If there’s one thing Charles takes seriously it’s food.
The aim of the game is to find the best food, no matter the cost, no matter the wait, no matter the distance.
I’ve talked about it a few times here, but Malaysia is so well-known for its delicious food. There is just so many amazing dishes you have to try while in Malaysia, that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.
So, for me, it was a no-brainer to join a Kuala Lumpur Food Tour.
My dear friend, Andrea from Switzerland came to visit us here in Kuala Lumpur, so I was busy planning a 1-week itinerary. And every time I came up with ideas, it just kept coming back to FOOD. So instead of trying to fit in all these different restaurants over 1-week…why not join a food tour which would take us to some of the best places in town.
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Booking with LokaLocal
After much research, I found the Off the Eaten Track a food tour in Kuala Lumpur through LokaLocal.
LokaLocal is not you’re a-typical tour booking website. If you want more mainstream style tours, you best to look elsewhere. LokaLocal is a local Malaysian startup company that has created a platform that connects travelers with local experiences and local communities.
They take you off the beaten track and show you hidden gems that you might not normally discover if you were touring on your own. They work with local companies and sustainable programs to bring to travelers more personal and memorable tours, that showcase the ‘real’ Malaysia.
You know, throughout my travel, I have always thought to myself “wouldn’t it be cool if we met a local who could show us around the city?” And that’s the kind of experience that I have found with LokaLocal.
So if you’re after a more authentic travel experience of Malaysia, where you’re connecting with a more local outlook on a city, I highly recommend checking out LokaLocal.
There are many other fantastic super local tours you can consider while you’re in Malaysia, including a trip to visit the Mah Meri Cultural Village which is an ethnic village native to West Malaysia.
Our Experience on a Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
It was early in the evening. Andrea and I hopped on the LRT, the local train, to head to the Taman Paramount station where we would meet Charles.
And Charles was truly not hard to miss – extremely extroverted in a bright purple shirt, he energetically introduced himself and gave a brief overview of what to expect on the tour. Not long after the meeting time, we all got into the van and headed off to our first stop.
Five stops were planned for the tour…but five stops did not mean five dishes. From Malay to Chinese to Indian, we were going to experience an array of food that will give us a wonderful snapshot of the Malaysian culture.
Now dear reader, I am not going to spoil the fun of this food tour and reveal every little detail of where Charles took us. The whole fun of the tour was traveling with a group to various places around the city, and sampling an array of food.
Charcoal Fried Hokkien Mie
The first dish that Charles organizes is Hokkien Mie… ok that’s just noodles we all thought. But nope, it’s not just any kind of noodles. Charles explained that locals travel from far and wide to eat the Hokkien Mie at this very location. Why? Because it is cooked over charcoal, not gas. And today it is extremely rare to find these noodles cooked in the traditional method of cooking over charcoal. Cooking over charcoal helps the wok achieve its maximum what is called the “wok hei,” which means a very high heat of the wok. This helps to perfectly char the noodles, while also adding a lovely smoky flavour from the charcoal.
Claypot Fish Head Curry
Charles also organizes what became my favorite dish of the evening – Claypot Fish Head Curry. The curry is slow cooked in the claypot with fish head, eggplant, and cabbage…with the curry prepared in a “nyonya style.”
This is always a winner in my books, and definitely one of the Malaysian food you must try. I’ll leave it at that.
Back into the van we go off to the next stop. Charles takes us to a night market out in the burbs’ – a real deal local night market… known as a ‘pasar malam’ here in Malaysia. In fact, we stuck out like a sore thumb because we were the only tourists to visit.
From about 4pm onwards, market stalls begin to setup to cater for the after-work crowd.
You can buy some groceries here from fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dried goods…you name it…to buying your food to go if you’re not feeling up to cook. It was very interesting to walk down the full market area and experience local living.
Over his time hosting many food tours, Charles has gotten to know the locals at this market. Every few minutes, we’d hear local stall owners giving Charles a big ‘hello.’ It was great to see and it made the experience at the market all the more personal.
Along the way, we stopped by a Murtabak stall. Commonly found around Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Murtabak is a kind of stuffed omelette pancake. At this particular stall, we tried a savory version which was filled with meat and vegetables, and then covered with cheese. Rahmat, the owner of this Murtabak stall was very friendly and had a lot of fun showing us how he prepares his murtabak.
It was time to turn the clocks back and sample a local breakfast specialty – the Nasi Lemak.
It was getting close to 10:00pm, and our next stop was quite an industrial area, which has become known for being the place to get nasi lemak.
Charles tells us that over his lifetime, he has had his share of nasi lemak, and he found this spot to be one of the absolute best. It is definitely in his top 5 places to eat Nasi Lemak, and this very stall has put this industrial food court on the map.
Otak otak can come in two variations. I learned how to make a steamed version when I joined a local Malaysian cooking class. The other variation is the one we tried on this evening – a fish cake that is wrapped inside a banana leaf and then charcoal grilled. There’s a lovely spice and fragrance to the dish that comes from the chili and curry powder, and the charcoaled banana leaf.
Ohhh I really found this dish intriguing – basically it looked like a tofu sandwich. You take a firm tofu and stuff it with peanuts and bean sprout then toast it. It is then served with a house-made soya sauce.
By now we were getting quite full. After all, we really tried a whole array of food. Slowly we started heading back towards the Kuala Lumpur city direction and took a pit stop at Merdeka Square. This was a great break to let our food digest.
Now I’ve been to Merdeka Square many times, but only during the day….and wow was it quite cool to come at night. The buildings were so nicely lit up and it looked impressive against the black night time sky.
Just behind Merdeka Square was the River of Life, a light installment by the local government, which aimed to beautify the river stretch in the city through turning KL’s river into a sensory experience. There is also a river cleaning and master-planning component to the whole project. Light and wind machines have been installed along the river, and at night the whole area lights up in this magnificent blue color with a mist fog blown over the river area every while.
It was a lovely break from all the eating, and a great way to grab some colorful night time snaps. Having lived in Malaysia for almost two years at this point, this was the first time I saw the River of Life and was quite impressed.
Just when we thought it was getting too late to find decent food, we head to Jalan Ipoh to savour some Indian roti. It was a simple stall set up in a parking lot and it is open for 24-hours.
This is definitely one of my absolute favorite Indian breads and to be honest, it is not as easy to find. Basically an appam is made using fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It has a slightly sweet taste to it from the coconut milk, but pairs so nicely with a nice chicken curry. You can also dip the bread into coconut milk, or even enjoy a sweet appam with brown sugar.
Deep Fried Puri
This one is made with wheat flour and arrives at the table looking like a big soccer ball. Once you pull the bread apart, the bread down drop and is so delicious to eat with a curry. It’s even a fun experience to see the staff cook the puri and watch the bread grow into its soccer ball size.
Ohhh it is just so buttery and delicious. You definitely can’t be thinking about calories when you savour into a roti canai. This is a very common flatbread found throughout Malaysia and it can be eaten at any time of the day, and also pairs well with a curry. Crisy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, roti canai is definitely a staple favorite in Kuala Lumpur.
By the end of the tour, I was in a food coma, but wow was it amazing to see a different side to Kuala Lumpur.
This food tour in kuala lumpur is like no other because it brings you into the heart of the suburbs that surrounds Kuala Lumpur city. It takes you to places you would never have imagined because you wouldn’t have known about them unless a local would have told you.
Charles has really stayed true to his word by keeping this Off the Eaten Track food tour as authentic as possible. He’s taking you to places where the locals go…where there’s hardly a tourist in sight. And best of all is Charles is a fantastic tour guide who is extroverted and personal.
I really enjoyed this experience and loved learning even more about the diverse food culture that exists in Malaysia. And it’s a great way to really experience local life here in Kuala Lumpur.
The Off the Eaten Track food tour starts at RM176 per person (A$59 | U$44) and runs for approximately 3-4 hours. The tour runs daily, you just need to book about 3 days in advance.
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No compensation was received for this review, however we were guests of LokaLocal. All opinions remains my own and I only promote products/services that I love.
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