Raise your glass to KL’s 100 best dishes and drinks. Here are the city’s best thirst quenchers: mamak staple teh tarik, cooling air mata kucing, Milo dinosaur, sirap bandung and more.
You bagging a bargain at Chinatown calls for a delicious drink – and make it cheap, cold and cooling. Seek shelter in the shade of the decades-old air mata kucing stall; order a cup of the longan, luo hon guo and winter melon drink, boiled and sweetened with rock sugar; and sip, savour and repeat.
For authentic masala chai in KL, make your way to Aunty’s Home Foods in Brickfields for a shot of warm, ginger-rich chai doled out in small stainless steel cups. Kept warm on a bubbling pot by the counter, the spicy brew has a cult following among chai devotees in town.
Cham (which literally means ‘to mix’ in Cantonese) basically consists of a mix of tea and coffee. We’ve found an ideal cup at Restoran Poh Yap, a kopitiam that has stood the test of time. Thick, rich and sweetened with condensed milk, the cham here has a strong coffee taste tinged with the fragrant hint of tea.
Although the kopitiam relocated to the new Imbi market in ICC Pudu, the kopitiam’s longstanding popularity still sees regulars coming back for tea and the social atmosphere. The staff may be a bit stern but you’ll be rewarded with tea that’s thick, smooth and just a little bit bitter – all the more reason to dunk your butter-slathered toast in it.
Way before tisanes were brewed in fancy tea houses, KLites have been downing cups of leung sui at mobile herbal tea stalls. Known to alleviate most illnesses (from sore throat to colds), herbal tea is the unsung hero of KL. Have a cup of chilled ginseng chrysanthemum tea or a medicinal brew at this tea stall off Jalan Sultan.
The version at Restoran Al-Bidayah has the right amount of sugar for that sweetness and fresh limau for that citrusy kick. Most importantly, they don’t skimp on the limau.
Teh tarik is a complex beverage that requires the right tea-to-condensed milk ratio, plus the right pouring method to achieve that bubbly top. The perfect cup is creamy and sweet – but not overly so that the taste of the tea gets lost.
For an alternative caffeine fix, Sun Yin Loong brews a strong Ipoh-style coffee. Hot or iced, both versions are creamy and milky, leaving a (pleasant) bitter aftertaste. Order the egg on toast or the famous Ipoh roti kahwin on the side.
The pink drink here has froth, similar to a teh tarik, and is more rose syrup than condensed milk – diabetes, off our minds, thank you. It’s milky, bubbly, and everything you’d want in a pretty drink.
This yoghurt drink of Indian origins has carved a niche for itself in Malaysian menus. The version at Ganga is a particularly fine rendition – Indian mango purée, fresh yoghurt and a slightly savoury flavour. There’s a salted version too.
The Milo Dinosaur at Restoran Darussalam in SS15 (or Milo Tabur as they call it here) is as good as they come. Think milky, sweet Milo with a generous amount of Milo powder over it. Do with it what you will – drink the Milo and eat the powder separately, or stir it all in for an extra Milo-y kick. Either way, perfect for a sweltering afternoon.