ST PHOTOS: LIM SIN THAI
Malaysians love their street food.
It is so much a part of life here that the Tourism Ministry includes street food in its publicity campaigns and runs an annual street food festival.
Chief among its targets would be Singaporeans hankering for a taste of yesteryear, hunting down dishes that are no longer available back home, or at least not prepared with the oomph they once had.
Indeed, street food is a lot more common in Malaysia than Singapore, where vendors have all but moved into hawker centres or food courts.
Malaysian hawkers are also gradually migrating to more comfortable shop lots - and occasionally food courts - but thankfully, this usually does not affect the standard of food.
The good news for visitors is that some of Kuala Lumpur's top street food hawkers are located near the centre of town, where they will likely be staying.
Where: Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru (next to Kelab Sultan Sulaiman). Fifteen minutes' walk from Kampung Baru LRT station
Open: 6pm to 5am daily
Info: Call +60-12-3361-200
If nasi lemak is the quintessential Malay dish, then the right place to look will be the Malay heartland of Kampung Baru. And CT Garden, which has been around for more than 30 years, is one of the area's most famous stalls.
It packs its fragrant coconut rice in small packets, along with a quarter hard-boiled egg and sambal ikan bilis (above). It goes for only RM0.80 (S$0.32), but the portions are small and typically, you would take at least two to three packets.
The stars here, however, are the tasty side dishes. The sambal tempe is a must-try. It has the right mix of spicy and sweet - and manages to remain crispy, not soggy. The tender beef rendang is another favourite.
Two packets of rice with about three side dishes will cost you about RM8 to RM10. Pay at the counter before you tuck into your food.
RESTORAN SUPER KITCHEN
Where: 33 Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman 1, off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Ten minutes' walk from Medan Tuanku monorail station
Open: 7.30am to 6pm daily
Info: Call +60-3-2697-0998
The success of Super Kitchen's chilli pan mee appears deceptively simple.
Start with a bowl of freshly rolled handmade pan mee. Add some minced pork, a poached egg, ikan bilis and fried shallots. Top it off with a spoonful of chilli flakes. Serve and get lots of customers.
Yet this simple dish is the reason a few hundred people stream into this eatery every day to savour the delectable mix (the egg should be broken and all the ingredients tossed in the bowl before you start eating).
Owner Albert Khoo, who has been running the shop with the help of his brothers for a decade, attributes the popularity to his meticulously prepared ingredients. The chilli flakes alone take about half a day to prepare. The stall also eschews preservatives and uses only minimal amounts of MSG.
Each bowl of noodles costs RM6. For a fuller meal, top it off with dumpling soup (RM5) and homemade barley (RM2).
Be prepared to wait for a seat during lunchtime, especially on weekdays.
AMPANG YONG TOW FOO
Where: Open-air carpark at the junction of Jalan Imbi and Jalan Gading, next to the Honda showroom. Twenty minutes' walk from Imbi monorail station
Open: 6 to 10pm, closed on Tuesdays
The Lee brothers have been selling Hakka yong tau foo from a pushcart here for more than 25 years, since the duo were in their teens.
They still make their items daily, briskly stuffing their fish paste - which is prepared at home in the morning - into chillies, brinjals and tofu before frying or braising them.
The crowds swell around the stall the moment it opens in the evening, piling the food on their plates. The bestseller is the deep-fried wonton. It is not uncommon to see customers order dozens of them for takeaway. All items at the stall cost RM1 each.
Those who miss patronising the pushcart food stalls of yesteryear Singapore will also enjoy the selection of hawkers selling char kway teow, chicken wings and satay at this open-air location, which functions as a carpark by day.
SHIN KEE BEEF NOODLES SPECIALIST
Where: 7A, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Ten minutes' walk from Pasar Seni LRT station
Open: 10.30am to 8.30pm, closed on Wednesdays
Info: Call +60-3-2072-5020
Come early for lunch at this hole-in-the-wall eatery near Chinatown or be prepared to stand around for a seat at one of its seven small tables.
What everyone is patiently waiting for at Shin Kee is a taste of the dry beef noodles, which is renowned as one of the best in Kuala Lumpur. Each bowl of noodles is topped with a generous helping of melt-in- your-mouth minced beef, made from a secret recipe.
The accompanying bowl of flavourful soup comes with beef slices, meatballs, tripe and brisket - or you can customise it according to what you want. The springy meatballs and tender briskets are especially worth trying, and go well with the chilli sauce.
A small bowl costs RM7, while a large one costs RM9.
FIERCE CURRY HOUSE
Where: 16 Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar Utama. Five minutes’ walk from Bangsar LRT station
Open: 10.30am to 10.30pm daily
Info: Call +60-3-2202-3456
Fierce Curry House almost deserves a recommendation just for its name. And yes, its food really is fierce. Although it has been open for only about a year, it has already gained a reputation for its delicious briyani and banana leaf rice.
The eatery sells 14 types of briyani, but the favourite here is the mutton briyani, which is cooked according to an old family recipe. Each pot of briyani (above) – which works out to a generous portion for one person – is individually sealed with a pastry crust and steamed. The result is a fragrant mix of fluffy, flavourful rice and juicy pieces of tender mutton.
This story was first published in The Straits Times newspaper on October 28, 2012. Read similar stories online in The Straits Times Life! section.