Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 1, Kuala Lumpur
Pavilion KL, Kuala Lumpur
My first evening in Malaysia (after a grueling 34 hours of travel time) was spent at the fantastic food court and restaurant offerings of Pavilion KL, Kuala Lumpur’s most ritzy mall. The food here was so spectacular that I ended up eating here several times throughout my visit.
Din Tai Fung Restaurant
Let me first introduce you to Din Tai Fung restaurant, famous for their fresh made dumplings and noodles. The open kitchen filled with masked chefs making noodles and dumplings by hand surrounded with ridiculously high stacks of bamboo steamers made for a great show as you walked in the establishment, but left me to question if this place was more show than tastiness.
The menu items didn’t stand out in any exciting way, and in looking around at the other tables, the plate presentations lacked the typical “eat with your eyes” flare that is so common. But don’t let it all fool you. Holy hell! Absolutely incredible! It was a truly magical experience. Let’s start with the fresh noodle dish I ordered.
I’ve always longed for freshly made Chinese La Mian noodles made from the hands of a master craftsman, and at last I got them! La Mian literally translates as (lā) to pull or stretch, (mián) noodle. They are made by repeatedly stretching a piece of dough to about arm’s length while folding it over onto itself (forming a loop) over and over again, each time doubling the length and reducing the thickness of the noodles by half. This process is repeated until the thickness and quantity of noodles desired is produced.
I was nowhere near disappointed in the thin, long noodles’ difference in taste and texture over the tricksy dried varieties we’re always subject to in the states. Though most traditionally served in a broth, mine were quickly tossed in a wok with ground ginger pork, tofu, edamame, scallions, and a light chili soy sauce. A little drizzle of black vinegar (a traditional Chinese condiment somewhat similar to balsamic vinegar though more mild) and they became mildly spicy and sour salty strands of goodness that set the stage for the 2 weeks of culinary enlightenment ahead of me.
Din Tai Fung Amazing Dim Sum
The rest of Din Tai Fung’s menu that evening was just as exceptional. I had the privilege of enjoying the best dim sum Ha Gow (shrimp steamed dumplings) and Shao Mai (pork and shrimp steamed dumplings) of my life. It was so damn good!!!!!!!
The third Dim Sum dish of the night was Bao (steamed rice flour buns). These Bao were the best I’ve ever had. They had ground pork patties inside with strong overtones of lemongrass and a saucy gravy that just poured out when you bit into them. Mmmmmm….I wet myself just now thinking of them….
See the gravy? See the chunks of ginger? See the tasty pork? See the happy fat Jothan rolling on the floor in delight?
Another item ordered was Mayonnaise Shrimp. It was good, but not great. However, the crunchy deep fried shrimp with the slimy textured sweet mayonnaise was a lot of fun in my mouth.
We also ordered two new Dim Sum dishes that I’ve never heard of before. Oh my hell they were amazing!
- Xiao Lang Bun, broth filled dumplings
- Spicy Shrimp and Pork Dumplings
Xiao Lang Bun
I enjoyed the amazingly delicious Xiao Lang Bun broth filled pork and ginger dumplings dipped in black vinegar….completely incredible as it bursts hot broth in your mouth (break in your spoon first to empty some of the hot broth so you don’t burn your tongue!).
See the break and the emptied broth in the spoon? So savory, so nice….
Din Tai Fung Spicy Shrimp and Pork Dumplings
So I didn’t even know food could taste this good. I’ve had a lot of amazing things before, but never anything like this. These dumplings were filled with ground shrimp and pork, with lemongrass and ginger (and who knows what else). They were then seated in an amazing szechuan red chili sauce that had sweet undertones of star anise and possibly cinnamon. The chilies didn’t burn your tongue, but slapped the back of your throat in a sudden burst of pain that disappeared as quickly as it arrived. The taste sensation afterwards was total bliss. Culinary perfection at its best! They were so good that we got three orders of them (of which I ate almost two of myself).
We also ordered some delicious side dishes:
- Chinese long beans stir fried with ground pork and dried shrimp;
- Fried rice that wasn’t great but hey, this place is known for the noodles and dumplings
- Wok Fried Spinach with Garlic. That’s all it is….fried in a little oil with salt. Nothing else. Wonderful. Anyone can make this at home. And I recommend that you do. Pretty good, especially as a side with some great proteins and noodles/rice/dumplings. This will become a staple in my home now.
Stuffed to the brim and on a sleep schedule from the other side of the planet, I hit the bed hard and slept with a smile on my face from the dreams of wondrous food that awaited me through the rest of my trip to Malaysia.
The Bald Gourmet enjoys Chinese Dim Sum in Malaysia
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