J and I hopped onto the LRT and headed to Kampung Baru. Even though Kampung Baru didn’t look very far away from our hotel on Google map and in fact it was only one LRT stop away (KLCC -> Kampung Baru), it still wasn’t possible to get there on foot. There wasn’t any through road because the Klang River and an expressway had segregated both areas and hence making them inaccessible from either side.
Kampung Baru is very much a Malay enclave in the central of Kuala Lumpur where the residents are mainly from the local Malay community. We can still see some facets of village (‘kampung’) life and even spotted low-rise wooden houses built on stilts. Yet not far away in the background is a magnificent view of the Petronas Twin Towers and their neighbouring skyscrapers. This is what makes Kampung Baru interesting because it clearly shows the contrast of an old town and a developed city centre.
That was the main reason why I wanted to visit Kampung Baru. And I definitely have to come back again in the day and take a walk through this lovely enclave with a rustic charm.
After walking around the area briefly, we decided to have dinner at Chunburi Seafood that serves up cuisine from Kelantan, Kedah as well as Thailand with dishes like Nasi Dagang (coconut milk rice with fish curry), Nasi Kerabu (blue rice with assorted side ingredients), Tom Yum Soup and more. This restaurant was just brimming with customers as compared to the rest along the same road. If so many locals eat there, it must be pretty good.
To get to Chunburi Seafood, you would have to alight at Kampung Baru LRT Station. When you come out of the exit (only one), turn to your right and walk all the way down Jalan Hassan Salleh till you reach Jalan Raja Muda Musa and you should be able to spot Chunburi Seafood very easily. Lining up on the side of the roads are different eateries and open-air restaurants that specialise in Malay and Thai food. There are also shops selling all kinds of knick-knacks and street food vendors too. Surprisingly bustling even on a weekday night.
We opted for the Nasi Campur (Malay-style mixed rice, similar to Nasi Padang in Singapore) as a few dishes on the buffet spread caught our fancy. We were here just before 8pm and most trays and pots were already half-empty while some other dishes had run out.
We stood there for quite some time while looking at the dishes but no one seemed interested to serve us. It was kinda awkward. When I called out to one young chap behind the food counter, he ignored us and walked away. Saw another young lady behind the counter and I said to her ‘dua nasi, makan’ (‘two rices, having here’). Again, no response.
The earlier young chap then brought out a container of freshly steamed white rice and the young lady started scooping two plates of rice for us. I guessed they must have run out of rice initially and hence couldn’t serve us promptly. Perhaps because they didn’t speak much English so they couldn’t communicate that to us too.
Anyway, with the plates in our hands, we started piling different ingredients onto our rice. When we were done, we brought our plates to the counter and ordered drinks at the same time. The cashier did the calculations on a slip of paper and also wrote down the total price for us to make payment (only cash is accepted here).
Do also note this is how nasi campur generally works in Malaysia in most casual eateries – you scoop your own dishes and then bring to the cashier to make payment. However for those stalls in upmarket food courts like the ones in Suria KLCC, you would have to tell them what dishes you want or just point and they will scoop for you.
What surprised us afterwards was when the service staff and cashier started smiling and warming up to us. One went to prepare our drinks and another one tried to find an empty table for us because the restaurant was so packed. We felt so welcomed suddenly, lol.
It really wasn’t that bad even though I could only manage a few words in Malay but it was still good enough for me to order food and drinks. The locals were probably shy and we just had to be a bit more garang and everything else fell into place naturally.
We shared a table with a young Malay couple and we started chatting when they saw me taking pictures of our plates of food. See, some locals might not give off an approachable first impression but they were actually very nice and friendly.
My plate that cost RM9 consisted of ayam masak kicap (chicken in sweet soy sauce), sambal tempe ikan bilis (fried tempeh & anchovies with sambal) and sambal telur goreng (fried egg in sambal). And I doused my rice with some vegetable curry gravy.
This might just be a simple plate of ‘mixed rice’ but my first mouthful of it really blew me away. All the flavours of the spices and chilli of each individual element just worked so well with one another even though they were all different dishes. The chicken was tender and so well marinated that the flavour had penetrated the meat and of course the black sauce was also savoury, sweet and moreish. The sambal tempe ikan bilis was very spicy but so shiok to eat. And how could a fried egg go wrong? It tasted even better with a sweet and spicy sambal sauce.
J’s plate cost RM9.50. Besides sambal tempe ikan bilis and sambal telur goreng, he also got mutton rendang and stir fried french beans. The mutton was so tender and that gravy was just robust and tasty. The french beans were crunchy albeit a little plain.
Prices are subject to 6% GST. There is no service charge.
If you like kueh kueh, don’t forget to check out the kuih stall near the entrance. They sell a variety of snacks, some of which I’ve not even seen before anywhere else.
I really love home-style Malay cooking and this meal was like one of the best I ever had. If you enjoy food with spices and chilli and love variety, do not miss out on a plate of nasi campur when you’re in Malaysia. Cheap and affordable yet big on flavours – satisfaction guaranteed! ??
7 Jalan Raja Muda Musa
50300 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+60) 012 303 0176
Opening hours: 12.00pm to 1.00am daily