We’re definitely blessed with a great selection of street food in Malaysia, from your typical char kuih teow stalls to burger tepi jalan, to nasi lemak shacks.. but if you look harder, you can also find authentic street food originated from neighboring countries, case in point – Little Rara with its authentic Thai fare.
Little Rara Thai Noodle House, Kia Peng
The restaurant is located at the carpark next to Menara HLA by Jalan Kia Peng, a stone’s throw away from Pavilion KL. The set up is as “authentic” as they get, seemingly putting up together by someone who happened to have a set of table saw, hammer, and nails. There’s no such thing as air conditioning or tinted windows, but you are somewhat shielded from rain should it starts pouring.
The place starts operating by 5:30 pm and does work up a crowd pretty soon. While the set up is old school, they do have a proper digital queuing system, color me impressed.
tomyam talay meggi
Like most proper “street food” stalls, the kitchen is pretty much open. There’s a BBQ grill where they prepare beef/chicken/corn, a stall for noodle (wet & dry), plus a drinks’ kitchen.
We started out with their famous tomyam talay meggi (RM 19 for small), it was basically tomyam maggi on steroid. Packed with prawns, mussels, squid, egg, and ultra strong tomyam flavor. Love it.
bbq beef, pad thai
BBQ Beef (RM 13, Australian beef apparently) goes well with the accompanying sauce, and it wasn’t over cooked either. Portion though was a bit small I thought.
However, the must-order from the grill turns out to be their BBQ Corn (RM 7 for 2). They were ultra sweet and almost half caramelized, I need this for movie night!
mango sticky rice & the excellent bbq corn
We also had seafood pad thai (RM 12) which I thought was quite competent, and a dessert in mango sticky rice (RM 8) which turned out to be just average.
Over all thought I really liked the place and the intense flavor of their tomyam & those corns. Will definitely order those two again when I revisit, and perhaps try some of their other dishes.
Address: Little Rara Thai Noodle House Menara HLA, 3, Jalan Kia Peng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.151342, 101.713584 Tel: 012-372 2706 Hours: 5:30 pm to 12 am, Closed on Sunday
I’ve been on a bit of a hot pot hunt as of late (or as well call it in Malaysia, steamboat), especially Sichuan style mala hot pot. So when the opportunity to be one of the earliest group to sample Xiao Long Kan Sichuan Hot Pot (小龙坎火锅) came calling, I was quite excited, to say the least.
Xiao Long Kan at Fahrenheit 88
Xiao Long Kan is one of the most popular spicy steamboat chain originated from Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province in China. So when it comes to authenticity, you can’t do any better than that, this is the ground zero of Spicy mala hot pot.
pork bone broth, tomato, or mala soup?
Xiao Long Kan’s first branch in Malaysia is located at Fahrenheit 88, more specifically, at the side that is facing Starhill shopping mall (don’t try to look for it INSIDE Fahrenheit 88 like I did..)
While there’s plenty of seats spanning across 4 levels, it already gets pretty packed, but a little patience from your end and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is definitely worth it.
original condiment, without all the other fuss
There’s four different soup base to choose from – traditional spicy soup (mala, a must have), tomato soup, mushroom, and pork bone broth. You can always go for up to three like we did (all except mushroom). Additionally, the level of spiciness can also be customized. Do refer to the menu below.
Condiment situation is different here at Xiao Long Kan compared to just about every other hot pot outlets. Instead of a dozen or even more choices, here they stick to the traditional way of cilantro, green onion, and garlic. A special oil (xiang yu) is then added to the condiment which has the property of lowering heat. You can also choose to add soya sauce or black vinegar, though the good chef does not recommend doing so.
This blend is to ensure the taste of ingredients and soup is tasted to its fullest instead of being overpowered by fancy condiments. Can’t say I disagree.
Australian wagyu A5, we had to order another portion, so good
And then there’s ingredients. Xiao Long Kan does not lack in “special dishes” not easily found at other restaurants. Some of which even requires some sense of adventure.
We were served with Astralian wagyu A5 (so good we went for seconds), pork ball, pork neck, fish paste, prawns, pork belly, chili beef, rose meat ball, sliced lamb, and these are just the “normal dishes”.
In addition, we also had duck intestine, tripe, pork blood (my love!), pig’s brain, and even aorta!
I like that they also include a guide on the menu on how long you should cook each ingredients – ranging from 30 seconds (sliced green bamboo shoots), to 8 minutes (pig’s brain). Following the guide ensures that you don’t overcook certain items to the point where flavor is lost, or worse, under cook dishes and end up having an washing machine within…
sliced green bamboo shoots were definitely on point
Their rice cake & fried crispy meat are two of the ready-to-eat items we tried, and both are pretty delicious too. The rice cake should be consumed soonest possible to enjoy that crispy on the outside and soft inside texture.
As a rule of thumb, meat is best cooked in the clear or spicy soup, while vege goes better with tomato/clear soup, as advised by the head chef from Chengdu. These sort of pairing ensures that taste doesn’t clash, sorta like how you pair red with meat, and white with seafood kinda idea.
Jess, Mei Mei, KY, Eunice, Mag at Xiao Long Kan
Overall I got to say that this was one of the best hotpot I had recently, the super thick tomato soup, to the aroma from the red spicy soup, and all those fancy, fresh, and mostly imported ingredients. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again for more mala goodness.
While the breath of Japanese cuisine kept advancing in Malaysia, there’s a segment of this food that alienate majority of the population here in Malaysia. See, you can find sushi, sashimi, and yakotiri that are suitable for most everyone to consume for the most part, but when it comes to proper Japanese ramen, the pork free or halal version proved to be a bit of a challenge to locate.
Kagura Chicken Ramen is hailed from Tokyo with the name of Seimenka Kaguraya, and even back in Tokyo, the recipe has always been pork-free and lard-free. Rare but still pretty popular at the same time.
There’s a selection of different soup base and ingredients, ranging from RM 12.88+ to a maximum of RM 22.88+. When it comes to proper Japanese ramen at these type of set up, I’d say they’re very competitively priced.
While the base is chicken, there’s a choice of shoyu, miso, and “rich” soup. They also serve gyoza, fried rice, and a limited choice of tempura (menu below)
Kagura Chicken Ramen
So how do they taste like?
We tried the “rich” and shoyu ramen together with their dumplings, and I gotta say that the soup base rivals the pork based ramen, with a slightly less greasy note. They also did a good job with the chicken base chasiu, but I do feel that the texture of pork chasiu is still superior. Overall though, this is a more than decent version of ramen that certainly did not make me regret having it for sure.
The dumpling though was sort of average, I guess perhaps it’s the lack of fatty bits that failed to bring it to my expectation.
fancy some dumpling to go with your ramen?
Skip the dumpling unless you are way too hungry, otherwise, this ramen is fit for anyone who loves ramen, even if you’re not specifically avoiding pork for whatever reason.
How time has passed, it didn’t seem that long ago that the iconic departmental store reopened in the heart of Bukit Bintang with a focus on premium Japanese products.
To make this occasion more special, the exclusive Japan Local Speciality Fair is held in conjunction of the 2nd anniversary celebration from Oct 26 to Nov 4, 2018 from 11 am-9 pm.
There’s also the Lucky Dip activity happening this period, with 1000 Fabulous Prizes to be won with minimum spend of RM 100 at Japan Local Speciality Fair.
Japan Local Speciality Fair – Oct 26 to Nov 4, 2018
Over this period, The Market, Lower Ground Floor, Isetan the Japan Store @ Lot 10 is transformed to a bustling market with 20 of the best Japanese food products and 7 sake brewers from 16 prefectures and a city directly from Japan to KL.
Head down to the lower ground floor and start with some eat-in menu and you’ll find the Aichi Speciality with Seafood Kishimen Noodle, served with shrimp, squid, and sugiyo (imitation crab meat made from cod fish), or try the Royal Caribbean with Crabmeat at RM 3 a piece. I did sample both as my “appetizer” for the night.
Aomori apple, with apple soup, apple jelly, ringo otome
As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and what’s better than fulfilling that quote with some Aomori apple flown directly from the prefecture that is famous for this particular fruit?
You’ll find different types of Aomori apple such as Hirosaki Toki & Horisaki Fuji at RM 17 a piece, or try the rather unique apple soup or apple jelee. There’s also ringo otome, or thin-baked cookie made with apples mixed in with flour and eggs, sort of an exquisite “kuih kapit” type of product. I love it.
black garlic from Aomori, Shizuouka Hon Wasabi, ramen
One of the other product that piqued my interest was the black garlic. Via the chemical reaction called “Maillard chemistry” between sugar and amino acid from the white garlic during the maturing process, the garlic became black and obtain its special unique taste. It is believed to have good antioxidant properties.
Jabara water, yuzu, ramen, grilled/smoked oyster
Then there’s also yuzu and jabara water for those who love the taste of these Japanese citrus, and if you like ready-to-eat oysters, they have these rather yummy grilled and smoked oysters in packets too, perfect with some sake or beer if you ask me.
No Japanese food fair is complete without proper green tea. Here the master serves up authentic version of matcha latte, houjicha latte, matcha kyo mukashi, iced macha using quality tea powder at RM 14 per glass. You can also purchase the green tea powder that won the 2015 Nihon Cha Award.
organic mirin, and a big selection of sake
Then of course, there’s sake.
There are a total of 7 sake brands represented at the Japan local Speciality Fair
Gassan Sake Brewery, Yamagata Prefecture
Shibata Brewery, Aichi Prefecture
Matunami Shuzo, Ishikawa Prefecture
Umetsu Shuzo, Tottori Prefecture
Nikki, Fukushima Prefecture
Chigonoiwa Sake Brewery, Gifu Prefecture
Sumiya Bunjiro Brewery, Aichii Prefecture
more selection of sake, cold or hot sake for you?
Whatever your preference, be it sparkling sake, sake that’s specifically brewed to be drank warm, or cold, or even mirin, you’ll find one that suits your taste here. The representatives from the brands are here to explain to you what their sake is all about as well.
various food at 4F The Table with Japan Local Speciality
Instead of buying the products to be enjoyed at home, you can also head up to 4th Floor The Table Restaurants to enjoy some of these products during this period.
We sampled the pork fillet with plum at Tonkatsu Anzu, avocado wasabi with Camembert cheese, sweet potato fries, grilled tai fish and octopus, and my favorite of the night – tai fish ochazuke. These are as fine quality as they come and priced pretty pretty reasonably as well. Of course, fittingly I washed it down with a glass of yuzu cocktail.
If you’re a fan of Japanese goodness, don’t miss out the Japan Local Speciality Fair at Isetan The Japan Store, KL
Lot 10 KL is one of the best places in all of KL if you are a fan of Japanese food, the lower ground floor the 4th floor of this building is home to some 2 dozens Japanese restaurants, serving up anything from shabu shabu, to omakase sushi.
Today, let’s look at one of their less glamorous outlets at Isetan the Japan Store’s supermarket section – Hirashima Sushi.
Hirashima Sushi, Isetan KL, Lot 10
Hirashima Sushi is basically the sushi counter for the supermarket, with an open chiller section not unlike many grocery stores in the city – offering pre-packed sushi/sashimi cuts to go.
What’s different at Hirashima Sushi is that they happen to also have a small sushi bar offering sushi bowls and selected nigri sushi (menu below), priced from RM 36 to RM 88 and comes with free flow green tea.
toro kaisen don – tuna belly, uni, ikura
Being a huge fan of toro (tuna belly), I went for the toro kaisen don (RM 88). The bowl of sushi rice comes with four slices of tuna belly, uni (sea urchin), and quite generous amount of ikura (salmon roe).
Quality wise it was rather decent, and definitely packs a punch above it’s asking price if you ask me. There aren’t many places you can have this sort of combination below RM 100. I was well satisfied.
hotate kaisen don, Elizabeth
My dinner date for the day, Elizabeth, chose the hotate kaisen don (RM 68), basically the same set with raw scallop instead of tuna belly. I had a piece of the scallop and was happy to say that it definitely did not disappoint.
I have a feeling I’ll be going back to this place again pretty soon.
Address: Hirashima Sushi Lower Ground Floor
Isetan the Japan Store Lot 10 Shopping Mall Jalan Bukit Bintang GPS:3.146462, 101.711758