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EXPLORE THE CITY
In the hustle bustle of Chow Kit
Monday 5 June 2017
Kuala Lumpur
A collaboration between RapidKL, The Malay Mail and RebeccaSaw.com
Local ‘kuih’ can be found outside the market.
KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — A few LRT stops from the magnificence of the Petronas Twin Towers and the city centre, bustling Chow Kit offers a side of Kuala Lumpur not popularised in tourist books.
It is however, no less intriguing. In contrast, the place is raw with an edginess that comes from being one of KL’s older districts.
A haven for local food lovers and home to street peddlers and budget shopping establishments, Chow Kit is best explored on foot. One could easily spend hours sightseeing on its lively streets.
Getting here is easy, just alight at the Chow Kit Monorail station and once you are on the streets, you will find yourself amid a swirl of sounds and smells.

The spotlight in the Chow Kit area is its wet market. Also known as the Bazaar Baru Chow Kit, this market is one of the largest in KL.

For breakfast, I recommend a visit to Ali Nasi Lemak, Stall 9 at Pusat Penjaja Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. From 7am daily, Ali’s freshly cooked, fragrant nasi lemak is a breakfast staple for his regulars.

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    I like my nasi lemak with the rice grains still whole (non-clumpy) and rich in coconut milk. I prefer my sambal spicy rather than sweet.
    I felt as if I’ve hit the nasi lemak jackpot here; for Ali’s version was precisely that. His spicy sambal and marvellously tender and aromatic beef dendeng was delicious.
    In the same location, look for Mr and Mrs Yuen’s curry laksa. “Our laksa is popular and we have been selling this for the past 60 years. Next time, try our chicken porridge,” said Mr Yuen.
    A patron who was enjoying his curry laksa attested to this. After sampling a bowl personally, I decided that I like it too. A small bowl is RM5.50 and consists of fresh cockles, beancurd puffs, beansprouts, beancurd sheets, fishballs and slivers of chicken.

    I ventured next to the 2nd floor of the wet market in Jalan Raja Bot where, following a tip in a Facebook thread, I decided to seek out a curry laksa stall that has been in existence for some 40 years.

    Divided into two sections, one side caters to the Muslim crowd while the other offers Chinese food.

    The curry laksa set-up I was seeking turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever had! The gravy was rich, the chilli spicy and fragrant and for RM5.50 it came loaded with juicy cockles (my favourite!), beancurd puffs and beansprouts.

    Chow Kit Monorail station
    Chow Kit's Market
    Outside the market, one will find a tantalising spread of Indonesian food. The variety is mind-boggling.
    A delicious find is Warung Ibu Ayu at Bazaar Baru Chow Kit. The proprietor’s rojak lontong Jawa was excellent. Prepared upon order, the method of preparation makes for a good video!
    Along this stretch of stalls, you can tuck into hearty bakso, freshly grilled satay as well as local kuih.
    Though I’m not a fan of pan mee, the promise of a fiery sambal got me seeking Tian Yake Ban Mian out. It took me a while to locate it as directions were vague and it is a standalone stall in one of the alleys.
    My efforts were duly rewarded with a bowl of mushroom pan mee cooked in light, flavourful soup. A regular bowl is RM5.50 and you add an egg for a little extra. And yes, as promised, the chilli was super spicy!
    Just a few steps away is Medan Selera Chow Kit, right opposite Plaza GM.
    This simple food court consists of a stretch of stalls on one side and just about 20 tables.

    Fast facts: Chow Kit

    • It was “immortalised’ in a song, Chow Kit Road, sung by the late and legendary singer Datuk Sudirman Haji Arshad who held a massive outdoor concert before a crowd of 100,000 at the premises on Aug 14, 1986.

    • Chow Kit Market is indeed the largest wet market in KL, located at the nearby Jalan Haji Hussein. Opening hours are from 6am to 7.30pm daily. To get there, take the Monorail line and stop at Chow Kit station. Walk for about five minutes along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. The hustle and bustle of vendors selling everything from fresh groceries to cooked stall food is indication that you are in the vicinity. The prices of vegetables, fish, meats and spices are said to be much cheaper here than in most markets.

    • Chow Kit Station is located at the intersection of Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Pahang and Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, which provides easy access to one of the city’s oldest districts. There are two exits, Platform 1 which leads to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Platfrom 2, which takes you to Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz. The station is further equipped with disabled-friendly services such as escalators and elevators. Visitors could also access bus or taxi services to explore the area. 

    • Shopping is part and parcel of the scene here. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (also known as Jalan TAR) is, in fact, pretty legendary as it is one of the oldest shopping areas in the city before the advent of huge malls. It still can hold its own as the main textile stores in the country namely Gulati’s, Euro Moda and Kamdar, to name some are located here. Note the presence of pre-war buildings which have been preserved for heritage purposes. Shops from decades back like P. Lal Store, G.S. Gill and P.H. Henry still remain. Venture beyond the main road to the shops behind for traditional clothing for festivals and wedding garb (Semua House, a one-stop store for wedding paraphernalia can be found here, for instance).

    • Every Saturday, there is a night market (or pasar malam in local speak) here where everything from food, clothing, electronic goods, toys and even medicinal herbs are up for grabs.

    • Major hotels located around here are The Grand Seasons, Best Western Pacific, Sunway Putra Hotel (formerly Legend Hotel) and The Regency. 

    • Kampung Baru, an area that still has the old world charms of village life, characterised by rows of wooden houses which stand on stilts, is not far from here. Frangipani plants and coconut trees grow in their compounds. And then, there are the numerous food stalls too including the famous Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa, the fragrant coconut rice dish that has gained a formidable reputation for being delectable with its wide array of condiments. 
Getting There
1. Ali Nasi Lemak, Stall 9 and Curry Laksa
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur 

Monorail: Chow Kit

Distance: 200 metres

Operating hours: 8am - 2pm 

From the station: Exit the fare gates and take the exit to Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and walk on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.  This is a one-way street so you will be walking following the traffic flow. Keep to the same side of the road and walk for 200m. Cross the road when you see the Pusat Penjaja Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman opposite you.
2. Wantan Mee @ Medan Selera Chow Kit
Lorong Haji Taib, Kuala Lumpur

Monorail: Chow Kit  

Distance: 300 metres

Operating hours: 6.30am–9.30pm

From the station: Exit the fare gates and take the exit to Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and walk on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This is a one-way street so you will be walking following the traffic flow. Keep to the same side of the road and walk for 200m. Turn right into the second lane on your right, right where Plaza TAR is.  Walk to the end of this lane and you will come to Lorong Haji Taib 4. Walk towards Plaza GM and Medan Selera Chow Kit is just opposite it.
3. Warung Ibu Ayu, Bazaar Baru Chow Kit
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur
Monorail: Chow Kit
Distance: 210 metres
Operating hours: 8am - 2pm
From the station: Exit the fare gates and take the exit to Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and walk on to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This is a one-way street so you will be walking following the traffic flow. Keep to the same side of the road and walk for 200m. Cross the road when you see Bazaar Baru Chow Kit opposite you.
4. Tian Yake Ban Mian
Lorong Haji Taib, Kuala Lumpur
Monorail: Chow Kit
Distance: 400 metres
Operating hours: 10am-7pm
From the station: Exit the fare gates and take the exit to Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and walk on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This is a one-way street so you will be walking following the traffic flow. Keep to the same side of the road and walk for 200m. Turn right into the second lane on your right, where Plaza TAR is at the corner in front of you. Walk to the end of this lane and you will come to Lorong Haji Taib 4. Walk towards Plaza GM and keeping to the same side as Plaza GM, walk on till you reach the stall at the end of the road.
5. Curry Laksa @ Pasar Raja Bot
Jalan Raja Bot, Petaling Jaya
Monorail: Chow Kit
Distance: 400 metres
Operating hours: 9.30am-4pm
From the station: Exit the fare gates and take the exit to Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and walk on to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This is a one-way street so do follow the traffic flow. Keep to the same side of the road and walk for 200m. Cross the road when you see the Bazaar Baru Chow Kit opposite you. Walk into the bazaar and exit at the end. You will see the Balai Polis Raja Bot and the market on the same row.
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