market in kl.

imbi market fruit and veg

well of course i had to go to a market. i went to imbi market, which i had read about on boo's blog, and in the inaugural issue of time out kl, in an article written by eating asia's scribe, robyn eckhardt. our hotel provided complimentary breakfasts (pretty good as far as hotel buffets go), so unfortunately, i didn't go to sample the famed hainan coffee and roti kahwin, just to poke around a bit to see what kinds of fruits and veg were on offer, maybe peek into the wet market (or maybe not), and check out the stalls.

imbi market produce

imbi market

imbi market smoked garlic

i was v. tempted to bring back some of the beautiful dried seafood on offer--cuttlefish, oysters, and scallops of every size--but knew that cute but pesky US customs dog would sniff it out. i think, though, with a little experimentation i might be able to recreate the bursting bulbs of smoked garlic, which were offered up in various stalls. don't know exactly what i'd do with it besides a smokin' (literally) pot of tau ew bak, a thick, soy sauce based stew like hawaiian shoyu chicken, only with giant, glistening chunks of pork. mmmmm. so not halal.

imbi market / sisters crispy popiah

temptation gave in when i saw the sisters crispy popiah stall. popiah are the regional version of the filipino lumpia sariwa, a savoury rice or wheat flour crepe painted with a sweetish-soy and bean sauce, then filled with fresh vegetables, yam or turnip noodles, prawns, and whatever else to the maker's choosing. i'm not sure why the sisters' version is so lauded, but i wonder if it is the 'crispy' in the name that is unusual; their popiah had a generous amount of batter bits that were indeed very crispy and added lovely texture to the wrap. count me as one of the many fans.


i think my favourite vendor, though, was mr. wong, the owner of the chinese pastry stall (name temporarily escapes me, but i'll have a rummage for the card). an earnest and engaging young man, his father and uncle had popular shop in chinatown on petaling street, but he moved the four-generations-old business to the market when his uncle retired. when he saw me taking photos, he showed me his own digital camera, filled with photos of him making the pineapple jam that filled many of the flaky crusted pastries in his case. it takes him four to five hours just to peel the pineapples, never mind cutting and cooking them down in a giant cauldron. one jam making session makes just enough for four days' worth of sweets, so on top of his duties at the stall, he must go through the day-long process for the jam alone, at least twice a week. it is worth it--the fresh flavour of the pineapple still evident under the caramelization, just a tiny bit tart and not too sweet.

pineapple tarts

although all the pineapple jam filled pastries were lovely (the one with salted egg yolk and jam was especially interesting), i think his top creation would be the mini-egg custard tarts. the crust is impressively flaky, with a silky, light egginess within; you can easily eat one or two in seconds flat.

mini custard tarts

or three.


Is it my imagination or do those starfruit look like they're just incredibly juicy? Very pretty photos.

hello ms. cybele, how are you? i didn't pick up any starfruit, even though they looked incredibly juicy and delicious. but i did get some other fruit which i will be blogging about soon, hopefully. i also found an interesting mentos flavour for you too!

Great photo essay of the market Santos. I love custard tarts.

Love those popiah..!!

Thanks so much for a great market report! If I had my way, the market would be my first stop any place I visited. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my preference in that regard :( Anyway, I enjoyed your lovely little tour of the market in kl!


Oh my. I LOVE pohpiah! I am so wanting to eat some right now.

Unfortunately, I can't find the "skins" anywhere here so definitely will not be able to make them anytime soon.

Mini egg tarts! They look scrumptious.
And how do they use the smoked garlic?

Oohh I love those egg tarts! But I'm especially interested in those salted eggyolk and jam pastries. Love this post! I love all kinds of market posts. :)

yeah! u went to the right place!!! the local streets for street food!!!

Those crispy 'batter bits' in the popiah are pork crackling. Now you know why you liked them so much.

Smoked garlic - use in a stir-fry (char yoke with long chili peppers) or pound into a curry paste! And they're pretty amazing roasted, too.

hi barbara! me too. a good custard tart--mini or not--is worth its weight in gold.

mamabok, me too. i love all sorts of fresh lumpia type things, this one is very good.

cathy, i know how you feel. i had to butter up a few folk with the promise of other types of shopping afterwards.

reid, we should learn how to make them so we'll never been without :)

hi mila! i know they use them in stews and robyn has other uses in her comment.

hello christine, i heart salted eggs. this is the first time i had a salted egg yolk in a sweet(ish) pastry. it was very good, but very rich.

tommy, i wish i had more time to explore more streets and more food.

hi robyn, thanks for the suggestions. pigskin? awww. i'm actually sort of disappointed. i was hoping it was 1) halal, and 2) something so magical and mysterious i could never reproduce it and would be forced--forced, i tell you--to return to KL to have them again.

also, i owe akatsukira an apology--you were right! pig they are!

Oh me too, custard tarts!

good morning! my world looks even prettier through your lenses :) was going to have cereal for brekkie, then saw this and *had* to have nasi lemak instead!

omg pork cracklins in the popias! this is right up my alley.

Sister's Popiah is halal, hence do not contain pork in it. the crispy bits are deep fried flour batter.

next trip, plan to stay longer yah and glad you enjoyed this trip