Monday, July 8, 2013

Venturing Off Track for East Coast Eats: How I Found Anis Putri Corner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It all started with a tweet. The next thing I know, I found myself wandering around in a quiet, deserted residential area of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. I was sweaty, feeling very desperate, and hopelessly lost. Minutes later, euphoria came over me seeing a long line of trays filled with various delicious-looking foods and a large vat of dark and oily curry. This roller coaster of emotions was too much for a food-loving frazzled traveler like myself.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Anis Putri Corner. Nondescript as it looked, it was the setting of the best meal I had in Malaysia.

A few hours ago, I was sat in my hostel researching good restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, i.e., the most recommended restaurants in a city whose 5.7 million residents loved to eat. That is when I received a tweet from a local, a KL-ite. She recommended Anis Putri Corner, a Malay restaurant which features dishes originating from East Coast Malaysia. This highly-recommended restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is in Pantai Dalam, a largely residential area located southwest of the city center. Clearly, it was way off the tourist trail. However, knowing myself and my fondness for food quests, I ventured out.

I headed to Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the city's transport hub, and boarded the city's suburban rail service, the KTM Komuter. A few minutes passed and I arrived at the Pantai Dalam station. It was midday and the area was quiet, well, more like deserted. This was after all a residential district with row after row of housing high-rises. The residents here must be back in the city, inside their offices and various work places. I was having difficulty finding Anis Putri Corner, even asked for directions from the only two people I found there. I desperately navigated the language barrier between us three but came up with nothing. This food quest was starting to get hopeless.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Getting lost in a quiet residential area. This food quest was starting to get hopeless.

It was only after I figured out I was on the wrong side of the tracks, literally, when I finally found the street the restaurant was on. So I crossed the dilapidated concrete footbridge above the railway station and started to walk a bit further, nursing what little hope there remained.

I was only too happy to finally see the restaurant façade and enter the covered premises of Anis Putri Corner with its wooden tables and chairs laid out over a fairly large space. Lunch rush was well under way that no one noticed the famished foreigner that just walked in. To be fair, I would not stand out in a restaurant full of hungry KL-ites. Filipinos and Malaysians after all have a common ethnicity.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Anis Putri Corner and its buffet fit for the sultan

Every exhaustion in my body soon disappeared when I saw a buffet table fit for the sultan. Around it are additional tables and preparation areas also filled with food. Fish, beef, chicken, and vegetables of all types, prepared in all manners known in East Coast Malaysia, immersed in all types of sauces imaginable. I honestly did not know how to go about the insurmountable mission that was the day's lunch. I took my cue from the locals and just grabbed a plate and started scooping big heaps of whatever it was that took my fancy.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Do I really need to tell you how good this food is? I mean look at it! Yum, right?

In the end, I had in my plate a serving of steaming white rice, some gulai daging kawah, which is a drier version of beef rendang, and ayam lemak, which is chicken cooked in a thick yellow coconut sauce. To add contrast in texture for every bite, I sprinkled some crispy roasted shallots over the rice, too. Yes, of course, every morsel of the food I got was delicious in every way possible. Well-spiced. Well-balanced. The best!

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Beef rendang kiddie pool. Yes, diners are encouraged to dive in head-first.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Ayam goreng, which simply means chicken deep-fried to perfection. That must be good.

As soon as I sat down, a restaurant staff approached me and asked, "Minom?" Being Filipino and knowing Tagalog, I instinctively understood minom to be Malay for "drink." In Tagalog, inom means drink. I ordered a refreshing calamansi juice. Calamansi, as it is known in both Malaysia and the Philippines, is a type of sweet lime liberally used in many dishes of Southeast Asia.

When the restaurant staff came back with my drink, she took a long look at my plate and started computing the cost in her head. Estimation is apparently how they do it here, which wasn't bad, considering for the entire meal, I was only charged seven ringgit, a little more than two dollars US. Unbelievable.

Walking back to the Pantai Dalam station after my glorious meal at Anis Putri Corner, I spotted a street-side stall making mean-looking fried banana fritters. Hey, I still had room, and more importantly, a few ringgit left for dessert, so why the hell not?

Banana Fritters, Kuala Lumpur
Fried banana fritters, a sumptuous dessert after an equally sumptuous meal

I sat on one of the benches of the deserted commuter train platform enjoying my fried banana fritters. Once again, I emerged victorious, satisfied, and pleasantly delighted from a food quest in my travels. This time, it was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I wondered which destination to conquer next.

Where did you get the best meal you had in your travels? What did they serve and how do I get there? Details, man! Details!

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