Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dining in Malaysia

KL's cosmopolitan veneer extends to its gastronomic delights. This photo only courtesy of wikitravel's guyfrombronx.

Malaysia Airline food - chicken noodles with tropical fruits and orange juice.

I have learned to become adventurous due to my travels. After all, constant compromise and risk-takings are essential for survival during long haul trips. But there is one thing that I never compromisefood! I am droll and boring when it comes to food. If there is a chance I would hate what I am about to order and experiment on, I back off and get the safest, most common food on the menu.

Contrary to popular belief – that my travels involve dieting –
I do get to eat more often than usual. The reason for this is simple: I will never find myself starved in the middle of a road trip where accessible food is nowhere to be found. Thus, much like diarrheic patients, I practice “small frequent feeding” – and lots of fluids! I eat and eat when I can – little amounts every so often. I usually deplete and burn them fast anyway. My travels are actually strenuous and burn a lot of energy.

Last December,
I unknowingly lost 10 pounds after a month of travels in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. Last March, I lost 5 pounds after 1 month of travels all over Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. Bangladesh and India were a tough place to live – in terms of eating! These processed “halal” food (food that are permissible to eat by Muslim law) were effective weight reducers. I didn’t favor the taste, the food consistency, the smell, even the color. And eating dhal every so often just didn’t agree with my appetite – most especially cause I hate spicy food – and chili and spice are the gastronomic soul of Indian dining!
Being a Muslim country, Malaysia isn’t so much different. They serve halal food, BUT there is more variety that suits the western tongue (I am Pinoy but my taste buds have been primed like an American tongue haha!). There is KFC and McDonalds.
Chicken tastes like chicken! In India, the taste of chicken perplexed me no end!
Was I alone with this observation?

Last March, while I was in north Myanmar – in the royal city of Mandalay, I met a
Polish guy named Adam! He was also in India the whole November last year. He kept dropping “fuckin shits” and “idiots” and other expletives while he was recounting his trips. And I would stop and tell him – “You should not say, fuck you, to them!” I was such a daddy! Haha!

Adam explored India from North to South. He loved
Cochin (which is south India) the best coz, according to him, “they were mostly Catholics”, and this heavily influenced the kind of food that the region consumed; i.e. “non-halal”. As a result, Adam lost 25 pounds from the whole Indian experience. He said he was constantly starving and craving for something edible. I was the same but there was somehow food that tentatively suited my taste buds! It wasn’t so bad – BUT I lost 10 pounds anyway!

On the other hand, Malaysia has a more varied range of selection. Pork is available for the non-muslims. Coffeeshops,
Mamak stalls, mall food courts, fine dining – they’re all available in Malaysia, especially in KL. In middle-of-the-road areas (as in Jalan Pudu), simple restaurants display a colorful mix of viands. And the colors are, to say the least, eye-popping – orange, yellows, red, maroons – these chili paste-rich food choices just seem to jump out of their trays. On food, I am a little scared of too much color.

So here is my Eye in the Sky of food to be had in Malaysia!

McDonald, in front of Central Market, KL - Big Breakfast at 9.75 Ringgit ($2.75/PhP132.60). Malaysia's Big Breakfast is actually twice more expensive than Manila's Big Breakfast! Thailand's Big Breakfast is even moreso at 130 baht or PhP183.60.

Fruits in season in Shah Alam, Malaysia - rambutan (those hairy round fruits) and coconut.

Shah Alam restaurant just beside the Museum. Look at all the choices... and I had to choose something so safe. (below)

Fried banana looking so delectable.

My very safe and very drab choice. It was past 1:30PM so this was supposed to be late lunch, but for some reason, I wasn't hungry at all. I just got off the train from KL. I forced myself to eat so my choice was rather uninspired: Fried chicken drumstick with rice (3R), 2 slices of banana (50 cents), iced Milo drink (1.50R). Total - 5Ringgit ($1.40 or PhP68).

KFC along Jalan Pudu in KL - 2 piece chicken with coleslaw, bread and mashed potato - 9.75Ringgit ($2.75 or PhP132.60).

KFC once again at the Central Market area - 3 piece chicken meal - 12Ringgit ($141 or PhP163.30).

Dinner at Berjaya Times Square, my favorite place to hangout and watch movies. This was before a movie, at a restaurant called SEKHOM, just beside the cinema entrance at the 5th floor. Pork meal at 10.90Ringgit plus coke - Total is 15.50Ringgit ($4.35 or PhP210.90). Oh, they were rushing to rid of the table so I was rushing too! And more importantly, food was CRAP! Looked good, but they were all tendons, cartilages and bones!

Sekhom Restaurant facing the entrance to cinema halls in BTS. I was deciding between Thailand's "The Coffin" and South Korea's "Guardpost (GP 506)" - another war horror film. I chose the latter (GP 506) coz I knew The Coffin had a better chance of getting shown in Manila than the South Korean film. True enough, not only was The Coffin shown last week, I also bought The Coffin's DVD last April while I was in Bangkok.

Traffic as I left Berjaya Times Square after the last full show. This was station IMBI.

Maulana Food Court beside Hotel Hibiscus City along Jalan Pudu, KL. This restaurant seems to be open 24 hours. Look at all the choices. They had a fixed price for a meal - but guess what I chose (below)...

The droll unadventurous me. Haha! Rice with boiled and fried egg, noodle (bihon) and coke in can - just 5.50Ringgit ($1.56). As I said earlier, I am not so fond of colored food and lotsa chili paste!

Maulana Food Court, Jalan Pudu, KL

Layan Diri self serve bus stopover on my way to Cameron Highlands from KL. This was a 20-minute stopover. I didn't eat coz I left KL just after a meal. So, I bought kakanin (snack)... (below)

Layan Diri

Sagun Bakar or Light Cream Cookies at 4.60R ($1.30 0r PhP62.65). They tasted like chalk! Pineapple Pie at 3R ($0.85 or PhP41). I've always loved the sweetsour taste of pineapple in food. A friend of mine finds it tacky, mixing pineapple in a recipe.

No comments: