KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — It’s late. Closing time has come and gone: you’ve had a good time at the bars and clubs but now you are hungry. Where do you go for some late night eats about town?
Burgers that make you go “Om…”
With the current craze in specialty burgers (or has the fad passed already?), it’s easy to forget there was a time before handmade charcoal buns and Wagyu beef patties spiked with Gorgonzola. Fast food chains aside, a real burger for my fellow Malaysians and me has got to be an honest-to-goodness Ramly Burger.
Though frozen patties sold by this local enterprise are often bought at supermarkets and prepared at home, nothing beats biting into an authentic street version. Be it at a weekly pasar malam or a humble stall parked in front of the neighbourhood convenience store, this is a modest meal worth celebrating.
For a taste of a Ramly Burger to rule them all, head to Ampang Jaya. In front of a 7-Eleven outlet (opposite the always-busy Naan Corner), you will find the affable Om (Javanese for “uncle”) manning his stall from 8pm onwards every night. Strike up a conversation with him and he might even tell you which local celebrities drop by.
Watching the man at work, it’s not hard to see why. He goes a little further at every step: from extra margarine to grease the griddle to generously dousing the grilled patties (ask for double!) with mayonnaise, chili sauce and dashes of pepper.
Enveloped in a still-moist blanket of egg and cheese, this burger promises to be deliciously sloppy till the last morsel. Om Burger may well be named for the sense of tranquillity you enter after this substantial meal.
The meat may not be premium; the buns aren’t artisanal. Take a bite, though, and tell me if these aren’t the best burgers in town.
The best roti canai in KL?
A good roti canai is something you can eat anytime of the day or night. An excellent roti canai, however, is something far rarer.
What is required to make this local flatbread superior than the rest? When made fresh while you wait, it should be crispy to the point of being flaky yet still chewy and satisfyingly greasy. Some say the condiments are paramount: is there a more triumphant trinity than hearty dhal, spicy curry and sweet sambal?
Sounds simple enough but I’ve not found this perfect mix at many places. In fact, when I first discovered Valentine Roti (named after the owner) along Jalan Semarak (opposite Wisma Celcom), I was rather doubtful of their boast of Best Roti Canai in the city.
The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the roti. After countless visits and them consistently delivering, consider me a believer. Judging by their many other customers looking for a vacant table, Valentine has no shortage of fans.
Just remember to ask for your roti canai to be made “garing” (extra crispy) so you can enjoy the delicious contrast of gravy-soaked and flaky. While waiting, try one of the small packets of nasi lemak at your table; consider it a cold “appetiser” to the piping hot “main course”, if you will.
Who says street food can’t be as good as fine dining? It doesn’t get better than this, if you ask me.
Highway wantan mee
Some highways are haunted. Others are simply haunted by “hungry ghosts” looking for a meal at the oddest hours.
If you find yourself driving along the Sungai Besi highway from the city centre towards Seremban, try hunting down this nondescript stall selling wantan mee at night. A car workshop by day, the shoplot is converted into a foodstall after 8pm when the mechanics head home.
You may have to park haphazardly along the side of the road but that’s a risk worth taking for your supper. While the wantan mee is decent here, the add-ons are what make the dish remarkable. Ordinary noodles are taken to new heights by sweet, caramelised char siew and midnight roast duck.
The pièce de résistance is an out-of-this-world wild boar curry that copiously drenches the noodles. The meat itself isn’t not too gamey (as wild boar can be) but tender and flavourful with the spices infusing it after hours of cooking.
Other dishes include yong tau foo, rojak, vinegared pork knuckles and Hakka stewed pork, but unless you are really hungry, stick with what everyone else orders.
Slurping up the last strands of wantan noodles, you realise that in Malaysia, there are no odd hours for enjoying a good meal. What a blessing this is!
Lorong Kolam Air Lama, 68000 Ampang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur
Opens daily from 8pm till 5am
Stor No. 1, Jalan Semarak, 54000 Kuala Lumpur
Open from 4pm to 2am Mon-Sat; closed on Sundays
Wantan Mee Sungai Besi
190H, Jalan 2½ Miles Sg. Besi, Kuala Lumpur
Opens daily from 7pm till late
This story was first published in Crave in the print edition of The Malay Mail on September 26, 2013.