KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — There are some neighbourhoods that are so rich with restaurants, bars, cafés, roadside stalls and food trucks that one can spend an entire day hopping from one food haunt to another. And then there is Old Klang Road, a long stretch that spans many tamans (residential areas); one could easily spend a month here and not run of out places to eat.
But for those of us with just a day to spare, having more choices sure doesn’t hurt. To begin your Old Klang Road food hop, head to Taman OUG (also known as Taman Overseas Union), about a 10-to-15-minute drive from Mid Valley Megamall. Besides the offerings at the daily morning pasar (market), Taman OUG is also becoming a haven for cafés serving Third Wave Coffee.
The best of the lot is arguably The HUB, a truly serious coffee bar run by barista Nicholas Tay and his wife Yuki. Trained in Thailand, Nicholas is a certified Specialty Coffee Association of Europe Authorised Trainer (AST) who also roasts his own beans, using a Diedrich roaster. In fact, The HUB has an extensive selection of Ninety Plus beans; these are exceptional beans, available only in limited quantities, that consistently score higher than 90 points on Coffee Review’s 100 point rating system.
Yes, this is a place for coffee geeks. But besides the creamy caffè lattes and ice-drip coffee, The HUB also has a surprisingly accomplished food menu for brunch lovers — from chicken-and-mushroom pies to smoked duck pizzas. The marinara-style seafood spaghetti is as good as anything from an Italian restaurant.
Or you could just have coffee — the perfect breakfast, really — to whet your appetite for lunch, something spicy and sour. You guessed it: we’re having Thai.
There has been a growing number of Thai eateries along Old Klang Road and the neighbourhoods that branch out from it but perhaps none has quite the sense of whimsy and fun as BBQ Thai. Located a little way before the exit to Taman Desa, BBQ Thai brings the street food atmosphere of a typical soi (street) inside a more comfortable environment. Here air-conditioned wooden huts in rainbow colours share the space with tuk-tuks and rescued water containers doubling as lamps.
Quench your thirst with some fresh young coconut — its water is a natural restorer of our body’s electrolytes lost from sweating — while perusing its extensive menu. You can’t go wrong with staples such as som tum (super-spicy raw papaya salad), seafood tom yum, and some petai (stink beans) stir-fried with shrimp.
The best dishes are, of course, their barbecued items. The barbecued pork neck is well marinated and remains succulent from careful grilling. Enjoy each piece on its own – it’s that good — or with the rather addictive green chilli dip. Cool down afterwards with some fresh mango with sticky rice or the more cloying tub tim grob, an icy treat smothered with ruby-red water chestnuts, slivers of jackfruit and santan (coconut milk).
The afternoon sun is sweltering. To cool off, turn into Taman Desa after the prominent bomba station until you see the TMpoint building. Opposite the road from it, under the blissful canopy of some trees, is a stall selling rojak and cendol.
Rojak & Cendol Aliff is a makeshift affair; basically a few plastic tables and chairs set up around a food truck. Roadside dining at its best. The rojak, which is more like pasembur, is decent but the true star here is the cendol. Finely shaved ice – unlike some other stalls which are more like chunks of hard ice — is doused in aromatic santan and gula Melaka syrup, and covered with oodles of pandan-flavoured cendol noodles.
Simple, refreshing and oh so good on a typically warm Malaysian afternoon.
Dinnertime beckons. Old Klang Road is known for several popular bak kut teh restaurants but if you prefer something less herbal (and possibly “heaty”), why not try some steamed fish head? You’ll find it — of all places — in the same shop folks go for the aforementioned bak kut teh.
Fatty Bak Kut Teh & Steamed Fish Head at Batu 4½ is really a trio of stalls where each act as a different station: one dishes up the bak kut teh, another stir-fry dishes and the third serves their famous Cantonese-style steamed fish head. The entire operation is supervised by a portly man clad in a white singlet, from whom the shop gets its name.
Enjoy the fish head in three different ways: steamed with ginger, soy sauce or cili padi. The classic ginger preparation is the best as it brings out the freshness of the song yu (bighead carp), a freshwater fish with meaty flesh and silky skin. Don’t miss out on the fish’s eyes: jelly-soft and chewy, these orbs are a real delicacy.
To fill yourself up, order a claypot of yellow wine chicken and a bowl of yau char kwai (deep-fried crullers) to dip in bak kut teh soup on the side. And rice, of course, to soak up all that delicious gravy and broth.
Old Klang Road is inundated with a plethora of pubs and drinking holes so late night owls fancying a beer (or half a dozen) after dinner won’t have any problem getting their fix here. (Do drink responsibly though and have a designated driver ready.) After all that booze though, there’s nothing like nursing a potential hangover with some greasy carbs. But what’s still open in the wee hours of the morning besides a 24-hour nasi kandar shop?
How about some Teochew porridge instead? The more-water-than-rice broth might just be easier on your beer belly than some spicy curries. Head to Restoran Peng Hwa, located near The Scott Garden; the shop is open till 5am so this supper might double as some “pre-breakfast” depending on how late or early you drop by.
A fuss-free, old school porridge shop, Peng Hwa offers a smorgasbord of side dishes to go with your watery porridge — from braised tofu and pork intestines to salted duck egg, stir-fried eggplant to deep-fried slices of luncheon meat. If you’re lucky, they might still have some of their double boiled soup available; the herbal soup boiled in a whole coconut is said to relieve you of any “heatiness”, a bonus given the recent heatwave that seems to last even after sunset.
Speaking of sunsets, you might wander out of the shop satiated — after a full day of eating! — but you can still have your fill of the sun rising as the early birds start their commute to work. Old Klang Road might be known for its never-ending stream of traffic but now you know better — there’s good eating to be had here too.
61, Jalan Hujan Rahmat 3, Taman Overseas Union, Kuala Lumpur
Open Mon-Wed 9am-7pm; Fri-Sun 9am-11pm; Thu closed
17, Jalan Jugra, Off Batu 3¼, Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 12pm to 12am
Rojak & Cendol Aliff
Opposite TMpoint Taman Desa, Jalan Desa Utama, Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily noon till late afternoon
Fatty Bak Kut Teh & Steamed Fish Head
A-5, Batu 4½ , Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 6pm – 5am
Restoran Peng Hwa (Teochew Porridge)
19A, Off Batu 4 1/3, Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 11am to 5am