Cuisine: Malaysian/Street food
Last visited: April 24-26, 2010
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Address: all over the streets and KL’s Chinatown
Jalan Petaling on Petaling Street in Chinatown
Price Range: $10 or less (super cheap)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Recommendations: Air Mata Kucing, Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls, Malaysian beef/pork jerky, Fruit Rojak, fresh star fruit juice, Apam Balik
After having the traditional and authentic Malaysian food at Madam Kwan’s I decided to continue my food tour of Malaysian cuisine. Madam Kwan’s is a nice and clean restaurant serving Malaysian street food so what better way to draw comparisons than to actually hit the street. I never miss street food when I’m traveling, and thankfully, I’ve never gotten sick from it too. (Touch wood).
I’m glad I went to Madam Kwan’s because a lot of the things I didn’t see on the streets. The street food in Malaysia are more snacks (which street food usually is) and they were completely different than what was offered at the restaurant. From a North American perspective, food in general is cheap in Malaysia whether you’re in the restaurant or on the street.
Malaysia’s a tropical country so fresh fruit juices are everywhere. I wouldn’t get coconuts or watermelon juice on the street though…you may spend more time on the toilet than on the street. Just order them from nicer restaurants or places that look clean – it’s still just as good, fresh and cheap.
If you have the chance to order fresh star fruit juice – do it. You’ll never taste starfruit better than in Malaysia. It’s sweet, very flavourful, thick and just the best!
I need to try both ends of the spectrum to get an idea of what Malaysian food is like at a restaurant versus on the street. What’s considered traditional? And what’s considered good? I had a local, also very good friend, show me around.
My favourite Malaysian street food – Apam Balik.
On the street:
- Deep fried yams, bananas, potatoes etc. – RM 1 – about $.30CAD
- Made upon order.
- I had to get myself a bag of everything they had. They were just super oily and greasy… that’s street food for you!
- You can find deep fried bananas at a ton of restaurants so I had to try it on the streets. I actually liked it better at restaurants. These were pretty oily and greasy.
- They have a nice and sweet banana flavour because they use these mini bananas which are delicious.
- Everything gets fried in kind of old looking/tasting oil so whatever you get kind of tastes like a mix of everything else.
- About 10-12 for RM 2 – about $0.70CAD
- This is a traditional Malaysian snack. It’s mashed sweet potatoes, flour, sugar and water rolled into balls and then deep fried.
- They’re slightly sweet and very bread like. It was quite doughy for me and I could barely tell it was sweet potato.
- They’re actually pretty good and they are local favourites. This is something I wouldn’t have tried unless I was taken around by a local – thank god I was!
- Sometimes they roll them in sesame seeds before frying – I wish they did that here.
- Air Mata Kucing means “water of the cat’s eyes” RM 1.20 – about $0.40
- It’s a very traditional Malaysian drink made from dried longan fruit and rock sugar. Make sure you get with ice – so much better.
- It’s sweet and aromatic, but not overly sweet and it’s very refreshing. It’s a refreshing fruit nectar tea.
- It’s supposed to cool you down on a hot day and it really does!
- This is a must try in Malaysia. These stands are everywhere and not only on the streets.
- It’s one of their national foods and seriously every stand was good and has their own unique flavour.
- You can actually watch them barbecuing the meat. It’s the ‘freshest’ beef jerky. After they grill them they do get dried so it still is jerky.
- Chinese burgers RM 4 – about $1.30CAD
- I think this would be a HUGE money maker in Vancouver, BC. The NEXT “Japadog“. $$$$
- It’s fresh Malaysian pork or beef jerky put into sandwiches. Sometimes they put egg in it and sometimes pork floss. Looks soooo good!
- I didn’t try this, but I kind of wish I did now. I just figured it’s something I could easily reinvent at home in Vancouver.
- This is a traditonal Chinese drink made out of soya beans.
- They’re all over Hong Kong as well. I don’t like it though. It tastes like a thick and starchy/beany milk. It’s almost like malted milk.
**Fruit Rojak – 4/6
- A popular Malaysian snack or salad. It’s a cup of mixed fresh fruit or vegetables topped with Rojak sauce and peanuts.
- I had a Fruit Rojak with green apples, pears, guava and pineapples.
- Rojak sauce is a traditional Malaysian sauce that tastes like Chinese Hoisin sauce but much more bold and sour. It’s sweet from sugar, sour from Tamarind, and also spicy from chili.
- The taste may be aquired, but if you’re expecting it then you might like it. I did, and I wasn’t! I thought it was delicious. The fruits they used were tart fruits so the sweet and sour Rojak sauce actually complements them really well.
- I know, they’re just roasted chestnuts, but they smelt so good I couldn’t resist a bag.
- A variety of traditional Malaysian baked goods.
- Anything green is made from the signature Malaysian dessert ingredient: Pandan.
- Pandan leaves come from trees that grow in tropical climates in Asia.
- Pandan tastes quite floral and aromatic and carries a gentle sweetness. It’s not herb tasting but almost like thyme + lemongrass, but not as bold. The flavour is distinct, but also mild. It matches perfectly with coconut.