Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 4, Kuala Lumpur
Day four. One of the most wonderful things about traveling to different parts of the world is trying different fruits and vegetables. While I was at the completely thrilling Chow Kit Market the other day, I picked up some exotic (to me) fruits for today’s breakfast. Clockwise from bottom left: Champagne Mango (you can find these in the states and are well worth the money), Dragon Fruit, Jambu Madu (otherwise known as Water Guava; it’s like a watery unsweet pear/apple), some lizard skin fruit that I have no idea what is (tasted like bitter pineapple; not good), and Daku Langsat (related to lychees….grape like insides with a large hard seed all stuffed inside a very hard skin. They’re good, but lychees are better).
Dragon Fruit is typically white fleshed inside with little black seeds, slightly sweet, and not very exciting. This variety however was brilliant pinkish purple and was very sweet. It was amazing! Why don’t they import these in the U.S.?
I served it up with a bagel and some Aloe Vera Yogurt (that’s right, Aloe Vera. Sounds crazy, but it tastes exactly like grape soda!). It was wonderful, and I ate this breakfast most of my first week in Malaysia.
PETRONAS Towers, Kuala Lumpur
I spent the morning at the PETRONAS Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world. They are absolutely beautiful all clad in stainless steel and glass. I felt like I was on the mother ship about to take off for planet gulgamac when I was on the sky bridge between the two towers.
Lunch at Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine, Kuala Lumpur
This 4 hour adventure worked up an appetite, so I met my buddy for lunch at a Japanese place nearby, Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine. He’s quite the foodie like me and loves this place, so I knew it was going to be good before I even stepped inside.
He ordered us a sashimi appetizer called Moriawase (New Style Sashimi). Holy hell! It was sashimi (tuna, tuna belly, smoked salmon, and mackerel) on a standard bed of soy sauce. But then they drizzled fresh basil oil (blended fresh basil and olive oil) on it and sprinkled it with fried garlic chips, fried scallion threads, fresh scallions, and pink peppercorns. Italian and Japanese flavors combined? What genius! It was unbelievable.
The salmon was my favorite….it was slightly smoked and was just amazing with the other flavors going on, especially the basil!!! The crunch from the garlic chips and the zesty pop of the peppercorns were truly exciting. Sashimi will never be the same for me again. Please bring this dish somewhere closer to me than Malaysia!!!
The entrée I had the pleasure of sinking my teeth in was a combination meal of:
- Buckwheat noodle soup (a dashi/kombu stock, sliced pork, spinach, and scallions. It was good, but I prefer Chinese and Vietnamese soups more)
- Carrots and a root (possibly turnip) that seemed to have been lightly boiled in soy sauce and then tossed with sesame oil and seeds (they were fantastic. I look forward to trying to repeat the process at home)
- some pickles that were very salty
- Japanese Curry (I didn’t even know Japan offered a curry. It was great! Very mild and much more subtle than its cousins)
It was all very good, but the sashimi was clearly the mind blowing highlight.
Dinner at Jln Alor Food Hawker Paradise
Dinner that night was the experience I came to Malaysia for: a food hawker paradise that took up both sides of the street across an entire city block. Jln Alor (juh-lan al-lore) it was called. If it wouldn’t have been for the pain of my stomach stretched to the maximum capacity I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I was like a kid in a candy store. An entire block of nothing but hawker stalls. Are you kidding me? Sold! We started at the first place we saw with chicken wings. It was called Cu Cha Restaurant and I wanted to eat everything on the menu. But alas, we just ordered the chicken wings and a pork omelet which was filled with Chinese style BBQ pork, onions, cabbage, and red chilies; odd mix but very scrumptious. The chicken wings had the same flavorings as the hawker stall the other night, except these ones came with an outrageous sweet chili and ginger dipping sauce that made one’s worries slip away into the land of fatness and glory. What a way to start out the evening of gluttony!
We then started searching for the stall recommended in the Lonely Planet book. We think we found it, and now know why they recommend it. Oh my gosh! Come see what we ate…..
W.A.W Restaurant, dish #1. Chili Clams. One bite and I was spent. Who am I? Where was I 5 minutes ago? Who knows or cares when you have something this delicious in your mouth. The brown chili sauce was more like a thick gravy than a sauce. It tasted remarkably like American Chinese General Tsao’s chicken sauce, except with addictive crack added in! You had to suck the clams out of the shell, the entire time this sauce just bursting in your mouth. Again….again….more…..MORE!!!! Wow. (the clams alone were good, very fresh, and very clean. No sand grit here)
W.A.W Restaurant, dish #2. This is Crispy Garlic Pork. We believe the pork is first slow roasted in the oven, then cubed and quickly seared in very hot oil in a wok. This makes it extremely moist from the roasting, and crazy crunchy from the quick fry. The sauce was very dark and heavy, but not overly salty surprisingly, and tasted much like a hoisin sauce with tons of garlic. Ian had the first bite and instantly hung his head, melting from delight.
W.A.W Restaurant, dish #3. Ginger Scallion Frog. Yes, frog. This was my favorite dish of the night. So simple, yet so complete. The frog was lightly dusted with corn starch, then wok fried. Fresh scallions, huge ginger slices, loads of garlic, and a brown sauce (we think it was soy sauce and sugar, caramelized into a thick sauce). Swearing again….
Here’s a better look at the frog legs. Frog is good, and we should eat it more. It has a flavor like chicken, but a texture between white fish and chicken. Very light and delicate, very clean, and very satisfying to eat.
All done at W.A.W Restaurant. Ahhh…..
We both wanted some form of Bao (steamed bun) to finish our meal. We found this little stand…
They served us GIANT Pork Bao. This was massive, easily 3 times bigger than most Bao. I expected sweet, but was happily surprised to find it wasn’t sweet or spicy; just a super savory delight filled with pot roast like pork, onions, mushrooms, gravy, and even a hard-boiled egg.
On the way out, I couldn’t help myself. I should have bought 5 of these they were so good, but only got one. Fool! It was a sweet puff pastry filled with a sugar beef that literally tasted just like candy inside, but with a weight of beef flavor and protein on the back of your tongue. I want another right now. Why didn’t I buy more?
The only thing bad about Jln Alor was all the hawkers shoving their menus in your face as you walked by, and them yelling to get your in thir stall. That and all the obnoxious people coming up to your table trying to get you to buy their crappy wares (laser lights, utility knives, etc.). All in all though it was the most amazing food experience of my life.