Pudu Wai Sek Kai: Legendary Malaysian Hawker Food in Kuala Lumpur

By Mark Wiens 27 Comments
Pudu Hawker Street in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Pudu Hawker Street in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

One of the worst realities of city development is how humble establishments are forced to make way for the big guys.

Kuala Lumpur, the rapidly progressing largest city of Malaysia, is evidence.

Legendary eateries, famous street stalls, and even historical sit down restaurants have all succumbed to the power of modern glass and steel.

The good news is, Kuala Lumpur still retains a few spots where food is served the traditional way – places where recipes haven’t changed for generations and where diners sit peacefully on plastic stools street side – all within the backdrop of mega sky scrapers.

While in KL, I had the opportunity to hang out with David Jr from Malaysia Asia.

Like most good conversations, our talk eventually led us to food…

And not just any food, but one of the last remaining local hawker streets in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Pudu Wai Sek Kai (Pudu Hawker Street)

Penang-Style Malaysian Rojak
Penang-Style Malaysian Rojak

Rojak – Penang Style

This was my first time to eat a proper Malaysian Penang Rojak – this version was the dried seafood mix rather than the alternative fruit rojak.

The artful combination of dried squid, cuttlefish, tofu, shrimp fritters and peanuts doused in sticky sweet prawn paste boasted such a complex flavor it’s nearly impossible to fully describe in words.

Roasting the rojak ingredients over charcoal
Roasting the rojak ingredients over charcoal

Each ingredient was first roasted over charcoal until slightly charred to create a noticeably smokey flavor.

After compiling the assortment, the vendor then lathered it with her secret prawn paste dressing. The intense flavor tasted like a combination of seafood and molasses.

Crushed peanuts on top added an extra beautiful dimension.

Rojak
Rojak – sensational complexity

A skewer to poke a bite, and a dip in the chili sauce made each mouthful sensational.

Sweet or savory, snack or dessert… I still have no idea where exactly rojak would fall, but I do know it is truly unique, a magical mixture that I found wonderfully tasty.

Fried Kuey Teow w/ Salted Chicken Egg
Fried Kuey Teow w/ Salted Chicken Egg

Fried Kuey Teow w/ Salted Chicken Egg

Flat rice noodles stir fried over high flamed heat with a few pieces of meat, bean sprouts, and green onions is the foundation of fried kuay teow.

This version included a little extra goodie – salted chicken egg.

The egg coated each noodle with a film of yolk, making the kuey teow rich and flavorful.

Pudu Hawker Street in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Chee Cheong Fun

Chee Cheong Fun

Approaching the back of Pudu Hawker Street is an ancient stall serving traditional chee cheong fun.

Who wouldn't want a photo of that vat of deliciousness?
Who wouldn’t want a photo of that vat of deliciousness?

As we waited for our plate of fish balls, tofu and assorted bean curd to get sliced up and combined with wide flat rice noodles, David  and I both snapped some shots of the tempting bubbling vat.

Well experienced hands slicing up the noodles and bean curd
Well experienced hands slicing up the noodles and bean curd

As a lover of foo jook (Chinese bean curd), I knew I’d like this.

After fishing out chunks from the communal pot, you then tell the vendor how many rolls of rice noodles you require, and she proceeds to chop it all into bite sized pieces.

Chee Cheong Fun at Pudu Hawker Street
Chee Cheong Fun at Pudu Hawker Street

Smothered in sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds and paired with chili sauce, this plate of steamed Chee Cheong Fun was excellent.

Lin Chee Kang
Lin Chee Kang – Dessert Stall

Lin Chee Kang

Rounding out this fantastic Malaysian street food tour, we ended things with a bowl of lin chee kang.

Though it can be served either hot or cold, I chose the iced version.

Malaysian dessert
An interesting mixture of nuts and herbs

Herbs, barley, gingko nuts, and a quail egg all went into the mixture before it was drowned in lightly sweet soup and crushed ice.

Lin Chee Kang
Lin Chee Kang – Malaysian Chinese Dessert

Unlike Thai nam kang sai, lin chee kang included no candy flavor but was more of a natural tasting herbal dessert.

I particularly enjoyed it because it wasn’t overly sweet, but just right.

Sinking my teeth into the icy sweet yolky quail egg was quite a memorable bite as well!

Despite the unavoidable modernization of Kuala Lumpur, let’s hope places like Pudu Wai Sek Kai (Pudu Hawker Street) and its legendary selection of classic Malaysian Chinese street food survive.

Big thanks to David Jr for this awesome food tour – check out Malaysia Asia for fantastic Malaysia travel tips.

27 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Stanley

    4 years ago

    You miss the best food there! HAHA, Its Curry Chee Cheong Fun!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thanks Stanley, will have to try that next time.

  • chee tuck, chong

    5 years ago

    Quail eggs are usually served in lin chee kang – having eaten it for over 40 years as a Malaysian. If it’s not included, then it would be a “less” complete version.

  • Audrey

    7 years ago

    I’m reading this during a rainy, cold day in Berlin – this is torture!! Berlin’s food is good, but it’s not quite the same as Malaysian hawker culture…

    We’ve been through Kuala Lumpur several times but have never been to Pudu Wai Sek Kai – firmly on our list for our next visit. Thanks for introducing it to us!

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Audrey! No problem, I was glad to have a great local guide – David Malaysia Asia – to sample this street for the first time. When you guys go back to KL, I know you’ll enjoy the hawker food here. Hope you’re enjoying time in Berlin now!

  • Christina

    7 years ago

    I hadn’t heard of Pudu Hawker Street. I went to Jalan Alor to get street food, which was delicious. I was much less adventurous than you though and stuck with the chicken fish 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Christina, Jalan Alor has some good restaurants as well – and quite lively action. Did you try the chicken wings?

  • EarthDrifter

    7 years ago

    I typically prefer places like Pudu Wai Sek Kai over traditional restaurants, for their authenticity. I’m reminded of my ex favorite place in Boston’s Chinatown, the Chinatown Eatery, a collection of six stalls and many tables on the second floor of a building. It closed a few years back to make room for a condo complex. This was a sad time for the vendors and consumers alike. Ideally cities throughout the globe will pay more attention to what’s happening and try to preserve these cultural wonders.

    That Rojak looks amazing. If there were a term that means beyond exotic, then that’s how I’d describe it. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Mike, I agree, ideally these types of streets should be preserved and cherished… similar to a work of art. Too bad about Boston’s stalls that closed… Rojak, it’s so complex it’s hard to describe in words!

  • paul | walkflypinoy

    7 years ago

    this post made me so hungry for malay food! and oddly enough, it’s hard to find malay restaurants here in the philippines. looks like i need to head back to malaysia soon. haha.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Paul, same is true in Bangkok, I think I know of 2 different Malaysian restaurants in the entire city. Should be more Malaysian restaurants around SE Asia!

  • Colleen

    7 years ago

    What occurred to me while reading this delectable article is the fact that Migrationology articles serve as a documented history of the food culture in SE Asia and beyond at this point in time. This particular hawker street in KL, I wonder how long it will be there. Time stands still for no man.

  • Kenji Cheow

    7 years ago

    Reading this, I was *drooling*…
    How I miss these food in Malaysia…
    If u are travelling back to Malaysia next time, I guess u would love to try out food from my hometown, Ipoh…

    ~CHEERS~
    Kenji

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Kenji, yes, I would love to visit Ipoh and try the food there!

  • Andi

    7 years ago

    I have been to KL for a business trip and ate non-stop! There is so much good food there it is impossible to catch everything!

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Great to hear you’ve been to KL Andi! You’re right about that, a constant supply of amazing food.

  • sully86

    7 years ago

    mark: quails egg? never thought i see those in a bowl if lin chee kang.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      It doesn’t normally come with a quail egg? It was my first time to have it, and it was pretty good, and interesting!

      • sully86

        7 years ago

        mark: no. It doesn’t come with quails egg. I am sure of that.

        • Mark Wiens

          7 years ago

          Hmm, maybe this was a special twist on the dish?

          • sully86

            7 years ago

            Mark: yah like the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”

    • Olivia

      4 years ago

      lin chee kang usually serve with quail eggs..just some stalls doesn’t serve with it..