Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

by Paris B on · 36 comments

in Food & Lifestyle,Musings,Travel

I didn’t eat anything interesting this week so I decided to take you on a short little walk through the area we in Kuala Lumpur call Chinatown. Its also known affectionately as Petaling Street because that’s where its located; and used to be where the Chinese traders would set up shop. Some of the good food around KL originated here. These days, things are a little different down there, but it is still an interesting place to walk about in.

chinatown kl10 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

I was there only for a little while, playing with my camera and if it wasn’t so hot (note to self: Midday is not a good time for photo taking!) I would have taken more and better shots. As it stands, since it was so hot anyway, lets cool down with a must stop area of Chinatown icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

This humble stall somewhere in the middle of the maze that is Chinatown, selling ice cold “Air Mata Kucing” (Lit. Cat Eyes Water) is a must visit. But not to worry. No cats were harmed in making this drink icon razz Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur “Mata Kucing” (cat eyes) is a local name for longan and this is a drink made from boiling dried longans, wintermelon and lo han guo with rock sugar. You can just as easily make this at home, and I do icon smile Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

chinatown kl3 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

The drink is deliciously sweet and importantly ice cold. One cup is rarely if ever enough and I’ve learnt not to share my drink with anyone icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

chinatown kl Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

A little way down the street is an old man selling some local “kuih” (cakes) which is like a pancake. The small ones are fluffy pancake like and have coconut mixture in it.

chinatown kl6 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

The larger ones cut into slices have crunchy peanuts and sugar sprinkled on the inside and then folded over. I don’t know what to call these except maybe Peanut Pancakes? They are a traditional snack but it is increasingly difficult to get good ones. This old man makes one of the best I’ve had in KL icon smile Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

chinatown kl8 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

Roasted chestnuts can be found here at all times of the year, not just Christmas icon biggrin Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur My mom loves eating chestnuts so we naturally had to stop and buy a bag. This is a mechanical roaster I spotted. The chestnuts are kept turning as they are roasted with sugar and erm… sand?

chinatown kl4 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

Chinatown is also where you can find the fresh flower wholesale shops. There is a shop I frequent here for my fresh flower needs and the prices are a little cheaper than going to a florist. There are also ready made bouquets which are available at all times. I sometimes wonder who buys them but apparently people do!

chinatown kl5 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

During the evenings is when more traders appear and the pace starts to pick up in the area. More stalls come out, and it becomes quite crowded in the evenings. There is a lot of *ahem* “designer goods” to be found here still. Its one of those shady things people don’t talk much about, but everyone knows where to go for things like that.

chinatown kl7 Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

I plan to return another day for another practise session with my camera. I enjoy walking there, exploring the various streets and filling up on the street food and snacks as I go. Join me next time? icon wink Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

I hope you enjoyed this little diversion from the regular Scrumptious Saturday post. I might head to another part of KL next time icon smile Scrumptious Saturday Vol. 8: A walk through Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

Paris B

Scrumptious Saturday : One day in a week where I dish out random scrumptiousness from my other love – food!

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[ 36 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

thian April 14, 2012 at 8:43 am

the Peanut Pancakes – we call it “Man Chiang Kueh” in Penang :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I call it a variation of that too – Ban chian kueh. I wasn’t sure how to write it since there are so many different pronounciations in the different dialects :D

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Jacqueline April 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

I love peanut pancakes, especially the crunchy sides.

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Oh yes! I used to pick off the crunchy sides and leave the middle LOL! These days, I am better at eating them all up :D

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Jyoan April 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

Ooo, nice composition in the photos. Is it the place with the big Popular and Bee Cheng Hiang?

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Jyoan and yep! Its that part of town :D

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germs April 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

those peanut pancakes are calling out to me! :P~ i’m really envious of the food culture Malaysia has preserved so well, most of the food still have that artisanal touch to them. whereas in singapore, let’s just say food courts and factory-made, generic tasting food have taken over :( guess it’s time to start planning a weekend trip to KL! thanks for sharing this lovely post with us :)
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

LOL That food culture is starting to permeate locally too! A lot of the old fashioned traditional foods are preserved in the smaller towns for which I’m very grateful. I love my traditional foods from all cultures and I’m very glad to have that sort of food culture retained here. Do come to KL – there’s lots to eat here hehe… :)

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lyn
Twitter:
April 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

I haven’t been to Petaling Street in years! But I know that air mata kucing shop and think I’ve stopped by there before :-) One of these days I’m gonna have to drag myself down to Chinatown for a photo-walk.
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Let me know when you decide to come down! We’ll go photo-walkies together ;)

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Stephanie/Yukaeshi
Twitter:
April 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I do quite enjoy walking around Petaling Street and I absolutely LOVE the air mata kucing haha! :D Hidden in the shop buildings behind the stalls are occupied shops with no signboards, but inside they have Tibetan/Nepalese people with their stalls selling semi-precious stones and whatnot. It’s very interesting! My Mum and me love shopping there, she especially for chunky rings :P They close around 4pm though.

I also like to look around at the *ahem* stuff- it can get pretty amusing sometimes as you can see designs that the brands don’t even have :P

Also, a favourite with my Dad especially is a stall selling “ap keok pao” or literally translated from Cantonese as “duck leg wrap”. It’s what it is- duck’s feet wrapped around pork with duck intestines. Kind of weird, but kind of nice too!
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Oh yes I think I know that shop you mention. I pass by them quite often when I’m walking through that part of town but I’ve never stopped to take a look. Next time I will :) I think I know the stall you mention – Sze Ngan Chai. Their roast duck is absolutely delicious! I used to queue to take one back every Chinese New Year :D

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michelle hui April 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I have never tried to venture into tourist places around KL but I used to like going to petaling street when I was in my 20’s. Lots of things to see and buy for a young working gal.
The peanut pancake is called tai kau min in cantonese or apom balik. Love those that was sold in the SS2 pasar malam and missed them so much now that I don’t live in SS2 anymore.

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Ah see! I knew the pancake thing was called different things in different dialects :D Its not easy to find anymore, I find. I dread the day that they go out of fashion and I can’t find these anymore! I like wandering about the touristy parts of town. I used to take a day off just to explore and its fun to get to know something of the city you live in :D

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Haru April 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Dang, I miss eating those peanut pancakes! They are called meejiangkueh in Singapore, I think. I used to have them in place of a proper meal ;p

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

In place of a meal? Wow! :D They are really good, aren’t they? I think I shall stop by and pick some up tomorrow :)

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lavender April 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I just ate the peanut pancake (at other place) yesterday! and the Air mata kucing is my favourite too but I hardly go there.
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The Air Mata Kucing is also the same one that’s in MidValley :) More pricey of course but the same owner.

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Sunny
Twitter:
April 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Wheee chestnuts! They are roasted in sand all right! I heard that the sand distributes heat evenly, so that the chestnuts don’t get burned before they can be properly roasted. It’s funny though. Chestnuts are more like something I’d associate with autumn!
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Ahhh that makes sense about sand :D Over here, we get chestnuts all year round! It is sometimes weird to eat it when its so hot but we do anyway hehe

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Mari Ohira April 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Cool photos! Strange that here longan is called “dragon eye”. Or was it “dragon egg”? Anyway, it is good!

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Actually I think in Cantonese, Longan would mean “Dragon’s Eye” :D

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Mari Ohira April 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Indeed, it is “dragon’s eye”! We seem to have lots of Cantonese people here in our Asian district. ;)

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milktea April 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm

This brings back good memories! I remember that air mata kuching stall! I think they opened a stall in midvalley too. :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Yep! They have a stall in MidValley too :D

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ysk
Twitter:
April 15, 2012 at 1:14 am

LOL!the apong is called ban jian kuih,not peanut pancakes..
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Well I had to be able to describe it to a wider audience :)

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Jean April 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I love chestnuts! but they are kinda expensive. >.<
anyway in petaling street there is a popo who sell handmade mochi (the chinese traditional one with peanuts over small handcut pieces mochi), very very yummy! you should give it a try! =)
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Yeah chestnuts are pricey :( But so nice right? :D I know the stall you’re talking about – I always see the lady but I’ve never tried it. I will next time, thanks for the tip!

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Applegal April 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I usually have the yong tau foo and chee cheong fun in some backlane of Petaling Street. The tofu is a bit burnt, which is really nice! Yeah the gemstones/crystal shops are interesting. I got nauseous in one crystal shop, don’t know whether it was from the incense or the crystals themselves! :P

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Mmmm YES! I know exactly where you’re talking about – I go there for lunch sometimes too – the famed Madras Lane Chee Cheong Fun! :D

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Marina(Makeup4All) April 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thanks for an excursion! :)
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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Virtual visit to my part of the world, Marina :)

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Eileen April 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm

The air mata kucing stall has been in Petaling Street in, like, years. I used to frequent it during my schooling years where they serve the air mata kucing in stainless steel bowls and spoons. Wonder if they are still using that?

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Paris B
Twitter:
April 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I remember when it was served in stainless steel bowls and spoons too! I liked that. It added an old fashioned charm to the drink. They now serve them in plastic cups :(

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Deeds November 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Loved the Air Mata Kuching drink! Didnt even know it existed before the people at The 5 Elements Hotel in Chinatown recommended the place to me. Its the perfect condiment to the hot humid weather in Malaysia. :D

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