IN THESE days of ever-increasing cost of living, “humble” and “cheap” best describe the makan places at Bangsar’s Lucky Garden.
This is also one of the oldest urban areas within Kuala Lumpur’s city centre that are bustling with life. Located a short distance from the upmarket Jalan Telawi area, this section of the neighbourhood caters to the middle-income group.
Notwithstanding the posh restaurants and opulent lifestyle that one would commonly associate with the general impression of Bangsar as a whole, you will find some coffee shops and roadside stalls that offer food that many would find tasty and affordable.
That said, StarMetro narrowed down the search to two eateries that cater for the Chinese and Malay crowd.
The first is the Chun Heong coffee shop located in the middle row of shop houses in Lorong Ara Kiri. This is one of the most outstanding makan places that you will find and it is usually packed to the brim during breakfast and lunch.
To get a bite, it is advisable to get there early as seats can be scarce. If you do not mind, you could share a table with other patrons, as StarMetro did with old-timer Jimmy Ho and Walter Yap, as eating here is a “hit and run” affair.
Senior citizen Ho, who has been living in Lucky Garden for the past 20 years after retiring from the civil service, said he was amazed at how quickly the customers who frequented the coffee shop ate.
“By the time I am half-way through, the guy next to me who was eating his soup noodle is gone. There is a very fast turnover of customers here,” said the 75-year-old.
Yap, on the other hand, took the opportunity to promote Chun Heong's yuk yeen fun (meatball noodles) because he felt that it deserved a mention.
“Eh, I tell you ah, this koay teow soup is so good, other places got no fight one!” he exclaimed. Coincidentally, the StarMetro reporter was a regular at the coffee shop and found Yap’s claim plausible.
Indeed, the yuk yeen fun is the most sought-after noodle dish around, but there are enough hawker stalls here to keep one eating from day to night. At RM4 a bowl, one cannot complain. A complete meal, with hot Chinese tea, costs less than RM5.
Noteworthy, if you are a noodle lover, are the wantan mee (wantan noodles) and ngap thui meen (noodles with double-boiled duck thigh in herbal soup) stalls. As a meat lover, the StarMetro reporter concurred with Yap's recommendation on the ngap thui meen.
Moving on, there is a stall at Lorong Ara Kiri 3 that is a household name among fish head curry lovers. And the man responsible for this is no other than Anuar Kari Kepala Ikan (Anuar's fish head curry).
The namesake has been in business for more than three decades and is still going strong. Day after day, people from all walks of life queue up to get their curry fix.
You can actually see corporate folks and despatch boys hanging out at the same spot and they do not mind getting their hands dirty when it comes to savouring Anuar's selection of fine table fish.
“Ah, ini hari ada kepala ikan Jenahak, banyak bagus!” (Today, I have snapper head and it's good!) recommended the owner to one customer.
A simple fish head dish would set you back by at least RM25 and to keep things simple, Anuar serves fried chicken, ikan cincaru (torpedo trevally), the occasional mutton curry and fried bean sprouts to complement the meal.
With payday weeks away, the StarMetro reporter settled for the “cheaper” alternative. A plate of rice with bean sprouts, fish curry gravy and a piece of fried chicken was priced at RM3.
Now, how much lower can you go? Best of all, Anuar has maintained his prices at the lowest for years. For example, a glass of teh tarik is only 50 sen and if you love roti canai, it is also 50 sen per piece.
Despite his success, the owner remains humble and chatty with his regular customers. So, it is no mirage if you spot a group of men wearing neck ties with their sleeves rolled up while they eat their fish head curry with their hands by the roadside.
On how to get there, Lucky Garden is accessible by public transport. You can find taxies and buses that regularly service this route from the city centre.
If you drive, be advised to car pool because parking is a major problem both at Lorong Ara Kiri and Lorong Ara Kiri 3.
Highly recommended is the parking lot at Bangsar Village, from which Lucky Garden is just a five-minute walk.