We sat down at the Lok Lok table and I began to think about what was going to be delivered to our table. We had already experienced so much. Tasted so many new flavors. I worried that my palette wasn't going to be able to process any more new flavors. That I might forget what we had tried so far.
But not to fear. I think our venerable host was reading my mind, and out came cans of fermented beverage.
For those of you who know me, I'm not much of a beer drinker. I'm a poor example of a German (although I can drink the schnapps when called to). But beer is a magical exilir. It cleanses the palette and refreshes you on a warm humid night. So, when in Rome...
Drink the Carlsberg.
Kingston summoned me to the food stand next to the Lok Lok table. It was time to choose some meat on a stick.
There was every meat, and bean curd available. Chicken gizzards to cockles. Duck tongue to Vienna sausage. Meatball of every liking. Clams. Tofu. It was all here for the taking. So the procedure is to get a plate and grab the skewers you want to try. Take them back to your Lok Lok table and drop them into the cauldron of boiling brew. Pull them out when cooked to your liking and enjoy (hopefully). I must say that not every skewer was a winner in my book, but worth a try nonetheless. Now here is the important part. You need to save your skewers. They are counted at the end and that is how they know how much to charge you. Don't throw them on the ground.
Along with our 'Chinese fondue' experience we tried a number of other delicacies.
Fried Hokkien Mee - Fat, dark noodles wok seared with a delicious dark earthy and marrowy sauce that filled your mouth with deep rich meaty flavor.
And then there was something that will forever be imprinted in my mind.
Sotong Bakar. A barbecued squid in a rich black sauce. Nothing can describe the flavors.
And finally, dessert.
This time we tried Luk Mei Thong Sui, the 6 ingredient cold dessert soup (it had a lot more than 6 ingredients). A mildly sweet, acidic broth that had Solomon's seal rhizome, Chinese yam, dried longan, fox nuts, lily bulbs, and lotus seeds. Ingredients that I had no concept of. Flavors that once again I struggle to describe, but a culinary experience that was worth every penny.
We finished our food. Finished our beer. And we were off to our next stop, Little India.
As KL is comprised of so many cultures, a tapestry as Kingston would say. Each culture adding a patch to the quilt. India being no different.
Dyann and I were stuffed. I don't think we could eat another bite. Even after a twenty minute Vespa ride speeding through the streets and highways of KL, our stomachs did not settle and make room for more. So first a little market experience. Off to see the spices.
Indian food has always been a Pandora's box of flavors to me. The rich, smooth, deep curry and spice flavors are something that I struggle to develop in my own kitchen. I have numerous cookbooks, but never am able to achieve the the pungent, rich flavors that authentic Indian cuisine has. So in the spice market I was intrigued as a small, humble man with broken English started to explain to me how to make a curry. Beyond the flavor components there was a missing ingredient that no cookbook had ever taught me, candlewood seed. A little bigger than a macadamia nut, with similar texture, and very little flavor. This seed is ground into curries to give them their rich, smooth texture, allowing the curry flavors to coat your tongue and give you a full-bodied mouth feel. 8 kilograms and $45 Ringat later (about $11 US) I walked out with a satchel of spices and candlewood seeds, wanting to run home and cook.
Kingston tried to ply food on us. Fresh roti. Uncutous curries. Vindaloo and rices. But we just couldn't fit any more in our stomachs.
So of course, we had another beer.
Forgoing the intricate henna tattoo for Dyann, we head off again into the cooling night air for our last stop.
Finally I get to see the famous street of food. Every blog I read talked about how you had to visit Jalan Alor. And how the best time to visit was at night. But were we getting there to late. It was already almost midnight. Would the stall be closing down?
Did we miss it?
Oh hell no!
That place was a freakin' zoo.
You know those scenes in the movies of New York where someone is in a taxi stuck in utter gridlock. Horns honking. People screaming. Throngs of bodies everywhere?
Same thing. Just hotter. With glaring neon and incandescent lights blinding the corners of your eyes. Our Vespa drivers weaving and puttering through the cars like buzzing bees.
This was nothing like the pictures I saw.
Were we in the right place?
Did something get lost in translation?
I remembered Kingston's hesitation to bring us here. The look on his face that screamed, "I don't want to take you there. It's not Kuala Lumpur."
I should have listened.
It reminded us of Vegas.
Well, we were here. Let's at least check it out. Oh, and try something. I can't believe I'm a little hungry again.
It's crowded. But the fragrances of every type of food wafted through the air.
A little bit of everything.
I love dumplings. Let's try those.
The colors were amazing. The flavors all quite similar, but good with a sweet pork flavor and vegetable note. Here's the thing though, I thought they were expensive. $6 Ringat for 5 dumplings. Crazy right. That's only about $1.25 US for 5 dumplings. A steal. But after the experience we had already had that evening and knowing how much was spent on all the other food, $1.25 seemed like a lot of money.
Jalan Alor is a tourist destination. All the guidebooks tell you to go there. That you will get authentic street food. That it's awesome and a true KL experience. And so the street vendors peddle to the tourists, with high prices, and lower quality food.
If you want the true KL experience. To eat where the locals eat. You have to go off the beaten path. You have to explore. You have to escape the guidebook.
Our night with Kingston and crew was phenomenal. An experience not to be missed. They showed us the real KL at night. And on Vespas!
(Check out all of our pictures from our trip here on Instagram and follow to keep us with all of our adventures)