Singapore-born Sydney chef Chui Lee Luk began with work experience alongside Christine Manfield at Paramount, then worked with Annabel Savill at Emporio Armani, Kylie Kwong at Wockpool and others. Joining the team at Claude's in 2000, she eventually bought the acclaimed restaurant and received a three-hat rating. She now has a new venture, as chef at Tim Clark's new 169 Darlinghurst.
Xin cuisine in the Concorde Hotel, which is a favourite of locals for dim sum. I love visiting KL because it's possible to find dishes I remember from childhood as well as see the local cuisine evolving. Here, you'll find old style Cantonese dishes that feature local ingredients, such as rice noodles served with dried prawn sambal. It's also essential to Cantonese dim sum that pork is used in dumplings, and this is one of the few places in town which does have pork on the menu. See kualalumpur.concordehotelsresorts.com.
LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY
South Indian thali meals at Fierce Curry House in Bangsar. One of the famous things about KL is the mamak and Indian curry houses. There is authentic biryani on the menu here, presented in a metal container sealed with dough to seal in the moisture. Alternatively, go for the vegetable dishes, such as spiced okra with chapatti bread. You'll have to be a fan of spicy hot food; it's as spicy as its name suggests. (No website; 16, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar.)
BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET
There aren't any secrets in a food-oriented place like KL. One of my favourites is New Ocean on Jalan Imbi. This place is an old-school Chinese seafood specialist. I like the Kam Heong Crab with curry powder, dried shrimps, garlic and curry leaves, again, Chinese style cuisine given a local spin. (No website.)
Sample the dosas from Devi's Corner in Bangsar and breakfast like a local. They're served like a large cone with curry sauces, sambars and chutneys. My secret indulgence is the super sweet Teh Tahrik, pulled tea. (No website.)
Nasi lemak, which is coconut and pandan leaf rice served with condiments or accompaniments that you choose. Accompaniments include grilled local fish, eggplant curry, beef rendang or Malaysian-style fried chicken. This is something I can eat all the time. Try any of the stalls in Kampong Baru.
A BIG NIGHT OUT
Sitka Restaurant in Bukit Damansara. This represents contemporary Malaysian cuisine featuring sustainable, locally-sourced produce. Some dishes to look out for: deep fried buns filled with spoon soft beef brisket. Another stand-out is local organic chicken liver parfait with meranti berries (a local tree shrub). See sitkarestaurant.com.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Go when the tropical fruits are actually in season and that's around September. I say this because I've been frustrated by fruit-mongers telling me that they don't have this or that fruit and that they're available "around September". I like to indulge in greedy amounts of mangosteens, rambutan, langsats, soursop and sapodilla. The tropics also have varieties of bananas that we don't get to see in Australia.