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Life 2.0

Robyn and Dave,

Thanks for doing a story on PJ and it's markets, it helps with my research with the area. When first deciding to relocate to KL, we were hoping not to own a car, but your post and some other comments on forums have confirmed that KL is a car city. Also, your comments on the train system are true; my first impressions were of a good transit systems, but over crowding and poor planning have been the overall conclusions.


Hello Robyn and Dave,
I am delighted that you have done a piece on my home town. We were one of the first residents of PJ in the early 50's and lived on 1/21. I make it a point of visiting Old Town every year when I come back for a visit.I pay the 60 sen parking fee and then walk around soaking up everything. The last occasion was January 09 when I had a nice plate of Char Kway Teow in a shop across from the market. There is a fish ball noodle shop in Medan Selera called " Ng Tew Lee" that I have been patronizing for over 50 years and must qualify as a record of sorts


Only the older gen can stomach (or should I say 'mouth') the bitterness of the 5 herbs tea. It's POTENT. I still can't do it at one go. I have to alternate it with one of the sweet herbal tea, earning me weird stares from all the aunties and uncles around.

Rasa Malaysia

You are making me so hungry with this post. You know, that "dried condiment of dried prawns ground with shrimp paste and chilies"--my late mother used to make a wicked version. The best ones is mixed with fried pork lard (crushed with a mortar and pestle). Used to help her crushed the fried pork lard. The difference: creamier and richer "char heh bee" (fried dried shrimp in Hokkien).

Rasa Malaysia

Correction, actually it's called "sambal heh bee."


Hi Life 2.0 - OK, you can get by without a car, but you'll miss so much. And if you have a car you can remove a major aggravation of KL living from your life, which is having to deal with KL taxi drivers. A car will take you to the nooks and crannies and that's where the good food usually is! The many PJs are great - just be carefully of traffic flows if you or a loved one is commuting morning and eve.

Hi Dyson - you are obviously no longer a true Malaysian, as you are willing to pay a parking fee rather than drive around for an hour looking for a free spot. ;-0
Old Town is indeed great, and deserves another post. We also like the Hakka yong taufoo and vinegar pork in the Medan Selera. And we'll check out your faves. Would the fish ball noodle be in the Medan Selera set around an open courtyard right next to the market? Or actually IN the market?

Lips - I will avoid it like the plague in the future, but if forced to partake again I'll remember your method. Good idea.

Hi Bee - I think this nasi lemak is halal so alas, no pork lard. But, as you know, everything tastes better with lard so I'm sure your mother's version is exquisite.

Stephanie, NZ

Great post! I was in KL in January and sorely miss the terrific food, all of the above-mentioned, but not the majority of taxi drivers!! Although they're not all hard work - we did find a couple of friendly, characterful, meter-using Malays, and got their cell phone numbers! We have been very lucky to make three trips in the last 18 months to SE Asia and each time we've added to our cookbook collection. We've had excellent results cooking from these back home. Luckily many SE Asian ingredients are easily available in NZ (best now also 'fess up to secret kitchen weapon - a Singapore-originating husband, a definite advantage in the ingredient-recognition stakes!). Thanks very much for sharing your adventures in both words and wonderful photos!

Eurasian Sensation

I'm going to be staying in Petaling Jaya in a week's time, so this gives me an extra place to add to my list of places to go. Great stuff.


Ohh I love Old town market. There is an Indian aunty there - everyone is an aunty innit? - who sells (gosh not sure if she is still there so I may have to use past tense)freshly ground curry paste! You just have to tell her what curry you're making, how hot and for how many kilo. Then go for your veggies round - she is in the veggie section and then come back for your rempah.
There is nothign liek it. No curry will ever taste the same again!
I think the dried shrimp sambal is either sambal goreng or serunding. It becomes a serunding if you add coconut and santan. It is also made with fish, beef and chicken.
Also if the taman selera still opens, you must try the mee bandung (KL/PJ version) and the chapati and sardine curry.
Gosh I am drooling... I better stop typing!


Robyn and Dave,

We're counting the days 'til we arrive in KL in 3 weeks for a long-awaited holiday...and my penchant for organisation has meant I have already trawled through your site and made a list - literally! - of the hawker stalls I intend to frequent before I have to head back to the land of nachos, steak and too much dairy(:P)! When I emailed the list to my parents, my mum's reply was 'They know more about food joints here than we do!' But then you explained it all when started your sentence about the train system by saying, 'OUR train system'...Malaysians would probably say you're the opposite of me (I live in the States and whenever I go back home, I sometimes get called a 'Banana...yellow outside, white inside') - 'white outside, yellow inside'...only it would be a compliment to you! I love that you've embraced my country as much as you have.

Andrea Nguyen

LA is funky and there are 'hoods but they're not like KL. Both cities are oddly sleepy at times, though. Thanks for the post as it reminds me to get back to KL and make you two take me out to eat!


Just want to compliment you guys on doing such a great job cataloging life in Malaysia through her food. I'm a Penangite currently in the States studying and your blog frequently becomes a homesickness cure-all picker upper. Kudos!


very nice coverage of PJ Old Town.

I've never been there, actually. being a Msian myself. but I'm based in Ipoh, Perak.

though I've to agree with you on our transportation system. Pathetic on most occasions. :(

Motorbike Helmets

Malaysian food are awesome. Especially the Hainan chicken with rice..

alan tan

I stayed in old town for 33 years, grew up there and knew every olden stalls you mentioned in this site. My recommendation for Nasi Lemak is the old lady right next to the public toilet in old town market. That one is the best, most original, ie the taste never changed in 35 years now since I tasted first time. Her wild boar curry is fantastic and the rice is one of its kind.


I love the nasi sebelah petang (4.00pm-9.00pm), Malay, I donot know his name, just naming him here, Pakcik Jawa, right on the Old Town's traffic light(Not on the TL lol, next I mean). Uuh..his Rendang Dinding (Daging Bakar lumur cabai besar...) and Rendang Ayam were among my favorites.

How could I order his menu from here, West Virginia? :((

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