Thanks Penang Rojak, Kyleoh and others for all your recommendations. Have just returned from 5 days in KL and Melaka - its the second time I have visited KL and the food definitely lived up to a second try! First time in Melaka and just want to go straight back there – lovely place and GREAT food!
I was in something of a quandry the whole time I was in KL- should I revisit places I went to last time (and LOVED!) or should I try new things? As much as possible I did both - but unfortunately sheer lack of tummy-space meant I still came back not trying as much as I wanted to!! But here is my summary of the trip from a chow point of view:
1) KL highlights
- Restoran Greenview for Sang Har Meen, Black pepper crab, la la (clams) cooked with curry leaves and chili, and kang kong belacan
I went to this place on the last trip and it was the highlight of my time in Malaysia. This time around my brother was visiting too and I wanted to take him out for a great dinner. Greenview didn’t disappoint. It was a TOTAL MISSION to get there! It was rush hour so taking a commuter train from KL Sentral to Jalan Templer proved difficult (had to wait for about the 3rd train as so full), then on arrival I thought we could walk but after a while think we were lost so got a cab – however taxi driver took us for a ride – literally! We ended up miles from the restaurant but thanks to another legit taxi driver and some helpful locals we finally ended up at the place. Despite all this palaver the meal definitely was worth it – I so recommend this place if you love prawns – Sang Har meen is one of my all time fave dishes!!
- Soong Kee (near Petaling Street) for beef ball noodles (another repeat visit – was a great as I remember! I ended up trying Shin Kee as a comparison but definitely preferred Soong Kee – guess its personal preference – they are both great.
- frog porridge on Jalan Alor – yum!! This congee stand is one of the street stalls on Jalan Alor – am turning into a real congee addict. Loved the flavour of this one – I admit I initially tried because I wanted to say Ive eaten frog porridge! But actually turned out to be a most delicious thing to eat.
- on the subject of congee – a delicious congee on level 4 of KLCC Suria – in the Rasa Foodcourt – the stall is labeled “Char Kuih” and does a great dried oyster and peanut congee served with char kuih (like long doughnuts). YUM!!!! I had never tried these fried dough sticks before and I was hooked – what a combo with the congee – now I need to find some good ones in New Zealand….
- Speaking of Char Kuih – thanks to the chowhounder who posted about “the crueller lady on Jalan Alor” – I found this family and their unnamed stall – its near the Durian stall on Jalan Alor. They make THE BEST fried dough – loved the sesame ones in particular – and at 70 sen this is THE bargain of the trip!
- Still on Jalan Alor: Wong Ah Wah for grilled chicken wings – every bit as good as people say (just standing there and inhaling the smoky aroma is worth paying for…)
- Restoran SMS Deen – walk along Jalan Alor to the end where the Durian seller is. You are now at a T junction with another road (not sure name, sorry) – turn left and SMS Deen is just there on your left. It’s a great Indian place which did superb roti and Dosai – the Masala Dosai was memorably good!
- Little Penang Kafe, Level 4 KLCC Suria – didn’t blow my mind quite as much as when I first went to this place on my last visit but remains solidly good for things like Assam Laksa and Lorbak
- Last, but by no means least – Lonely Planet know something about food when they mention the Durian Pancakes at the Mandarin Oriental – the only way to describe them would be “exquisite” – so delicious and worth every penny. The experience in itself is of course fun – going to the Mandarin Oriental and being presented with silver service etc. I literally turned up in my shorts and daypack (!) because I didn’t have time to change at the hostel. I thought they would turn me away for not being dressed up enough but they were very nice. I explained I just wanted the durian pancake dessert which was fine. It was 18RM and consisted of 3 crepe-like pancakes, inside each was a filling of durian and cream – it was a match made in heaven. Really and truly I would recommend trying this when in KL!
Disappointing/not so good (not much)
- I did find the Hokkien Mee stall on Jalan Alor (near the Durian Stand) (whilst using lard bits which I wanted to try) just was a bit too greasy for my tastes
- Yut Kee – the coffe was great but my brothers noodle dish (beef with ginger) was really overly salty – but I would still go back here as everything else was good and the atmosphere of the place is great
- Sister drunken chicken – I was glad I tried this but personally found the soup too sweet for my taste – but Im sure it has its followers.
Onto Melaka / Malacca - I did a day trip here and it was my first time in this town and I reckon I would go back just for the food YUUUUMMMM!!!:
- Nyonya Makko – thank you to whoever recommended this place (Klyeoh?, Gomez?) as it was the best lunch of the trip. Unfortunately I was on my own so I couldn’t try as many dishes as I had hoped, but I gave it my best shot. Everything I ordered was fab: Assam fish was absolutely delicious – tangy and sour, Pong Teh chicken was lovely and savoury, and Kang Kong (my new fave vegetable) really great. Absolute highlight was their Cendol – am sooo a Cendol addict and this was the best example of the trip: really rich and tasty with a heat busting pile of ice on top. Would go back to this place in a flash – if you are going to Melaka you MUST try this place!
- Pineapple Tarts from Bibik House on Jonkers Street – great snack
- Durian Cendol from Lao Quin Ice café (not in the same league as Nyonya Makko’s cendol but nevertheless nice, thirst quenching dessert and interesting to try the durian twist on things…
I was disappointed that the legendary chicken rice ball place was shut by the time I reached it (Chung Wah I think the name was?) but I really could not have fitted it in anyway!
So in summary, Malaysia for me remains one of THE great countries in the world to travel to if you are a chowhounder. Prices are great value, quality tends to be at least good if not excellent and the variety of authentic cuisines available is wide (malay, nyonya, indian, chinese - im sure the latter is actually broken down into various regional chinese cuisines but I am not sufficiently au fait with this to know which cuisines are represented). I am now back in NZ and CRAVING all this food! Luckily we have a couple of places here that do Malaysian food – but im on the hunt for cendol and congee with dough sticks – my 2 latest addictions...
I also went to Bangkok on this trip and will post a trip report for there soon.
Thanks again chowhounders for your recommendations – its great to get them and it made my trip so much better – please post if you want Auckland recommendations from me.