Before flying to KL I had been doing my usual hugely productive activity of Youtube surfing, ending up watching an episode of (an unknown to me) Mark Wiens and his trip to eat this fabled smoked duck curry. I made a mental note that when back in KL I would heed his advice and strangle my will to allow a day to be spent on the conquest of webbed feet gorging.
The day arrived.
For the first time in my life, my Grab driver was both deaf and mute. This proposed certain issues in terms of trying to call to change pick-up location, but everything went smoothly, and the worst that happened was having to endure a 35 minute drive due-south with someone trying to communicate with one hand on the steering wheel and the other gesturing wildy in speeches unknown to me. I sat and smiled.
The freeways were long left behind, and we entered small village roads seemingly headed nowhere. I had arranged for a friend of mine to meet me for lunch since she worked nearby, so I hoped she would find the place too.
After quite a long time with a slightly anxious look on his face, my driver turned into the parking lot and dropped me off at Itik Salai Masthar. There was already quite a crowd, and a local band playing in the corner. I waited under the awning for Kogie to arrive since the sun in Malaysia is new levels of punishing. Right on time she pulled up, slightly perplexed that a tourist knew of this place when she had never heard of it, and worked 15 minute drive away.
Duck curry, beef curry (for me), rice ordered and we sat at the table anxious to see what all the fuss was about. I had heard that they sell out pretty early, so I was overjoyed just to be staring this beast in the face, waiting painstaking seconds before starting its disassembly.
Sometimes, just sometimes in life you take a spoon to your lips, the whole world stops for a full second. This was one of those moments. Rich, coconut curry, spiced aggressively on the hot-scale but punched full of flavour. The duck was deeply smokey, but not burnt-rubber tasting. Beef was of a jerky consistency and the curry broth was slightly different, but equally as delicious.
We both smiled and continued eating, small beads of sweat forming from where the internal battle was raging with the lack of AC in this open air affair. A meal enjoyed in vast periods of silence usually mean's people are enjoying their food.
With stomachs full, Kogie offered to drive me to Kajang train station since the likelihood of a Grab driver patrolling these parts was slim to non-existant. After saying goodbyes and misunderstanding the ticket counter cashier completely, I managed to find the platform and sat waiting for the train back to KL.
A roadtrip for food, is a roadtrip i'll never say no to.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"