Monday, April 07, 2008


Some mornings, I take brisk walks uptown to KL Sentral along Jalan Kelang Lama. That’s how I discovered an early morning Chinese market and its interesting merchandise of dressed black chicken, wild boar, and pigs fried whole. The downside was it is still dark at 6 AM in Kuala Lumpur and I have to be back at the Pearl International Hotel by 8:30 all prim and proper for our sessions on Trade and Human Rights. That’s goodbye to the golden hour of photography

Other mornings, I walk downtown towards Petaling Jaya searching for a mosque whose golden dome seductively greet me from my 17th floor hotel window every waking day. It seemed so near I can almost touch it. But it took me 3 mornings before it finally showed up and allowed me into its hollowed grounds to shoot its splendor. I never learned its name.

The best part is the after-walk breakfast. Yes, the hotel fare sucks because it’s the same stuff for 9 straight days. Thank God for the hot bowl of mee and the rotti dipped in eggs over-easy washed down with a piping hot cup of freshly brewed black coffee (no sugar and cream for me or its not coffee). The other guests can have the eternal chicken sausages and nuggets and potato hash and salad greens and cereals for themselves.

And noodles are served for snacks in KL. My first encounter was with the mee doreng or fried noodles which is like a dry and oily version of the pansit canton back home. Next day’s keowteow was much better but still below my culinary standard. Dacoco’s bihon guisado would handily beat them.

But then there’s lunch where the loh mee and the fried bee hoon ruled. The pasta selection was also wonderful. You select, the souse chef sautés it in butter and garlic, then throw whatever sauce and toppings you want. Mine is always plain tomato sauce with a sprinkling of chopped black olives liberally doused with grated parmesan cheese. I don’t want my spaghetti looking like pig slop.

And dinner too. The first one was a delightful initiation to Indian food with mutton and potato varuval, Andra fish curry, Tandoori chicken, briani, and naan. The Passage Thru India restaurant’s billing that it serves the best Indian chow in Malaysia is a just claim. It was a blissfully hot gastronomic experience. The other nights we were allowed to pick our own place to sup. Mine is always the nearby Chinese chow stalls. I tripped myself on a greasy and rubbery egg noodle dish topped with a tocino-like pork barbecue before I encountered the heavenly chicken-and-rice pot that goes well with an indulgent large cold bottle of Tiger Beer. The steep price of 17 Malaysian ringgits is equivalent to 221 Philippine pesos but rightly so.

We were dismissed early on our last training day so I decided to get lost in KL’s Chinatown of Jalan Petaling despite the usual afternoon torrent. The abundance of dirt-cheap designer brands on bags, clothes, watches and sunglasses (fakes of course) were suffocating but I’m more into local items. I finally settled down along a street restaurant, ordered a pork dish, and nursed 2 Tiger Beers while listening to 2 nomadic minstrels belt the Beatles and other popular Western guitar songs. I was back at the hotel by 9 PM. There are still some ringgits left so I decided to burn it and invited my Cambodian room mate for a drink. We had steamed siomai-wrapped shrimps called chee cheong with the Tiger Beers. It is a non-noodle but who cares?

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom):(1) Pearl International Hotel’s breakfast bowl of hot mee is the equivalent of the Filipino mami but with more panahog selection. (2) The dry and oily mee doreng and (3) the keoteow dish of flat noodles spiked with red hot chili. (4) The loh mee and (5) fried bee hoon are the equivalents of the Filipino lomi and bihon. (6) My regular pasta diet, (7) my first Indian food, (8 )my fave chicken-and-rice pot cooked ala adobo but much more, and (9) that indulgent Chinatown meal. (10) The siomai-like chee cheong.


betchay said...

wow, sarap! nagugutom na tuloy ako.;) ganda pagkakuha!

Anonymous said...

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