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!