Tuesday, April 21, 2009

K to the L

It is easy to see why a lot people consider Kuala Lumpur an easy city to live in. It is modern, diverse, friendly, and has great public transportation. We made our way to Kuala Lumpur on a 70s disco chic bus and stayed in the heart of Chinatown on Jalal Petling. Jalal is Malay for road and Jalal Petling or Petling Road happens to be a pedestrian only (including scooters of course) road which is also where the huge night market occurs. The night market turned out to be the largest market with fakes we encountered in our travels. But after months of fake gucci bags, watches, clothes, and shoes we weren't very inclined to shop. We were more excited by Pesar (Market) Seni (Central) or Central Market where they sold local arts and crafts, clothes, and food. Much like Penang, Kuala Lumpur was very rich in Malay, Indian, and Chinese culture. So for our first meal we hit the streets and found a curb-side restaurant selling Chinese-Malay cuisine or Nyonya or Peranakan cuisine (cultural mix between ethnic Chinese and Malaysians). By this time we were well versed in changing languages, currency, and culture, but we have to admit we were completely lost when it came to ordering Malaysian food off a menu.
The extremely helpful Malaysian people quickly got us up to speed.
Nasi = rice
Goreng = fried
Ayam = Chicken
Kueh = cakes
Mee = yellow wheat noodles
Soto = soup
Laksa = rice noodle soup
Lemak = thick or sweet (indicates has coconut milk)
We ordered a plate of Malay style ginger beef and spicy hokkien noodles.The food was solid for street-side and the price was just right for alittle over a dollar per plate.
The standout was the canned mango beverage.
Malaysia was the only country where canned beverages were raraly carbonated. The mango beverage, and the soon tasted lychee beverage both had chunks of the fruit in the beverage which made it interesting and an adventure for your mouth. After traveling through the food heavens of Japan and Vietnam we were somewhat jaded to the Malaysian cuisine. We found the cuisine to be slight variations of - fried rice, fried noodles, fried chicken, and incorporated slight variations from Thailand, China, and Indonesia (all of which are our least favorite cuisines). So while we were in Kuala Lumpur we took advantage of its cosmopolitan side and ate whatever we craved.
Including sushibento lunchesand happy hours
Oh how we missed happy hours. Malaysia is a Muslim country and has very strict alcohol laws. Even though Guiness and Carlsberg are brewed in Malaysia it was extremely expensive to buy and usually only available in Chinese establishments. How expensive is beer you ask? A 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser, sold in a grocery store was $8.00 US! Locally brewed Malay beers such as Skol was about $3.00 US a bottle!!!
Now coming from countries where beers were an average of $.60 it was shocking to pay $3. We did partake in our share of street satays
and Indian Rotiand fruit
But the standout street food we found in Kuala Lumpur was at the Chow Kit open market. We noticed a cart with cast iron pans cranking out some sort of pancake that would be neatly stacked in the display case. The smell was incredible and we immediately purchased one.They turned out to be light fluffy cornmeal cakes with a tahini peanut butter consistency paste in the middle. Crispy, doughy, and goey, in other words - yummy.

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