Visiting a Pasar Malam in KL

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The pasar malam, or night market, is a distinctly Malaysian cultural event and a big part of the lifestyle here, where streets are converted into an open-air street market, usually near residential areas. Popular among the locals, the pasar malam can be found in almost every large neighbourhood, simply because it allows the residents from the within and the neighbouring areas to shop for their household needs at a leisurely pace and to do so in the relative cool of the evening.

Typically held once a week, vendors at a pasar malam can be seen selling various kinds of commodities such as fresh vegetables and fruits, clothes, shoes, toys, and other household trinkets. Food is also a main feature of the markets; many of the local delicacies can be found here, such as: asam laksa, Chinese hawker food, local snacks and desserts. Also, don’t be surprised to walk home with a “designer” bag for only RM30 or less as imitation items abound. People of all ages, races, and income brackets come to the pasar malam, simply because it’s fun to stroll along the stalls in search of something to take home.

Visiting a pasar malam – usually held from 6.00pm to 10.00pm – is a Malaysian rite of passage essential to really experiencing a taste of local life. While Malaysia’s night markets may not make it into the Guinness World Records, the night market Setia Alam has definitely made it into the Malaysian Book of Records as the Longest Pasar Malam. Held every Saturday, and stretching approximately 2.2 km end-to-end, this market is a food haven. You can get almost every food imaginable from distinctly non-local items like pizza and sushi to local favourites such as nasi lemak and asam laksa. Apart from an array of food, there are also groceries, clothing, accessories, bags, CDs, videos, and fresh produce… all at reasonable prices too, and bargaining is encouraged!

Possibly one of the best places to experience a pasar malam in Kuala Lumpur is in Bangsar on Sundays. Popular with both expats and locals, the Bangsar Baru pasar malam, located along the slip road off Jalan Maarof in front of the Mosque near Bangsar Village offers a whole range of goods, such as fresh and cooked food, and even clothing and electrical products. Juicy vegetables, fresh fish, accessories ,and handphones add character to this already colourful scene. One of the highlights of the pasar malam is the satay stall which is very popular among the Bangsar residents.

Another noteworthy market to consider is the Taman Connaught pasar malam – just a tiny bit shorter than the record-beating Setia Alam version. Located along Jalan Cerdas, the traffic at this place grinds to a standstill every Wednesday as people take over the streets with approximately 700 stalls offering a wide range of foods and products. Similar to the pasar malam in Setia Alam, this one too is a delight for food enthusiasts with a variety of street foods that are not only delicious, but also rare and creative. Some noteworthy recommendations are Stinky Tofu from Taiwan (deep-fried stinky tofu topped with pickled cabbage and chilli sauce – the smell has been toned down to suit local noses), Japanese Pizza, the curiously named Angry Cheese Chicken, and an array of Thai food. Of course, there are also stalls selling items ranging from groceries, clothes, and DVDs to women’s accessories, toys, and electronic gadgets. The crowds generally start to build from 8pm onward, so if you want to avoid the human congestion, get in and out by then.

Source: The Expat Magazine April 2014

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