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Malaysian Treats: What To Eat And Where To Eat?

May 14, 2014 Destination ASEAN No Comments Email Email

If you happened to come across a British Television Cooking Competition “The Taste”, you will notice that one of the finalists is a Malaysian called ‘Chua Guan Leong’.

You may be wondering who is he? Well, he is a financial analyst turns Chef residing in London now. During the competition, he whipped up a simple tantalising dish – ‘Nyonya Sambal Prawn’ that got Anthony Bourdain all perked up and mesmerised. Although ‘Chua’ did not win the competition, he won Anthony Bourdain’s heart.

Despite minor glitches in preparing the delectable savoury dish, Chua had positive comments from the three judges – Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain who are renowned names in the culinary world. The remarks from Anthony Bourdain, a culinary icon from USA, hosting an active culinary channel across the globe, were immensely encouraging. After tasting the above Peranakan (Nyonya Cuisine) dish, he responded wholeheartedly by saying – “I love the Country and I love the Food”. Wow, what a compliment bestowed on ‘Malaysian Food’.

Malaysia offers an eclectic array of attractions, whether it is culture, consumer goods or cuisines; you will be spoiled for choices. Our country is indeed blessed with a diverse bounty of multinational street food, eateries, restaurants or high-end F&B outlets. Let?s start with Street Food. The list is almost endless, the moment you set foot in Malaysia, you will be amazed by what you can see and taste.

Malaysian Treats or Malaysian Signature Dishes are basically a ready-to-eat food or drink sold in the street, restaurant, hawker centre, F&B malls, supermarkets, wet market and public places. They are relatively cheap and easily available in every nook and cranny of the 13 states in Malaysia. This is a culinary adventure you must not miss out. As Malaysia is a multi-cultural society blessed with diverse ethnic groups, from Malay, Chinese, Indian to the aborigines, imagine the potpourri of foods available. These dishes mentioned below are absolute must try, even if you are here for only a day or two.

Nasi Lemak (Malay Cuisine)

A fragrant rice dish cooked and soaked with coconut milk (santan) and pandan leaves. Malaysians normally eat it for breakfast. The Nasi Lemak is generally served with other side dishes, like fresh cucumber slices, roasted peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, pan-fried eggs, small-sized anchovies (ikan bilis), spicy cockles, beef rendang, deep fried chicken, chicken rendang, curry chicken, spicy squid (sambal sotong), curry gravy and last but not least hot spicy sauce (sambal). This cuisine is originally a Malay dish, but is so popular in Malaysia that we considered it a national dish. Generally eaten as a breakfast item, but many eat it anytime of the day. Where can you find it? Well, it is virtually available everywhere, though different states will have different side dish accompaniments. Nasi Lemak Kukus translated means ‘steamed nasi lemak’ served with steamed fragrance rice and other side dishes. If you are hard-pressed for time, you could easily try Nasi Lemak from most Hotels’ Coffee Houses. And if time permits you must venture into any of these stalls/restaurants mentioned below.

In Kuala Lumpur, sample some of the finest nasi lemak at:
(a) Nasi Lemak Pak Cik Wahab, SS2/65 Sea Park, 47300 Petaling Jaya, a mobile street vendor (opposite SEA Park Police Station)
(b) Nasi Lemak Cikgu, Jalan SS 6/14, Kelana Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
(c) Village Park Nasi Lemak, 5 Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya
(d) Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa (Kampung Baru), 7C, Jalan Raja Muda Musa,, Kampung Baru,, KL, 50200,
(e) RA Nasi Lemak, 15 Jalan Raja Abdullah 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(f) Madam Kwan’s, Suria KLCC, Lot 420/421, Level 4, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre and 7 other key shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Putrajaya.

This dish is downright reasonable, you can easily eat it for less than USD$4.00 with ample side dishes. Except for Madam Kwan, you probably have to fork out USD$7.00 by virtue of the location and the restaurant?s status.

Yong Tau Foo (Chinese Cuisine)

Yong Tau Foo (or yong tofu) is a very popluar Hakka dish, originated from Ampang Pekan, Selangor in the 1960?s from a restaurant then known as “Chow Kuan”. Yong Tau Foo, available and served in Malaysia and Singapore, is basically a dish made with small pieces of tofu products and vegetables stuffed with fish paste. Within the Yong Tau Foo platter, you get to savour plain tofu, chilli, okara (lady fingers), bean curd sheet (foo-chook), fried tofu pok, fried sui kow (dumplings), sui kow in soup and fish balls. All of them are stuffed with fish meat, of course some vendors use pork meat too. These stuffed tofu and vegetable pieces are served either plain (some items are deep fried), with a clear soup/broth.

Some food vendors will serve other accompanying items like cuttlefish, crab sticks, lettuce and chee cheong fun. Plain noodles, curry noodles or steamed rice are sometime added to make the dish into a complete meal. Of course, there are other variations of Cantonese or Hokkein Yong Tau Foo, but Hakka Yong Tau Foo has a meaty bite and more intense flavours (that?s culinary semantics). In Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, the Malay Muslims have taken a liking to Yong Tau Foo in a big way. Pork consumption is prohibited for Muslims, and we have halal Yong Tau Foo too, catering to their palate, the essence is still the same, but this halal variation is soy based, stuffed vegetable fritters or steamed bean curd with fish paste stuffing.

There are few places we would recommend you to eat, including the place of origin in Ampang town. Drive there with the help of GPS or get driven there by a Taxi, you will be delighted.

In Kuala Lumpur & Ipoh, you can simply whet your appetite at:

(a) Foong Foong Yong Tau Foo (???????) Chinese Restaurant, 613, Jalan Merdeka, Pekan Ampang, 68000 Ampang, Selangor (the place Yong Tau Foo originated),

(b) Ipoh Road Yong Tow Foo, 67, Jalan Segambut,Kuala Lumpur

(c) Restoran Yap Hup Kee (Yong Tau Foo & Chee Cheong Fun) 45, Jalan Brunei Barat, Off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. And in Ipoh

(d) Dai Shu Geok (Big Tree Foot) Ipoh Famous Yong Tau Foo, 652, Jalan King, Pasir Pinji, 31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

Should you miss out the above-mentioned restaurants or stalls, you could still try your luck at the major 4 or 5 star Hotels.

There are more Malaysian Treats coming up next in Part 2 of Malaysian Treats

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