About a year ago, I submitted an article on interior home decor for Mongoose Publishing. The article was published in the Tropicana Magazine. My journey into writing leads me to various destinations that don’t seem to be a fixed trend. And then I recently wrote an article for a friend on the sights and smells of our chaotic capital city of Malaysia.
I never thought much about what goes on in the greasy kitchens of Kuala Lumpur. I guess because I’ve been here pretty much all my life, I tend to take it for granted. But when I did my research prior to writing the article and actually thought about it, I realised that my city actually is alive with so much foodie goodness that sometimes I can hear my stomach screaming for mercy!
Whelp, the article goes something like this:
The capital city of Malaysia rivals no other when it comes to food. At the mere mention of ‘food’, the delectable smells wafting through the slits of doorways and hawker restaurant entrances will embrace you. Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, the city with a melting pot of culinary heritages which provide a dining experience as expansive as its skyline where everyone knows that the best dessert is a cheap bill.
Fondly known to locals as KL, it is home to many architectural styles with a mix of modern and postmodern skyscrapers, ornate Moorish buildings, columned colonial structures, grand mosques as well as elaborately-designed Chinese and Indian temples. The city is also home to a multiracial nation with rich backgrounds from different colonial eras (including but not limited to Portuguese, Dutch and British). Hence the many influences in architecture. While modern and postmodern styles define the city skyline with futuristic high rise buildings, there is one style that stands out and dominates the city.
The styles of cuisines are as varied as the cultural influences here, most of which stem from Malay, Chinese and Indian flavourful fanfares. Here, within the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, you will find everything from a thriving street food scene like Jalan Alor to other mid-range to high-end gastronomy establishments.
The street food culture is a mainstay in Kuala Lumpur. You can find stall after stall of local dishes like nasi lemak (coconut-milk infused rice steamed with leaves) and banana leaf rice (rice served on a banana leaf with assorted servings of vegetables, curries and other side dishes). If you’re craving for Chinese instead, you can head over to Petaling Street, KL’s Chinatown, for a steaming plate of wok-fried noodles and mixed rice (served with a side of soup and a variety of side dishes).
Deciding on where and what to eat can be a challenge. Endless culinary options greet your senses, from wok-fried noodles topped with fresh seafood to steaming piles of pork-filled buns and large bubbling pots of fragrant curries. Food is so big here that when you bump into friends, the first words out of your mouth is, “Have you eaten?”. Despite being surrounded by so much good food, we still have an issue of wondering where to go and what to eat.
An abundance of mamak eateries provides the best atmosphere for catching up with close friends for a hearty meal or to watch the next Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea. Food served here is not a specific type of cuisine. It refers to the food sold by the Tamil Muslims in Malaysia. Some of the more common, popular dishes are roti canai, roti telur, nasi kandar (northern Malaysian dish of mildly-flavoured steamed rice with a variety of curry-based meat dishes and vegetables), nasi biryani (traditional Indian rice-based dish served with meat, vegetables and a gravy or curry), Maggi goreng and satay (skewered, seasoned and grilled meat served with mild spicy peanut sauce).
The wide variety of palates sum up Kuala Lumpur’s remarkable food culture; simple, delicious and wallet-friendly. The long stretch of humble street stalls and value-for-money restaurants are the best places where you can find many delicious delicacies to fill your demanding gut.
Beware the expanding waistline… and make sure you check the scales once in awhile. You may have to watch your portion or you’ll end up spending a fortune overhauling your wardrobe!