Having a couple of free hours and looking for something interesting to do, we took a walk to the Petronas Towers, got on the subway and went one stop, to the other side of the freeway. That’s a bold step you understand. Within the freeway ring of downtown are towers, malls, expats, and all manner of normal things. On the other side of the freeway – one stop! – is Kampung Baru.
The neighborhood of Kampung Baru is, for lack of a better term, the Malay ghetto of central KL. You have to be Malay to buy here, which keeps the area nice and ethnically pure. And guaranteed that we would not find any beer. What you can find here, is the Saturday night market. The twin towers still looming overhead, going to the Kampung Baru night market is a little bit like leaving KL and going to Malaysia. It’s a bit third world there, with garbage, lots of stray cats, low, run-down buildings and some fine tenements.
The main drag is filled with restaurants that come alive in the evening, especially the seafood places. At the end of the main drag there is an offshoot lane of vendors and food hawkers who set up shop just for the one night each week. You get a wide variety of Malay food, from barbeque satay to sweets to strange-tasting drinks. I got hooked up with some of the freshest ayam goreng I’ve ever had. That’s fried chicken. The chickens were still clucking and flapping when they get dipped in the batter and tossed in the boiling oil.
Just kidding. But it was fresh. They batter the chicken on the spot and toss it into one of four boiling vats. Some chickens go in whole, others in pieces. The line forms at the table and when the chicken comes out of the fryer, there are people waiting to snap it up. I butted in line – I actually didn’t realize I was doing that until later – and got the crispiest piece I could see. I’ve got no time for the Colonel, but I’m all over fresh soul food fried chicken and this was the real deal.
I followed this up with some “Mexican chocolate” shake. Made without ice cream, ancho, cacoa nibs or any of that stuff. Just chocolate powder, ice, sprinkles, spray can whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Not bad actually. Total cost for the meal – under two dollars. Sunshine got hooked up from the fried tofu vendor with a mixed tofu platter and some smoky dipping sauce.
The night market is great fun if you like to eat local. It feels nothing like any other neighbourhood we’ve seen in KL. No tourists, no Western stuff, and yeah no alcohol. Good times nonetheless and we’ll be back.