Wednesday, March 20, 2013


It should come as no surprise that my camera roll is jam-packed with photos of delicious Malaysian food. Here are a few of the tasty meals I've enjoyed in the past three weeks.

But what is odd is that I did not capture a photo of my favorite meal so far. So I will describe it with words instead.

The night before last, I went with my wonderful host and another special friend to Kampung Baru on the spur of the moment to eat a late supper at one a.m. Why so late? Because one a.m. is the time when the restaurant begins to serve a special meal called Nasi Dagang.

Hmm. I need to explain three things:

1. Kampung Baru is a traditional, old-fashioned Malay village that sits in the middle of downtown Kuala Lumpur, literally in the shadows of the postmodern Petronas Towers. Despite many offers to buy the land, the village authorities refuse to sell out to the city, and so this scrappy, colorful little neighborhood lives on. Of all the places I've seen in Malaysia so far, Kampung Baru might be my favorite.

2. Nast Dagang was one of the first Malaysian foods I ever heard of, and I've been dying to try it for a long time. I attempted to make it at home, but my American adaptation lacked several key local ingredients and definitely fell short. Ever since I arrived here, I've been looking forward to tasting the real deal.

3. As many of my American friends and family can attest, I love spontaneous late-night adventures, especially when food is involved. I have been known to cross state lines for an early breakfast, and once I drove over 600 miles/1000 km in the middle of the night to Redding, California simply to eat a hamburger, and then drive back home. And the less planning, the better. So when my Malaysian friends cooked up this last-minute plan for a food-related outing, they totally hit my sweet spot.

* * * * *

Back to my Nasi Dagang adventure. The evening quickly became a perfect storm of spontaneous late-night fun with dear friends at a fascinating locale, and a great big plate full of yummy food.

Which just happens to be my idea of the perfect way to spend an evening, no matter which side of the planet I'm on.

And now you know why I didn't take a pic of my meal; I was having too much fun!

My first teh tarik, or steamed tea. Sweet, frothy, and yummy.

My first plate of roti canai, taken for breakfast on my first morning in Malaysia. The simple flat bread is served with a curry sauce for dipping, or as I've learned, for spreading on top of the bread with a spoon. Simple, satisfying and delicious.

Several choices of ayam and sauces, served mamak style at Las Pelitas. Merey Fitz chose my dinner for me this time.

A shocking heap of dessert called ABC. From the top down, it's chocolate ice cream, fruit-flavored shaved ice, bits of fruit, sweet red beans and rice, and a thick syrup. The locals like to stir it all together into a sweet soup, but I like to eat it in layers.

My first nasi lemak, served to me by Muahaha and Pija. It's rice, of course, with spicy seasonings and a hard-boiled egg. A super popular breakfast.

My first taste of budu. A fermented fish sauce favored by the Kelantanese, it was lighter, more delicate taste than I expected. I rather liked it.

Another Kelate specialty, nasi kerabu. Easy to pick this dish out because of the distinctive blue rice. Like pretty much every other dish in Malaysia, the different ingredients are meant to be ripped into small pieces and mixed together before eating. I especially liked the crunchy bits of raw vegetable.

Fresh fish on ice in the grocery store.

My first go with Kelantanese desserts: pumpkin served with a sweet, heavy syrup, a sweet corn porridge, and several sweet and sticky combinations of banana, coconut, pandan, and rice. Did I say sweet three times? Yes, I did. Those Kelantanese chefs always go long on the sugar

Rambutan, a fresh fruit, served to me by the one and only Baby Boy. He knew I would be missing my fresh fruits from home, and he was exactly right. 

Squid on the left, sea bass in the middle, local vegetables on the right. Prepared for me by Baby Boy, and delicious beyond words,

Rolled and roasted chicken, served to me in a KL restaurant by my amazing host, Jurie. Interestingly, this restaurant was the scene of one of my favorite photos of my friends taking a meal together; I've always dreamed of eating here. But since the restaurant has been recently remodeled, I didn't even recognize my surroundings until the meal was over. 

The aftermath of a devastatingly delicious seafood meal taken with the irrepressible Kama Zaid. The fried squid was to die for.

Fresh, chilled cocomut milk, taken straight from the shell, tasted delicious after a long uphill hike to Batu Caves with Lokhman

Handmade potato chips, eaten by me in mass quantities at the home of Ears and Bahiyah. So fresh and good!

A lovely breakfast treat of orange juice and chocolate walnut bread, bought specially for me by the lovely Xeera. She knows exactly what I'm craving.

A tomyam feast at Uptown Shah Alam with Muahaha, Pija and Baby Ramona. I was especially fond of that fish...a mackerel, I do believe.

A common appetizer provided at Malaysian restaurants, this is fish paste wrapped in a corn husk-like leaf, and roasted over an open fire. Strange texture but a rich flavor.

Fresh homegrown limes and a red onion in the kitchen of my host's mother-in-law. 

Stir fried soy bits and long beans. 

A local favorite and specialty of my host's mother-in-law, these are basically homemade potato chips. Poor Xeera slaved over a hot stove for literally hours so I could feast on these morsels and I sure appreciate it.

Dried squid, about to be cut into bite size pieces and soaked overnight for the morning's nasi lemak. 

A cool and creamy ice cream-like dessert taken at Jonker Walk in Melaka. I opted for the durian-free version.

After a long weekend of hard eating, this cheese naan is just what I needed to calm my overstimulated stomach. And a Coke, please.

Tasty pastries from a bakery near the train station. Some Malaysian baked goods look just like their American counterparts; others, like the ones stuffed with hot dogs, are surprisingly different.

I'll be honest. I've loved almost every single dish I have tried here in Malaysia, and I'm very much enjoying the adventure of new foods. But every now and then, I need to make a run to 7 Eleven for some Cokes and potato chips. I've also developed a craving for Tripicana Twisters - a super pulpy orange juice - and a local sports drink called 100 Plus. .


  1. nice food review!

    1. oh i just saw this! sorry for the late reply...and thank you for giving me so many delicious foods to taste! remember when we ate sushi after the movie? ahhhh, that was so good.


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