(I started writing this before Christmas Day, hoping to complete it on the day itself, after dinner. Come Boxing Day our ordered lives took a tumble. I’ll finish what I started. Explanation for current situation at the end of the post.)
When people heard that Mr Gochugaru and I were spending Christmas in Kuala Lumpur, as part of an extended stay to look after my mother, they were very concerned about one thing: what would we be eating on Christmas Day?
At the very least we could have Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is popular in Japan on Christmas Day
This is the first time we will be having Christmas away from the children. Perhaps the children’s friends are asking them what they will be eating on 25 December. However, with so many Christmases Past tucked into their belt of experience, I am certain Juniors 1, 2 and 3 would be conjuring up a splendid meal for everyone around their own dining table.
We are not alone in being by ourselves this Christmas. All over the world millions of people have to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and important milestones away from those closest to them. If we elevate this thought a few notches and put a spiritual gloss on it, we can appreciate the uniqueness of the Christmas story.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians trust is the Son of God. As part of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we believe that Jesus is God in human form. So the first Christmas happened when the God the Son left the perfect sanctuary and fellowship of God the Father, to be born in a lowly manger. Jesus totally understands what it is to be away from his own (divine and trinitarian) family.
Our annual festive turkey / goose / porchetta can wait until the middle of January when we are back in London. Instead of the usual big family feast, Mr Gochugaru and I have been on a food adventure in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Sometimes we ate alone, at other times we met up with friends. By God’s provision we ate well despite our lack of forward planning.
I have a spreadsheet listing all the restaurants we visited, but here is a summary of places we thought the children might like to try on our next family trip to Kuala Lumpur. Restaurants bunched up by location, and all (save for Niko Neko) have long or larger tables for communal dining. Most entries have no accompanying photos as we mostly had to dine and dash, seeing as we spent most of the day with my mother with only very little time in between or afterwards to have a meal.
We are spoilt for choice, with everything from grand dining to stall food on our doorstep. Dewakan holds two Michelin stars but that is for a future trip when we have more leisure time.
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur: Lai Po Heen, Mosaic and Lounge on the Park are always reliable if on the expensive side.
Ming Ren Xuan: the closest dim sum restaurant to our apartment, located in Avenue K Mall. All the favourites, some with a twist.
Kenny Hills Bistro: good food and service, clientele mainly foreigners wandering in from the Four Seasons Hotel or like us, wanting to get away from the crowds in KLCC mall. I head to Kenny Hills Bakers in KLCC mall for baked good and cakes.
Little Penang Kafé: this serves as a canteen to many locals with reliable staples like char kuey teow and kuih pie tee.
Malaysia Food Village by Yong Kee: located in the basement of the Four Seasons Hotel, you will find all the hawker favourites here. Avoid lunchtimes between 12.15pm and 1.45pm when it is crowded with office workers.
Braised beef short ribs at Lai Po Heen
Kenny Hills Bistro: try the Tiramisu or Yuzu Citrus Tart (see next post) for a treat at any time of the day
Bite-sized yam puffs stuffed with tuna at Ming Ren Xuan
Char kuey teow at Malaysia Food Court
PAVILION BUKIT BINTANG
A short 20 minutes walk away from our apartment via an enclosed walkway, Pavilion Bukit Bintang is another delightful place with restaurants serving many different cuisines.
Rakuzen and Village Roast Duck on the upper floors.
Din Tai Fung with pork siu long bao (the KLCC branch is pork-free).
Grandmama’s which is a an off-shoot and similar to Madam Kwan’s, but where you sensibly place your order with a waiter as opposed to using a QR code. I think my days with madam Kwan’s are over.
CHINATOWN KUALA LUMPUR
My top tip, if you are driving, is to park your car in the shade (and away from traffic wardens) in Four Points by Sheraton. My other tip is to avoid the restaurants with long queues as they are mostly tourist traps.
Chocha Foodstore: what a rough looking space but that just adds to the charm, and with such confident cooking they can get away with it.
Upper Deck: like Chocha next door, we were the only diners for lunch on the day we visited, so in effect it was like private dining except you get the whole restaurant space and not just a dining room. What a treat.
Fung Wong for kaya Swiss roll and baked char siu buns.