So, where does one go to look for the quintessential Malaysian breakfast when one is in the CBD? One precious tip - go to Jalan Tengah, that slender lane which runs through the backs of two rows of skyscrapers lining Jalan Sultan Ismail on one side, and Jalan Raja Chulan on the other. Jalan Tengah during the early mornings is replete with "gerai-gerai" (Malay-speak for stalls) selling all sorts of Malay breakfast dishes: "kuih-muih" (cakes), "mee goreng" (fried Malay-style noodles), "karipap" (Malay curry puffs) and, of course, the "Nasi Lemak" - coconut milk-flavored rice, served with a paraphernalia of side dishes: sambal squid, beef rendang, "kachang goreng" (stringbeans stir-fried with tempe, tofu and lotsa chillies), fried eggs, fried chicken, etc. Hundreds of office workers will grab their breakfasts at their favorite stalls here, often takeaway packs which they'd bring to office, or to their favorite "kopitiam" (coffeeshop). If you can't find a dish here, then it doesn't exist in the Malay culinary world.
My chosen breakfast spot this morning along Jalan Tengah was one of the casual eateries - the bright, airy Mom's Kitchen. My breakfast plate was Nasi Lemak with "kachang goreng", roasted groundnuts, spicy sambal, sliced cucumber, half a hard-boiled egg and a rather salty frankfurter (the sort which comes out of a can, and very popular among Malaysians). The rice had a pleasing, moist texture - something which Malaysians do so well, and which Singaporean Nasi Lemak vendors strangely could not replicate.
My beverage was a cup of "kopi, kurang manis", which means "white coffee, less sugar" - Malaysians tend to have a sweet tooth and will sweeten a cup of coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar!
How to order your local cuppa caffeine fix in Kuala Lumpur vis-a-vis Singapore & Penang? My rough guide:
1) Coffee, less sweet/sugar
Kuala Lumpur (Malay): Kopi, kurang manis
Singapore: Kopi, siew tai
Penang: Kopi, chia
2) Coffee, no sugar
Kuala Lumpur (Malay): Kopi, tanpa gula
Singapore: Kopi kosong
Penang: Kopi, mai teng
3) Coffee, no milk or sugar
Kuala Lumpur (Malay); Kopi-O, tanpa gula
Singapore: Kopi-O kosong
Penang: Kopi, mai liau
In Singapore, we also have some local coffee beverage preparations which does not exist (or which I'd not come across) in Malaysia:
Kopi kah tai - coffee with extra sweetened condensed milk (the fave brand in Singapore, as in Malaysia, is Dutch Lady)
Kopi ti lo - super-thick coffee, a kind of local "espresso"
Kopi-C kosong - coffee with evaporated milk & no sugar
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