Kuala Lumpur, City of Dreams
CITY OF DREAMS
With its unique mix of cultures, languages and religions, Kuala Lumpur often gets described by locals as a ‘big melting pot’, where different traditions are openly celebrated and enjoyed.
The melting pot is also often more literal than metaphorical in Malaysia’s biggest city and capital. “Food is always the quickest way to get acquainted with a culture, and what food in Malaysia tells us is that an ethnic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay can work, really well,” said Jeff Ramsey, a Michelin star chef from Babe restaurant based in Kuala Lumpur. But the food here takes on its very own distinct flavour that can’t be found anywhere else. “For example, when eating a large spread of Chinese food here, you won't taste much that you can find in China, if at all,” he said.
Why do people love it?
Kuala Lumpur’s food culture is a huge draw, and is one that’s fully experienced after dark, from around 19:00, when people meet their friends and jalan jalan cari makan (go out and look for food). “Vendors set up stalls at pasar malams (night markets), which happen once a week in every area or district,” said Zuzanna Chmielewska, who moved from Poland to Malaysia in 2012 and writes about the country at her blog Zu in Asia. “Street food options include various kinds of curries, dumplings and fried rice, as well as trendy imported items, like rainbow toasts or unicorn desserts.” This kind of socialising can go well into the night, according to Chmielewska, and 24-hour canteens known as mamaks stay bustling until the early morning.
With its unique mix of cultures, languages and religions, Kuala Lumpur often gets described by locals as a ‘big melting pot’, where different traditions are openly celebrated.