Feb 2017 - Walk-about and Taste of Chinatown

After living in KL for 10 years I thought I had seen it all. How wrong could I be as the walk-about of Chinatown during Chinese New Year with Rosemary Chin as our guide taught me otherwise!


So what did we learn? 
Fifteen Enakkers met at Central Market and made our way along Katsuri Walk to a dried food store that sold everything from dried cuttlefish to sacks of tea and well, lots of other stuff I couldn’t tell what they were. We stopped to visit the oldest Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur, the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple. It was founded in 1864 by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy and dedicated to patron deities, Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya.  The temple was packed with worshippers praying and giving offerings to Gods and ancestors for Chinese New Year. You can also get your fortune told for a small fee. Before exams some parents and students pray to the Deity of Scholars for good luck and success. The incense hanging from the ceiling makes for wonderful photos and there was plenty of smoke to add to the atmosphere. 

Leaving the temple in Lebuh Pudu to J. Tun Tan Cheng Lock, we peered in to see people eating beef ball noodles at one of the oldest coffee shops in Chinatown, Kedai Kopi Lai Foong. Unfortunately the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ crockery shop, Kwong Yik Seng Crockery Sdn Bhd was still closed for the New Year. We checked out the herbs in the Tuck Heng Ginseng Hall in J. Tun HS Lee where the practitioners make up traditional herbal medicines for various aches and maladies. A quick walk through the lovely smelling flower shops next door were brimming with special arrangements for Chinese New Year followed by a longing gaze at the pineapple tarts at the corner store. We visited the Kuan Ti Temple in J. Tun HS Lee, my usual temple stop with visitors. We then walked through the wet market to Jalan Petaling. Of course Jalan Petaling is the most famous street so we continued our walk along here and saw the popular “duck lady” at the Four Eyes Roast Duck stall, which sells half or whole roast duck every day. This was another place I didn’t know about. On the corner where the chestnut man always sets up we peered in to the huge vats containing soya bean curd and drink (Kim Soya Bean stall) and tried a taste of Air Mata Kucing (cats’ eyes drink). Hmm, hope it doesn’t contain actual cats’ eyes but isn’t everything that tastes strange meant to be good for you?  

At Jalan Hang Lekir, we visited the Chinese bakery ‘Fung Wong’ started by Chan Seng about 100 years ago. We had a chat with the great grandson who told us that his generation is carrying on the family business (recently featured in the Malaysian Airlines magazine). We sampled the sweet and savoury traditional wedding biscuits. Fung Wong also has a range of Chinese pastries and snacks to choose from and some of us purchased what was available to take home. Lunch was had at the Tang City Food Court right in the centre and Enakkers chose from an array of the usual Malaysian hawker fare. 

The decoration shop in J.Sultan is well worth a visit as you can buy many decorations for Christmas, CNY, Deepavali and any other festival. The famous chicken rice shops on the same street were busy and then we had a delicious coffee stop at Cafe 150 Merchant Lane, said to have been a former brothel. It now sells a mix of Malaysian and Western dishes and ‘ yummy’ cakes with good coffee. A basket shop selling every style of basket is not far from here.


All in all I learnt a lot and trust everyone enjoyed their day. Thanks to Rosemary Chin, our local expert for all her insights into Chinatown and its very colourful history and tastes.


Submitted by Janine Williams 

Pictures by Michelle Pease and Bryan Morytko