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Monday, 7 March 2016

Imbi Market @ Imbi

It may have been more than 10 years since I last visited.  It was certainly nostalgic when I made a comeback to Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang, otherwise more commonly known as Imbi Market @ Imbi.  More so when I read in the papers (some time back) that this morning market will be relocated to a seven-storey complex behind Pudu Plaza to make way for the ongoing development of the Tun Razak Exchange.

Slated to move soon (2016 or 2017?...exactly when, who knows).....I thought I better make a trip (or trips) here for my blog before it's gone!  Stepping into the market, I noticed quite a few "ang mohs" (foreign tourists) which isn't surprising since the market has been featured on Lonely Planet (including numerous good reviews on TripAdvisor).  Well, they say the best way to sample a country's food is through its markets, right?

Interestingly, that was exactly what I saw....a foreigner engrossed in taking photos of a plate of chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls) at none other than the famous Ah Fook Chee Cheong Fun stall to be exact!  It was then that I noticed he wasn't alone....he had a celebrity chef with him.  It was Luke Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Australian chef whom I first got to know from the MasterChef Australia series and later through his own television series, Luke Nguyen's Vietnam and Greater Mekong.  I'm not sure what he was doing here (he wasn't filming as there weren't any film crew), maybe he's scouting for future shoots as he loves street food! ;)

So, Luke Nguyen aside, let's get to this famous chee cheong fun stall that also sells yong tau foo, shall we? They have all sorts of yong tau foo...white tofu, tofu puffs, brinjal, bitter gourd, yau char kwai (fried Chinese crullers), chillies, ladies fingers, long beans, four angle beans, fried fu chuk (bean curd sheets), fish and meat balls.

But, it's their signature thin fu chuk pieces filled with a mixture of pork, fish paste and prawns and lots of "yin sai" (Chinese parsley) that are highly popular here.  It was definitely my most favourite item as I can taste the fragrant chopped coriander inside.

Here's my plate of chee cheong fun with 6 pcs of yong tau foo @ RM10 in curry sauce with one portion of chee cheong fun, meat ball, brinjal, red chilli, yau char kwai and 2 pcs of fried fu chuk.  The chee cheong fun are those with dried prawns and spring onions in them.

This stall has one of the longest queues here though the chee cheong fun wasn't the best tasting one I've had. The yong tau foo and curry sauce were also just ok for me.  But there's certainly no denying that the fried crispy pieces of fu chuk were outstanding...and different (from the ones we get at other yong tau foo stalls). I think I'll just stick to these only the next time I'm here.

The other stall we tried was another famous name, Ann Nasi Lemak, that has appeared in many foodie websites and lists as one of the Top Ten Nasi Lemak to try.

Since this is a Chinese-style nasi lemak, expect to find pork among its choices.  This plate of Nasi Lemak with Chicken & Pork Skin Curry @ RM10.50 was very good.

The pork skin curry is highly sought after...and I can see why.  Not commonly offered at other Chinese-style nasi lemak stalls, the pork skin was cooked till really tender and the curry sauce was delicious.  The curry chicken was equally tender in a similar tasting curry.

Our other plate was the Nasi Lemak with Sambal Squid & Minced Pork @ RM9.  Again, we enjoyed the tender squid cooked in sambal.

But it was the minced pork, fried with dried prawns and chillies (I was told), that we relished eating the most. I reckon the prices are on the higher side since I took two types of dishes for each plate of nasi lemak.

When it comes to drinks, you have to get your fix from none other than Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea who is highly reputed for their Hainan tea, an aromatic mixture of coffee and tea, hot or cold.  My glass of Cold Hainan Tea @ RM2.20 was frothy and nice but can't remember if it was as nice as when I had it more than 10 years ago! :P  Even my spouse, who doesn't drink coffee, seems to like this one.

I walked around a bit after breakfast and came upon a nyonya kuih stall and bought some for home. The Nyonya Kuih @ RM2 a box, however, was no where near good.  The kuih lapis texture was a bit tough. The red bean with santan and the kuih bingka ubi kayu with gula melaka were slightly more edible.

The kuih talam tasted like pandan flavoured kuih kosui instead, probably due to the high concentration of alkaline water (I think, which I tasted) and the texture was very chewy.  I couldn't bring myself to finish these kuih and they ended up in the bin >.<

My Personal Opinion

I did enjoy Ann's Nasi Lemak and Ah Fook's crispy fu chuk very much....but be forewarned that the prices here are somewhat steeper than your usual breakfast joints offering the same kind of food elsewhere.  That's because it's frequented by lots of tourists, I think, though locals do eat here as well...but be prepared for the heat and humidity of eating in a place like this (think of it as free sauna) >.<

Since there are lots more food to try here (and to put on my blog before the market moves away one day), I will definitely be back.....hopefully soon! ;)

Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang 
(Bukit Bintang Wet Market or Imbi Market)
Imbi, Kuala Lumpur

16 comments:

  1. I always find markets very interesting as there is lots to see and buy and of course, eat! Wow, you bumped into Luke Nguyen. Did you go say hello? hee..hee...

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    1. No, I didn't (coz I'm not a huge fan....hee...hee). If it was Anthony Bourdain, now that's a different story! I don't think many people recognised him coz I only saw one person requesting for a photo to be taken with him...so sad :'(

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  2. The chee cheong fun stall was not open during the only time I went to this market so I did not get to try it. I tried the pork skin nasi lemak and my friend did not think it was great. I agree the hainan tea drink is special, unlike any my spouse has tried before. You did not buy the black egg tart there?

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    1. No, I didn't...perhaps on my next visit. As for the pork skin, you have to be a fan of pork skin to like it. Plus it's pretty much tasteless on its own (like fish maw), so it's very much dependent on the curry that it's cooked in and I thought the curry was good for a Chinese-style one. As for the chee cheong fun and yong tau foo, they were ok (not great) but the fried fu chuk was definitely good.

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    2. My friend loves pork skin but she did not think that the curry was good because the "minyak dah pecah" for the santan in the curry so the curry gravy was lumpy with oily bits.

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    3. No such problem when I was there...the pork skin curry was perfect! ;)

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  3. gosh, i must admit, i'm not sure i've ever stepped into this market. i've read a lot about it over the years, but i didn't realise it's relocating ...

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    1. I didn't either (until I read about it the newspapers)...but, then again, things might change if the hawkers rally against being relocated :)

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  4. LOVE this place! If we don't have breakfast here once a month, we will literally DIE. LOL :P

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    1. Oh, you like this place that much. I checked out your post on this and saw that you liked the ginger wine noodles...must check this out on my next visit.

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  5. I was contemplating stopping by there this morning!

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    1. I see that it's a favourite haunt of yours for breakfast (from your posts) and you've eaten quite a lot of stuff here :)

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  6. The minced pork definitely something I'll pick!

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    1. Yup, you won't go wrong with that one :)

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  7. I am planning to visit in May 2016. Anyone know if the market has really moved? Thanks

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    1. I read a report in the local newspapers today that mentioned that the traders are supposed to move out by the end of this month. Not sure if there'll be any extension of the deadline.

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