Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Hawker Favorites at O&S Restaurant
Despite its "restaurant" moniker, this place is more like a traditional Malaysian kopitiam (coffeeshop) with various food stalls lining the periphery of the eatery.
O&S is not just any other kopitiam, but one of the better-known ones in Paramount Garden, a suburb within KL's satellite town of Petaling Jaya that's an oasis for good eats, especially with hawkers from the culinary paradise island of Penang.
What I had at lunch today:
- Curry laksa - very unique version here. It's creamy (liberal lashings of coconut milk), sourish (tamarind or lime) and slightly spicy. It's lighter than the usual KL-style curried noodles. No brinjals or ultra-thick spice ("rempah"), but generous amounts of cockles, poached chicken and tofu puffs. I'd never had anything like it anywhere else.
- Char koay teow - hard to describe the version I gothere: it more like a cross between Penang-style char koay teow (which used fine flat rice noodles, Chinese sausages, light soysauce, lightly fried over high heat) and genuine Teochew-style (thicker flat rice noodles, no Chinese sausages, cooked longer in the wok). The version here had de-shelled shrimps, egg, beansprouts, chives and thick rice noodles. It tasted like it's been fried longer than flash-fried Penang-style, and has a more robust flavor - fish sauce added on top of light soysauce. Again, liberal amounts of cockles were used here. Nice, but very, very heavy for lunch.
- Chee cheong fun - this is Penang-style: steamed rice rolls topped with a dark, sweet beansauce which includes hoi sin sweet sauce and pungent Penang fermented prawn paste ("hae koh"). Crisp-fried shallots, toasted sesame seeds and a spoonful of very spicy chilli paste are added before serving. It's saltier than I'd liked, and it didn't have the nutty flavor compared to the versions that top chee cheong fun spots in Penang served, where peanut paste and other condiments (sesame oil, peanut oil) were added.
46300 Petaling Jaya
For some reason, I cannot find real or genuine-tasting Penang food anywhere elsewhere in Malaysia outside Penang, even if the hawkers are from Penang. I wonder why but I guess sometimes, it's the ingredients used, or that many hawkers who moved to KL and elsewhere to cook are not really successful back in Penang.
Agreed, penang_rojak. Interestingly, when I visited Kota Bharu recently, I was asked to explore the Chinatown area around Jalan Kebun Sultan. But a couple of Kelantanese-Chinese friends told me that most of the hawkers there are the "Failed-in-Penang-try-Kota-Bharu" sort - i.e. Penangites who chose to ply their trade in KB because the standards of Chinese street cuisine there is lower than in Penang, and less competitive.
Needless to say, I eschew all Chinese hawker food whilst in KB to concentrate on the local Kelantanese food, which is unparalleled elsewhere in Malaysia.