Despite all the traveling I’ve done, I still stress out upon arriving into a new city. I find it exciting to be in an unfamiliar place, but it can also be extremely daunting to figure out where I am, how to get to my next destination, and more importantly, where and when my next meal will be since food is never far from my mind. When I recently arrived in Kuala Lumpur, yet another city famous for its food, my initial thought was, “Where to start? Where to go? What to EAT???”
This is where Food Tour Malaysia comes in. Inspired by their own search for authentic food during their travels, the founders of Food Tour Malaysia decided to combine their passion for food and travel into something that visitors to Kuala Lumpur can benefit from.
Food Tour Malaysia is made up of self-professed “gourmet Indiana Joneses” who take guests through various parts of the sprawling city to taste authentic dishes that make up Kuala Lumpur’s diverse food culture. Each tour is unique to the group as the guide takes into account culinary interests and preferences, as well as how much the participants’ stomachs can handle. Typically, each outing includes three to four different locations (yes, that’s approximately THREE to FOUR small meals you’ll be tasting!) of varying flavors. With no predetermined itinerary, this is very much a culinary adventure through the streets of Kuala Lumpur!
The mood of this unconventional tour is created from the very beginning of the night. The meeting point is in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, requiring around a 45-minute LTR (Light Rail Transit) ride from the city center. Darren, co-founder of Food Tour Malaysia and my guide, explained that this was to allow guests to see another side of Kuala Lumpur and to set the stage for the night’s “off the beaten path” food exploration.
After the rest of the group arrived (we had a total of six), Darren ushered us to Brickfields, a vibrant district heavily influenced by a large Indian population. Our first meal commenced inside a non-descript Indian canteen with a generous sampling of idli, dosa, roti chana, and mutton and chicken curry, eaten off banana leaves with our bare hands! Now THAT’S finger-lickin’ good!
Our next stop took us up a dark, winding hill in another part of town to a spacious Chinese clay pot restaurant. Disappointingly, their famous crab clay pot was already sold out for the night so we had to make do with other dishes. One particular course that stood out was the spare ribs cooked in Marmite. A strange and unexpected combination, especially from a Chinese restaurant, but the taste was rather intriguing!
Our next food stop took us to a street vendor selling fried chicken off a major touristic dining street. Our group shared a plate of succulent fried chicken wings, beef and chicken satay skewers, and fried squid with salty egg coating before our stomachs could explode.
The final Food Tour Malaysia stop (yes, that’s four in total) was for a dessert of shaved ice, sugary syrup, and fresh fruit further up the street. After a night of copious eating, this was a perfect way to end the hot night with something light, cold, and refreshing.
For someone who has traveled throughout Asia and can be found at all hours eating on a little stool on the side of the road of local night markets, I found this food adventure was a bit too tame. I would have preferred to have been taken truly off the beaten path and offered a sampling of some incredibly wild dishes that I haven’t already encountered in my years of traveling in Asia.
Overall, I think Food Tour Malaysia is a good starting point for those new to “adventure” dining while traveling. It’s ideal for first-timers trying out local street food and canteens because you have a native who knows where to go and can provide context to the different types of food and customs. This was certainly my favorite part of the night, particularly when Darren explained how to properly roll up a banana leaf after a meal and what the numerous methods are to signify specific situations.
Please bear in mind that all Food Tour Malaysia outings are different and dependent on the individuals involved. Your experience will not necessarily be the same as mine, nor will the food you sample.
*Disclaimer: My outing with Food Tour Malaysia was sponsored by the company, but all opinions are an accurate and honest view on my personal experience.
© Connie Hum 2012