Food Paradise that is KL

As Melvin will be spending a full week for work in KL, Suan came along. We spent the weekend in the city, exploring the sights that normally would not be on our list of to-do. Eating was the main activity, though we managed to squeeze in some sightseeing.

We are staying for a night at the Aloft Sentral, located right next the main railway station in central Kuala Lumpur. Using it as a base is one of the best things you can do and we certainly made good use of that.

Unfortunately for business we had to move to Petaling Jaya for the next 5 days and sadly only spent the (short) 2 days doing as much as we can.

4th July
An early morning flight and we got into KL and spent the whole day exploring Chinatown, KLCC shopping, eating and drinking our way through.
Our morning flight was delayed for nearly 45 minutes due to congestion – probably due to the heavy rains that came in this morning. Lucky we got out to the airport early!
An hour later we had bought our express tickets and on the fast train to the centre of KL. The express train cost us RM35pp one way.
KLIA express trip9 KLIA express trip5
Once arrived and checked into the hotel, we got back to Sentral station and took the monorail to Pasar Seni (Chinatown area). KL Monorail to Chinatown1
Single trips are taken using tokens like in the US of yesterdayear. It is quite cheap from our view – a one station trip costs us RM1 each. Prepaid cards are available but we do not need them if you are not here long or taking the transport often.
KL Monorail to Chinatown2
Chinatown Petaling Street2 Chinatown Petaling Street3 Chinatown Petaling Street4
Pasar Seni is a vibrant place of shops and eateries. In the day there are wet markets where locals purchase fresh food. Our mission was to seek out eating haunts in the “must try” list – like chicken rice ↓
Nam Keong Chicken rice8 Nam Keong Chicken rice3 Nam Keong Chicken rice4
Nam Heong is a traditional Hainanese Chicken rice eatery that spans back to 1938. We sampled its dishes for RM30.
Petronas Twin tower day8 Following lunch, we took the monorail to KLCC, the site of the twin towers. It’s a short hop of 8 stations from KL Sentral but they are short distances between stops. You can purchase tickets to have a panoramic view of the city at the between 9 to 9.

Notoriously difficult to get tickets if you read reviews from the web. Petronas Twin tower day7We spent most of our time shopping at Suria mall, where Suan reaped great returns for the trip. Funny how women can seem to find things of ‘value’ to buy everywhere?

The day of shopping was very exhausting for us, as we had started the day really early (5:30am). It was time to head back to the Aloft hotel to relax a little. The rooftop pool was full of people sun-basking and having light meals. Aloft pool view4 Aloft pool view2Considering the location, it cost us RM350 (no breakfast though).

We had our free drinks at the lobby bar (RM50 credit on our package) and thoroughly enjoyed a glass of wine each. This is one of the kind of deals you need to seek out.

After a short rest, we set out for dinner at Chinatown.

Today we went to Seng Kee for the “Rat tail” noodle in a claypot.Seng Kee Rat tail noodle1

Also known as Silver needle noodle (老鼠粉), it is a mix of soy sauce with minced meat and the occasional pig liver. It comes in 3 serving sizes and costs RM10/15/20. This is the signature dish of the eatery.
Seng Kee is open most of the day but it is really at night that it comes to live, Seng Kee Prawn crispy noodlealong with the rest of Chinatown. Now we had read this off a food blogger and also read some raving reviews of the restaurant, so this came to be a must try.Seng Kee shopfront
Most people opt for the signature dish but we also ordered the crispy prawn egg noodle (生蝦麵) – the King prawn was sliced in two. That one cost us RM30 per dish. It was one of those on the menu with no price! Be careful and always ask the price.
The dishes tasted better than the chicken rice we had for lunch. In particular the crispy noodle had a very rich sauce, and we gobbled it down to the last drop!
Many street food vendors only start business from around 7pm. In the daytime, the same spot would be quiet and empty. Chinatown night food street1 Chinatown night food street2← We also found “mobile” durian stands hawking the latest harvest of the delicious yet pungent fruit. While you can try this in Singapore, it’s probably fresher and cheaper here. They open the fruit on the spot and you eat it at tables set up on the side walk. It seems impossible to savor all of these food vendors in a single night. They are quite affordable too! The seating may be small and cramp but the folks don’t mind! Be prepared for the smells that waft towards you. This probably explains why many people come repeatedly to KL for their culinary fix.Chinatown night food street4
Aside from the eateries, the centre of Petaling street turns into a crowded lane as an army of small stalls sprout in the evenings. These sell anything and resemble the night markets of Thailand or even Bugis market in Singapore!Chinatown night food street3 Chinatown night food street6We found many more eateries tucked away in the corners of the many side streets/lanes. It is only obvious in the day when they are lit up. Numerous food blogs talk about these places and more around the city. We are sure to come for them the next time we visit KL.Chinatown night food street5

So, it was mostly about food again.

Yeah, it’s hard to separate a Singaporean from his/her food. Don’t even try, since every one of us is a connoisseur at some level when it comes to culinary delights. And we will make our opinions heard.

The one thing that we’d like to point out is : there are definitely more choices in KL than in Singapore when it comes to street food. We have bland food courts, they have “pop up’ food streets! Looks disorganized, but you know what? That’s the beauty that fussy Singapore do not have.

5th July
Today we covered one more “must do” for KL – the historic centre, before shopping at the Central market and lunch in Chinatown again.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building10An early morning breakfast and check out later, we set off to Majis Jamek station for a walk to the Sultan Abdul Samad building, that now house the Ministry of tourism.
Today the road in front of the ministry was sealed off, in an apparent preparation for some food festival. So lucky us as we could “jay walk” to take all the pictures we want.
The ministry has a “Malaysia heritage sites” exhibition which is free to visit.Sultan Abdul Samad Building9 It shows the various locations in the country – eg the deer cave in Sabah.
Built in 1848, it was the seat of the British governors and made entirely of bricks in Moorish style. The 41.2m tall clock tower is its main feature. To get from Majis Jamek station, you have to walk around Sungei Kelang towards Leboh Pasar Besar and cross the river. The signage that leads to this place was nowhere to be seen. Next up, Central market.
Central Market1Conveniently just 10 minutes away is the Central market, said to be around since 1888. It has numerous small shops hawking traditional Malaysia handicrafts etc. You can easily spend half a day here browsing the many shops and stopping for a drink or bite. How can a Malaysian market not have food! We are more alike than we think. The main entrance on the other side looked old, and looks better:Central Market3 Central Market2Central Market4
Kasturi walk2 Kasturi walk is next to Central market and another place for small shops. At the end (or entrance), we are actually at the beginning of Chinatown! The historic center is compact!Chinatown Tang City coffeeshop3
It was a toss up to choose the next eating experience. By some strange reason we gravitated to the Tang city food centre, when we saw many locals having lunch and drinking beer. There is where we found fried kway teow and wanton mee. Jackpot! We found gems that otherwise could have been missed.
Total cost for lunch was just RM13.50 (S$5) for two. Koon Kee Wantan Mee stallWell recommended to try both stalls. The kopi-C was not that tasteful though. Perhaps it is of a different preparation to cater to different taste?Kiew Yee fried kway teow stall
Alas time to get on to work and we went back to the hotel and took a taxi to One World hotel. The evening was spent walking the One Utama mall, which is so large that makes malls in Singapore tiny in comparison! For the next 5 days, Suan will be pounding the malls while Melvin slog it out in the office…
Kiew Yee fried kway teowKoon Kee Wantan Mee

We only had the weekend, and therefore this journey had not done Kuala Lumpur much justice. You see, it is so near that we don’t think of it as a journey at all! Afterall, there is a lot of cultural affinity between the little red dot and its larger cousin to the north.

Now this would be a really nice getaway that is affordable and yet not too far!

July 2015

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