By Anthony Dylan
Petaling Street has always been a place all tourists would flock to. It was always the place where food and culture inter mingle. It is also known as Chinatown and the two arches at each end provided the stamp of its name. The green roofing above provided cover and it has also been nicknamed as the green dragon.
I headed over to Petaling Street recently as I had a free weekend and thought that it would be good to see what it looked like on a Saturday morning. I also wanted to have a look at the latest attraction, Kwai Chai Hong or Little Ghost Lane. The dead end street was transformed into a colourful mural filled alley by a group of 5 local artists. This renewal project also included the restoration of 10 shophouses. It is understood that the 5 local mural artists are Khek Shin Nam, Chan Kok Sing, Chok Fook Yong, Chew Weng Yeow and Wong Leck Min. This was completed in April 2019 recently.
I took the route from Plaza Rakyat’s station which was a long and quite a sad looking walk as beggars and the homeless could be seen along the walkway towards Nando’s old place which at one time became famous for ‘Peri Peri Chicken. The only thing you can’t fake in Petaling Street’ tagline. The last part of the walk towards the road had dangling lighting and bent roof sheets which are proof that the upward draft at one point in time caused such damage. Yet still not rectified despite being the main walkway from the Plaza Rakyat LRT station.
The open skies passing Jalan Sultan and the pedestrian pavement heading towards the entrance of the Green Dragon has been improved. There is even a new shelter for the bus stop. The walk will also have you pass the famous Hameed’s Nasi Kandar shop which is the main draw in Suria KLCC’s signature food court. I decided to check out a place for brunch as I did not have breakfast. I walked past the entrance of the Green Dragon of Jalan Petaling and looked for Sin Kiew Yee : Shin Kiew Beef Noodles. It was past 1030am but the shop was closed. I decided to just snack on whatever I could find instead.
I turned into Jalan Tun HS Lee and continued walking with snacks in hand. I could see the same florists still around. Lee Wah and Weng Hoa are names synonymous with this road. Similarly one of the most sought after Chinese Traditional Medicine shop, Tuck Heng. Walking on further you would also find the 132 year old Kuan Ti Taoist Temple which is also known as the Kwong Siew Free School. Reading through some material, it was said that the free school is the last in the capital of Malaysia and still provided Chinese classes.
The next stop on the same road would lead you to the 134 year old Seri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple. This is the oldest functioning Hindu temple in Malaysia. The magnificent towers provide a rich colour to the area. There is also a Petaling Street Heritage House located only a few doors away. The bright yellow façade would be an indicator. The bottom floor serves as an eatery whilst the floor above serves as an exhibition area. The road leads you towards Jalan Sultan and the junction of Jalan Panggung. There is a shop called The Culture Street Arts which has a very good collection of Chinese Calligraphy brushes and holders. Walking into this place transports you to the days of old. Interestingly the shop next door is called, The Basketshop.
I walked towards Jalan Balai Polis which is the continuance of the same Jalan Panggung in search of the Kwai Chai Hong. I passed by an amazingly busy Ali, Muthu and A Hock as well as the famous Old China Café which still has the cowboy door and serves one of the best nyonya food around. Lorong Panggung is just a few steps away and this little street would lead you to the entrance of Kwai Chai Hong.
Immediately, you see that the space has attracted many locals and families. The colourful murals and also the rustic walls give way to the red arch bridge. This is the entrance to the beautifully done Kwai Chai Hong. The murals are well thought of and provide a canvass for photography. It also includes a QR code at each mural so you could scan for more information. That is what you call marrying arts with technology.
The bridge was where the 60 year old Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam (since 1956) was and they have since relocated and renovated into a brand new interpretation of a kopitiam. This kopitiam has a queue and the quality has not gone down. They serve the usual kopi, teh, soft boiled eggs, roti, nasi lemak and mee hoon. But this renaissance of old kopitiam becoming hip is set a new benchmark with Ho Kow.
The 126 year old Bunn Choon biscuit shop was closed for renovation but the temporary stall can be found further up ahead. What is place famous for? It is their egg tarts. Walking down further you would soon rejoin Jalan Sultan but if you have time, you should really head towards Merchant’s Lane for a more relaxed but yet rustic place for food and coffee. Chocha Foodstore is another one a few doors away worth the visit.
As I head back towards Petaling Street, I must mention that Jalan Sultan is also now a hub for chicken rice. This used to be the domain of Nam Heong and Kam Kee before. I saw no less than 4 chicken rice shops on the same row with a few doors separating each other. Petaling Street under the Green Dragon is still what it is except that a goo majority of the traders have since left and replaced with foreigners. There is still a line for the soya bean and air mata kuching. There is a bak chang stall and also the famous Kim Lian Kee Hokkien Noodles and Fung Wong Biscuit shop. Hon Kee Porridge also still serves their famed raw fish porridge since 1959. You get to cook them in your hot porridge.
The areas of Petaling Street is best discovered by heading there by public transport. The closest station to the action is the Pasar Seni MRT. Otherwise, Plaza Rakyat would be just as well. It would take a whole day to finish Petaling Street and its surrounds if you take a leisurely stroll and also head to Central Market nearby.
Travelling really opens up one’s mind. God Bless.