(Berjaya Times Square, 2nd Floor, East Wing)
The sun here is beginning to take its toll. 34 degree days, leaving my hotel room showered and ready to face anything the day spins at me, only to walk 500 meters and be reduced to a sweating, pale imitation of myself. The humidity is killer. It doesn't even let up at night. With all that in mind, I decided to throw a triumphant fist in the air and march the 3.2 kilometres to try out a new ramen spot achieving suspiciously high reviews across the board for their brand of Tori Paitan soup.
My previous experiences in Thailand and Indonesia with this arm of the ramen octopus had been grave affairs. Nanase's broth had the texture of thick gravy, and Seirock-Ya's was just far too fatty. I buckled down and found the place at the far end of a corridor with only vacant store-fronts. There was one customer in there attacking his bowl with gusto (I always eat at odd times so the restaurants are invariably empty, kinda the plan). I sat as far away from him as possible, affording him time for his broth-meditation, and me less chance of looking like a total plum for photographing my food from multiple angles.
The cheery waitress set the bowl of ramen down in front of me and i got that immediate feeling that this was going to be a good one. First step, taste the broth. Deep, flavoursome, rich but not too rich, lots of great chicken flavour without the thick-gravy-fat assault of previous tries.
Onto specifics. The noodles were your standard thin wheat ramen type. Sufficient. The pork was cut slightly thicker, but still fell apart at the touch and had a nice rich marinade taste. The egg was a touch on the sweet side, too much Mirin perhaps. All things considered this was a superb bowl of Ramen. I devoured it as quickly as I could but found the mountain unsurmountable and had to throw in the towel with 1/4 to go. The waitress seemed disappointed, but I convinced her I had enjoyed it.
Definitely a spot to check out if you're passing through KL.
(86, Jalan Tun H S Lee, City Centre, 50050 Kuala Lumpur)
Malaysian (Chinese) Beef noodles are very different to the type i'm most used to from Taiwan. There is always beef balls (something I never got in Taipei) and the broth is sweeter, the noodles generally thinner and most bowls are loaded with tripe (which I asked to kindly forego).
However, two of the highest rated one's in Kuala Lumpur are literally 200 and 160 meters respectively from my hotel. The first one I tried last week, was great, so today I figured I might as well check out the competition. This place was three times the size, and equally packed. I seemed to have arrived at the perfect time because as soon as I sat down throngs of locals turned up and had to wait.
I ordered the small bowl of beef ball noodles and a 100 plus. It was 34 degrees. Stiflingly hot. The city heaved under the pressure of the humidity. Cars added insult to injury, but inside was fairly ok. The labouring AC machines working overtime to keep the fire at bay.
The food was delicious. Completely different to Shin Kee down the road which was a clearer soup, different noodles and had minced beef added too. The beef balls here tasted better and had a more pleasant texture, the noodles were better over there, but the most important thing: the broth, was a dead tie. Tho differing in taste and recipe, they both had their plus and minus points.
I'll give this head-to-head a draw.
(Lot T-028, Level 3 Mid Valley Megamall)
Cloistered in the far realms of seedy city life, in shopping malls never visited or heard of, lay the forbidden kingdom of Bankara Ramen. A ramen shop that I visit religiously in Bangkok, due to it being the best in town (in a very very competitive market). I was thrilled to discover they have 2 branches in KL, and after Arsenal's loss to Liverpool last night and the subsequent consolation binge, it was the only food I really craved.
I popped down in my GRAB taxi, found the place located on the 3rd floor near the cinema, got a seat next to a partition so I only had one human being to be nervous about, and decided to order their special ramen for the hell of it (since i'd eaten their Tonkotsu countless times). It ended up being a bad decision.
The beer did little to assuage the incredible punishment of the night before. Sweaty palms, fear of humans, desire to lie in an ice bath and drink Margaritas.... the bowl arrived. I sipped the broth. It was diabolically fatty. I ate what I could of the noodles, the charshu was meltingly brilliant, the egg nothing to complain about, the menma had that strong aftertaste of overpowering sesame oil, but the main traitor was the broth... 5 sips and I was done. I had barely made an impact on the bowl at all. I felt sheepish, guilty. Beside me a 13 year old Asian girl rabidly attacked a bowl twice the size, forcing mouthfuls of noodles into her mouth quicker than she could chew or swallow, punishing herself in some hair-brained fear that the bowl may be taken away, and she would be rendered an Oliver going up to the headmaster trembling asking "More please, Sir".
My beer was exhausted so I waited for the waiter to walk to the other side of the room, and ran to the counter with my bill, paid, and vanished before they could see what a pathetic shell of a man I was.
The road to hell is paved with food inventions.
(7a, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, City Centre)
Today is a hot one. Probably not the right temperature for a steaming bowl of hot noodle soup, but that has never stopped me before.
Since my first few visits to KL in the early 2000's, i've walked past this nondescript stall a hundred times without bothering to go in and try the food. Having decided this time to try and only eat at new places, I figured it was high time to give the Beef Noodles here a go.
The place was packed. Promising. I had to share a table with an old man reading comics. I ordered the special beef ball soup and watched as the waiter ran frantically around the shop hurling bowls to impatient customers.
Delicious soup. First taste of the broth, spot on. Tremendous amount of flavour from a soup that looked so "thin". The two types of noodles were both excellent, the pieces of beef succulent and tender. The beef balls too were surprisingly good. At 1 Euro 50 for a bowl, you can hardly get a better or cheaper lunch anywhere.
(50, Jalan Doraisamy, Chow Kit)
One of the highlights of travelling extensively in Malaysia/Singapore is the opportunity to eat authentic Laksa literally anywhere. I read about Limapulo a couple of years ago, but since its out of the central loop that I normally stay in, I gave it a miss last year but promised if I came back to KL I would make a point of it.
Keeping my word I headed out by Grab taxi at midday to find the bowl of Laksa that has garnered praise both online and in print media. Everything is painstakingly cooked from fresh, and when you know how many ingredients go into a Laksa, you'll understand the commitment.
The place itself is quite different to how I imagined, i'd almost say "Trendy", but still retaining some old-world charm with the shutters and wooden details. I quickly ordered a Nyonya Laksa and a coke and sat back taking it all in. Within minutes the huge bowl was placed in front of me, camera-out, then spoon-in. The broth was exceptional. Fatty but in a curry-paste way, not in a pieces of white animal fat way. Both noodle types were great, the condiments and literally everything in the bowl just added to the experience and nothing took away from it. The sambal added that nice background heat, and the calamansi: some freshness.
It cost just under 3 US Dollars. Utter steal for the quality, and quantity of the food. I could hardly eat half of it and had to politely excuse myself, convincing them it was delicious but just too much food.
Worth getting out of the centre and taking a trip to. Be sure to carefully read their opening times, and days they serve Laksa, it varies a lot throughout the week.
(7.101.01 & S7.101.00 Pavilion Elite, 168, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Bintang, 55100)
To be honest I wasn't expecting to find amazing ramen in Malaysia. No offence, but I was obviously hoping for my umpteenth visit here to discover new Laksa, Tamil and Chinese food. Doing some due diligence before I read about this ramen place, and a couple more I am trying out in the next few days.
Bari-Uma do a Tonkotsu Shoyu style ramen, a little darker and stronger than regular Tonkotsu places in Japan. The egg is not sliced (bummer, cause I personally think it adds so much more character to the bowl, and means you don't have to bite into the entire egg at once and leave half of it floating around but can choose to eat half of it first to cleanse your palette and then the rest later... not to mention seeing how well the egg is cooked UP FRONT), but horses for causes.
The broth was fantastic. A rich, but not overpowering blend of richness and umami. The egg was rather forgettable, but the pork was absolutely amazing. Succulent, tender, good ratio of fat vs meat, and grilled on both ends to caramelise (not scorch), the meat so it avoided tasting like propane but had a rich, deep, beautiful flavour to it. The noodles were home-made and cooked al-dente. No complaints.
Solid, solid ramen adventures on my first proper Ramen trip in KL. Lots more to follow, all my previous visits have been lost since my iphone died. Damn Apple.
On my last trip to Hong Kong I almost ate at Toast Box because it was highly recommended by some locals for their Laksa. Having spent an enormous amount of time over the years in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia I am a massive fan of a well prepared Laksa.
After the arduous check-in process, made even worse by the fact that their meaning of "Bag-drop" is to line up with all the other 400 people who haven't checked in online anyway, rendering the entire process futile. Lets just say by the time I had gotten through security I was hangry, and quite shocked to see Toast Box in the departure area. I lined up, ordered my laksa, waited 5 minutes and hurried to a seat in the furthest corner of the room. Tragedy. Utter tragedy.
First off: I think tofu is one of the most intensely disgusting foods on earth. It serves absolutely no purpose. It tastes exactly like wet cardboard and nobody can argue with me on that.
Second: The prawns were dry and cold and overcooked.
Thirdly: The broth was powdery and grainy and had basically no flavour.
Fourth: The noodles were overcooked.
This was exactly how NOT TO COOK a laksa, and they were doing it at the airport in MALAYSIA? Wonders never cease. I struggled through enough tastes to decide that it was not worth pursuing even tho the hunger pangs were aching. I pushed the bowl away and dejectedly looked for a bar instead.