I’ve been somewhat absent from the blogosphere for the last couple of weeks – my excuse? A trip to Malaysia! I was actually there to visit my grandma a decent number of family members who I’d never met / known of until now, but I’ll be honest with you – it was a great opportunity to eat meal after meal of drool-worthy food. The great thing about travelling with “the locals” is that they know the local food! They go to the local joints, none of these fancy-pants restaurants. They go where the good food is and swear by it. Heed this warning – there may be a LOT of pictures.
The local restaurants are these street-corner setups consisting of about a dozen little stalls, each offering their food – wonton noodles, tofu, porridge, hokkien noodles – for what is literally about 4.50 ringgit, or about AUD1.50. It’s sort of like fast food, plus freshness, minus deep fried saturated fats. We had one of my favourite meals in the entire world at one of the local restaurants, char kway teow. Flat rice noodles stir fried with chinese sausage, prawns, cockles, bean shoots, chives, egg – all singed to perfection, slightly salty, nice and crunchy and just all-round fresh and delicious. I also tried a dish called popiah – this one cost AUD 50 cents! Outrageous. It’s sort of almost like an unfried spring roll pastry, which wraps shredded carrot, turnip and bean shoot and then there’s this sweet plum sauce smooshed in as well as some chilli. It sounds outrageously simple and to be honest, when I describe it, it sounds boring and really doesn’t do it justice, but it really was very flavourful and once again incredibly crunchy and fresh.
On my first morning in Kuala Lumpur, we went to this local street market – there were piles of fresh veggies, strikingly bright orchids, meat unnervingly kept out in the open (in 30 degree heat), ginger and Chinese mushrooms, Ikan billis (tiny dried anchovies) little Malaysian cakes (we got a selection of Kueh, filled with little peanuts and coconut and gulu malaka (a dark, sweet, thick liquid) and beautiful fragrant pandan – I guess it’s quite similar to a filled jelly). There were trays of curry puffs and a taro cake (it’s probably more well known in Aus as a yum cha dish which is pan fried and is made from shredded turnip. I like to think of it as the hash brown of Malaysia) and roast duck and yew char kway (the deep fried Malaysian “donut”). Brilliant.
We also hiked up the 300-odd stairs up to the Batu Caves (where I’m pretty sure every tourist goes) and saw monkeys!
and fresh coconut juice
Apparently my great great great great great (ok, a very long time ago) grandfather was a total dude and built this building, the Chan clan house where people could gather. They apparently imported all of these elaborate tiles from China, tile by tile, to build this beautiful building
We also went to this Malaysian-Indian restaurant and had Roti Canai (a fluffy flat bread served with a super delicous curry sauce and sambal) and teh tahrik (which I am pretty sure is tea made with condensed milk and “pulled” (i.e. tipped from one container into another from great heights to make the drink super smooth) and, of course, the famed, the smelly, durians
We went to an authentic satay house. I’m talking smokey, I’m talking peanut-y. I’m talking spicy and singed and the best satay I’ve ever had.
And we went to visit a traditional Malaysian gathering house
While we were driving home after the massive satay feast that we’d had, we came across a store selling lemang. Lemang is essentially rice with coconut milk, cooked in a bit of bamboo, super slowly over a fire. It’s eaten over the ramadan period in Malaysia. A lot of families would make it themselves, but we were lucky enough to stumble across one of a few stores selling it by the road. It’s absolutely delicious by itself, but is also served with a hearty, coconutty rendang.
We also had a nasi lemak (with a wicked sambal) – apparently one of the best in the state of selangor
Mum and I went to the local markets one morning and ordered a couple of spicy, coconutty, rich laksas for breakfast. Chicken, fresh cockles, bean shoots, noodles – incredible. Check this out:
Oh and what do you do when it’s 35 degrees and 200% humidity? You have a cendol. Sweetened soy and coconut milk with pandan flavoured jelly “worms”, red bean and a tonne of ice. Check out this old school ice shaver!
That was pretty much it in a nutshell. If you get the chance, you should whisk yourself across to Malaysia. The people are pretty pushy, the climate is pretty hot and sticky, but the food and the sights – amazing.