Best Chinese Nasi Lemak In Kuala Lumpur @ Peel Road Nasi Lemak, Cheras

Nasi lemak. The perennial Malaysian favourite, and the country’s national dish.

The traditional version – often wrapped in banana leaf in a pyramid-like shape – consists of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan, served with sambal (spicy sauce), fried anchovies and peanuts, sliced cucumber and a boiled egg. While the dish is primarily served by Malay vendors (but enjoyed by people from all walks of life), Malaysia being the multiracial country that it is means that every race has their own unique version of nasi lemak. For the Chinese, it often means incorporating their own side dishes (sometimes non-halal) to go with the fragrant coconut rice.

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We’ve heard a lot about Nasi Lemak Peel Road – a Chinese-style nasi lemak stall in Cheras that has been going strong for over 26 years – so N and I decided to go check it out for ourselves.

Run by a husband and wife team, the stall is easily distinguished from the other hawkers thanks to its bright yellow signage. That, or just look for the crowd milling about the front, where makeshift chairs and tables are setup each afternoon. Parking is a pain so your best bet would be to park inside Sunway Velocity Mall which is just across the road.

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Served ‘chap fan’ (mixed rice) style, there are about 10 dishes to choose from to go with your nasi lemak. The bestseller is their fried chicken, which is made fresh on the spot at the kopitiam next to where the stall is. They literally ‘fly’ off the rack as soon as each batch is served! (Customer before us ordered 10 pieces). Other must-tries are the sambal sotong, rendang (only available on weekends), curry mutton, chicken curry and ayam masak merah, a Peranakan-inspired dish taught by the proprietor’s grandmother who was a Nyonya.

That aside you get items such as fried sausages and eggs, luncheon meat, stir-fried vegetables, pork and potatoes, sambal petai, and more. The lady boss cooks everything on her own (except the fried chicken, which the husband does) to ensure good quality control.

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Loaded my plate with fried chicken, sambal sotong and mutton curry. All the dishes went well with the rice, which was creamy but subtle. I can see why the chicken is so popular – extremely flavourful (not just on the skin but on the inside as well), addictively crunchy on the outside whilst being tender and moist on the inside. The mutton curry was not gamey at all and not too spicy; while the sambal sotong had a nice sweet and savoury tang to it with just enough kick. Two plates cost us RM15, which is very reasonable imo considering its a meal in the city centre.

Note: Come early to avoid disappointment; they run out as early as 8.30PM. Seats are limited so it’s best to tapau.

NASI LEMAK PEEL ROAD 

88, Jalan Peel, Maluri, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: 2.30PM – 8.30PM (closed Thursdays)

NON-HALAL

 

Little Giraffe Book Club @ Batu 11 Cheras, Selangor

We tend to picture libraries as tranquil, cosy sanctuaries – so the last place you’d expect to find one is in an old kampung house in the middle of a Chinese village. Opened in late 2017, the Little Giraffe Book Club at Batu 11 Cheras is anything but your average ‘library’. Formerly a dilapidated home, the space was given a new lease of life by curator Lee Soon Yong and a group of passionate architecture students, who envisioned a communal space that would also benefit the community.

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Originally, the Little Giraffe Book Club was a community initiative started by a group of kindergarten teachers with the aim of educating children in the village. Back then, the library was housed in a mobile container. Seeing the need for a proper place and with support from the locals, Lee, a former architecture student who grew up in the village, embarked on the project after returning from his studies in Taiwan.

Much of the building’s old exterior has been retained – from the pink and green wooden panels to the traditional windows and grates, zinc roofing and shaded veranda. Like many village homes, the compound is not gated, and there are benches and seats for visitors to rest on.

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The interior has been remodeled into a library-cum-cafe space, with open, lofty ceilings. One side of the space also features floor to ceiling windows, so the result is a bright, cheerful space with plenty of sunshine to filter in.

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The library corner, which sits on an elevated section, carries a large selection of children’s books in various languages. The layout of wooden shelves and steps makes it more fun and interactive for the children, who sit cross legged on the floor to read their books or play with toys. To be frank, this is the noisiest ‘library’ I’ve been in – but I’m sure it works well for the kids, because most of them learn through stimulation and play.

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So why a giraffe? Lee says it’s because children like animals, and a giraffe is far sighted – just like their vision to improve the community through educating the next generation. “You can’t force adults to read, but you can encourage reading habits from a young age,” Lee explains.

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The space is not only a library – it also runs as a cafe, which is how they support the book club. Their specialty is rojak – (for the non-Malaysians reading this, it’s a type of salad. But definitely not the healthy kind lol), since one of the people running the place is the son of the couple who run the famous Rojak Wan stall in TTDI! I never used to like rojak until I had Rojak Wan’s – the beautiful combination of fresh fruits and veggies, tossed in a thick shrimp paste sauce and topped with crunchy crackers, fried Chinese crullers and ground nuts – is simply divine.

Aside from rojak, they offer coffee and simple fare such as burgers and rice dishes. Expect a long wait if the place is crowded, however.

Due to the zinc roofing and its lack of air conditioning, the space can get very warm in the afternoons. It’s best to come in the mornings or evenings, and if you have an off day on the weekday, come then to avoid the weekend crowds.

LITTLE GIRAFFE BOOK CLUB

114, Jalan 15, Batu 11 Cheras, Selangor

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 1pm to 10pm

facebook.com/littlegiraffebookclub

 

What To Eat At Taman Connaught Night Market, Cheras

Has it been FIVE years since I last went to the Taman Connaught Night Market ?  

Yeah. I find it hard to believe myself, lol.

It’s not that I don’t like the place; it’s just not compelling enough to justify being stuck in rush hour traffic, since the market only opens on Wednesday nights. But since the Boy was in town and he had never been to a local night market, or as we locals call it, pasar malam, the fam and I thought it would be good to have him experience it at least once.

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The night market is one of the longest/largest of its kind, with well over 700 (!) stalls! Just walking from one end to the other (a distance of about 1km) would have been a good workout… if only we weren’t stuffing our faces all along the route lol.

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If you love street snacks, you definitely won’t want to give this night market a miss! It’s a great place to discover the latest ‘trendy’ snack foods from Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea. (Above) Spiral potato chips on skewers. 

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Good ol’ fried stuff, a staple of any night market around the world.

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Food isn’t the only thing you can find here, as there are also stalls selling everything from cheap clothes and shoes to perfume, cosmetics, phone accessories and trinkets. You might even find things like (above) scented crystals, which you can mix and match to your liking.

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Endless variety of designs!

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Apam balik – crispy peanut and corn-filled pastries. You have to eat these on the street as the thin pastry crumbles all over!

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A hawker scooping soup for noodles from a large metal vat.

One thing about night markets is how visual everything is: the smell, the sounds, the sights – they entice your senses before your palate.

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Assorted fried goodies like oyster mushrooms, chicken and seafood, coated in salted egg sauce, which is all the rage these days.

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Hello Kitty-shaped buns with sweet filling.

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More fried goodies on skewers – wonton, fried chicken, fishballs, hot dogs, bean curd, seafood tofu, nuggets.

With so much to eat, it’s best to come here on an empty stomach! 🙂

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Steaming hot dimsum in baskets.

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A vendor making Chinese pancakes on a hot grill.

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The mushrooms on the grill looked delish so we got some to go. Not sure what kind they were but boy were they juicy and humongous; seasoned with garlic seasoning.

Boy also tried stinky tofu for the first time. He took it well!

Writing about this has made me hungry lol. Should probably pay another visit soon! 🙂

TAMAN CONNAUGHT PASAR MALAM (Night market) 

Jalan Cerdas, Taman Connaught, 56000, Kuala Lumpur

Open Wednesdays from 5PM onwards

Kazu Sushi, Viva Home Cheras

Update: This restaurant is permanently closed.

It’s already the middle of January. Time sure flies! I met up with Bel and we went to celebrate Jo’s birthday at Viva Home Mall, Cheras: just a simple dinner and drinks. The place is quite dead other than their F&B, but it’s closer to where she stays.

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We went to Kazu Sushi, a Japanese restaurant. The outlet was spacious, with private dining areas where guests have to take their shoes off. The walls were decorated with classic Japanese-style paintings. We opted for the circular wooden booths. There was also a conveyor belt but hardly any sushi on it.

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Prices were higher than average at RM20+ and above. There was sashimi, sushi, temaki, ramen and bento.

I forgot the exact name of the bento I got, but I remember that it cost RM30. The set came served with Japanese white rice, salad in vinaigrette, two pieces of fried ebi (shrimp), fried scallop, breaded oyster and chicken in a teriyaki sauce. The chicken was fried instead of grilled, but it had a ‘dry’ texture, like the meat wasn’t fresh. The tempura wasn’t done well either as it had more flour than filling, and was doughy.

The only saving grace was the chawan mushi that came served with the bento. This was soft and eggy, with generous bits of mushroom and crab meat stick in it. They also served the set with Miso soup and fruits.

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Bel and Jo got another bento, which had chicken gyoza, salad, grilled teriyaki salmon and rice.

Overall, the food quality was meh compared to the price we had to pay. There are probably better Japanese restaurants around Cheras at a cheaper price.

KAZU SUSHI VIVA HOME MALL 

Lot No G03-03A Ground Floor, Viva Home, No 85 Jalan Loke Yew, 55200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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It was still early after dinner, so we went to Starbucks. Got raspberry cake and peanutbutter marshmallow chocolate cake for Jo. I haven’t had Starbucks in forever and downing their Caramel Chocolate after a long hiatus from sugary drinks was a little overwhelming.