We decided to go exploring by ourselves on Day Two. A short taxi ride brought us to Sentral Station, where we found breakfast at an unremarkable Indian coffee shop by the side of the road. We saw at once that they served something familiar to Singaporeans: roti prata.
I have a theory that the best food a country can offer is generally found off the streets, not in any swanky restaurant or air-conditioned eatery.
We faced a slight language problem when we discovered our Indian shopowners didn't speak any English. Now, if you ask for roti prata in KL, you're not going to get any. Although it's the same thing, over there it's known as roti chennai; something my friend discovered the hard way.
After some linguistic struggling and verbal grasping at straws, we eventually managed to order a roti pisang (banana prata) and a roti telur (egg prata). I must say that the Malaysian roti chennai is much better than the Singaporean roti prata. Crispy and flaky, there is not a hint of the limpness and sogginess that so often disappoints when tucking into a roti prata here. Fresh and hot, the roti pisang and roti telur almost crackled as we attacked them. The sweet, caramelised banana slices and puffy egg were all we needed to whet our breakfast appetites.
We also decided to try a chicken murtabak on the stall-owner's suggestion ("bagus!" thumbs-up), and were surprised to find that it was very different from what we're used to in Singapore. The Malaysian version is almost like stuffed pita, with an interesting stuffing of diced chicken and what might have been chickpeas, though I can't be sure. I'm not sure if I'm all that fond of it, but it was certainly unusual.
Lunch was at another Indian eatery opposite KL's Central Market (a tourist trap if ever there was one).
It wasn't till after I'd ordered that I realised the only other people eating Naan were two Caucasian tourists. Sure enough, my naan was huge, and extremely doughy. I couldn't finish the whole thing, but made a valiant effort. The tandoori chicken was strangely spicy, perhaps something to do with the chilli oil the chicken is infused with.
Most of the other diners had dishes that looked something like this, rice with assorted vegetables and meat. I recognised beef rendang, mutton and fried chicken. Something fairly similar to our own chye png stalls, I imagine.
Since most of our evening was spent bargain-hunting at Petaling Street, it went without saying that dinner had to be somewhere in the vicinity, especially as Chinatown was littered with roadside stalls emitting really amazing aromas.
When I first had lok-lok, or what some rather pretentiously term 'Chinese fondue', I mistakenly thought I was looking at satay gone wrong. While I know better now, it's still not the best thing I've eaten, so it's lucky that in addition to the lok-lok we had for dinner, there were a few other stalls selling other kinds of food.
It is said that good things come in small packages, but I was still a bit disappointed at the size of my bowl of Ipoh Hor Fun. However, I was immediately heartened when I took my first slurp. There is just something so ethereally silky about the smoothness of Malaysian hor fun noodles, and the sweetness of the broth, that one bowl is rarely enough.
Immensely satisfied with our dinner (and our shopping), we went to bed on full stomachs, ready for the following day, our last in KL.