(Many readers may not realize that this blog started off nearly 10 years ago as basically a travel and food blog for two twenty-somethings spending a year in Southeast Asia. This post is written in that earlier mode.)
I haven’t been back to Kuala Lumpur in awhile. It’s changed since I’ve been here: more traffic, more new construction, and a new urban vibe. I went to my first Malaysian “third-wave coffee” shop, which is a new trend in KL. My guess is that we’re seeing a new transformation in Malaysia’s middle class, one that might prove just as important as the first conspicuous transformation of the late 1980s/early 1990s. I know that this is a rather banal statement for longtime Malaysia watchers, but it’s good to see it first hand.
But enough about that. I really came here to eat, and that’s what I’ve done. I had 16 hours from arrival in downtown KL to departure for the airport. Here’s what I did.
Stop 1 (Friday, 5 PM): Bangsar
Sri Nirwana Maju is the first place JM and I ever had banana leaf rice. It’s also one of my favorites.
Stop 2: (Friday, 7:30 PM): Jalan Alor
I believe that this is the first place that JM and I ever went out to eat in KL. It’s in the Bukit Bintang neighborhood, which was always touristy but which strikes me as noticeably more so than it did when we first came here.
In the back, fried kangkong with garlic and grilled stingray. In the front, Marmite Frogs Legs. Yes, you read that right—colonialism for the win!—and they were delicious.
Stop 3 (Saturday, 7 AM): Mesjid Jamek
A morning bite: karipap from a hawker, enjoyed at sunrise looking over Mesjid Jamek.
Stop 4 (Saturday, 7:45 AM): Pasar Sentral
They do a pretty good roti canai. It’s chewier than I prefer, without the crispness that sets the best roti canai apart.
But the curries and teh tarik were outstanding.
Stop 5 (Saturday, 8:30 AM): Jalan Petaling
The last stop before heading back to catch my train is Jalan Petaling, which has a couple of nice Chinese hawker places nearby.
After all of that food, even a small plate of pork cheong fun was almost too much. Almost.