Chow Kit Market, located in central KL, is Kuala Lumpur’s largest “wet’ market; a lively expanse of tightly jammed stalls sheltered by a kaleidoscope of brightly-coloured parasols. You can find everything from clothes and shoes to household items, from spices and chillies to fruit, live flapping fish and nose-to-tail cuts of meat. The market first opened in 1995 and now houses over 100 vendors.
A trip here is certainly not advisable for the faint-hearted, claustrophobic or the squeamish; the perpetually wet ground is laced with running rivulets of water (at least we hope it’s water) and the air is thick with the odour of fish, spices, and the ever dreaded stench of durian. For some, however, Chow Kit is a paradise of colourful and fresh ingredients.
Head down to the market in the morning when it is a little less busy. Here are a couple of great stalls to get your started (note: you will have to do a little searching; none of these stalls have names)..
1. The santen man – santen is coconut milk made from the freshly scraped flesh of coconuts. It is used widely in Malaysian cooking for thickening curries, flavouring desserts and even in cocktails such as pina colada.
2. The keropok geragau lady – thin and crunchy Geragau prawn crackers, lightly spiced with aromatic curry leaves for a deliciously moreish snack.
3. The roasted chestnuts man – follow the smokey-rich aroma of warm chestnuts, churning hypnotically with hot coals in a giant metal pot.
4. The grapes man – here you will find an abundant variety of different grapes; both green and red, sweet, crisp, sharp and bitter, piled high on a mobile stall.
5. The roast duck man – A row of perfectly glistening ducks hang by the neck, ready to be wrapped up in Chinese pancakes or shredded into a delicious curry.
Details: Bazzar Baru Chow Kit, Northern end of Jalan Tunku ABdul Rahman, 50088, KL (a short 5 minute walk from Chow Kit station – take the ‘sky train’). Open daily 06:00-17:00
Some photos from Chow Kit Market: