Friday, September 28, 2012

Eating your way around KL’s street food scene

By Chris Wotton
STREET food across Southeast Asia is well renowned for its quality, variety and low cost – and Malaysia is no exception to the rule. In the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, tasty street food abounds and eating on the street guarantees experiences – and flavours – you will struggle to get in the best of the more expensive indoor restaurants. There might be no air con, but the sights, sounds and smells and the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets more than compensate.
A variety of cuisines and tastes are catered for at the city’s vast number of makeshift roadside eateries. From satay chicken to deep fried bananas, expect top quality examples of the different dishes that make up Malaysia’s vast food culture. Year round you are spoilt for choice in terms of the food you can be chowing down in the comfort of local Malaysians. By following their lead and eating at stalls which have a crowd of hungry customers, you can be sure not only of better standards of cleanliness (if the locals are eating there, chances are they are not getting sick) but also top notch nosh!
There is an excellent selection of Malaysian street food in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown area on Jalan Petalling, as well as in the Bukit Bintang area – a favourite for backpackers in particular – and on the streets around the city’s many shopping malls and nearby the infamous Petronas Towers. Drop by around festivals like Ramadan for reams of extra choice – at dusk during the Muslim fasting period, when the day’s period of abstinence comes to an end, the streets are packed with throngs of stalls that are not there normally, each with even more choice of delicious snacks to tuck into.
Freshly grilled satay. Pic: Chris Wotton.
Freshly grilled satay. Pic: Chris Wotton.
Satay is a must eat on the Malaysian street food circuit. This unbeatable favourite, popular around the world and hailing from the Indonesian island of Java but adopted by the Malaysians and made their own, consists of skewers of chicken, pork or beef marinated in a rich curry based paste with coconut milk, then grilled and served with an equally rich peanut sauce on the side for dipping, again with lashings and lashings and coconut milk. The grill is often as simple as a metal tray on the street with a pot of smoking embers beneath – sometimes, though, simplicity is best.

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