Not much to say today, just posting a few photos that I took during my trip to Kuala Lumpur in January, just before the start of the annual Lunar New Year. As usual, I made multiple trips to buy CDs at various branches of Rock Corner and Victoria Music, bought a bunch of bargain books at Book Xcess in the Amcorp Mall (and couldn’t resist browsing the selection of used CDs at their weekend flea market), and had many great meals at places such as the historic Coliseum Café.
On another food note, over in the Dang Wagi neighborhood, the legendary Yut Kee has moved! But regular customers need not worry too much; the revered kopitiam has only moved around the corner, to spacious new multi-floor digs. Unfortunately, I was unable to eat at the new location. I showed up on a Monday, the one day of the week they are closed!
I was in Kuala Lumpur last month for four days. It was pretty mucha non-stop frenzy of eating, CD buying, eating, book buying, eating, more CD buying, and more eating. In case you haven’t figured it out, Kuala Lumpur is a foodie paradise. You can find a wide variety of restaurants and food stalls to send your taste buds into overdrive all around KL and in neighboring towns such as Petaling Jaya. I ate local Malay cuisine at Yut Kee in Dang Wangi, sizzling steaks at the Coliseum and The Ship, Burmese monhinga at Gantawin, and Indian snacks such as samosas on the street.
There is a cool-looking retro A&W drive-in restaurant across the street from the Amcorp Mall in Petaling Jaya that I was tempted to try, but I had too many bags of books after shopping at BookXcess, so I didn’t even stop for a root beer. I always intend to sample an even greater variety of food when I’m in the city, but I end up patronizing my favorite places each time and there is never enough time — or room in my stomach — to eat it all. Maybe next time.
When I wasn’t book shopping or rummaging through the CD stores in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, I was content to just stroll around town and soak up the local atmosphere. I stayed in a colorful area between Central Market and Masjid Jamek, conveniently close to the subway/train line and the Chinatown and Little India districts, plus there is noticeable Burmese presence on one street (more about that in a future post).
From either the Pasar Seni or Masjid Jamek LRT stations, I could take a train to nearly any part of town my heart desired. At nearby KL Sentral, there is also a link to the monorail, KL Kommuter trains, and the KLIA Airport Express. Very handy system they have. Once I arrived at my station of choice, I’d either head straight to a mall for more shopping or eating, or just walk around the neighborhood to kill time. There is not much in the way of historical sites to see in the city, but I do like looking at the modern architecture, street graffiti, mosques, Hindu temples, and shops.
The only thing that bothered me this time was all the Christmas decorations I saw, littering the local malls, restaurants, and department stores. And what is it with store employees gleefully wearing Santa Claus caps? Urrgghh! Yeah, I’m a seasonal Grinch, and proud of it. When I moved to Thailand 16 years ago, I thought I would be able to escape the Xmas idiocy, but no such luck. But even in a predominately Muslim country like Malaysia, the Christmas decorations are just out of control. Jingle Hell once again.
I was also disappointed that one of my favorite restaurants, Yut Kee (in Dang Wangi) was closed for some sort of multi-day break during the time I was in town. But there are plenty of good dining options in KL, so it wasn’t like I was going to go without eating for four days. I found another nearby kopitiam for breakfast, dined a few times at a Burmese restaurant, went to the funky The Ship in Bukit Bintang, and of course made a pilgrimage to the mighty Coliseum (more about that legendary restaurant in a later post also) for a sizzling steak with fried tofu on the side. Really. Weird combination, but along with a couple of Tiger beers it made my night.
One of the great joys in visiting Kuala Lumpur for me is the food. I’m an unabashed foodie, so I delight in sampling the myriad choices of sumptuous cuisine available throughout the greater KL area. Of course there any many places for authentic Malay food, but there is also an abundance of wonderful Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants. If my carnivore side kicks in and I feel like a big juicy steak, which inevitably happens when I’m in town, there is always the famous Coliseum Café or the venerable Ship in Bukit Bintang.
KL doesn’t have the everywhere-you-turn abundance of street food that’s so easily found in Bangkok, but there are parts of the inner city where there are street stalls serving up delectable dishes. The traditional local coffee shops, or kopitiams, are also great places to grab breakfast, or any meal, and some good strong coffee. These joints are usually very laid back and very inexpensive, but also very busy.
I made sure to make several trips to Yut Kee in Dang Wangi for some good hearty breakfasts, and another morning I went to my favorite local Burmese restaurant, Gandawin, for a big bowl of monhinga and a few cups of sweet hot tea. I also stopped by Gandawin one evening for dinner, and the place was packed with expat Burmese workers; eating, drinking, and watching music videos on the big TV screens. Surrounded by all that and speaking Burmese to my waitress — not to mention the betel nut stand out front — I felt like I was back in Mandalay!