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Visiting KL and Penang

I'm traveling with my retired parents all over South East Asia and tomorrow, our travels take us to KL for a few days and then Penang for another. I've been scouring the CH boards for some recommendations and there definitely seems to be a good amount of places to check out. That said, I'd like to tender a request: If you had to pick eats that sum up the pulse of Malaysia, what would some of them be? Specifically in KL.

The caveat is that my father while adventurous, is diabetic so we have stay away from highly sweet food (we're now in Bangkok and Thai food is killing him). Being Chinese Canadian, my mother is relishing the fact that there will be plenty of Cantonese dishes available. Love to hear some of your opinions.

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  1. In KL,
    Best Cantonese: Ming Room (Bangsar SC), Oversea Restaurant (Imbi Rd), Reunion (Bangsar Village), Han Room (Gardens @ Mid- Valley)
    Best Malay: Bijan, Enak, Ibunda, Songket
    Go to Hutong Lot 10 to taste some of the best street foods, all in one spot.
    If you're more specific on any particular dish you're looking for, we can narrow down the options.

    6 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      Sold all over the city, fish head curry can be and usually is wonderful

      1. re: klyeoh

        Thanks Kyleoh. I think we're definitely in the mood to try a lot of the "local haunts". My dad is particularly interested in Islamic influence (he's been eating the hell out of mataba here in Thailand) and i'm really stoked on trying the varieties of curries. My brother's girlfriend who is Malaysian says skewers are a must and we will be trying a lot of roti prata.

        1. re: goodcookiedrift

          You can get "nasi kandar" (local rice with selection of curry dishes) and "murtabak" (Malaysian version of the "mataba" you got in Bangkok) at Pelita:

          http://www.pelita.com.my/p_finder_kl2...

        2. re: klyeoh

          Perhaps the OP and his parents might be persuaded to sample the actual street food scene? (goodcookie, would that be so?) If they are looking for that in addition to having meals in the high(er)-end restaurants or the special food court that is Lot 10 perhaps you - and others - might suggest places that crystallize for them [and for me!] the flavor of the place nowadays?
          (Jalan Alor, perhaps?)

          1. re: huiray

            Huiray, we'd definitely be into that. High end restaurants are great, but they really don't captivate the food soul of a people. They captivate the credit limit of your AMEX. Plus, in North America, we have droves of high end restaurants. I'd really like to try street food and local eats and even some of the food courts.

            1. re: goodcookiedrift

              goodcookiedrift, if you want to feel the soul of Penang people, then one of the places is definitely Kimberley Street at night. Do NOT miss the koay chiap stall:- http://www.wikistreetfood.com/Penang:...

              Opposite the koay chiap stall is a fried koay teow stall which is also very famous:- http://www.penang-online.com/pages/pe...

              In the morning, go and walk around Chowrasta Market to experience Penang as it wakes up - we have a beautiful life here, he he.

        3. In Penang, you best stick to the hawker food which we're the best (in the world) for, he-he!

          During the day, you can try New World Park food centre (off Burmah Road) for a huge variety of hawker food in one place, Kek Seng Coffeeshop on Penang Road (it's more than 100 years old and has great laksa, koay teow soup, lor-bak and Mee Jawa), Kheng Pin Coffeeshop (good for wanton mee, lor-bak and chicken rice).

          In the evening, try Red Garden food centre on Penang Road or the famous stalls at New Lane off MacAlister Road.

          Penang is famous for their Mamak food (Indians who are Muslims) and Nasi Kandar is a typical Penang dish where you can order chicken or beef or mutton curry to go with your rice, plus curried cabbage, eggs, ladyfingers. The best can be found in the numerous Indian-Muslim/Mamak restaurants in Penang's Little India which you MUST NOT MISS!

          For the best Murtabak, go to Hameediyah in Campbell Street, it is also over 100 years old but still serves the best roti canai (I think you called it roti prata in your post) plus nasi kandar.

          Penang has many old restaurants like Sin Kheng Aun (Hainanese food) on Chulia Street or Goh Huat Seng (Teochew food) on Kimberley Street.

          For best koay teow soup, go to Carnarvon Street where there are 3 famous stalls competing against each other.

          Which hotel are you staying in Penang? Is it in Batu Ferringhi, in which you may consider renting a car & driver.

          Penang is a food paradise, so you can find good food practically everywhere. Let me know if you want to know anything specific.

          5 Replies
          1. re: penang_rojak

            @penang_rojak we're staying in George Town. My parents aren't big beach people the idea of spending all the time in Batu Ferringhi kind of turned them off. But based on some research, it seems that George Town is near Gurney Drive which I'd like to check out. I definitely have my eyes set on Nasi Kandar and my parents will want to try all the Mamak food.

            1. re: goodcookiedrift

              If you are staying in one of the hotels along Gurney Drive (Evergreen Laurel Hotel or G Hotel), you can check out Edgecumbe pasembor (Indian rojak) and Indian mee goreng at Gurney Drive's Muslim food complex. Note that the stalls are closed on Fridays:

              http://www.what2seeonline.com/2011/02...

              Previous posting by my food-buddy klyeoh on Hameediyah for murtabak and nasi kandar here:-

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/745434

              I wouldn't recommend the open-air hawker centre at Gurney Drive near Sunrise Tower/Gurney Plaza as they cater to the tourists and the standards are not very good. You'll notice that most customers there are Malaysians from other states and foreigners, but no Penangites like myself would go there.

              If you happen to be staying at Hotel Royal, then New World Park food centre is walking distance, about 5-10 minutes.

              If you are staying at Traders Hotel, then go to Kimberley Street/Rope Walk in the evenings, or else New Lane in another direction. Your hotel's concierge can direct you.

              1. re: penang_rojak

                Oh YESSS, the Edgecumbe Road stalls - best I'd ever tasted anywhere for pasembor/Indian rojak:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611605

                1. re: penang_rojak

                  Today is our last day in Malaysia, so I figure apt time to write a review.

                  Unfortunately, the night I landed in KL, I came down with the worst stomach bug which prevented me from eating anything outside of broth and plain noodles. Nonetheless, I gave it my all tried a tiny bit of KL's offerings.

                  Lot 10 actually proved to be my new best friend. Plenty of plain noodles and plenty of soup. i have to say, I kind of fell in love with Mee (which we really don't have back in Toronto, Canada). Other than that, I missed out on most of KL's food.

                  Subsequently, my bug followed me to Penang, and I was bed ridden for most of my time here. However last night and tonight i decided to give it again.

                  Last night, we went to New Lane for hawker food. I tried the satay and it did not disappoint. Today, as a last meal, I decided to stomach Hameediyah and I have to say that it was probably one of the most memorable meals I have had.

                  I had Nasi Kandar, veggie murtabak, beef rendang, and heaps of roti prata. I could have died at that dinner table. It blew my expectations out of the water and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place as a "must" for all those visiting Penang. The curries were delicious and the murtabak too good to be true. I do have to say that walking through the kitchen was a novel treat considering us westerners are so used to never seeing the "back of house" at most restaurants. Absolutely awesome.

                  1. re: goodcookiedrift

                    Oh my, nothing worse than an upset stomach on a holiday! How are you doing now? The last time I had a bad tummy-ache was perhaps 6 years ago - it was in Bangkok where I downed a plate of *tainted* oyster omelette in Yaowarat (Chinatown), and was unwell for days afterwards.

                    You're very adventurous indeed to brave Hameediyah with your stomach flu & all. Well, that eatery certainly showed why it's still around after 104 years now - still serving some of the best murtabaks in Penang :-)

                    I'm glad that you liked Hutong in KL - street food but in a clean, air-con environment can sometimes be a welcome respite from the real, gritty, out-in the-streets hawker food hunting that I do here in KL on weekends. Glad to report that (*touch wood*), after 8 months here in KL, and having tried many of their famous street food stalls, I'd not had any tummy problems :-)