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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Maneuvering Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur

I coached up to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia to visit Freya* who was attening a one-month culinary course there. I had never been to Kuala Lumpur before, so this was a good opportunity for me to explore this city I have heard so much about - cheap shopping, good food etc. The weather was hot, similar to Singapore's, and the air quality was... alright, I supposed.

As I was not familiar with the place, Freya* and I agreed to meet at the Hard Rock Cafe near Concorde Hotel, which I arrived at by taking the Monorail (train) system. We actually kick-started my trip off with Tequila shots, wine and fried potato-skins.

We headed to the Condominium she was staying at, and where I would also stay at for the next three days. I guess the term "Condo" was too loosely used here, because the building and facilities were definitely less than desirable. But oh well, it was just a place to sleep in, so I made do. The only consolation was the lovely view of the Petronas Twin Towers our room window overlooked.

The trip was rather fun - lots of mall crawling, good food and also the climb up Batu Caves (at my bizarre request). We were fortunate to have Freya's friend Ted* - who is also my friend now - be our tour guide around town.

Yes, there are plenty of malls for us to crawl - from the great KLCC (Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre) - with its distinctive colorful fountains by nightfall, to the beautiful Sunway Pyramid with its distinctive Egyptian-themed decoration seen from afar even if one was driving and the indoor Ferris Wheel, to the modern Pavilion Mall offering many trendy stores, and Bangsar Mall. We also popped by the Korean Mall on the last night, filled with lots of shops and restaurants with Korean-related themes, of course.

For this trip we managed to try everything from Western to Chinese (Malaysian, specifically) to Japanese and Korean food. 

Harrods - in KLCC, yes we were excited to see a Harrods restaurant  because food from Harrods are good (I had boxed duck confit and teas given by UK friends before) - however, the food here was rather disappointing. From the clear chicken broth to steak to salmon, it was a rather bland meal  with a hefty pricetag. The only saving grace was the Teh Tarik (tea) made from Harrods Earl Grey tea - it was divine!

Zichar (stir-fried dishes) - at some coffeeshop near Sunway Pyramid. Loved their claypot beetamak / meetamak (thick, white Chinese pasta also know as "rat's pasta"),  honey stir-fried pork belly, sambal kangkong (veg), dark Hokkien noodles and Prawn crispy noodles. 

Dried Ban Mian (handmade noodles) - spicy dried noodles with an egg and spicy shrimp-paste sauce. This was simply delectable, at one of the more popular coffee shops enroute our Batu Caves journey. We ate this for brunch one of the days, cooled down by Herbal Tea.

Bak Kut Teh (Pork Ribs Soup) - hungry after climbing Batu Caves, we clamored for good, traditional food and Ted* brought us to eat Pork Ribs Soup. We ordered both the soup and dried ones - both served in claypot. It was the first time I tried the dried Bak Kut Teh, and it was sumptuous, tasted like braised meat - which I liked.

Alexis -  Well now who could resist desserts and afternoon coffees? We couldn't, so we headed to Bangsar Mall and chilled out at Alexis Cafe. It is a popular cafe so we decided to give it a shot - shared huge slices of Blackforest Cake and Tiramisu Cake - yummy sweets. We managed to smuggle in A Slice of Heaven - it was literally that, our Chocolate Cake filled with Durian paste within. Thick, rich and flavorful.

La Vie En Rose  - this was the brunch spot they saved for my last day in Kuala Lumpur. A nondescript spot up some hill, providing an airy, up-class ambience for brunch and meals, and set up by renowned French Chef Jean-Michel Fraisse. The bread basket, especially the danish and croissants were lovely. The Mushroom and Smoked Chicken Omelet was rather tasty as well as the brunch set of Roast Potatoes, Eggs Benedict, Truffle Scrambled Eggs, Poached Eggs and Sausage - the latter was a little too eggy for my liking. They all agreed that restaurants in Singapore serves better brunches.

Batu Caves
Now the touristy spot I had requested to go, and we actually made the climb up the mountains with me teethering in heels. Nothing very special - a lovely mountain with statues within, icicle-looking structures within, and an opening that was supposed to be mystifying, I suppose. It was great exercise and lovely fresh air though.

Overall, I enjoyed the Kuala Lumpur trip - of course the fun companions added to the element, but what could be better than days of doing nothing but eating, shopping and visiting mountains? Take heed there though of one's own safety, for the city is not very safe; I've heard many cases of robberies etc.

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