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Posted May 25, 2011 by Jennifer Lam (Jenius) in Asia / South East
 
 

A true taste of Malaysia

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Surprise! I’ve just arrived at the cultural melting pot of Asia – Malaysia!! I’m here as a media guest of MATRADE (Malaysian External Trade & Development Corporation) and Tourism Malaysia to get an induction into the spectrum of Malaysian cuisine. I’m so privileged to be in the company of other food lovers including Adam Liaw (of Masterchef fame), fellow blogger Helen (of Grab Your Fork) and some food & travel journalists.

My first taste of Malaysian cuisine was at Sydney restaurant Mamak many years ago when they first opened but now I’m right at the source, in Kuala Lumpur! The last two days have been really fascinating, learning about new flavours as well as discovering the similarities it has with the Teochew and Chinese dishes that I’ve grown up with. All the Hokkien influence has been especially interesting since the language is so similar to Teochew and it’s great I’m able to learn a bit about Zen’s cultural heritage (with him being Hokkien).

Day one was a never-ending feast!

My flight was on Sunday so plane food was dinner. I had the lamb curry which was followed by a full size Weis Mango and Ice Cream Bar! The ice-cream made up for all the crazy turbulence we experienced at the beginning of the flight. There’s nothing a good ice-cream can’t do!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - plane food

We’ve been staying at JW Marriott which as you can see in the pics below, is absolute luxury. Lots of gold and nude hues, intricate brass detail, gorgeous smelling toiletries (think of flavours like grapefruit and mint, or ginger and lemongrass) and my favourite part – the large double doors that lead into the bathroom!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - JW Marriott hotel

 

This is the view from my room on the 20th floor -
(Spot the Prada store front!)

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - View from my room at level 20 in JW Marriott Hotel

And this is the lobby -

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - JW Marriott hotel lobby

Did I mention we’re in the same building as the Louis Vuitton store? Or conveniently opposite the fabulous Pavilion shopping centre? :)

Anyway, back onto food…

On this particular day, we were guided by the Fried Chillies team. We talked about the future of hawker food, the changing palates of Malaysians and the growing concerns about the next generation of street food vendors. What will happen if the next generation aren’t willing to takeover and prolong the family business?

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - teh ais,

Restaurants such as Heritage Village maintain their traditional recipes while operating from a more modern and commercialised set-up. Drinks on offer include the limau kasturi (pickled calamansi lime drink) and teh o ais (tea with sugar and ice).

Nasi Lemak is a coconut rice served with fresh cucumber slices, ikan bilis (deep fried anchovies), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and sambal. Heritage Village’s version is based on a family recipe that has spanned three generations.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - nasi lemak

We have it with a variety of accompaniments including beef rendang, sambal sotong (cuttlefish), assam prawns, ayam goreng and acar fish.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - sambal udang prawns for nasi lemak

The rice is super fragrant with coconut milk, but it’s often the sambal that makes or breaks this dish.

The sambal at Heritage Village is strong and intense, a little tomatoey with a nice kick.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - nasi lemak

Next stop was Toast & Roast, for their killer char siew and Hakka mee.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - char siu

The Fried Chillies guys gave this an appropriate introduction, describing it as the “savoury version of a moist chocolate cake“!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - toast and roast

And boy were they right!

Unlike the char siew we are used to in Sydney, this version here is super fatty.
But that’s not to say it is unpleasant, because it is completely irresistible! So indulgent and
moreish. The pork featured a charred and caramelised crust and every mouthful was just divine.

I can’t begin to imagine how bad all this lard must be for your body… but let’s eat now and think later!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - char siu mee

The char siew experience was enhanced when eaten with Hakka mee – perfectly cooked egg noodles with crispy bits of fish skin and green onion. What makes this dish more “Malaysian” versus Chinese is the adaptation of it, in particular the use of condiments such as pickled green chillies.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - Lunch at Toast & Roast

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - chopping char siu at Toast and Roast

Not too long later, we were at Restoran Jamal Mohamed for Aunty Gemuk’s char kway teow, which aptly translates to “Fat Aunty’s stir-fried rice noodles“.

This hawker centre is in a halal area so there is a notable difference in the char kway teow in that there is no lup cheong (Chinese sausage) because of its pork contents.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - hawker stall

It was an amazing sight, walking into an open room of people savouring all types of dishes.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - ingredients for char kway teow

Core ingredients forming the char kway teow include rice noodles, sambal, bean sprouts, garlic chives, prawns, cockles, egg and dark soy sauce.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - stall kitchen at Aunty Gemuk

The noodles are the focus of this dish and all the other ingredients help the noodles shine. They’re wok-tossed until well coated with flavour. The bean sprouts which were added last provide a nice textural balance.

Overall the char kway teow here seemed to have more intense peanut and sambal notes and I definitely would have enjoyed a more charred taste. I love that they use cockles though, because that’s not an ingredient you’d often find in Sydney char kway teows.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - char kway teow from Aunty Gemuk

Last stop for this breakfast and lunch crawl was Raju Restaurant for a taste of the Indian-influenced mamak style foods.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - food at Raju Restaurant

This restaurant was such a highlight. We all sat outside beneath the
cool shade of enormous trees and umbrellas, we used banana leaves as
plates and ate freshly fried mackerel and other types of grilled fishes,
curries and dahl.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - roti canai with curries

The roti canai were so light, crisp and airy and only 1.50RM which equates to 50 cents!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - Roti canai

Later that evening, Adam gave us a masterclass at cooking char kway teow.

He mentioned that the timing of ingredients was critical as well as the wok-heat. In order to achieve a quality char kway teow, he recommended cooking 1 – 2 serves each time and to even use the oil from rendered lard for full flavour.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - Adam Liaw from Masterchef Australia, cooking Char Kway Teow

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - View of Petrona towers and cocktails at Traders Hotel

By night, we’re sipping on cocktails at Sky Bar while enjoying the most spectacular view of the Petrona Twin Towers.

It was the perfect way to end day one.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - Petrona Towers at night

 

JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 2715 9000
Web: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/kuldt-jw-marriott-hotel-kuala-lumpur

Heritage Village
D-G-31, Jalan PJU 1/45 Aman Suria, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: +60 3 7880 8891

Toast & Roast
No.20, Jalan SS2/72
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor , Malaysia
Phone: +60 1 6682 2249
Web: www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000052484093

Raju Restaurant
27 Jalan Chantek 5/13, Off Jalan Gasing, 46000 Petaling Jaya , Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 7956 1361

Sky Bar, Traders Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 2332 9888
Web: www.shangri-la.com/en/property/kualalumpur/traders/dining/restaurant/skybar

 

Next blog post: A visit to one of Kuala Lumpur’s last wet markets and a Kampung cuisine cooking class

 

JENIUS is attending the Malaysia Kitchen Media Famil as a media guest of MATRADE (Malaysian External Trade & Development Corporation) and Tourism Malaysia, with thanks to Ogilvy Public Relations.


Jennifer Lam (Jenius)

 
Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Having grown up in a family where food was always at the centre of all celebrations, family events and milestones, Jen is obsessed with capturing irresistible flavours and stories from myriad cultures. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering people to have good food and invigorating adventures - because life is too short for mediocre meals or dull travel. Her hobbies are breakfast, lunch and dinner. She's globally curious, passionate about female entrepreneurship, is a soy chai latte fanatic, and loves vintage, dressmaking and photography.