The only way to properly explore a city is to walk, walk, walk — and take frequent breaks, especially in a place as hot and humid as Kuala Lumpur. By the time the sun was setting on our meander through Pudu, an old Chinese neighbourhood, we needed a sit down and a nice cup of tea. Emerging from the brilliantly unrenovated, 1970s-style Pudu Plaza shopping mall, we deposited ourselves on the plastic stools of a tea and coffee stall across the street.
Ordering coffee or tea in Malaysia involves venturing far away from the familiar Italian espresso territory of ristrettos and caffè lattes. Do you want kopi (with sugar and milk)? Or kopi o (with sugar only)? Kopi teh? We opted for teh tarik, a mix of black tea and condensed milk not dissimilar to Hong Kong’s milk tea. Instead of being thick and creamy, though, this teh tarik was light and frothy, with earthy undertones from the tea.
A number of other people were sitting around us, sipping a late afternoon tea or coffee: an old man reading a Chinese newspaper, two other older men eyeing passersby as they chatted in Cantonese, a young pair of Tamil guys immersed in conversation. As we sipped our delicious teh tarik, we noticed a commotion nearby as a group of young guys leapt up from their table at the sight of a rat that was scurrying underneath.
“So that’s why the tea here is so good,” said my girlfriend. “It’s the rats!”
Tags: Cafés, Exploring the City, Hawkers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Morning Coffee, Street Food, Streetlife