Kuala Lumpur. A breath of fresh air. My month in India was rewarding but, admittedly, at times very tough. It was unlike anything I’m used to. The pollution, which I did not expect to that degree, caught me off guard. Also the food poisoning was quite a trial. So reaching the capital of Malaysia is a bit of a break. The air is a bit cleaner (of course a certain amount of smog is to be expected from any big city but it is, by comparison, non-existent). Best of all my appetite is finally back in full swing and I’m glad it is. The hostel I am staying at is one street over from the famous avenue of street food, Jalan Alor.
This is the stand-out for me of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a beautiful, clean city with a lot of interesting things to do and see: the Bird park - which boasts the largest open-air aviary in the world; the Orchid and Hibiscus park; the Batu Caves; and of course the Petronas Towers, but the thing for me was the food. I always joke that 90% of the reason I travel is because of food, but now I’m convinced - it’s not really a joke.
All three nights I spend in KL, I eat dinner on this street, trying something different every night. The road is already lined with Malay, Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants as permanent fixtures but at 5pm all the food stalls set up shop on the sidewalks, even encroaching into the road. That’s when the street comes alive.
The first night I partake of these dumpling-type things that I never get the name of. Inside giant steaming baskets are a rainbow of different colored dumplings. You pick what you want and put it into a container, hand it to the guy, he counts it up and tells you the cost. I choose a wide assortment and find a table down the road where I sit and order a beer to wash them down with. The dumplings vary. Some I love - can’t get enough of, others are… ehh.
The next night I eat at one of the permanent establishments - a Thai joint. I’ve never heard of stir-fried Morning Glory so I figure I’ll give it a try. It’s outstanding. Soon to become one of my new favorite dishes. I wander down the road and get some coconut ice-cream served right in a coconut. Kinda kitschy but delicious none-the-less.
The last night, I decide to take the plunge. I had seen frogs out on one of these stands the past two nights, splayed on a skewer and resting on ice. I know I can’t leave KL without trying it. I’ll regret it for sure. After hitting up a Vietnamese restaurant with Adrian, a German that I met at my hostel, we head down to the stall. I pull the trigger. I order the frog. The guy throws it on the grill and splashes some seasoning on it. After about three minutes he hands it over to me on a styrofoam plate. We head to a table, order a round of beers and are joined by two girls from our hostel. I dig in to the frog. Cliché, but it does taste like chicken. Well, like a mix between chicken and fish - which I guess makes sense being that it’s an amphibian. I pass it around, everyone is fairly adventurous and tries a bite. The general consensus: not bad.
My visit to Kuala Lumpur was a quick one, but fruitful. The next day I’m on a plane to Bangkok, ready to take on even more of this world’s many dishes…