Ask any good KL-lite for a point in the right direction of cheap bargains and you will inevitably end up in Chinatown.
Chinatown or Petaling Street is notorious for imitation Armani watches, Prada handbags, Chinese restaurants and hawker stalls selling all sorts of delicacies from dimsum to wantan noodles or seafood. Almost everywhere you look, a Chinese food vendor greets you – he gestures for you to sit down, just as the glorious smells wafting from his kitchen beckons you to come inside and sample what’s cooking. Chinatown.. noisy, chaotic, charming and mysterious.. it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the shiny glitter of fake gold watches or the intoxicating aroma of sweetened smoked meat (bak-kwa).
That buzzing chinatown atmosphere is evident particularly at night when petty traders spread out their wares along the street. In Petaling Street you can buy anything from imitation handbags to souvenirs, watches (Rolex), clothes, herbal remedies and local trinkets. This is also the ideal place to test your bargaining skills.
In the heart of Chinatown, lies Madras Lane.
Madras lane is a famous street that runs like a pulsating artery, through Chinatown, and houses all sorts of hawker fare and delectable local favourites including local desserts such as the ABC and Cendol. It is vibrant with loud sounds, the smells of intermingling food and petaling street life. Finding a worthwhile place to eat at in Chinatown can get rather confusing, as every corner, street and lane is teeming with hawker stalls and restaurants, but if you follow our trail, we can point out the good stalls to you, or at least the ones we like. At Madras lane, we generally go for the Yong Tau Foo, Chee Cheong Fun and the Curry Laksa.
Though the official name of the street is Jalan Sultan, no one ever calls Madras Lane by this name. Perhaps it may have something to do with the hawkers here who insist on hanging onto the memory of the Madras Cinema which burnt down in 1979.
Where Madras Lane is concerned, every foodie in Kuala Lumpur knows that this hawker gallery is famous for a few things – curry laksa/noodles, assam laksa, yong tau foo and chee cheong fun.
One of the curry noodles stall here has been doing a brisk business for 50 odd years now.
Just across from that curry noodles stall, a third generation yong tau foo business still runs, that has lasted for 60 years. One of the proprietors can stuff up to 200 tofu in an hour! That takes skill I tell you, and well, 60 years is a good amount of time to perfect that skill, if you ask me.
Boiling chillies and Tofu stuffed with fish paste, in a huge wok
condiments for Curry Laksa – the all essential see-hum(cockles)
An assortment of Yong Tau Foo
Do not mistake these humble beginnings for small time business folk. One of the owners of a chee cheong fun stall here in Madras Lane, has managed to build her chee cheong fun empire which reaches Taman OUG, Bangsar and even SEA Park.
Chee Cheong Fun – thin flat white strips of rice noodles that is normally served with sweet sauce and chili sauce
Chee Cheong Fun served just the way I like it – with lots of sauce and sesame seeds (chee-mah)
A lady sits and wraps Fu-chok (bean curd) sheets with fish paste. Later this will be fried up in boiling oil, in a wok
This is how I like my curry noodles – thick and rich with plenty of see-hum!
Check out the seating arrangement here on Madras Lane
This is actually my favourite Chee Cheong Fun stall. It’s not as busy as the more popular and famous madras lane one, but I prefer the taste and texture. This uncle has also been working here for eons.
But Madras Lane is not only about chee cheong fun, yong tau foo and curry noodles. Explore a little way from the gallery and you’ll find more going ons.. the heartbeat of Chinatown.
A wet market that has all the drama of a chinese soap
“mess? what mess?”
the plant above has outgrown its soil.. and now the roots branch downwards, like a fine mesh of capillaries, into the wall below. If you look closely, you will notice rats, using these roots like an underground subway to get around;) Cumi asked me to get closer to snap a photo of a rat, but I did not dare!
Wanna take a photo of my pig? He’s very photogenic!
I like pork but I prefer mine cooked thanks! (Spot the piggy’s tail!)
Is it too late to make a jump for it?
The guy and his chook
He told us that this was his best and favourite chicken..
Can pick lucky numbers one!!
Madras lane .. a great place for local chinese hawker food and observing life on the grittier side of Kuala Lumpur. Not always pretty, but always alive. Madras Lane is located off Jalan Petaling and a parking lot now takes the place of the old burnt down cinema. If you are driving, watch out for the illegal “jaga kereta” boys as they will always ask for money if you want to park your car nearby. Me and Cumi always park further away and walk into Chinatown. That way, you get less hassle from these unorthodox car caretakers.Add: Hawker Fare, Madras Lane Off Petaling Street
Non Halal Street Food GPS: 3.143600, 101.697142