Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Sad Farewell: Kuala Lumpur

Below, a photo of what was the best dish in Southern California: Wonton Curry Laksa. A wonderful Malaysian coconut curry soup which delights all of your senses and tastebuds. The laksa is a curry paste that is usually made from onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, chiles, candlenuts, coriander (not fresh although I think that I may have seen recipes that call for cilantro roots), paprika, and cumin, but there are probably as many laksa recipes as there are cooks. The curry paste mixed with broth and coconut milk produces something tart, salty, sour, sweet, rich, tangy, and creamy all at once - in other words divoon! The Wonton Laksa at Kuala Lumpur is served with thin rice noodles (but I always ask for the thick rice noodles), bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli, fried tofu puffs, and those wonderful wontons.

A close up of the wontons. I've been eating this dish for over ten years and love the wontons. The wontons are filled with shrimp and pork and they are seasoned with something that gives them just this wonderful flavor of funk. I just can't describe it; it's like a good funk like truffles, not too funky like natto.

I was so depressed to learn that one of my favorite restaurants, Kuala Lumpur in Pasadena, was going to close at the end of December. Kuala Lumpur was a staple of the Old Town Pasadena restaurant scene and a big favorite of Jonathan Gold's. I made three final treks up there in December with many different foodies and these photos memoralize some of the dishes that we had indulged in.

I don't know why I didn't eat here everyday - the food was so damn good! I liked this place better than Little Malaysia in El Monte although LM makes these really good fresh fruit Slurpee-like drinks that can't be beat. The cooking at Little Malaysia is a little greasier and a little funkier (they use pig's blood in a lot of their recipes.)

Below, the refreshing Chendol. It's a sugar syrup and coconut milk drink with green "worms" that are made out of green pea flour - the worms are sweet and taste like candy.

Below, a curry puff. A deep fried turnover stuffed with curry flavored ground beef. Excellent! We inhaled them so quickly that I forgot to take a picture when they first came out of the kitchen.

Below, KL Mein. This was also referred to as "midnight noodles." In other words the type of noodles that you order on the street in the early hours after a long hard night of drinking. Noodles stir fried with shrimp, chicken, cabbage, green onions, and the thick Malaysian soy sauce.

Below, Mee Rebus, another famous Malay street food. A sweet potato curry sauce atop egg noodles with chicken, shrimp, hard boiled egg, bean sprouts, cucumber, and garnished with lime and chili sauce.

Below, the regular Curry Laksa sans wontons. This version had shrimp and chicken in it and rice vermicelli as opposed to the thick rice noodles that I always request.

Below, deep fried shrimp with a sweet chili sauce. I've been eating at Kuala Lumpur for over ten years and never ordered these but they seem to be very popular since most tables were ordering the dish.

Below, the Spicy Wonton Soup. At my last meal there, I just went straight for those funky wontons! This dish is a lighter version of the Wonton Laksa, more broth than coconut milk.

Below, another favorite dish of mine, Hainanese Chicken. It's a steamed chicken breast covered in Malaysian soy and fried shallots and served with a ginger garlic rice. Simple, delicious, and light.

Below, the standard Beef Rendang. This is stewed beef in a wonderful curry sauce served with coconut rice.

I spoke with the owner of Kuala Lumpur just before it closed and he said that he was going to take a break for a couple of months and then decide if he wants to start looking for a new space in Pasadena. I sure hope that he does because I don't know if I could go through life without eating anymore Wonton Laksa!


Blogger Heidi said...

Mmmmm... I hope they reopen! Missed you tonight!

Oh, and you've been tagged! Read my blog. (:

It's Heidi, btw. Don't know why this says wwm.

9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never even been to Pasadena, but ever since I spotted that wonton soup photo on TasteSpotting, I've been obsessed.
It's sad they closed, but at least you had 10 good years together.

2:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow I really miss Kuala Lumpur, it was one of our regular spots in Pasadena. We simply loved the Curry Laksa. At any rate you mention in your blog that you had contact with the owner, and that they might re-open somewhere else. I'd be interested in any information you have about it.

There was no contact me section so I have resorted to leaving this comment.

I was reading your post about Luscious Dumpling, and I live in San Gabriel, so I think we are going to go check that out. We normally resort to "Global Express" in Arcadia on Baldwin in the shopping center with the CVS. This small hole in the wall Chinese places makes the best dumplings hands down, and the cheapest. You should check it out some time. The rest of their food is delicious too, try out the "Chef Special Beef" or "Crispy Ginger Beef".

At any rate you can contact me at jllamas at morbidlywrong dot com. Again I'd be pleased to hear anything about Kuala Lumpur.


2:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMFG, that curry laksa was good. It was so good that when you thought about getting something else, you'd give into temptation and get curry laksa again. Sometimes, my friend and I would moan that it was the *only* good restaurant in Old Pasadena.

4:44 AM


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