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Monday, 22 October 2007

My Favourite Ramadan Bazaar

Well we are now entering the second week of Eidil Fitri so it is a good time to review which Ramadan Bazaar was the best for this year’s fasting season. To be fair I will only look at the Bazaars mainly around the Cheras vicinity in my home ground although I did go to the famous Raja Alang Ramadan Bazaar this time, but I actually ended up buying the Sate Padang there as my main breaking fast dish for the day. Well most of these bazaars’ problem to me as a Malay as compared to non-malays is that while they may find most of these dishes as exotic and only available during Ramadan, these are actually normal stuff for us and this monotony is further exacerbated by the duplication of dishes by almost every other food vendors within these bazaars. Thus finding nuggets of rarely offered dishes or originally prepared dishes as compared to the masquerading dishes claiming to be the real stuff in certain bazaars certainly earned them more marks in the favourite stakes. Finding real nasi kerabu, Malaccan Roti John and Apam Sarawak in the Kota Cheras bazaar certainly earned it more points than the one in Len Seng which is a perfect example of “clone food” central. Meanwhile Desa Tasik loses points as even though their exotic Roti Farina or fried popiah skinned wrapped meat buns as shown above and real Sarawak mee kolok and manuk panggang prepared by a Sarawak family has become mainstays, the rest of the fare served there has turned into clone foods that even though you may walk the mile there, you will be hard pressed to find some stirring stuff except the occasional specials like tapai pulut wrapped in rubber leaves that was only available on Sundays as it was specially brought in from Kelantan. Even my favourite Kathira drink is no longer sold, as the drinks vendor says that KLites just does not take to this interesting Johor origin drink.

Since other bazaars in the Cheras vicinity does not even deserve a mention, this only left me the area’s Ramadan bazaar central, which has six different bazaars within its five kilometre radius, Bandar Tun Razak as a hunting ground. Surprisingly the customary bazaars in Velodrome and Taman Mulia has seen a drastic reduction in size, shrinking mainly due to the very high trading fees imposed as advised by one of my regular drink vendors. Thus it was mainly the established sellers that remained, but although you are assured of quality, established here also means standard foodstuff. Boring! Luckily my sister-in-law mentioned that there was a newly established Ramadan bazaar at Taman Tasik Permasiduri, beside the KL football stadium but I only got a chance to go there in the later half of Ramadan. Well it soon became an favoured haunt, as it turn into an every other day visit. The reason was simple. The variety of food on offer was sufficient to ensure you had a different dish at every visit. No clone foods here. Instead you can find real nasi ulam, Indonesian rissoles, laksa johor, mee siam goreng that does not stinge on the dried prawn paste, and that does not include the east coast specialties that was on offer, with the different versions from each particular state. Yup, I found lompat tikam, puteri mandi amongst others with ease here.

You can also find the atypical karipap telur, a sauce plate sized crimped puff filled with a savoury egg custard and hotel class butter bread puddings with real custard as shown. And talking about hotel class fare, here you can also find a team of enterprising chefs that took up space to offer authentic Penang chow kuer tiow and chow mien, cooked with high flame as it should be done to give it that genuine charred touch. You can be sure that there was a queue at this stall, and what better stamp of approval that can be given when you find the Chinese and Indians also in the queue. You will also find real longan drinks like what you can find at Petaling Street here, in addition to non-watered down sugar cane and young coconut juice. And one stall sold fruit cocktail air bandung, not quite Kathira but a good enough replacement, in addition to real mango juice. In fact my wife remarked that maybe for this particular bazaar, DBKL may have vetted the stall holders so that it became a showcase, as it seemed they took the best sellers from the area to sell their goodies here, as they were some familiar faces that was missing from the first two bazaars that I had mentioned that were actually the better vendors. There was also some from the other bazaars that I did not visit this Ramadan, so I cannot comment whether they also upped and moved here or opened a branch. Nonetheless if the same traders continue here next season, I am sure to keep this bazaar as my favourite bazaar for buying Ramadan break fast meals.

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