Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 3, Kuala Lumpur
Day three took me to the base of nearly 300 stairs up to Batu Caves, a holy Hindu worship ground. The hike up was made fun by all the macaque monkeys climbing everywhere enjoying the flavors of fruit and flowers which I presume they stole from visitors (surely people wouldn’t have handed the food to them freely because there were signs all over saying not to feed the monkeys).
Lunch at Batu Caves
After taking in the sights of the caves, shrines, and worshipers, I found that the wonderful smells coming from the little food stands at the base were a bit intoxicating. I followed the scents and found a flat grill cooking ladles full of runny batter which crisped up into thin little crepes which were then stuffed with delicious Indian spiced vegetables. I couldn’t resist, so I paid the 3 Ringgit (about $1) and ordered one. It was called Masala Tosai. It was so good that it made me want to become a Hindu vegetarian so I could eat it and its distant cousins all the time. The vegetables in the middle were potatoes, carrots, peas, green chili, corn, mustard seeds, curry leaves, very spicy little red chilies, onions, and fennel seeds. Just simply wonderful.
The whole thing was folded up and served with an assortment of accompaniment sauces; from left to right:
- Slightly spicy soupy sauce made of tomatoes, onions, chili, and lentils (dahl).
- The most exquisite creamy dahl I’ve ever had, seasoned with chilies and cumin, and sweetened with carrots.
- A grated coconut sauce made with chilies, parsley, and coconut milk.
Lunch at Time Square Mall, Kuala Lumpur
An hour later it was 2nd lunch time as I walked through Kuala Lumpur’s Time Square Mall, home of Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks. I ordered the XXL Fried Chicken. What was this thing? American fried chicken, German chicken schnitzel, Japanese katsu? Perhaps a bit of all three, kind of like KFC Extra Crispy breading meets Panko bread crumbs, surrounding a flattened chicken breast that still had its connective bones in it. The bones actually added to the moistness of it all. The breading had a very sweet but subtle star anise flavor. It was sprinkled with a “spicy” chili powder that wasn’t spicy at all, then served in a paper bag. It was so wonderful I contemplated eating the bones, but decided against it and sucked every morsel of tender chicken off of them instead. Good good good, I’d like another please!
Dinner at Pavilion KL, Kuala Lumpur
Dinner that evening was at the basement food court of Kuala Lumpur’s prestigious Pavilion Mall where Bentleys and Ferraris greet you at the door. There are so many incredible food stalls here that choosing what to eat is an hour long decision; sizzling hot plates, giant bowls of soup, sweet desserts, satay grills, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, and everything in between. But at last I made the best choice I ever could have imagined. Beef Curry from Scissor Cut Curry Rice.
Oh my sweet heaven! Let’s first start with the soup. This vegetable water was incredible. How in the world they were able to get such intense savoriness without any meat stock, soy, mushrooms, or seaweed is beyond me. Must have been caked full of MSG.
The entrée’s side dish I chose was a wok fried crazy tube-like leafy vegetable I saw earlier at the market but have no idea what it was.
It was completely flavorless, and very crunchy; kind of similar to broccoli stems, but without the taste. It did have a great charred wok flavor from cooking though that made it quite enjoyable. I would gladly eat it again.
Then the beef….the magical beef. It tasted like Vietnamese pho, but put into a curry gravy form. I think it was made with a red curry paste and coconut milk. But it also had the strong familiar pho flavors of charred ginger root, onions, and star anise. The beef was very tender, much like pot roast. I took a bite and started swearing again. The cursing of joy continued throughout the meal. Santa Claus came early this year….
Dessert Disaster: Durian Ice Cream
After this package of joy, I felt the need for a little dessert. But unfortunately I chose very poorly. No matter what you do in this life, if you ever find yourself in front of a treat stand selling durian ice cream, run like your ass is on fire. All I can say to this filth is NO NO NO!!! Close your eyes and picture a beautiful colored smooth and creamy yellow ice cream entering your mouth. You expect tropical wonders taking you to faraway lands of bliss, but instead you get a sewer plant in your face. This crap tastes just like what I imagine frozen mashed rotten onions tasting like. Freaking gross! Do not ever eat this, unless you’re just plain dumb like me. I gave it 3 bites just to be sure, and then tossed it.
Dessert Salvation: Taiwan Strawberry Shaved Ice
I quickly ran to the next stand over where they were selling delicious looking shaved ice. Where the durian disaster spewed forth straight from Satan’s bowels, this was like angles dancing on your tongue. Strawberries, strawberry syrup, flavorless clear gelatin tubes for texture, and coconut milk all atop some freshly shaved ice. Oh my! It was fantastic. Like a walk in Willy Wonka’s factory of creative yum yums. I felt like a kid again. The gelatin was really fun. This would be so easy to make at home, or at a county fair raking in the dough.