I believe with all my heart in the importance of supporting one's local food providers.
Which was the perfect excuse, one recent morning, to sample the goods dished up at a nasi lemak (coconut rice) stall just a few minutes by car from our abode.
Anyone who thinks that Kuala Lumpur is all atrocious city planning, aesthetically questionable 'modern' architecture, concrete, exhaust fumes, and horrendous traffic jams (peruse travel blogs and you'll find that most visitors to the city do indeed come away with just such an impression) might be surprised to know that this smidge of idyllic greenery is located just a 5 to 10-minute drive from KL Sentral Station. The stall, its umbrella-shaded tables, and wash-up/prep area sit just off Jalan Duta (a major and rush hour-clogged roadway), on a patch of tree-shaded grass next to a stream ... er, drainage ditch.
This stall's selection of main nasi lemak 'go-withs' is limited (just as well, first thing in the morning): sambal sotong (squid in chili sauce), yellow chicken curry, and sambal ikan bilis (dried anchovies in chili sauce). We arrived to find the latter sold out, and just one lonely serving of squid in its plastic container.
Like most any nasi lemak, this stall's version comes with cucumber slices, ikan bilis, a splooge of spicy and fishy sambal, and half a hard-boiled egg. Unique here is the addition to the lineup of a zippy mixture of slivered cooked green beans, chilies, and ikan bilis (below, about 4 o'clock).
A nasi lemak must first be judged by its rice. This stall's is OK to pretty good - tender, relatively separate grains flavored with just the barest whisper of coconut milk. It's heart-healthy, but frankly I could go with a bit more 'lemak'.
My chunk of white meat chicken (top photo, 9 o'clock), while wonderfully fragrant with warm spices like cardamom, coriander, and turmeric, was bone dry. Better luck would no doubt be had if one were to claim a thigh or leg. Dave's squid (above, 6 o'clock), by contrast, was nearly perfect - tender and bathed in a fiery, tomato-y, slightly sweet sauce.
A return trip is in order, both to sample the stall's popular sambal ikan bilis, and - especially - to buy as many of these fantastic kueh as I can carry.
This bit of heaven steamed in a leaf consists of a dough of mashed banana, glutinous rice flour, and nibs of sweet corn enclosing moist shredded coconut. When it comes to kueh fillings, shredded coconut's partner is almost always dark, smoky palm sugar. Here, the sugar's absence allows the forward fruitiness of the banana, complemented by the naturual sweetness of the corn, to shine through. This carbo-loaded kueh is not too sweet and would be a fitting partner to a strong cup of kopi first thing in the a.m. It's also a popular item; we snagged the last one.
Though everything is, of course, offered to go, this patch of solitude is a fine place to sip a (styrofoam) cup of teh and fuel up early in the morning, before the sun rises high enough to top the trees. And there's a hammock, should you require a post-nosh nap.
Update: A few weeks after this post appeared the owners of this stall cleared out and their patch of lawn was bulldozed. It now sits empty. Thank you, guardians of public safety in Kuala Lumpur, for removing the risk posed by those pesky purveyors of coconut rice and curries!
Nasi lemak stall, Jalan Langkak Tunku (just off Jalan Duta), Bukit Tunku, KL. 730am-2pm, Monday-Friday. Closed on Saturday/Sunday and public holidays.