Have I mentioned that the best thing to do during a long-ish layover is to get out of the airport and make the most out of your borrowed time in a new city?
On my way to Jaipur from Manila, I stopped by Kuala Lumpur for a 17-hour layover, which is seemingly standard for all AirAsia flights going to India, or basically elsewhere in the mainland Southeast Asia. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass, and I grabbed the chance to ride an early morning bus from KLIA2 to the city to cram as much Malaysian food in as I can before it’s time to check in for my connection to India.
KL is one of my favourite layover destinations because of the diversity of food choices, and not to mention the abundance of cute coffee shops and corner boutique stores that dot its neighbourhoods.
I arrived at a very awkward hour before the city was even awake to welcome me back, but I knew one thing that would be served early, and that is Malaysia’s top breakfast choice: a steaming hot plate of nasi lemak.
I’ve had some pretty good ones during a previous trip to Penang, but I heard some pretty good things about Nasi Lemak Wanjo in Kampung Baru, a quiet residential neighbourhood that has a very good view of the Petronas Towers.
It ‘s common for locals to take nasi lemak to go, in a parcel that is wrapped in banana leaves. I’ve always love that extra flavour that the banana leaf imparts, but since Nasi Lemak Wanjo is better eaten whilst steaming hot, as most things, I grabbed a seat and pointed out what I liked to eat at the ladies who were manning the counter.
Every nasi lemak plate starts with the basic rice and fixin’s, which is usually crispy fried anchovies, nuts, cucumbers, and a sweet/savoury sauce that is the perfect balance of many Southeast Asian flavours that I normally crave: soy sauce, fish sauce, fish/shrimp paste, and jaggery or sugar. You have your choice of protein, and on offer that day were vats of curried beef and chicken, fried chicken, tempe, eggs, and squid. It is worth mentioning that most, but not all nasi lemak stalls are halal. Kampung Baru is a small Muslim neighbourhood with several mosques in the vicinity, so it goes without saying that the food in this stretch of mom and pop stalls are predominantly fit for Muslim consumption.
I had a satisfying meal of chicken curry cooked in a tangy sauce of kefir lime and herbs. It goes really well with the rice that was perfectly cooked in coconut milk, giving it that slightly nutty but creamy consistency. The sauce was generally sweet, and though I was expecting a little bit of heat, it went really well with the slight zing of spice from the chicken. The cucumbers and the egg are there for extra bulk and flavour, but they are integral parts of any nasi lemak dish, so they, too, went down the hatch.
A lady came out of the kitchen with these lusciously fried slabs of tempe, which went really well with the sweet chili sambal that they spoon onto your nasi lemak plate. I washed everything down with kopi panas , which means just hot coffee with condensed milk in kopi tiam speak.
It was perfect fuel for the frenzied coffee shop hopping that followed after. By this time, I have already done the coffee route for the 3rd time, so I knew exactly how to find the coffee shops and I was able to go through my two top pics with ruthless efficiency.
Nasi Lemak Wanjo
8, Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru,
50300 Kuala Lumpur