We get to travel because of our job and whenever we have the free time to walk around the particular city that we’re stationed to work, we would go for a haircut, eat local food or get a massage; and only if these three were priced cheaper than what we pay for in Singapore, and, most of the time, they are.
We arrived a day before our event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, so we had the time to walk around or as the locals would say, jalan-jalan. We have since adored the city’s colourful history and beauty when we first came in 2009; and although we’ve been to the city for about five or six times already and it still amazes us each time; not just the captivating Petronas Twin Towers in KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre), but mainly the people and the food. It is also convenient to travel or have a quick weekend escape as there are numerous budget flights from Singapore at any day. (Jalan is a Malay word for road or street or if used as a verb, it means to walk.)
As we were wayfaring the busy streets of the city central (our usual quest to chance on something unique and local), at the far end of the road, when we turned left from Jalan Bukit Bintang to Jalan Gading, we spotted this food stall in the corner which appeared to be a push cart under a huge umbrella. There were a few customers surrounding the stall. We approached it quickly and found over two dozens of Malay dishes being displayed. The choices included my favourites and those that we have not encountered yet (or maybe cooked or prepared differently).
It was so authentic that you get to scoop and prepare your own plate. The Auntie will ask you two questions: 1. Makan or Bawa balik? (Eat here or Takeaway?) 2. Nasi Lemak or Nasi Kosong? (Coconut rice or Plain rice?) Then the DIY concept applies. Put as much as you can eat and as many variations as you desire. When you’re done preparing your plate or your takeaway paper cone, show it to Auntie and she will tally the price for you. Mine did not exceed more than 10 Malaysian Ringgit. Cheapsies!
Let’s just call it, Auntie’s Corner. We tried to open up a conversation with Auntie and her husband to ask for simple facts like: “When did her business start?” or “What time do they open shop?” We also tried our best to speak even with our own broken Malay too, but it just didn’t work. Thankfully, we exchanged really wonderful smiles and nods. That’s good enough. We actually came back to makan again two days later (obvs, the food was great) and we promised to see Auntie each time we come to visit Kuala Lumpur.
Here are my all-time favourite Malay dishes: Rendang Daging or Beef Rendang; Nasi Lemak or rice in cream – soaked in coconut cream; Asam pedas – a dish that makes use of the spicy-sour-fishy flavour; Begedil – deep fried potato patty; Paru-paru Goreng or Fried Beef Lung – an equivalent of Indonesia’s Paru Goreng.
“Terima kasih” (Thank you), Auntie!