Soul of real Kuala Lumpur in Chow Kit

Taste Legendary Nasi Lemak (above), located in the Chinese food section of Pasar Chow Kit, offers pork curry, sambal cuttlefish and sambal ikan billis that are to die for.
Taste Legendary Nasi Lemak (above), located in the Chinese food section of Pasar Chow Kit, offers pork curry, sambal cuttlefish and sambal ikan billis that are to die for. PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
A block in the red-light district of Chow Kit. These low-rise buildings have been immortalised in a short film, Ida’s Choice (2013).
A block in the red-light district of Chow Kit. These low-rise buildings have been immortalised in a short film, Ida’s Choice (2013).PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
Birds that are headed for live slaughter, which is still done in Pasar Chow Kit.
Birds that are headed for live slaughter, which is still done in Pasar Chow Kit.PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
A bedroom in the newly refurbished The Chow Kit hotel.
A bedroom in the newly refurbished The Chow Kit hotel. PHOTO: ORMOND GROUP
Swinging saloon doors to a dental clinic and the Rattan Art furniture shop (above).
Swinging saloon doors to a dental clinic and the Rattan Art furniture shop (above).PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
Swinging saloon doors to a dental clinic (above) and the Rattan Art furniture shop.
Swinging saloon doors to a dental clinic (above) and the Rattan Art furniture shop.PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
Durian cendol (above) and a dish from Restoran Kudu.
Durian cendol (above) and a dish from Restoran Kudu.PHOTOS: ABEL ANG
Durian cendol and a dish from Restoran Kudu (above).
Durian cendol and a dish from Restoran Kudu (above).PHOTOS: ABEL ANG

Infamous red-light district in Malaysia's capital is in the midst of transformation, but still retains its old-world charm

People say Chow Kit is a world of darkness. - Ida, in the film Ida's Choice

Ida's Choice is a 2013 short film by award-winning Malaysian documentary maker Justin Ong. It tells the story of Ida, the child of a Chow Kit prostitute.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 12, 2020, with the headline 'Soul of real Kuala Lumpur in Chow Kit'. Print Edition | Subscribe