Asia, Experience, Malaysia, Travel

Top 10 Things to Eat on a KL Food Trip

My favourite people in the world are Malaysians. Four trips to the country and countless of airport layovers in between, I stand by this claim with the conviction of a traveller who’s only had smashing reminiscence of the country.

It started with Jabidi, an old neighbour whose stories of coming to the Philippines by small boat from his native, Sabah, bequeathed my first glimpse of Malaysia. Then it continued with Tasha, whose food blog was spiced with family secrets from her grandma’s recipe book. Lastly, with Teoh, the most disarming gentleman I’ve ever known in this lifetime. (and you know how “disarming” stalls all else into standstill, but that’s for another blog post, so…)

KL Food Trip
Renowned Malaysian Food and Travel Blogger, Wilson Ng

On my recent trip however, Wilson, Nicole and Casey took centerstage. They did right, primarily, by taking me out on one hell of a gastronomic adventure.


Read: Melaka Food Trip Guide


To pay the thoughtfulness forward, here’s an Ultimate Kuala Lumpur Food Trip Hack from sunrise to midnight with local expertise courtesy of my Malaysian friends.

KL Food Trip
Power Couple Nicole Tan and Casey Liew Hoong

Breakfast

1. Instant Mi Goreng with a Gourmet Twist

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

Because really, who were we kidding? What with the fast-paced KL metropolis and its ironically severe traffic jams, nothing spelled convenience than a pack of instant Mi Goreng.

Then again, I was in posh Mont Kiara and somehow, there was a need to live up to the prestige. To the rescue were few drops of truffle oil and a perfectly fried egg and voila! Gourmet Mi Goreng ala Casey.

(Nota bene: I actually had this at dinner, but for this exercise, let’s pretend it’s an all-day breakfast.)

KL Food Trip
Cosmopolitan KL from Nicole’s Condo

Lunch

Technically, we drove out of Kuala Lumpur and to the neighbouring city of Petaling Jaya for lunch. It appeared that we actually drove against the direction of traffic too, which was half-genius, half-miraculous.

KL Food Trip


Village Park Restaurant
5 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor


2. Nasi Lemak

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

One cannot claim to have been in Malaysia until one had gobbled an entire plate of Nasi Lemak up. To Malaysians, nothing is Nasi Lemak enough unless it is the one at Village Park in PJ.

The hero of this national dish is in how fragrant and well-cooked the rice is. Usually cooked with coconut and pandan, this rice dish is often served with meat, anchovies, hard-boiled egg, vegetables and peanuts.

3. Milo Dinosaur

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

Common in Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore, this a traditional (street) drink made of Iced Milo topped with an excess of undissolved Milo powder.

Cheap and easy to make, but surprisingly a refreshing palate cleanser.

Dinner

Jalan Alor is most alive at night. Proximal to the backpacker haven of Bukit Bintang, Jalan Alor is KL’s street food Mecca.

From sundown onwards, this whole street transforms to a series of outdoor restaurants serving a variety of local dishes: a true reflection of Kuala Lumpur’s multicultural identity.

KL Food Trip


Triple Gold Kitchen
67-69 Jalan Alor
50200 Kuala Lumpur


4. Mo Mo Cha Cha

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

Also called Bobo Chacha or Bubur Chacha, it is a traditional Nyonya Dessert. Comprising of root crop like taro and sweet potato, it is cooked in coconut milk and added with tapioca, banana and other fruits. It can also be served hot or cold.

5. Oyster Omelette

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

Oyster Omelette is a savoury dish comprising of an oyster-filled egg-and-flour battered omelette. A common street food in Taiwan, it can be attributed to Fujian and Chaozhou origins, and is widely available in many parts of Asia.

6. Grilled Stingray

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Basically, this dish a grilled/barbecued stingray, laden with sambal topping and served on a banana leaf. It is widely popular in hawker stalls across the Malaysian peninsula and nearby Singapore.

7. Yin Yong

KL Food Trip

The duality of Yin and Yang– the harmony of two oppositions, is what this cultural dish represents. Basically two types of noodles are used: a dry one (usually vermicelli) and a wet one (usually flat noodles), which are then fused into a dish of contrasts, with vegetables, protein and other spices.

8. Kuey Tiao

KL Food Trip

Infamous in Penang, Kuey Tiao is a flat noodle dish that is stir-fried in lard and mixed with a variety of protein and vegetables. Often, it is served on a plate of banana leaf to further enhance the aroma of this Malaysian staple.

9. Hokien Noodles

Kuala Lumpur Food Trip

Also known as Hokkien Char Mee, this soy sauce- braised yellow noodle dish is another hawker stall favourite that is widely served in many Asian countries. 

Post-Dinner

KL Food Trip
Mojito and Pisco Sour from Fuego

It’s one thing to rough it out at a roadside eatery. It’s another to polish up to the heights of luxury immediately after roughing it up. That’s precisely what we did when right after Jalan Alor, off we went to the very exclusive Fuego Sky Dining at The Troika.

At first we weren’t sure if we’d be allowed entry in shorts and sandals. But my friends made calls and luckily so, we were gracefully received despite being under-dressed.

Reminiscent of clandestine rendezvous amongst the most influential, the atmosphere in the towers were almost eerie in its silence. We were led to a lift, to a dim-lit foyer and finally through a narrow corridor. I wasn’t prepared of what greeted us thereafter: panoramic views of the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur’s best-known landmark.

KL Food Trip
View from our table. Really.

Fuego Troika Sky Dining
Level 23a, Tower B, The Troika
19 Persiaran KLCC
50450 Kuala Lumpur


10. Churros and Salted Caramel

 

KL Food Trip

Fuego Sky Dining is tapas for the high society. I was fine with cocktails. But then Nicole insisted we try the Churros with Salted Caramel dip. And my golly was she right. If not for our very heavy dinner, I would’ve downed the entire jar of dip, spoonful after sinful spoonful.

It was such an experience that even before leaving, I was already planning on coming back: one day soon, and always, until I have sampled all items in their menu.


KL Food Trip

 I have been to Kuala Lumpur many times in the past. But after this Food Trip, the country took on a new form in my eyes. The city’s gastronomy, I realize, somehow mirrors the identity of the nation: boldly open to fusion, but proudly rooted on tradition. 

Asia, Day Trips, Experience, Malaysia, Travel

The Great Melaka Food Trip

“You should go on a Melaka food trip!”

This was the most common (unsolicited) suggestion I got from friends upon them learning that I was going to Melaka. Not particularly a foodie, I pushed those suggestions on the back burner. My fancy with Melaka lay on stuff that I found more interesting. But boy, I didn’t know any better.

It all changed when a Melaka-born friend I met in Indonesia the week prior, drove down from Kuala Lumpur and showed up in my hotel. Nicole and her boyfriend, Casey, very hospitably dragged me on a food trip around town. Bent on awakening the foodporn star in friends visiting their hometown, Nic and Case led me to the best local secrets in Melaka’s merry mix of gastronomic adventures.

Under their tutelage, let me take you to a full day of eating  your way around Melaka — my new, by far, favourite food capital in Southeast Asia. 

0830H | Start the day with Chicken Rice Balls.

Exploring Melaka entails a lot of walking. Therefore, it is imperative to have breakfast. What better way to carbo-load and fully-charge your energy levels for the day than Chicken Rice Balls?

Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, right outside the Jonker Street marker (beside Hard Rock and across H&M), serves the best in town! The place opens up to 3pm on weekdays and 4pm on weekends, but unless you are prepared to line up, it is wisest to go there for breakfast.

Retaining the good old ambiance of traditional Malaysian-style restaurants of open kitchens, Kedai Kopi Chung Wah has no need to hide behind pretty interiors. Its signature Kampung Chicken (steamed) and Rice Balls (rice cooked in chicken stock and rolled into balls) will leave you asking for seconds (or in my case, thirds! LOL).

For spice lovers, a huge jar of chilli sauce is available on every table. Needless to say, it was perfect to tie the whole dish up.

Price: 8RM per single serve (Chicken and 5 Rice Balls)


Kedai Kopi Chung Wah 
Address: 18, Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday – Friday 830am-3pm ; Saturday – Sunday 8:30am-4pm
Phone: +60 16-733 0699


1030H | Sip a cup of Melaka Kopi for morning tea.

After a morning stroll around Jonker Street, warm up (or cool down if you want the cold variety) with a shot of Melaka Kopi (Malacca Local Coffee).

Geographer Cafe at the corner of Jonker and Hang Jebat, is housed on a pre-war building, with warm and cozy atmosphere. Its woodsy interior and fast internet make the cafe an ideal chill-out place to catch up on journal writing or blogging.

The coffee isn’t really mind-blowing, considering how the coffee culture is cut-throat in Peninsular Malaysia. But the selling point here is in the explorer vibe that Geographer Cafe is able to perfect beautifully. That, plus, the excellent vantage point for people watching that the cafe has effortlessly provided.

Price: 4.5RM (Hot) | 5.5RM (Cold)


Geographér Café  
Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am-1am ; Sunday 8am-1am
Phone: +60 6-281 6813


1230H | Feast on Green Salad and Pineapple Beer.

For lunch, do splurge for the things that are worth it. Also, when lost in the bustle of Melaka, seek for a refuge where you can enjoy lunch in the stillness of the town without losing grip on the chaos of its art.

Good news for you, The Baboon House is just the place for that.

Doubling as an art gallery and a mini rainforest, it is every oddball’s happy place. It was mine, right off the bat. There is a catch though: no one is supposed to take photographs inside. (But a little bird told me she steals snaps all the time, so I did, too. Don’t judge! :P)

Much has already been written about The Baboon House’s freshly ground coffee and gourmet burgers, so if you are keen, choose to try something else. For example, their garden salad (read: bacon) and homemade pineapple beer are a must-try!

Price: 9.5RM Homemade Pineapple Beer | 15.5RM Green Salad (+2.5RM Service Charge)


The Baboon House
Address: 89, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Kampung Bukit China, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Wednesday – Monday 10am-5pm
Phone: +60 12-938 6013


1400H | Cool down with a Sugarcane Juice-to-go.

 

I have a deep love for those who work small jobs with big pride. Street vendors, for instance. So I make it a point to buy from them on my travels, hoping to help, even if it only meant 1.5RM of spare change.

This uncle for example, cheerfully said hello whilst I was taking photos of the facade of Cheen Hoon Teng Temple in Jalan Tokong. So I struck a conversation which ended in me guzzling cold sugarcane juice from a plastic bag.

Here, let me tell you a secret: street vendors are the most credible source of local information on a place. They know not only history, but also folklore. Sometimes, even gossip. Thus, if you are running out of twists to your narratives, go find a street food cart. 🙂

Price: 1.5RM (per serve)


(in front of) Cheng Hoon Teng Temple 
Address: 25, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia


1700H | Meet friends over Satay Celup for dinner.

 

The best relationships are forged over food. Communal eating is something that is highlighted in Ban Lee Siang’s Satay Celup.

Similar to the concept of the more well-known Hot Pot, a boiling pot of peanut sauce is sunk into a hole at the centre of the table where skewers of meat, vegetable, tofu and shellfish are dipped into and cooked.

Customers get to choose skewers of food from a buffet style counter, which are then dipped into a boiling peanut sauce. A number of rules are practiced though:

  • The satay sauce is only refilled, and not replaced between customers.
  • Ergo, double-dipping is a big no-no.
  • Skewers don’t get thrown away. You leave it at the table for the attendants to count later.
  • Skewer count determines how much you have to pay.

Price: 1RM (per stick)


Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup
Address: 53-C, Jalan Ong Kim Wee, 75300 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Friday-Tuesday 4pm-1230am
Phone: +60 12-651 5322


1800H | Cap the day off with Putu Piring.

Jalan Tengkera is famed for the Putu Piring sold in the area. Loosely, it translates to Rice Cake Plate, after the delicacy’s plate-like shape. What makes Jalan Tengkera’s Putu Piring is that it specifically uses Gula Melaka, a palm sugar variety that is unique to Melaka.

This family-owned and operated Putu Piring store opens daily (except Sundays) at 6pm, just in time for after-dinner desserts. Try to come a bit earlier though, to beat the queue.

Usually served on a banana leaf with a bed of salted grated coconut, Putu Piring is best eaten while hot.

Price: 1.10RM (per piece)


Putu Piring Tengkera
Address: 252, Jalan Tengkera, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Hours: Monday- Saturday 6pm-10pm
Phone: +60 6-282 1505


Did I miss any must-eat food in Melaka?
Please write so in the comments below!


Melaka Food Trip - Words and Wanderlust 18
Foodporn Star, too? Hover on this photo to pin on Pinterest!
Accommodation, Asia, Experience, Malaysia, Travel

HOTEL REVIEW | Hatten Hotel Melaka

Savage Garden had it down pat: “I knew I loved you before I met you.”

That’s how Melaka was to me. That distinctive red square in photos that tugged at the heartstrings. That ruin on a hill that beckoned for my coming. That beautiful mess of a Jalan that even on TV, smelled of good food and better coffee.

Contrary to what most guidebooks say, I knew in my heart that Melaka couldn’t be downplayed as A Day Trip from Kuala Lumpur or “A Weekend Escape from Singapore.”

So when an opportunity appeared out of thin air, I jumped on it. Coming straight from a 2-week media trip in Indonesia, I was haggard as hell. But it was Melaka, so even if it meant having to catch an early bus out of Kuala Lumpur with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, I was ecstatic.

The Hattten Hotel Experience

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 10
Lobby of Hatten Hotel

Hatten doesn’t short-change the luxury it offers: this, I knew the moment I walked into its doors.

Soaked in warm, almost golden light, the lobby spelt opulence. A massive chandelier ran through the expanse of the centre ceiling, paving one’s eyes to a lounge set before a feature wall. A number of smaller lounge sets peppered the foyer— a gesture of comfort for waiting guests.

CoffeeVine

I, however, opted to wait for check-in while caffeine-binging at CoffeeVine. Strategically accessible through the hotel lobby and the Hatten Square shops, CoffeeVine was a modern-day rabbit hole that served the freshest skinny latte and the best blueberry cheesecake.

While enjoying my latte, the marketing dynamo in me gasped in admiration at how the Hatten brand is carried over even to the tiniest of details. For instance, the emblem on CoffeeVine’s coasters, stirrers and serviettes.

Paying attention to the nitty-gritty was something that Hatten has flawlessly achieved. And that, sure spoke volumes.

Deluxe Suite

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 47

My room was a Deluxe Suite on the 16th floor with sprawling city and sea views. The door opens to a small lounge with an LCD television. A plate of fresh fruits awaited my arrival, with tea and coffee facilities tucked away in a corner. A glazed glass wall divided the lounge from the rest of the suite.

“Perfect!” I exclaimed, glad at how suited the layout was for digital ninjas like myself. Carefully, I wheeled my luggage to the side, getting it out of the way so I can photograph the immensity of my albeit temporary, luxe abode.

My bed was king-sized, with the softest sheets and fluffiest pillows. Sleep-deprived for days already, it was almost hypnotic, to say the least. A study table that doubled as a vanity stood at the foot of the bed, a subtle reminder of the narratives I was yet to write. The marble-tiled ensuite was pristine, and had a rainshower shower head to boot.

The Melaka Cityscape

But the true feature of the room, posh as it may be, was a ginormous, almost floor-to-ceiling  glass window. Outside, a panorama of the historical Melaka Raya bound in an embrace by the equally historical Malacca Strait, flaunted itself.

“I could live here,” I surmised, before burying myself in the comforts of my bed.

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 18

Chatterz All-Day Dining

When the initial elation of my staycation eased to a manageable level, it also dawned on me how I was famished. After a quick shower, I headed down to the 11th-floor Chatterz All Day Dining Restaurant.

Consistent with Hatten Hotel’s casual chic interiors, Chatterz did not disappoint. An entire hall of culinary delights awaited guests, with a team of very hospitable men and women who made sure everyone was well-attended to.

I was pleasantly welcomed by one of the waiters and was led to a table near the dessert bar. I looked around and was surprised to see that there were actually a number of other patrons dining. Only, the layout of the place— what with its high ceilings and well-placed dining tables— conveyed an illusion of space . It was a pleasure to have felt as if I had a private space despite being in a buffet hall.

There was a wide selection of food, traditional and western alike. It wasn’t bad. But food, as perhaps everyone would agree, is one thing that should always, only befit superlatives.

To be honest, my food experience was a bit underwhelming. Perhaps, being in Melaka, a gastronomic capital, raised expectations a bit. I thought, “if Hatten could somehow harness that insatiable passion for food that the city is known for, undoubtedly, that would earn them their 5th star.”

Splash Pool Bar

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 26

Late in the arvo on my second day in Melaka, I went to see the Splash Pool Bar on the 12th floor of the hotel. I walked straight to one of the high chairs and ordered french fries from the boy manning the bar.

He was gracious, but looked perplexed, seeing me order food and tuck my tummy in at the same time. “Ah, no worries,” I shook of his worries. “No need to be skinny to be sexy. I only need french fries,” I said laughing.

“Right away, miss!” He nodded in  agreement.

After walking the length of the infinity pool, I took a dip and marvelled at the contrast of colours in the skies. “The Golden Hour”, photographers would say. A group of kids broke my brooding, after I overheard them saying they’d do laps. I invited myself and joined in, much to the amusement of their parents who were watching by the sidelines.

When my french fries arrived, I excused myself and got up to the bar. There, I went on brooding, admiring the teeming cityscape sprawling below.

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A bronze sculpture; part of Yang Berbahagia Datuk Wira Erik Tan’s personal fine arts collection.

Alto Sky Lounge

Alto Sky Lounge at the 22nd floor was hands down, the best place to see sunset in Melaka.  Exclusive and luxurious, the sky lounge can be likened to my previous experiences in Helipad Bar at the Bitexco Tower in Ho Chi Minh and in Fuego Troika Sky Dining in Kuala Lumpur.

As a solo traveler, I treasured my solitude. Very seldom did I get sentimental and miss people whilst on the road. But that afternoon was different. I was enthralled by an event so spellbinding, I wanted nothing less than sharing the experience with a beloved.

That’s what Hatten Hotel’s grip to the world, I guessed. Whilst it wowed patrons with its central location and superb environment, it was in little packets of less-known secrets— like having a top-floor bar with priceless views of the sunset— that true magic was kept.

So I picked up my phone and shot a rare message to the boylove:

“Wish you were here.”


Hatten Hotel Melaka
Hatten Square, Jalan Merdeka,
Bandar Hilir, 75000
Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +60 6-286 9696

To book a discounted stay, click here.

Disclaimer:

Hatten Hotel Melaka very kindly sponsored my stay in Melaka for 3 days and 2 nights in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the hotel.