Hawker foods to eat in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Petaling Jaya (PJ) is part of Greater Kuala Lumpur, but is really its own city. KL sits within Wilayah Persekutuan (Federal Territory) and is governed directly by the federal government whereas PJ is under state government. It’s all very confusing to an outsider like myself. Though I flew into KL International Airport, which technically isn’t even in KL (it’s in Sepang), this trip I spent all my time in PJ. I covered satay in detail in a previous post, and here are some further hawker foods to get acquainted with in PJ. All of these places are my brother-in-law’s (BH) favourites.

Nasi lemak is a breakfast dish, often available in banana leaf bungkus (pack) ready to go from wet markets, kopitiams (food courts) and curry houses. Nasi lemak is a simple idea, and when done well, is ridiculously good. The body of a good nasi lemak is the coconut rice, then you must have excellent sambal, crispy ikan bilis (anchovies), half a boiled egg and roasted peanuts. Sometimes the ikan bilis is cooked with the sambal, sometimes you get a couple slices of cucumber. The nasi lemak truck outside the condo complex we were staying offered up a myriad of other extras, such as fried chicken. Every nasi lemak I had was good, some were downright amazing. 

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Nasi lemak food truck

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A day trip to Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka (or Malacca) is a UNESCO heritage site situated an easy 2-hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway. Since its founding in the 14th century by a Sumatran prince, Melaka became a very important port for centuries by the colonising Portuguese, Dutch and then the British. Port of Malacca and its sheltered bay provided a welcomed stopping point for the trade route between China and India. All these cultures, plus the arrival of the Chinese from British colonies created an intruiging melting pot in Melaka. One of these is the unique Peranakan (Straits Chinese) culture.

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Where to eat satay in Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya, Malaysia

When I am looking for local fast food in West Malaysia, it’s a toss-up between roti or satay. Both are delicious, and both provide a fun spectacle. Watching the Mamak chef deftly twirling his roti is exciting, but there’s something hypnotic about watching a satay maestro basting and fanning sizzling skewered meats over hot charcoal.

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Satay is dinner fare at the hawker centres, but if you crave satay for lunch, head to one of the many outlets of Sate Kajang Haji Samuri. Kajang, a town 21km west of Kuala Lumpur, is famous for satay. History has it that satay was brought to Kajang from Java where it was given a local flavour and became very popular. Haji Samuri started in Kajang in 1960 and has become synonymous with satay in the state of Selangor and beyond. Their tagline translates to ‘For the real taste of satay kajang’. Continue reading

Hawker, Chinatown, Sydney

Mamak is a stalwart on the Asian dining scene in Sydney (and Melbourne), and I rely on their roti canai and rojak on days when I crave the tastes of home. The creators of Mamak opened Hawker on the 22 Dec 2014. While Mamak focuses on the Malaysian Muslim Indian street cuisine, Hawker recreates Malaysian Chinese street food.

I was simultaneously excited and worried; we Malaysians are rabid, ummm… overly passionate about how Malaysian food should taste. Throw in the regional adaptations and personal preferences, you just need to sit back and watch the furrowed brows and critics come out. The menu at Hawker is Penang- and KL-based; therefore some of these were different from what I grew up with in Sibu and Kuching. Continue reading

Warisan Uncle Man’s, CBD, Auckland

Warisan is the Malay word for heritage. And it’s pronounced Uncle ‘Mahn’. Uncle (or pakcik in Malay) Man’s is a Malaysian restaurant serving up traditional Malaysian food, plus some extras on busy K-Road. Unlike most (if not all) Malaysian restaurants in Auckland, Warisan Uncle Man’s is run by Malays, so the Malay cuisine here is expected to be top notch.


I had heard several family members and friends rave about this place and was eager to check it out upon my return to Auckland. A catch up with some Malaysian kaki (friends) created the ideal opportunity to see what the fuss was about.

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PappaRich, Chatswood, Sydney

PappaRich, a Malaysian restaurant franchise, is burning a path across Australia with 15 branches across 4 states and counting. Their very enthusiastic ambassador is Poh Ling-Yeow, Masterchef Season 1 runner-up (and whom I believe, along with many other viewers, should have been the winner). I’m a staunch believer that any success for a Malaysian restaurant is a success for Malaysian cuisine, but then again, as a typical Malaysian, we are the harshest critic when it comes to the delivery. Continue reading

Mamak, Haymarket, Sydney

The first place I made a beeline for when I arrived in Sydney was Mamak. Many years ago (8 years?), Mamak was a fresh face on the food scene and stole the show with their expert displays of roti dough twirling. It is really the best part of ordering roti canai; watching the roti canai maestro twirl the flattened dough in the air several times until it is stretched paperthin, then cooking the folded dough on a hot grill until it is flaky and crisp on the outside. It looks easy enough, but there are very few Malaysian eateries which have mastered this staple of the Malaysian cuisine.

Mamak is a Malay word which refers to the Indian Muslim community, and also denotes the delicious food that this community is famous for. The range of Mamak food is difficult to find in Kuching, where I grew up, due to the very small Indian population, but we always have roti canai.


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Instant noodles challenge

I always thought instant noodles were desperation rations for those days when I can’t be bothered to cook, or go to the supermarket, okay, when I can’t even be motivated to leave the house. And it’s certainly not something you brag about eating… even though Indomie mi goreng can be strangely addictive….

Then I chanced upon ramenrater.com, and found a whole instant noodle subculture. There are people who blog about these lowliest of foods. Seriously. Guess what, there are some really good instant noodles out there. And the part which truly blew me away was a good number of these impressive ramen came from Malaysia and Singapore. No. Freaking. Way.

How did I miss all this? After a study of the Top 10, BL and I decided to see if we could track a few of them down in Sydney, and found them in the various Vietnamese Supermarkets in Cabramatta where we were visiting for lunch (Prima Taste instant noodles are available at Tai Ping Supermakets, and MyKuali is available from e-pacs in Auckland). These were the three contenders which we picked for the challenge: Continue reading

Rojak (Malaysian fruit salad)

Rojak is a widely available hawker food in Malaysia. It is a burst of sweet, spicy and tangy flavours mixed in with fresh pineapples, cucumber, jicama and tofu. The different ingredients give the dish the range of textures and sweetness. Fruit rojak is very different from Mamak rojak (pasembur), which comes with prawn fritters, vegetables, hard-boiled egg, and topped off with thick peanut sauce. Incidentally, the word ‘rojak’ is ‘mix’ in Malay, and is used frequently as an adjective, such as ‘ They are speaking rojak, mixing languages together’, which incidentally, is how Malaysians normally speak.

Rojak paste (sambal) is made from sweet soy sauce, prawn paste, belacan (fermented shrimp paste), sugar, lime and chillies. However, there is no seafood taste at all. Luckily, there is very good rojak sambal paste available (I purchased mine from E-PACS in East Tamaki), which makes this moreish dish very easy to prepare.

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Roti Jala (Malaysian net pancake)

Roti jala or net/lace pancake is traditional Malaysian dish served as a complement to chicken curry or rendang (dry curry). The turmeric flavour of roti jala mirrors the spices in the curry; and the crevices made by the net structure is perfect to mop up the curry gravy.

Roti jala is made with a special utensil; a cup with 4 – 6 small funnels. The old-fashioned metal roti jala cups are still available, but the plastic version is more common these days. These are readily available from traditional departmental stores in Malaysia (I bought mine from the Boulevard Department Store in Kuching) or online.

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