What you NEED to eat in Malaysia
I will just talk about food now because really… that was the highlight of my visit to Malaysia…
As you know, Malaysia is known for its diversity and coexisting cultures. Malay, Indian and Chinese all share this land which results in a unique combination of culture, foods and flavours.
I was told by a taxi driver the foods I should eat before leaving the country. As far as I remember, straight away, I seemed to have more dishes than meals allowed per day… this was going to be tricky!
One of the highlights of Melaka is their cuisine. They are known for their unique Peranakan food (also known as Nyonya food) and apparently, people from all over the country come here just to eat.
Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays and combines Chinese, Malay and other influences. From the Malay influence a unique "Nyonya" cuisine has developed using typical Malay spices. Chicken Kapitan, a dry chicken curry, and Inchi Kabin, a Nyonya version of fried chicken are a few examples. Pindang bandeng is a common fish soup served in Indonesia during the Chinese New Year and so is a white round mooncake from Tangerang which is normally used during the Autumn Festival. Finally, Swikee Purwodadi is a Peranakan dish from Purwodadi, a frog soup dish if you fancy trying frog….
Being very curious about food I wanted to try a few flavours. I went to Nancy’s Kitchen Restaurant, one of the top rated restaurants in Melaka. I ate enough for lunch, dinner and next day’s breakfast but there was still a lot more I wanted to try. Bohooo!! I tried duck in Coriander, Prawn with coconut milk and Nyonya Noodle Soup.
The duck was marinated in coriander and made into a stew with loads of different spices. It was an intense flavour but not spicy. Unique in its way and very tender. It worked well with my prawn dish as this was more exotic. The prawns were slowly cooked in a lemongrass, ginger flower and turmeric leaf mixture, which gave the dish its’ vibrant colours. To top it off, the pineapple and sweetness of the coconut milk made it super fresh and light.
As for the noodles soup, I must admit it was just like any other noodle soup. Can’t complain though! I love them all anyway…
Nyonya Laksa is a very popular dish in Malacca - Laksa noodles or rice vermicelli, coconut milk, curry soup base. Sounds delicious but again... not enough time to eat it all!!
When in Melaka, chicken rice balls are also a must-have on your foodie itinerary! Legend has it that steamed Hainanese chicken rice was originally shaped into balls so that it could be kept warm for a longer time, plus their shape made it easier for farmers and workers to carry for an afternoon meal! The rice balls cooked in chicken broth pack a punch of flavours, with just a hint of ginger and garlic. Then you have the combination of the natural sweetness of the meat with homemade chilli sauce mixture of red chillies, garlic, ginger, and a touch of lime. I licked my fingers with every bite!!!! Such a simple dish and yet SO DELICIOUS!
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah is one of the most famous places to have it as you will be able to tell by the ridiculous queue outside. The restaurant is a simple old shop/house located just off Jonker, next to Hard Rock café.
Once in Kuala Lumpur (KL), I had to make use of my loose clothing because let’s face it! Tight shorts with buttons wasn’t going to cut it! I started with the roti canai with egg and bru coffee with cow’s milk. (Notice that I mention cow's milk!! Has to be with cow's milk otherwise it's not the same!!) Bru coffee is MY ULTIMATE favourite coffee! Milky and on the sweet side, it is so delicious it’s kinda like a dessert. Both the roti and the bru coffee come from the Indian culture in Malaysia.
I also had tandoori chicken with mint sauce. Now mint, you can put it in everything and I’ll like it!!! This mint sauce is common in Indian dishes but for some reason, not so common when you try Indian restaurants abroad. Nice new addition to my list of favourites.
Nasi lemak – Okay so this is up there with the best meal I have ever had! We had it for brunch at one of the best (if not the best) places to have it: Village Park Restaurant. Traditional and always packed, I could definitely tell this is THE PLACE just by looking at the queue. Nasi lemak is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. Commonly found in Malaysia, it is considered the national dish and usually eaten for breakfast.
The dish is a complete mesh of flavours and can be served in different ways. Traditionally, nasi lemak is served with a hot spicy sauce (sambal), and usually includes various garnishes, including fresh cucumber slices, small fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, and hard-boiled or fried egg. I had a more substantial version which included a fried chicken leg (ayam goreng) with what I believe was fried onions on top (OMG delicious!!!!). Sweet and sour. Smooth and crunchy! Oh my God, I could have it any day of the week!!!!
Other versions of it can include sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chili), small fried fish, cockles, and on special occasions rendang daging (beef) stewed in coconut milk and spice.
Planta crispy thosai and rava thosai – Also known as Dosa, Thosai is a popular snack that usually comes with curry and dhal and often a coconut chutney to dip into. I tried it with a coconut chutney, mutton and chicken gravy. I loved them all, but if I had to pick, the most surprisingly delicious one was the mutton one! As for the actual thosai, one was crispier and the other was softer, more like a crepe. Both delicious! Don’t make me pick one!!
I also tried a curry puff and a vadai, a fried dumpling/ doughnut, again served with chutney. I mean… I LOVE FOOD!!! And what I love the most is trying new flavours! I was flying to India in a few days time so trying all this got me very excited for the trip. Indra (my friends’ dad) is Sri Lankan and very passionate about his food which was great as he got me to try all these dishes that I would probably be too afraid to try on my own. Another cup of bru coffee and I am one happy woman!!
Dim Sum dinner – I had tried dim sum before but not for a full meal and definitely not to this high quality. This is the amazing thing about Malaysia: having all these cultures happily living among each other. The quality was great and I got to try about 10 different dishes. Again, being a food lover, I had a smile on my face the whole night!
Clay pot Chicken Rice – So… by this time my belly was so big I couldn’t actually stomach the full meal. I got to try a bit of this dish and yes…. I wish I could have it here, right now, in front of me. Yuuuuuum. We got it from a small stall in a street market. It had kinda of a sweet taste, but because it was done in a clay pot it also had a smoky flavour to it. YUUUUM!
Apparently I should also have tried the chicken satay but I didn’t have enough time… I am planning another visit to Malaysia anyway so I will be sure to fit that one in ahha.
Ikan bakar and banana leaf rice are meant to be also top dishes to try in KL. But like I said… not enough time to try it all! Have a look here at the top 10 dishes to try… and let me know how great they are!!
Right, all this writing about food made me hungry so, going out to get some delicious food! SEYAAAAA!