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Mmmalaysian food

January 20, 2009

Food is important to me.  I don’t believe in an “eat to live” (ETL) or “live to eat” (LTE) polarisation, because I do neither exclusively.  The way I see it, ETL people tend to see food as merely fuel and, therefore, place little or no importance on what form the fuel comes in (although, having said that, the ETL people I know – and they are, mercifully, few – seem to choose the least appetizing fuels on offer).  For LTE people, food is a form of recreation; what’s on the plate is the end in itself.  If I recast this as a spectrum, with ETL on the left-hand side and LTE on the right, I’d put myself at about 80 percent “right”.

Food plays an important part in my social life.  Seeing friends always includes eating of some sort, whether it’s a full meal, something delicious with coffee or some tasty snacks with drinks.  Part of the enjoyment of having friends for dinner is constructing the menu – selecting dishes we’ve made successfully and making sure they’ll work together, as well as suit the tastes of the guests.  Grabbing lunch, for the 80% LTE-er, is never about whatever’s most convenient, or closest (I submit last term’s lunchtime dash from Collingwood to Doncaster for a noodle-and-dumpling fix as evidence).  Food also plays a role in choosing holiday destinations, which is why Tahiti has often been considered and discarded, and Spain is near the top of the wishlist.  Food is also part of why we revisit Asia so often and why Malaysia, in particular, remains a firm favourite.

Malaysian food is the complete package: an incredibly wide range of dishes, availability, affordibility and an enthusiastic local population blogging about favourite places.  This makes planning a food-centric visit so easy: add some information gleaned from foodie-webs to a Google map and… voila!  A holiday made in gustatory heaven.

The only disappointing meals we ate in two and a bit weeks were the included breakfasts at a couple of hotels.  By Australian standards, even these meals would probably have passed muster, but nothing really compares to a freshly made roti or two, a selection of curry gravies and a pint of sweet, milky tea.

The highlights?  Well, after all the buildup, the roast goose could have been a major let-down.  It wasn’t.  We took the advice of boo-licious of masak-masak, got there early, and enjoyed an amazing Christmas dinner.  Crispy skin, tender flesh with a fine, quail-y type of grain sitting in a tasty jus, perfect for soaking up with rice.  The nasi lemak at Nasi Lemak Tanglin was an amazing breakfast that set us up well for our morning-that-became-afternoon trek around the Bird Park and museum.  All the options on offer looked delicious but we ended up with the beef rendang and squid.  Despite it being about four weeks ago, I would still have had a post-hoc vomit if I realised I’d had the spleen.  Wandering around BB, we ended up on Jalan Imbi and remembered some bak kut teh places were in the area (we’d left the map at the hotel).  It wasn’t difficult to sniff out the herbal soup.  Sun Hong Muk Koot Tea was beginning to fill up, so we grabbed a table and ordered the basic BKT from a short menu and were pretty pleased with it.  Our yau char kwai never made it to the table, but it didn’t make it to the bill either, so that was ok.   A plate of noodles with the beef ball soup on the side at Ngau Kee was a lovely way to say goodbye to KL.  I’d prefer to remember it that way, rather than with the LCCT nasi lemak…

Pulau Pangkor satisfied our ikan bakar cravings – we had fish and prawns one night, and swordfish and squid the next – and I also had a decent bowl of curry mee in Pangkor Town.  It wasn’t until we reached Georgetown that we finally got some ayam goreng (fried chicken) into us – and then we really had trouble stopping.  Yasmeen Nasi Kandar is still going strong, as is the little place next door in the alley.  At Sup Hameed on Jalan Penang we had some delicious sup kambing (mutton soup), which we followed up with chicken wings and beer at the Red Garden Food Paradise.  The women at Tai Tong Restoran in Lebuh Cintra pushed an almost overwhelming array of dim sum onto us – naturally we got through it all!  We also managed to get through some amazingly gelatinous pig’s trotter, fantastic fish balls and divine fresh tofu at the Teochew restaurant Goh Swee Kee.  Of course, there was also lots of chicken rice, char kway teow, mee goreng… oh, I’ve got to finish this up – I’m sooooo hungry.

What didn’t we have?  Um, curry laksa!  Must go to Laksa King, stat.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. realityravings permalink
    January 23, 2009 3:45 pm

    drooling at the thought of it. I am always amazed at the small amount of malaysian reataurants in Sydney. As it is so delicious. I love roti

  2. injera permalink*
    January 23, 2009 4:58 pm

    I must say that I didn’t notice the dearth of Malaysian food in Sydney last time I visited. I was probably too busy envying the Thai food…!

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