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Tag Archives: Kuala Lumpur

While we were in KL, our friend J took us to Lima Blas which means 15 as the restaurant is at 15 Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang – an area full of bars and restaurants.


It was raining lightly that night, thankfully the restaurant was practically just downhill from our rented apartment (click here to see Lanson Place).


The place is decorated like it is a grocery store (?) from the 50’s or earlier. It is packed with vintage signs and posters, jars, rice sacks (framed) …

 … old telephones, gum ball machine, assorted period pieces.


J brought us there for both the decor as well as their menu of Nyonya favorites.


The place was packed when we arrived which was a bit late, and some dishes are already sold out ! That was a bit of surprising given that the restaurant is located in an area of full of night life and one of the biggest night market is only steps away.


J somehow talked the staff to give us portions of the sold-out items which they had saved for themselves. Cendol.



We read in Time Out that the Nyonya laksa, “a bowlful of coconut, spice and laborious boiling”, is only served at lunchtime and limited to 15 bowls every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


The interiors did suggest (or copy) a tiny bit of Wong Kar Wai’s “In the mood for love” style.




Overall, authentic flavors and interesting (but less authentic) decor.  Well worth a visit.


A few more posts about Malaysia …

My regular readers know that I(Chris) like taking pictures of bookstores and have been posting them online, for example:  Alexandre in Budapest, Livraria Cultura in Sao Paulo, MIT Press in Boston, Waterstones in London. As we were wandering in KL’s celebrated shopping mall – Suria KLCC, we found this massive Books Kinokuniya.


Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore chain that has opened stores beyond its native country. There is one in New York on 6th Avenue between 40th and 41st across from Bryant Park – a few blocks from my old office.


As expected, one finds Japanese books in Kinokuniya.


There were also plenty of English books.


… including text books and models of cars.


As there were many Chinese in KL, we found a Chinese section. But we did not see a Malay section. It was probably there but it was less prominent and escaped our perusal. A section of Chinese magazines – most if not all use traditional Chinese characters and came from Taiwan or Hong Kong.



There was also a large manga section …


… as well as Western (US mostly) comics nearby.


Matchbox-sized metal diecast toy cars were a surprising find. I(Chris) was really tempted to buy one. There are currently 140 models in the Tomica brand lineup, which is continually being renewed with the release of a new model on the third Saturday of each month.


Also surprised to find was the number of tarot cards, Western fortune-telling paraphenalia on sale.


There was a cafe upstairs.


The well-stocked arts section was upstairs.


Sadly, bookstores are disappearing in the United States due to ebooks.


On our way to Petaling Jaya (aka PJ, see earlier posts here, here and here), we discussed eating durian, the king of fruits, at length in the car. Neither one of us find the smell of the fruit as offensive or revolting as many people do.  I(Chris) had it before and recognized (but cannot say appreciate) its peculiar and strong aroma. Nor are we fans of this fruit since it is hard to find it in North America and even harder now in Europe. So as dessert, J suggested that we try some durian at one of the stands on a nearby street.


This is how Wikipedia describes the aroma of durian:

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.

One of our hotels prohibit durian on its premises.


The durian stands are located on Jalan SS2/65 and at the corner with Jalan SS2/24, behind the police station, just down the street from the night market.  Apparently, they are really famous within Malaysia and possibly internationally, as we found numerous references to the stands online.


One of the stands started the concept of all-you-can-eat durian buffet charging around RM15 per person. Our friend J who once lived on a farm and knows quite a bit about durian suggested that we forgo the buffet option as we should try the good stuff. The name durian comes from the Malay word duri (thorn).


We had no idea (although it is not surprising) that durian comes in so many different varieties.  And this is the first time where we saw different varieties being sold separately and at vastly different prices.  The varieties have names like Musang King, XO, Thracka, Jan Tong, red prawn, and various D numbers. The fruits are sold by weight and the rate for each variety changes daily depending on supply and season. The vendors have really done a good job in properly differentiating their products and generating a demand that can command a higher price.


We sat down at one of the tables of “King of the King”, Ah Chun was the manager. On the table were gloves and tissues, and the stand provides water since the flavor is so intense. We do not know of any fruit which requires water to wash it down.


J chatted with the vendors and selected a variety – D24 – for the four of us. Supposedly, each variety has a characteristic taste and regular eaters have their preferred varieties. Our fruit was about 2 kg and the assistant opened it for us in less than 20 seconds.


We wanted to try a sweet one but the first one was according to J not sweet enough. So she returned it and complained, and the assistant opened another one for us.


The taste was indeed intense, onion-like, nutty, slightly sweet, becoming alcoholic towards the seed, moist, soft and velvety. We think the foul smell appears only if the fruit is opened and have been left lying around.


The most popular and thus expensive variety is the Musang King (貓山皇) which had an asking price of RM60 per kg that night. This variety is recognizable by, among other special features, a characteristic star-shaped pattern at the bottom of the fruit. This practice encourages connoisseurship and is a great way to market this fruit and benefits the entire industry !


A popular drink is fresh coconut juice – it supposedly counters the heat (traditional Chinese medicine concept) of the durian.


What a great evening of adventurous eating !


Fried Kuey Teow is a classic Malaysian dish – stir-fried rice noodles with bean sprouts, prawns, eggs, chives and thin slices of preserved Chinese sausages. The Penang style is the most highly regarded version of this dish.  We had this at the open-air food court at the night market, SS2, Petaling Jaya. Click here to see the food court.

We ordered a dish of it from the No.15 stall but we had to wait in line for our order. So I snapped away while the chef prepared our dish.


This is how one can make the dish. Fry the prawns first in oil, quite a bit of oil apparently.


Then add an egg.


Park the cooked prawns on the side of the wok, you don’t want them overcooked or deep fried. Scramble the egg while it is being fried.


Throw in the rice noodles.


Soy sauce, etc.


Then drop in the house-made, magic chili sauce.


Wok action !!!  Keep stirring.


Mix in some chives and bean sprouts, and let the whole lot be cooked.


Done !


It was served on a banana leaf and topped with a couple of slices of dried Chinese sausage.


Using the time data on the photographs, from beginning to end, it took roughly three minutes. It tasted goooood.

After walking around for about 20 or so minutes in the street market, we came to the center where the food court is located. The food court is a bright and airy plaza which is covered (we can’t imagine what the night market would be like in a monsoon downpour which we experienced the day before in Melacca). But it was a fine evening when we were there.


There were almost 100 stalls or counters on either side of the plaza. Each are numbered clearly.


We guessed that these stalls are licensed by the local authorities. They do not want any unlicensed merchants to open business inside, otherwise, it will be just like the market outside.


Fixed tables are also numbered and installed in the middle. We were at No. 33A.


When patrons place an order, they mention their table number.  When the food is ready, the stall owner brings it to the table and collect the money. For one of our dishes, the stall owner’s children brought the food – helping out the family after school.


For this stall, one has to pay first. The live crabs and snails must be worth a bit.


For dinner, we ordered only classic Malaysian dishes – starting with fruit rojack. The term “rojak” is Malay for mixture. According to Wikipedia, fruit rojak consists typically of cucumber, pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, taupok (puffy, deep-fried tofu) and youtiao (cut-up Chinese-style fritters). The thick dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), sugar, chili, and lime juice.


We ordered bak kut teh 肉骨茶. Wikipedia says: the name literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish. We had fried tofu puff, enoki and dried black shitake mushrooms in our pot.


The dish on the bottom-right with three small dishes of spicy sauces was our charcoal-grilled stingray, IT had it before and wanted to try again.


Back at stall no. 55 where we ordered it, the stingray portions were sold by weight – the grey wedges with white spots. It tasted like normal fish despite its appearance.


The stirred fried clams in a black bean, chili-based sauce was fantastic. We all loved it so much that we almost ordered a second plate.


We also ordered fried rice and the famous fried kuey teow which will be the subject of our next post.

This stall sold desserts. We had the classic cendol. Wikipedia says: the dessert’s basic ingredients are coconut milk, jelly noodles made from rice flour with green food coloring (usually derived from the pandan leaf), shaved ice and palm sugar (the brown substance). Other ingredients such as red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, creamed corn, might also be included.


Well, we did not get too many green jelly noodles here. Instead of noodles in solid pastel green (the traditional kind), we got some brighter green transparent chunks.


It was a fun and tasty dinner – we could have eaten more there – but we saved ourselves for the king of fruits – durian. J took us to a special place for durian … the post is coming up.

The next few posts are dedicated to the very lively, popular, and wonderfully diverse night market (Pasar Malam) at SS2, Petaling Jaya – one of the largest in the area. The market sells various types of goods (clothes, toys, electronics, etc.) but the main reason to come is the street food.


Monday night is market night ! We were there early-ish and the parking area was filling up quickly. There were hundreds of stalls just setting up when we arrived.


We have never heard of this market, let alone finding it which lies just outside Kuala Lumpur.  So thanks to our local friend J who drove us to SS2 and showed us the place.


Petaling Jaya (known locally as PJ) was a satellite town set up in the 50’s to deal with the overpopulation of Kuala Lumpur. It was granted its city status in 2006. SS2 is one of its districts.


The Chinese word means “explode” – it comes in cheese or wasabi flavor.


Deep-dried jackfruit – we had some – nothing special – I (Chris) don’t see the point of deep-frying it.


J bought us some otak-otak. We have no idea what is sandwiched between the two blades of leaves.


It was toasted on a strip of hot metal. The inside is mystery meat – similar to the material used to make fish ball. An interesting way (and certainly ecologically-conscious) to cook and serve food.


This contraption is (I believe) for making salt-baked chicken. Please insert a comment if I got this wrong.


Salt-baked chicken (I think) looked delish … but since we were going to have a sit-down dinner at the open-air food court, we were deterred from trying this out.


At the open-air market and food court, there were more Chinese food here than Malay or Indian dishes. Wikipedia says the demographic of PJ is more than 50% Chinese.


Other than cooked food, there were many fruit and vegetable stands.


As much as the food was not covered, nobody seems to be worried about hygiene or spoilage due to weather – there were no flies – this is partly because the food was freshly made and sold immediately.


We saw many cake stands too –  on the left is vanilla milky cranberry cake, yam cake in the middle and green tea-red bean cake on the right.


More street food stands to come in the next post. Click here to see our post of a market on the other side of the world, in Vienna, Austria.

We visited the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Muzlum Kesenlan Islam Malaysia, IAMM) while in Kuala Lumpur. See our earlier post on the museum here.


It is the first and largest museum of its kind in South-East Asia and among its collection of artifacts, it owns a number of architecturally accurate models of famous mosques around the world.


These models are not historic artwork, like jewelery, textiles, metalwork, coins and seals, ceramics and manuscripts, which are also on display.  The models serve  primarily an educational purpose.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi


The museum-goers were introduced to the architectural terms – mimbar, dikka, mihrab, …


Medina Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Nabawī)


The reflections from the protective case made photographing these models very challenging. For example, I could not manage to take a picture of the blue mosque of Istanbul which was beautifully recreated.


And in the rush, I did not take a snapshot of the descriptions which is unfortunate, otherwise, this post would be much more interesting to read. So here it is –  a collection of snapshots.


Djinguereber Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali




Somewhere in China ?




Below is not a model but a picture of the actual National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara) which is located a block downhill from the museum.


Here are several snapshots of the manuscripts on display, included purely for its attractive info-graphic designs. Love to know know more about them.










So much to see, so little time.


The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (Muzlum Kesenlan Islam Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur, the first and largest museum of its kind in South-East Asia opened in 1998.


Occupying 30,000sq m, and housing over 8,000 artefacts, the Museum aims to create a collection truly representative of the Islamic world. See their web site here.


The museum comprises 12 permanent galleries, each highlighting a different type of Islamic artwork, including Jewellery, Textiles, Metalwork, Coins and Seals, Ceramics and Glassware, Architecture, and Quran and Manuscripts. These also include galleries dedicated to India, China and the Malay world, three of the great centres of Islamic culture in Asia.



There are multiple elaborately-decorated domes inside and outside the buildings.



There were multiple domes like this one (below) in the museum. All,except an inverted one, are concave on the inside.


The Architecture Gallery also features scale models of some of the greatest places in Islamic history, including the cities of Mecca and Medina. I will create a separate post showing these models.


The museum also features a conservation centre, a restaurant, gift shop, two terraces, a fountain garden, an auditorium, a children’s library and a scholar’s library.


The restaurant (above) offered a buffet lunch but it was rather quiet.


KL’s bird park is behind the museum.


The museum’s interior is designed to maintain a seamless continuity of light and space, which carries through the galleries and into every area of the museum.




The shades are to protect the exhibits from the strong tropical sunlight – which was absent on the day we were visiting.


This museum really deserves a second visit. We were a bit rushed and (I) did not looked closely at the exhibits.


One of the joys of traveling is to see friends and do things together at a location faraway from where we became friends.

Not having seen our friends S and M for many (five plus) years, we met them for lunch at this South Indian eatery near downtown KL. They have settled in KL a couple of years ago.  Since we said we wanted to try something local, M and S chose Vishal. The place was not easy to find despite we were driven around in a taxi.


Vishal is located in Brickfields, a small Indian enclave where among the high rise residential towers, there are a couple of small Hindu temple complexes. Vishal serves traditional south Indian food on banana leaves. It is making comfort food for the neighborhood and certainly not a touristy place.


As soon as we sat down, a server placed a banana leaf in front each of us and a lady following immediately behind plopped down little scoops of starters on our leaf.

The starters were kept in a set of four industrial stainless-steel cans – they looked like cans that contained paints.


Before we ordered drinks, men came by and showed us a tray full of small plates, each containing something savory or spicy. Everything was happening around us so quickly. We had no idea of the names of what we ate as there were no time to ask the waiters or decipher the flavor from their answers. There were chicken, lamb and squid as well as a variety of vegetarian dishes.


Then, another man came around with a tray full of fried fish, whole, halved, or minced and made into cakes. I picked the half fish (with the tail) and a deep-fried fish and potato cake.


They also gave us papadams – very light and tasty.


This is what I had on my banana leaf before I piled on stuff from the small plates. Many people were using their hands to eat, as it is the Southern Indian tradition. We asked for knives and forks (shame).


We finished every thing on our leaves. This is Sue’s leaf at the end.


We did not have the crab, while it looked tasty, it would have been a mess to eat – but in retrospect, since one can use hands and the “plate” is massive, it would not have mattered really.


The eatery also sells takeout in small portions, neatly packed in these tiny clear plastic bags.


The dining room was full when we arrived, and by 2pm, many have left already as it was a weekday.


S and M – thanks for taking us to this real local place.

Lanson Place was our lodgings in KL. An earlier post covered the apartment (click here) – this post is about the common areas. Lanson Place is a brand of serviced apartments and hotel suites that is run by a Hong-Kong based company. They have properties in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and KL (two locations) – see their web site here.


Since this building was apparently intended to be used as a residential building, there isn’t a cafe or restaurant. The “clubhouse” on the top floor provides some basic hotel services.


The 50-story building has a roof top garden and an area where they served breakfast. It has a spectacular 360 degrees view of downtown KL.


See earlier post for views of other parts of KL.


The garden is quite basic.


There is a place for BBQ on the rooftop.


The split level clubhouse also has a computer area, as well as a pool table.


The Bukit Bintang area has the highest concentration of bars in KL (think Lan Kwai Fong except that in KL, the bars are more spacious). As residents of Lanson Place, we received coupons for some of these restaurants where discounts for drinks and meals were offered. The street famed for KL’s street food – Jalan Alor – is located nearby But we did not go there and heard that it is a bit touristy – more about street food in later posts.


There is also a small gym just below the clubhouse.


The building shares two swimming pools as well as a garden and car park with a sister building next door.


The rectangular pool is truly massive. We suspect that it is longer than an Olympic size pool. Great for fitness training.


The pools and garden sit on top of a multi-storey car park.


We were certainly curious about the price of these apartments as many units were apparently empty (as we can see from our window). And how much would the common service charges be given all the amenities ?

This place certainly suited us as there were an odd number of us for hotel rooms, and it provided all the comforts and conveniences. Se our earlier posts for the apartments we rented in the past in Vienna and Paris.
Our friends M and S happen to live nearby and we met them a couple of times. We just wish that we had more time to see friends and explore KL.

This is where the three of us (including IT) stayed in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Rather than going to a hotel, like we have done in the past, we looked for an apartment. Apparently, there are quite a few choices. There is a property boom in KL and there are expats to fill serviced apartments.


Lanson Place Bukit Ceylon Serviced Residences is located in one of a cluster of high-rise apartment buildings situated a small hill above Bukit Bintang (aka Golden Triangle, a busy shopping area in KL).


The entrance of the building has a shallow water feature on either side of the walkway. They were no railings.


We arrived very late and were helped by a concierge. It looks very modern but can be a bit dangerous at night.

Our unit was a 2-bedroom apartment on the 46th floor. It was spacious and modern.


Natural wood, muted pastel color furniture.


One of the bedrooms has twin beds.

lanson-10Apart from the 2 bedrooms, there’s also a small study.


The master bath room has a glass-enclosed shower-bathtub unit. There is no separate shower cubicle.


All the kitchen appliances were very well hidden. There are no handles for any of the drawers, fridge doors, and dishwasher. Very minimum and clean looking (easy to clean too) but a bit too sterile, and one need strong fingertips (think rock climbers) to open/close all the doors.
Since we had a rather long trip in Malaysia, a washer and a dryer were very handy.

From our living room window, we have a view of the Petronas towers.


The KL tower is also nearby. As you can tell, the weather was not cooperating.


This place was just what we needed to overcome the 7-hour jetlag. More about Lanson Place to come in our next post.


Some of you who knew me from New York probably think, judging from the posts here, that since we left for Switzerland, we travel a lot and do not spent much time on work. While it is true that I (Chris) get more vacation days per year now, workload is certainly heavier than before. So these vacations are really important counterbalances.  As 2014 was a busy year, I was really looking forward to the season’s holidays. Alright, … enough year-end reflection.

This time we went to Malaysia. As usual, my sis joined us for a few days.

Suria KLCC-5

This is our first time in Malaysia. So we hit the touristy spots of Kuala Lumpur (for readers who had been to KL, please bear with us here) – the best known of which is the Petronas Twin Towers. They were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world replacing the World Trade Center in New York.

Suria KLCC-6

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art. The towers were designed by Argentine American architect César Pelli. We did not bother to go up to the sky bridge located on the 41st floor for a view of the city center because our apartment is nearby and located on the 46th floor – see later post.

Suria KLCC-4

Underneath the towers is the country’s largest shopping mall, Suria KLCC. It has all the predictable international and regional brand names, and organized just like every other malls in North America.

Suria KLCC-11

Behind the mall is the KLCC park which had a 4-story high, cone-shaped Christmas tree. Next door is the Four Seasons Hotel.

Suria KLCC-3

Food courts and anchoring department stores and restaurants. We were interested to see Kinokuniya – the Japanese bookstore – occupies one end of the sprawling mall (see later post).

madam kwan-2

We were treated to a water jet show synchronized to music.

Suria KLCC-2

The water jet show with lights.

Suria KLCC-9.

Suria KLCC-7

A major draw of our trip to Malaysia is the food, which combines elements of the cuisines of Chinese, Malay and Indian. We started with the supposedly authentic but touristy Madam Kwan’s at Suria KLCC, which had us waiting 15 minutes for a table even after 2 pm. The place was crowded and a bit tired looking.

madam kwan-1

Madam Kwan’s, the franchise’s claim to fame is the Nasi Lemak, rice with coconut milk, which has been recognized as the best in the country by the Ministry of Tourism. We tried the Nasi Bojari instead …

madam kwan-5

Satay, which we had plenty of throughout …

madam kwan-4

This is the best dish of the day – stir-fried Ong Choy (蕹菜 or 通菜 in Cantonese, ผักบุ้ง Phak Boong in Thai, Kalmua in India, rau muống in Vietnam and Kangkong in Tagalog or Malay; or water spinach and Ipomoea aqatica in Latin) with Belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste). We suspected that animal fat was used to do the frying which made it super tasty.

madam kwan-3

This is the beginning of a great adventure, with lots of food, so watch this space !