OK – so Malaysia has beaches and sunshine. It has history too, and the rainforest/jungle is a walking zoo – but all anyone here is interested in is food.
Malaysians talk about food in much the same way that Brits talk about the weather. “Have you eaten yet?” is a common morning greeting, which switches to “What did you have for lunch?” in the afternoon.
Street food is huge over here, and there’s so much of it that you wonder how the stallholders sell enough to make a living – especially since every second building in town is a restaurant too.
There’s so much variety here that it’s taken me months to begin to get my head around the various types of cuisine and what all the dishes are.
Char Koay Teow is hugely popular, and is cooked in a wok over such fierce heat that it’s a health and safety hazard.
But punters are prepared to risk a bit of singeing, as they wait patiently in the queue –
It’s a noodle dish with prawns, cockles, beansprouts, chinese sausage and chives – plus whatever the chef’s signature additions are –
– and jolly yummy it is too.
Rice porridge is something I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to try, but this bowlful was eaten by an adventurous colleague
It’s served with Century eggs (the black ones), salted eggs (the white and orange ones) and a raw egg which is just beginning to solidify in the hot porridge.
An alternative to the egg medley is this one –
I haven’t tried this yet either. Although, as a francophile, frogs don’t faze me in the least (but don’t tell Mr Toad).
But it’s not all street hawkers, there’s posh food too. Last Friday we went to a Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant, to try their famous xiao long bao – or pork dumplings.
There’s a whole ritual involved with eating the pork dumplings, which are seasoned with vinegar, soy sauce and ginger, and then eaten whole.
Here they are on a plate with some jellyfish salad, which was delicious too.
The whole restaurant was very swanky, but I couldn’t help feeling that the staff looked like the latest Ebola Emergency Response Team, rather than waiters in a restaurant.
We had dinner in the jungle last week, which was a fantastic experience. Who would have known that there’s a patch of virgin jungle on a hillside in KL suburbia? Not me, even though it’s only a ten-minute drive from the condo.
The restaurant has trees growing up through it and greenery everywhere.
We had a local dessert called sago – pronounced sargoo over here – and nothing like the hot milk pudding served in England.
This one was cold, green and coconutty –
– yep, it looks like frogspawn, but tastes a whole lot better.
And just to prove that we really were there …
Here we are with the lovely Julia, who works with me, and her parents, who have introduced me to a whole range of different restaurants and food styles since I arrived. So much so, that I may have to invoice them for my new XL-sized wardrobe.