaza for about 73 Malaysian ringgit. I was all set.

NYE buffet at Dorsett Regency Hotel - lots of fresh seafood
And in more unexpectedness, the hotel included a festive buffet dinner at the its restaurant, which featured an array of fresh seafood and salads, international cuisines and Malaysian dishes.

Satay to my heart's content

A surprise find - New Zealand lamb rack

The desserts section featured... a toffee swan

Plenty of kuih

Petit fours

My plate of desserts

My plate of fruit (clockwise from top):
pineapple, watermelon, rose apple, papaya
As the seconds fell away from the countdown to 2011, the window of our hotel room erupted with light from all around, especially KLCC. It was the best view of new year's fireworks I’ve had in years.

The view of the Petronas Towers or KLCC from Dorsett Regency Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
Another day, another year, another chicken rice. Just down the road from the Dorsett Regency Hotel is a rather shabby corner shop, with plastic tables and stools out the front, looking on to a Honda dealership across the road.

Chicken rice and noodles shop on Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
Getting a seat was a bit like pigeons fighting for food crumbs. As soon as you spot someone about to finish their meal, you hover and grab it as soon as their bums are off the seat.

There’s about the same degree of orderliness when it comes to ordering. There’s one guy for drinks, one guy for chicken rice, one guy for noodles and one guy for chee cheung fun. A bit of luck, good humour and pointing is needed to work it all out.

Chicken rice
The chicken this time is boiled white and smooth in texture, served with a more reserved and tart chilli sauce and chicken rice than the first one I tried.

The chicken broth is comforting and full of chicken goodness, although a little hot for the steamy morning it was. At least we scored seats in the shade.

Wonton mee
The wonton mee was a little different to my first one - more exotic, more sauce, more toppings. In addition to the noodles, choy and barbeque pork, this wonton mee had an additional spoonful of a very flavourful, lsightly spicy pork mince mixture.

Eaten altogether with the heatless pickled green chillis, every bite was a sensationally tasty mouthful.

The wonton were a little less exciting, looking a lot like tortellini in the cloudy broth. Enlivened somewhat with the pickled chilli, the wonton and soup was a bit much to handle in the morning, but sipped up completely nonetheless.

Mini custard tarts from next door
We capped off breakfast with custard tarts right next door, fresh from the oven with bulging domes from the heat.

The makers could barely keep up with the demand for the tarts, for as soon as a tray came out of the oven, a crowd would rush over and buy them up in styrofoam boxes with holes on top.

Mini custard tart
The flaky pastry was amazing - I didn't think something that small could make such a mess. The cooled warm custard was nicely eggy and not too sweet; and the miniature size made the tarts a perfect brekky-sized dessert snack.

Inside Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur
There were endless shopping centres to explore, and I can't say we even did a good job of thoroughly checking out the ones we did visit.

Motivated half by the air conditioning and half by the favourable exchange rate and cheap goods, I did my best within the confines of the luggage restrictions of the low cost carriers.

Food court of Sugei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur
One shopping centre that was a bit of an eye-opener was Sungei Wang Plaza, not far from Berjaya Times Square and walk-able from our hotel.

The sheer amount of stores, stalls and people crammed in there is crazy enough - and then there's the food court. Apparently customed by a lot of the shopping centre's staff, it's a hot affair without air conditioning, in a difficult to access level.

Buffet style dishes served with rice
There seemed to be everything imaginable, and in the style of hawker centres, few if any duplicated restaurants.

If I wasn't overwhelmed by heat and choices, I may have been tempted by the popular self serve buffet option, with loads of Chinese and Malaysian dishes on offer.

Self serve
Instead, I could only meekly request a can of 100 Plus and look around, eliminating options like claypot rice and soup noodles lest I overheat while eating them.

Roast pork and rice (from Restoran Sin Tai kar Lok, I think)
A never-fail dish of Chinese roast pork and rice did the trick, with sauce-doused rice, a sweet-ish chilli sauce and fingerlings of the tenderest pork interleavened with thin layers of fat and capped off with bubbly, crunchy crackling skin.
I could eat crackling forever if it was always this good.

Pan mee
Apparently the heat wasn't affecting us all the same way. Pan mee is presented as a bowl of flat, thick noodles, much like tagliatelle, in a spicy red soup that promotes sweating almost as much as the stale air in the food court does.

Steamboat at Restoran Choong Huat, Kuala Lumpur
The last meal in Kuala Lumpur was an eventful seafood steamboat night, in an outdoor setting with plumes of steam adding many degrees to the already warm night.

Food is purchased on a per person setting (that is, we had set platters of seafood for two for our group of three), with a huge range of additional menu items available to order.

Seafood platter for steamboat
In addition to fillets of fish and thinly sliced pork belly, there were fish cakes and fish balls of the likes I’ve never seen before.

Fish noodles were also a new concept, rather like fish cakes but in long, slippery white noodle form.

Noodle selection for steamboat

Additional orders: enoki mushroom, fish noodles and silken tofu

Steaming away
The hotpot was split into two; one with plain chicken broth, the other with a spicy tom yum soup. There was also an array of dipping sauces alongside traditional soy sauce.

Grilled fish
And just a little away from the main restaurant area, there were also two hawker stalls set up offering grilled seafood and barbequed chicken wings. We had a large flat fish (exact type, not sure) and two smaller fish with many more bones.

Both were served with kumquat and a chilli dipping sauce, and make for a nice alternative flavour to seemingly endless of soup-boiled fish balls.

Smaller grilled fish
As ever with steamboat, I managed to completely overstuff myself with food and barely manage to move for the rest of the night. Thank goodness for air conditioning in hotels.

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


Richard Elliot said...

I love the hawker centre and street food scene. All the food looks great and it's so cheap!

Never been to Malaysia, but I'd like to go.

john@heneedsfood said...

I'm so in love with KL. We stayed at the Dorsett Regency the first time I went there, about 18 years ago. I reckon thats when I fell in love with the place. Love how you can just step out of your hotel and have a multitude of places to eat at

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

omg that toffee swan is crazy! Naww you are making me want to go back to Malaysia - and also finish the rest posting the rest of my photos from last year. lol.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous write up! We also ate our way through Malaysia around the same time as you did. We did Christmas in Sandakan, New Years in Kota Belud with KK and KL visited before during and after. I didn't get sick of chicken rice once. Even adventured to KFC in Kota Kinabalu to test their chicken rice. It was only ok.

the ninja said...

You left out Hendricks! :(

Tina said...

Hi Richard - You'll love the endless food at the hawker stalls!

Hi John - The Dorsett Regency shows its age! :)

Hi Helen - I'm still working on posts from the post too ;)

Hi bunnyeatsdesign - Chicken rice at KFC?! I'd be up fot that!

Hi ninja - Hendricks? There were only two of us...

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

What a delectable collection of food and drink! I can't get over that toffee swan and how delicate the neck looks.

Loved the booze collection! :)

missklicious said...

All the food from your holiday looks amazing!

Adrian in Food Rehab said...

This post is epic! I especially dig the egg tart shot..can’t stop staring at it! It’s got me craving yum cha. LOL

Betty said...

GREAT FOTOS!! what a great trip filled with food you must be paying for it now haha :D

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That toffee swan is amazing! And given how humid it is even more of a feat.

Tina said...

Hi Corinne - I wanted to lick the swan, but thought it inappropriate...

Hi missk - Most of it was pretty good, and cheap too!

Hi Adrian - Those eggs tarts were pretty epic for something that small :)

Hi Betty - Sort of, but still missing the food :S

Hi Lorraine - Air conditioning kept it nice and not sticky :)

susan said...

I so want to go to Malaysia, actually I want to go anywhere in Asia. All the food looks amazing especially those egg tarts. I wish I could pop one of those right now!

Tina said...

Hi susan - I'd love to get away on a trip now too... (again)


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