Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Food Issue

FOOD is a BIG deal.  And not just any food, but Malaysian food.

Disclaimer: While I may not enjoy certain dishes or handle certain levels of spicy-ness, it by no means indicates a poor dish.  I don't think there is such a thing there.

Something I had been looking forward to was the food from Ipoh.  It seems Ipoh has a huge reputation for super good satay.  I was NOT disappointed. The place we went was packed, but once we found a table we were immediately handed a plate of fresh off the grill chicken satay, peanut sauce and fresh cucumbers.  Great food and it just kept coming.  Even if you haven't finished the plate they'll replace it so you have a fresh plate of hot satay.  Hello, awesome! 

The In-Laws...VERY serious about the food.  I trust them completely...

Also while in Ipoh I had this (among many other dishes and specialties).  We had dinner with a ton of family.  Some I was meeting for the first time.  A special occasion called for a special dinner.  There were a few courses that night.  This is only one of them.  
A fish dish.  Excellent sauce and fresh produce make all the difference.
These are various dishes and snacks (for lack of a better word) my mother-in-law would bring home for us during the day.  Seriously, this woman brought us food constantly.  And I didn't say no.

Tao Fu Fa  It's a cold, sweet custard/flan thing.  I'm not a custard fan, but, I enjoyed a few bites of it.

This is Nasi Lemak...after it's been ravished by hungry hands.  A more tradition way of serving this dish is on banana leaf.  

This is Chee Cheong Fun...kind of chopped up like a sushi roll.  Also good.

This is Popiah.  Also cut up like a sushi roll.  And also good.

 This is Beef Noodles...I don't know it's Chinese name.  This is a typical dish that I'd have for breakfast.  Breakfast in Malaysia is no different than lunch or dinner.  Food is food.

This one is Curry Mee (Mee = noodles).  Awesome flavor.  This dish taught me that I do like curry.  I had no idea.  A bit too spicy for me, I could only take a few bites, but ohhh the flavor was so good.  I'm still dreaming about it!

The turnover type thing is like a fried wonton with a pork mixture inside.  Very good.  The dish in the bowl is a mushroom sticky rice called Loh Mai Kai.  Good, but a bit heavy for breakfast.  Hence the glass of orange juice.  (Yes...the pink stuff is orange juice.  

This is Yau Cha Kaui...say it 10 times fast.  This is basically a weird looking fried donut but without any kind of frosting, etc.  An excellent snack.  I kept coming back for this one.  

I'm not for certain, it may be called Yam Chim Pang.  Hopefully that doesn't mean something dirty and I've got it wrong.  Anyway, this was something new I tried this trip.  And 'The Kid' also enjoyed these.  Also a fried pastry but they're filled with either rice or red beans.  I wouldn't have thought to put those together but they're actually very addicting.  And probably a lot better for you than a maple bar.  

Actually an Indian thing, but, still part of Malaysian cuisine.  (As is Malay, and Chinese food).  This is one of my favorites.  Roti Canai.  A paper-y tortilla or crepe type bread.  It can stand alone, be sprinkled with sugar, or a pull-apart for dipping in various sauces.  Usually curry.  

Another take on Roti, this one is Murtabak.  It contains meat, eggs, onions and other spices, flavorings.  More hefty than the plain Roti.  I didn't get a chance to eat this one, but it looks wonderful.  Usually if 'The Man' says it's spicy, it's way beyond my spice level.  Unfortunately.  

I don't have a name for this critter but it's a wonderful little appetizer.  It's very small.  I could pop the whole thing in my mouth.  Fried pastry cup with Popiah filling most likely.  

Curry Puffs!!!  These are great and I believe only found being sold in the morning.  I can't do spicy in the morning but for these I'll make an exception.  Another fried pastry.  My mother-in-law buys these from a particular Malay women who sells from her cart in the morning.  (FYI: all these dishes are purchased from food carts.  A very common site along roads and shopping plazas, with the exception of the Roti).  

The meat in the background is roast pork.  Eaten as a stand alone typically. Kind of like a morning snack. 

We dined with family a few times (this particular time was in Petaling Jaya).  There are some dishes I have skipped.  There's simply too much!  I will say that their sweet and sour is something the Americans will never beat.  The dish below center is a one of the specialties...fried eggplant.  I was never a fan of eggplant but this stuff was amazing.  I know I shouldn't even compare it to what I'm about to but there's no other way to explain it.  French fries.  It was like eating eggplant french fries only world's better.  The dish in the handles bowl was like a grilled onion thing.  Also, very delicious.  

Dessert afterward!  Chocolate cake.  I know, how traditional right?  Very good and very pretty.  You almost hate to hack into this thing.  But we did.  And it was nice.  

There's a night market (like a farmer's market...but...at night, only better).  Held in a different city on Friday nights.  And it's packed.  This night market was in Shah Alam.

The Mother-in-Law buying some of the best mangos I have ever had.  They're called Water Lily mangos.  
The night market provides not only fresh produce, but many different foods, dishes, etc.  
Malaysia is unique (though other countries may be similar as well...I have yet to visit) in that dining out is cheaper than dining in.  And food stalls and restaurants are EVERYWHERE.  These people are serious about their food!  The restaurants are more like breeze-ways or something.  Very open.  And there is usually seating areas like this available outside.  
Dining out al fresca.  Or something.

A quick word on beverages.  

I drank bottled water and soda from a can everywhere I went.  100 PLUS was my soda of choice.  It's like a sprite but not as sugary-sweet, which I prefer.  A nice soft lime-y flavor.  And ice-cold.  Also nice.  It's hot there.  
Got my 100 PLUS!  
I did break from my drinking habit long enough to try (again) the coconut drink.  Try as I might, I can't love it.

Okay, back to dining out.  

This dish Pan Mee.  Also called Sizzling Pan Mee.  It came hot and in a skillet-type pan.   Oddly enough, the majority of the food is eaten hot.  Never mind the hot, humid tropic weather.  It doesn't seem to make much difference.  

Hakka Mee!  I like this one.  Simple.  And I LOVE that everything is made with the freshest ingredients.  It makes such a huge difference.  

Prawn Mee.  Spicy noodle soup.  I can't remember if I tried it or not.  

 We mostly ate in Klang where we were staying.  I make mention to some other places so that you get a better idea of where and what were eating.

I would show more pictures of Ipoh but I don't have access to them on hand.  But, if I may, Ipoh is also very well-known for their dim sum.  Which we had.  A lot of.

Also, on my last trip we ate in Malaka, which is known for their chicken rice balls.  (Also had an excellent peanut soup with chicken feet meat).  All good.

Malaysia has this wonderful food culture.  If you put your finger at random to anywhere on the map they could tell you what would be the best thing to get.  Certain dishes/food are geographical.  All the food is good, but certain towns have their specialty.  And everyone from there seems to know them all.

Hope you enjoyed!


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