Monday, November 07, 2005

Hari Raya in Kuala Lumpur

We flew up the bilateral tie-promoting North-South highway to celebrate Hari Raya with the Malaysians. The trip rocked. No incriminating photographs follow.

First off, the food. Coz we ees only Seengaporeans innit? Toasted the unique taste of global fast food in Malaysia with Nando's peri-peri powered chicken (only Mustafa's sells their special peri-peri sauce in Singapore), Kentucky Fried Chicken's especially tasty malaysian fried chicken, the no-longer-available-for-purchase-in-Singapore McDonalds' milkshake and chewy Baskin Robbins ice-cream. We were lovin' it.

The requisite pleasantries having been dispensed with, we discovered tucked away in a dim dank corner in the bustling capital of Malaysia (Truly Asia), along Changkat Bukit Bintang, a kedai kopi that deserves mention. Under its rusty corrugated roof, dirty grease stalactites overhung a wet black uneven cement floor. Beside the old drain-cum-garbage disposal pit, yellowish-white singlet-wearing cooks fired up a storm, producing magnificent wok hei-infused prawn noodle, a huge prawn split into half sitting on top of a plate of gravy-soaked crispy noodle. The shaven-headed one with tortoise-shell glasses who sipped Marlboros while reading Murakami had an equally fragrant fried rice.

When these dinky hideaways boarded up for the night, the food streets started to come alive under the stars and strings of naked bulbs. Off Jalan Petaling, makeshift furniture was set up along unlit disused five-foot ways and tiny alleys for good cze cha. A spitting distance away, good old Sharp Eyes spotted a tiny cart run by an old couple. They sold the most delicious beef hor fun with literally melt-in-the-mouth thinly sliced beef and beef floss. We swooned for the rest of the night boosted by good wanton noodles and the crowds of loh she fun, claypot, fried hokkien mee and dumpling lovers on the way out of Chinatown. Then, strolling past families and friends sharing sheeshas on Jalan Bukit Bintang and down a parallel street, we finished off a night with satay and barbecued chicken wings.

Street food sold in restorans was no less yummy. Super Noodle House at Sungei Wang was out of suckling pig but their roast goose was...well...super. The nasi lemak, nasi bojari, assam laksa, curry mee at Madam Kwan's were given two thumbs and a big toe up as well.

At Bangsar Village, hurrying past the historical site of massive bird bombings, we chanced upon Delicious by Ms. Read. Just inside the entrance, glass cake stands were piled with scones. Plates of cakes stood against the white and turquoise decor. Lamps hung in white bird cages. On the menu and in many satisfied tummies were cooked lamb shank ravioli served on arugula with a balsamic reduction, chargrilled tenderloin steak with garlic mash and wild mushrooms, beautifully tossed pastas and for dessert the best warm chocolate cake slathered in generously thick chocolate sauce.

At another table, a faithful disciple was initiating two Tibetan monks into the worldly pleasures of warm brownie with vanilla ice-cream and at yet another, a big-haired tai-tai was smiling into her deconstructed black forest cake in a glass. Conveniently, Ms. Read sells auntie clothes for "plus-sized women". She's certainly grooming loads of potential customers and keeping her current ones close.

Fortified, we explored the rest of Bangsar. Other speciality stores in Bangsar Village included Lavand, a purveyor of fine baklava (none of that soggy hard stuff) and How & Why a graphic design store which sold the requisite design-store Moleskine note books and useful back issues of Wallpaper*.

Further afield, near the pre-clubbing hangout of Telawi Street Bistro (with it's Heineken-like red star) and its sister tapas joint, La Bodega, resided a few independent butiks that made very interesting use of sight/sound/scent-scapes to enhance the shopping experience. The staff at Blook and People's...Egg were unfailingly patient. The designs were also much less fussy than other Malaysian designers like Melinda Looi of Mell and Villiam Ooi of My Closet (if you're into that kind of thing, there's an enclave of Malaysian designers in Sungei Wang).

We had a look in Silverfish Books, startling the quiet bespectacled shopkeeper who was listening to some Hindu chanting. The place reeked of months of cup-noodle meals (so I didn't purchase their anthologies of new Malaysian and Singapore "talents") and sold India-printed Penguins and Vintages for cut-throat prices.

Speaking of books, managed to get quite a bit of reading done as well. Roald Dahl was hilariously and darkly entertaining on the way up.

Marcel Proust was particularly good for those captive times common to a group holiday: waiting for people to try on their [insert one number short of infinity]th item of clothing, or to decide what to buy, or for the arrival of transportation or for immigration clearance.

We increased the stash with back issues of good mags at a magazine haven at the foot of BB Plaza for RM5 a rag. I acquired a hardcover Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" cheap at Borders (picture a 20% discount on top of the instant 50% one from the S$-RM exchange rate. Excellent.). Started on Spider and his brother over roasted chestnuts late into the night while the sadistic trio scoffed Dunkin Donuts and hot chocolate, ogled Top Gear cars and cheered bloodied boxers on ESPN and finished their story over brekkie while listening to Death Cab for Cutie's "Transatlanticism". Took an eye break halfway through to find the black crow on the cover staring back at me...[ok, edited to exclude any spoilers]
TransatlanticismFurther to a previous mention of the music scene there, the pirates there had indeed advanced to cater to the mainstream indie crowd. Whole discographies of Maxïmo Park, DCFC, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, The Decemberists, Iron and Wine et al could be had for at most RM10 a pop. Like someone speared all the Pitchfork recommends. Oh wait...

Didn't manage to check out well-touted alt rock mayhem down at Paul's Place. Maybe next time.

Regrettably, didn't get a look in on Andrew Cheah at St Mary's Cathedral either to see how he and his SMACC congregation were getting along. If anyone's going to Kuala Lumpur soon, give him a shout for us, won't you.

Here endeth the promised summary of the good trip we had. Thanks for all the fun and fish. You guys jammed massively well. ;-)

*no Ramly burgers, Maggi mee gorengs or Rotiboys were harmed on this trip. They shall not be spared the next time.

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6 Comments:

At November 08, 2005 2:16 pm , Anonymous hamster said...

The beef floss and noodles... I ate at that stall all the way from young. Now that my parents have high blood pressure we go there less often, but it's still to die for. Gosh... The memories! It's next to the more modern looking food court thingee right?

 
At November 08, 2005 3:34 pm , Blogger shadow said...

Hooray! A KL boy! Shall bug you for food recommendations the next time we wander up to Klang Valley.

It's just outside a coffeeshop with huge horrid misting fans. A bit rundown but definitely more modern than that ancient pushcart! :-)

 
At November 08, 2005 3:57 pm , Anonymous cupboard space said...

you never tell me u go!!! (okay, this was in respect of cheap indie buys. ahem. *cough* *mutter* alright. i wouldn't have asked.)

 
At November 08, 2005 7:44 pm , Blogger shadow said...

I did think of you at the store (nothing to do with the under-the-table copy CDs of course). But then I thought to meself: wot wouldn't old cupboard space already have on those lovely shelves?

Nuthin'.

And the scent of durians wafted past. ;-)

 
At November 08, 2005 11:34 pm , Anonymous hamster said...

Eh... warning. I'm a KL boy who grew up in Singapore. Just for the hols we'd go back and haunt the place. My dad drives a lot and I don't so I don't really know the places...

Sorry lahhhh burst ur bubble...

 
At November 09, 2005 2:44 pm , Anonymous kelawar said...

Gave a shout to Andrew when I went up to KL in June. Must go there again!!

 

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