Fol­low the satay trail

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

Kim Cu­lyer is guided by an ex­pert as she de­vel­ops a taste for Kuala Lumpur.

ALAYSIANS love their food. At break­fast, they are al­ready think­ing about lunch. At lunch, they’re con­sid­er­ing din­ner op­tions. With so much at­ten­tion to the ap­petite and a dizzy­ing choice, it’s im­por­tant to know where the best places to eat in the cap­i­tal, Kuala Lumpur.

I’m lucky I have a great guide. Poh Ling Yeow, the 2009 MasterChef run­ner-up, was born in Malaysia and moved to Australia with her par­ents when she was nine. Her early years spent in the kitchen with her mother and grand­mother left in­deli­ble mem­o­ries of their fam­ily recipes, a fu­sion of Malay, In­dian and Chi­nese in­flu­ences.

KL re­ally comes alive at night. There’s a daz­zling dis­play of light, from small red Chi­nese lanterns to neon sky­scrapers.

When we ar­rive, the streets of the Bukit Bin­tang area are full of peo­ple and the heady aro­mas of bar­be­cued meat, fried fish and one very par­tic­u­lar fruit. Durian looks s like a melon with spikes and smells like noth­ing else, though stinky gym shoes come to mind.

The aptly named Food Street has a pedes­trian zone lined with sim­ple restau­rants and hawker-style stalls where we buy satay sticks and other bar­be­cued of­fer­ings straight from the flames for about $2.50 for two. We try ren­dang, chilli crab, whole baked redfin, king prawns, chicken curry, noodles, cala­mari, pipis and sauteed greens, de­liv­ered pip­ing hot to our ta­ble.

Af­ter din­ner, we head to Traders Bar, on the 33rd floor of Traders Ho­tel, with floor-to- ceil­ing win­dows and gid­dy­ing panoramic views over the city. Its cock­tail lounge has a pool as a cen­tre­piece and is sur­rounded by ca­banas and so­fas.

The next day, we tour the colos­sal cater­ing depart­ment of Malaysia Air­lines to see the cre­ation of thou­sands of in­flight meals. The air­line re­cruited Poh as an am­bas­sador and she cre­ated a sig­na­ture dish – Nonya chicken curry with roti canai. It’s avail­able in busi­ness class and by ar­range­ment in econ­omy ($24, or­dered at least 48 hours be­fore the flight). The choice of dish was easy for Poh. “It is such a de­fin­i­tive Malaysian dish, a crowd­pleaser, and curry chicken is loved by my fam­ily,” she says.

The cater­ing depart­ment han­dles more than 30,000 meals a day and is the ma­jor caterer for more than 30 other air­lines that fly from KL. Malaysia Air­lines’ sig­na­ture ap­pe­tiser is the satay. Each day, 26,000 satay sticks are cooked over tra­di­tional man­grove char­coal at the fa­cil­ity.

An­other high­light of KL is its shop­ping. The Pav­il­ion Tower, part of the Bukit Bin­tang Shop­ping Cen­tre, is so huge I get lost, though it’s all part of the fun. The Cen­tral Mar­ket is a mix of old and new, vin­tage clothes, trin­kets and art, while Chi­na­town has a full range of fak­ery. Af­ter a hard day sign­ing credit-card slips, we head to Morini’s 57 Bar, on the 57th floor of the third Petronas Tower. This is an­other su­per-stylish cock­tail bar and restau­rant, with views of the shim­mer­ing neigh­bour­ing tow­ers.

We spend our fi­nal night dining at Restau­rant Song Ket Bun­ga­low, which serves au­then­tic Malay cui­sine.

We eat our way through ap­pe­tis­ers, then sweet and sour sea bass, prawn and pineap­ple curry, char­grilled ribs, spicy mango and chicken curry. Un­like the good res­i­dents of KL, how­ever, at this mo­ment we’re not think­ing of break­fast. The writer was a guest of Malaysia Air­lines and Tourism Malaysia.

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