Medicine jelly, possibly the best banana fritters in the world, Instagram-friendly noodles for 50p – and beer with whipped cream on the top. Welcome to my slightly more unusual foodie tour of Kuala Lumpur. And it tasted really good too – well, almost all of it…
Foodie Experience 1: Drink a Whipped Cream Beer
Yes, that is half a pint of Heineken with whipped cream on top – and it was THE main foodie thing I wanted to try on my trip to Kuala Lumpur.
Originally, it wasn’t a Malaysian idea – the idea came from a scene in a South Korean soap opera where one character kisses the latte foam moustache from another one – someone then decided to upgrade the idea to beer! The very concept made my heart sing.
That said, I’m glad I had it – but never need to do it again. I’m not a fan of Heineken anyway, and adding cream to it doesn’t really improve the taste.
It’s also really tricky to work out how you’re actually going to consume this thing… fearful in case random South Korean Soap Opera fans took one look at my beer cream mustache and got an uncontrollable urge to snog me I decided against drinking from the glass and went with the proffered straw – but drinking lager through a straw when you’ve only had an hour’s sleep in the last 30 hours has disaster written all over it!
In the end, I used to fork to eat most of the cream off the top and then drank the beer normally once it got to a manageable level – frantically wiping any foam off my upper lip as I went!
Where to find whipped cream beer: It’s in a fried chicken restaurant called Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory in the lower level of the Pavilion Shopping Mall on Jalan Raja Chulan in Bukit Bintang.
Foodie Experience 2: Eat all the ‘Pick and Mix’ Dim Sum
Jalan Alor is the foodie street for tourists in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang area. It’s lined with restaurants and food stalls so you can just wander up and down and pick out whatever you fancy – and what caught my eye was the pretty array of pastel-coloured Dim Sum at Fat Man Dim Sum.
Ignoring the name and labouring under the idyllic idea that any kind of steamed food doesn’t contain calories I waded in. Five dumplings cost just six ringgit (about £1 or AUD$1.80) and he has a handy key on the stall to let you pick your favourites – in hindsight, I wish I’d studied this for longer as I’ve realised I missed out on curry dumplings and charcoal dumplings. Instead, I asked him to pick his two favourites (the Normal Dumpling and the Golden Dumpling) then just went by what looked nice for the rest. Do not be fooled by looks though – the pretty pink one (which is a crab stick dumping) was disappointing. The others were really good though.
Where to find Fat Man Dim Sum: He’s at the eastern end of Jalan Alor, close to the junction of Changkat Bukit Bintang. If you’re walking down the street from here he’ll be on your right. Look for the yellow sign with the huge array of dumplings on it.
Foodie Experience 3: Visit Chow Kit Market
I absolutely love visiting markets and supermarkets in foreign countries and so Chow Kit wet market was one of my must sees – whether it’s a stop for you depends on how squeamish you are.
Wet markets are, by their very nature, confronting – especially if you’re vegetarian. The first sight I saw as I walked into Chow Kit was a man scrubbing cow heads in a bath of water – which was a new one on even me.
Often markets are divided into fruit and veg then meat and fish which means you can wander around the produce without facing off with a six pigs’ feet lined up in a row or flapping fish and while there’s some element of division in Chow Kit, the fact that the meat and fish are at the front makes them a bit harder to avoid.
How to get to Chow Kit Market: I used google maps and got lost at first as it sent me to Bazaar Chow Kit. The market you need is Pasar Chow Kit on Jalan Raja Alang. The closest metro is Chow Kit.
Foodie Experience 4: Eat a ‘Take Your Chances’ Meal
I have a confession – I’ve eaten all sorts of really weird food when travelling (spiders, beetles, conch, slightly narcotic drinks) but I’ve always been a little bit scared of eating in Kuala Lumpur because so many places serve food in what I can only refer to as Take Your Chances.
By this, I mean that the stalls have pots of all sorts of exciting goodies – but no descriptions as to what’s in them. I stand and I stare and I try and work it out, but then I get nervous and move on to the next place with a menu (or at least pictures). On this trip, I was determined to learn a bit more about Malaysian cuisine so I could experiment a bit more and so I booked a food tour with Food Tour Malaysia.
I was a bit disappointed when one of the first things our guide Ian said was ‘we’re going to have Indian and Chinese food’ as I thought this meant I wouldn’t get to experience the magic steaming pots of excitement – but I was wrong as, the first place we went to was what I’d refer to as ‘take your chances’ in the Indian district of Brickfields – the owner literally piled a little dab of various things on a plate for us. There was some spicy chicken, a beetroot dish, rice, a blend of vegetables and a poppadum all served with a fantastic spicy sauce. And it was delicious.
NB: Technically, I was supposed to eat this with my fingers, but I have inch long fingernails and turmeric stains like a mofo, so I went with the fork approach!
By the time we finished, the queue for this place was ten deep which proves the adage, if it’s busy, just join the queue – and worry what it’s for later. I’m still not completely cured of my TYC phobia, but I’ll definitely follow that advice and be braver on my next trip to KL.
Booking the Food Tour: I went on the Kuala Lumpur Walking Tour with Food Tour Malaysia which was their daytime tour – it was great as I learned a heaps about the city as well as eating a lot of food. Definitely recommended.
Foodie Experience 5: Try Some Herbal Jelly
The Food Tour finished in Chinatown and all bouyed up and feeling adventurous I decided to visit the Koong Woh Tong herbal jelly store I saw on my way back to the station. The concoction promised me that it would detoxify, nourish and cleanse the skin (a bargain for 9 ringgit).
It was nasty! I like bitter things but this was just bleurgh – if you’ve ever taken milk thistle tincture, it was that in a birthday party friendly form. UNTIL…
The cup of jelly had been delivered with a teapot and I noticed everyone else was pouring whatever was in this on their pot of goo. So I tried it. It was sugar water. And it made everything taste better. You know that thing about a spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down – it works!.
In my normal ‘eat first, ask questions later’ fashion, I had no idea what was in this until I got home…and erm, it’s turtle shell! With honey, liquorice, ginseng and some more traditional Chinese herbs thrown in. Yeh, that’s not on the sign!
Where to find the Herbal Jelly Store: It’s called Koong Woh Tong and it has branches all over Kuala Lumpur. I visited the one at the end of Petaling Street in Chinatown where it meets Jalan Pudu. NB: While traditional herbal jelly used to be made from a protected species of turtle, it’s now made from farmed animals.
Foodie Experience 6 : Visit Lot 10 Hutong
Okay, street food bloggers are shuddering now but I’m going with it anyway. See Lot 10 Hutong is street food lite. It’s a food court made up of all the most famous street food dishes in Malaysia in one tidy, clean place. If you’re a bit cautious of street food or don’t have much time in KL to schlep about finding it, it’s a godsend. I had the Hokkien Mee from Kim Lian Kee and it was so good – the sauce was thick, noodles just the right side of stodgy and it had plenty of crispy pork fat. So, I was eating it in the Disneyland of Street Food, but I’m okay with that.
The Herbal Jelly Shop also has a branch here.
Where to find Lot 10 Hutong: It’s in the basement at 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, right near the Bukit Bintang Metro station. Look for Isetan Japanese store on the map.
Foodie Experience 7: Practise your Noodle Pull at Madam Eng, ICC Pudu
Skills I never thought I’d need in life include the ability to lift a chopstick load of noodles out of a soup bowl while holding a camera steady but here I am…
There’s an art to the noodle pull and my obsession with laksa-style soups (or Curry Mee as the form I particularly like in Malaysia is known) meant I got to practise it a lot. I ate seven meals in KL on this trip – three of them were curry mee but the absolute stand-out one was the one I had at Madame Eng at ICC Pudu (stall G37).
For years ICC Pudu was a traditional market with food stalls in but last year it moved to shiny new premises slightly south of Bukit Bintang. It’s a bit of a trek to get to from the monorail (although you wind through a district of tiny printing shops to get there which I loved) but the food makes it worthwhile.
The market though was a real disappointment. It was just too clean and tidy and most of the stalls were closed when I went – it’s probably better for shopping in than before, but I love the madness of wet markets and so it wasn’t as much fun for wandering as Chow Kit.
If you’re not a fan of laksa, some of the other highly recommended stalls at ICC Pudu include Imbi Ming Kee Pork Noodles (G15), Ah Fook Chee Cheong Fun and Hian Kee Char Kway Teow (G38). Go hungry, take friends, go eat everything I didn’t have enough time or stomach to try and let me know what your favourites were in the comments. I will be back in Kuala Lumpur at some point in the future and I will want to eat all the food!
How to find ICC Pudu: It’s on Jalan 1/77C, the closest monorail is Imbi. At this point you will need google maps if you want to walk as it’s tricky to describe. To get connected I can firmly recommend the SIM card deal from Klook that you pick up at the airport. I paid AUD$7 and was online within 30 minutes of touchdown.
Foodie Experience 8: Queue for the Banana Fritter Man
This was another find from the guys at Food Tours – as I said, when I reviewed the London Loo Tour I never like to give too much away about what you find out on tours as then, why would you book it? – but this guy is pretty well known so I’m hoping they’ll forgive me as these were the best banana fritters I’ve had in my life.
The batter is light and crispy, there’s barely any grease on the paper and they are served piping hot. No wonder there’s such a huge queue for them.
Where to find the Banana Fritter Man: Its proper name is Mr Chiam’s Pisang Goreng or Brickfield’s Pisang Goreng on google maps. It’s on the corner of Jalan Thambipally and Jalan Tun Sambanthan. KL Sentral is the closest monorail.
Foodie Experience 9: Have a cocktail on a Helipad
Heli Lounge Bar is a working helipad by day and a bar at night. It’s 34 floors up and has the most amazing view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. I’m a bit scared of heights but managed to get myself up there and would absolutely go again – I was so struck that I wrote a full post on it head there for everything you need to know re opening hours, prices, location – and what it’s like if you are a bit height phobic.
Foodie Experience 10: Get an Ice Cream from Booza
I’m not telling you to go here because it’s the best ice cream in the world ever, it’s because the guy who sells it is the best ice cream seller in the world ever. It’s brilliant. To find out why check out the video below…I stood there for a good ten minutes watching him. Buy the ice cream so others can also experience the joy.
Where to Find Booza Ice Cream: It’s a street stall on Jalan Bukit Bintang, just west of the junction with Jalan Gading. It’s pretty much directly opposite the Charles and Keith shop.
Where I Stayed?
I wanted to be very close to Bukit Bintang on this trip and so I chose the KLCC Pullman Hotel and Residences which is extremely central. The hotel is divided into two parts – a normal hotel and the Residences made up of apartments, I chose the latter and booked a one-bedroom apartment as it was cheaper than a room – and it was huge! A massive kitchen, huge lounge, large bedroom and bathroom with a full bath.
My only tiny criticism was the bedroom didn’t have a window and the lounge was so big the sofa was so far away from the window in that room I couldn’t see out (I’m aware this isn’t exactly a cause for complaint) but it was nothing a little shuffling of the furniture couldn’t rectify. My rate included breakfast, but with so many other things to eat, I didn’t get to try that one out. Click here for rates and booking.
So, what do you think?
That’s my pick of the slightly odd or fun things to do in Kuala Lumpur for foodies. Did I miss anything? What was your favourite foodie experience in Kuala Lumpur? Let me know in the comments.
And if this post has given you some ideas for your next trip to Kuala Lumpur, please share it on social media.