Thursday, September 22, 2005

Malaysian Food



Let's start a chat about Malaysian food here. We all know that Malaysians love to eat and they love to talk about food even more. Try starting a conversation and mention that you've had some good char kway teow and before you can say sambal belachan someone else will jump in to challenge your choice. "No lah. That one not the best. I tell you ah last time I had this char kway teow in ....(insert any number of Malaysian towns and street names here)...." When I was little the rule was that certain Malaysian towns are famous for certain types of food. Penang for its assam laksa and nasi kandar. Ipoh for its sar hor fun and ngar choy. Kuala Lumpur for its bak kut teh and Hokkein Mee (the thick black noodly stuff). Seremban for its beef noodles. Malacca for chin cha lok (actually I don't really know what Malacca is famous for foodwise cos I've never eaten out there) Anyway, you get the picture. But these days it tastes to me that all the best food in Malaysia is right here in Kuala Lumpur/Petaling Jaya. I am an Ipoh boy and I balik kampong quite often. And I can tell you that the food in Ipoh these days is much too highly overated and the hawkers there survive on their reputation more than their culinary results. You want good sar hor fun or ngar choy just stay in KL/PJ. No need to go north. You want great assam laksa? Don't go to Penang. Any number of stalls and shops in KL and PJ will sate your craving with 1st class assam laksa better than that which you get in Ayer Itam.

Of course all this could also be due to age. My age that is. I've noticed that as I get older the hawker food I eat never seem to live up to what I remember. Maybe that's it. It's just me. Dimming memory trying to recapture images and tastes of years gone by.

Anyway, the other night Min and I went down memory lane (for me anyway). I drove her to this beef noodle stall which I remembered from the early days of my migration to KL. Days when I earned RM180 a month and eating out there was an awaited event on pay day. The stall sells beef tripe noodles and was called Ngau Kee. It is located in the Jalan Alor area just around the corner from one-way street, Jalan Alor. I can't remember the name of the street. Imagine her surprise when we turned the corner and were confronted by this huge neon sign with the legend NGAU KEE in bright colors of the rainbow. And 24 hour service to boot. For those of you who are not familiar with the place it is nothing more than a stall on the 5-foot way over a longkang. I admit that I was taken aback too. It was just a dingy stall when I last went there. We ordered. We ate. The food tasted very,very so-so lah. Nothing like what I remembered. Min said that I over-sold her on it. And she was right. Baarger. Another memory down the longkang. I'm beginning to see why McD's and BK are so popular. No need to deal with any baggage. Met anyone recently who claims that McD's in one place is better than the other?

22 comments:

Tigrrr said...
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Trashed said...

Ngau Kee is on Jalan Tong Shin lah. I osso think overrated but not many beef ball noodles stalls around but I think best one is in Jalan Silang. Used to be dingy and hole-in-the-wall but now, wahhhh, aircond and all man.

Funny thing about this Ngau Kee fler is that he is such a football kaki that the shop used to close when there is a big game in Stadium or on TV. The baarger couldn't care less if shop not open. So sometimes frus lah. Want to makan but the baarger not open. So head to Jalan Silang lor - only close at CNY!

lecram sinun said...

One of the three things I miss about home is the FOOD! The fact that you can get good trash at any time of the day! So my only resolve was to learn to cook some of my faves here in the US. I do a pretty mean Char Kway Teow and Nasi Lemak among a few others. As I explain to the Americans here... our "junk food" is actually healthy.

Dinda's Sharing said...

Next time you are in Malaysia lecram, lets all get together and cook up a storm..I make a good laksa and curry, you can do the koay teow and nasi lemak, and Patrick makes a good chicken rice...drool..

Patrick why do you have huge spaces at the bottom of your blogs??
Dinda X

patrickteoh said...

Thanks Lecram. I thought people might get a kick out of some of them. Got loads in the pc so I might be able to find a suitable one for most posts. Hopefully

patrickteoh said...

Actually it is still dingy and still basically a hole-in-the-wall shop. Over a longkang. Only diff is that HUGE neon sign. How they got that past DBKL is a mystery. Well.....not really a mystery lah if you know what I mean (knudge-knudge-wink-wink) Oh wait. You mean the Jalan Silang one. Yeah they bought over the shop they were operating from and the adjoining one as well. Yes, that is another stall that I patronised as a red letter day event back in the early days of Rediffusion. I am not sure if they do it still but in the old days they served the beef noodles with 2 different chilli sauces. The chilli sauce was different during daylight hours and night time. Don't know why. Never found out. But I always prefered the daylight chili sauce. It was more tangy and spicier.

patrickteoh said...

Actually, for those of us flers who have never abroad, what do you guys over there do when you feel hungry in the middle of the night? Pizza? Chinese takeaway? Instant noodles?

I remember when I was in NYC shooting that movie, a friend took me to Chinatown at about 3 in the morning and it was still jumping. Could get noodles of course. And dim sum too. But I guess if you're in Fresno or San Diego it is a bit far to travel lah. So how? Lecram? Trashed? I guess Lecram would have adapted long ago. But Trashed is a new fler there relatively speaking. So what you do when the thoughts turn to Ngau Kee beef noodles and Hokkein Mee?

When I visited my niece and her family in Heywood which is just outside SF, CA they took me to a really good Vietnamese place. Had great coffee and even better beef noodles. The real deal. Tried the same things at the growing number of Viet restaurants here in KL but none can match lah. Trashed, you got over there in SD ah? How?

lecram sinun said...

Patrick, yah the Vietnamese Pho' places abound here in the big "no". The large SE Asian population here now also affords us the luxury of fresh kai lan, choy sum, etc... so supplies are not tough to get. I think trashed can attest to the great kopi peng here too.

For midnight runs... not much other than Denny's - so the trick is to cook extra and rata at night.

Trashed said...

Hungry ah ? Go and kena In-and-Out animal style lor. Osso got Lee's sandwich (Viet style deli) open 24 hrs.

But lecram is the sifu with the pith helmet (oh I digress).

Best-in-the-world ice kacang is Peggy's in PJ Old Town.

patrickteoh said...

What the hell is a in and out animal style????

Okay just to prove a point......No lah the best ice kacang is in SS2 in the hawker centre lah. The last stall in the block.

patrickteoh said...

Oh ya. Denny's. Does bring back some memories. I think they tried to open here with MBf but it failed just like the rest of the MBf fast food efforts. American food seems to be quite popular here though. With Chili's doing great business. Their food is good. Big American portions and tasty. But had the best BBQ ribs ever this spring when we were in MN. Went to a place called Dave's. Yummy. Don't know if they're out west though. Lecram, have you ever heard of Johnnie's seasoning? If you can get a bottle, do. Sprinkle it on steak, fish, salads. It's wonderful. It's out of Washington I think. Now available on amazon.com! Previously only on mail order from their homebase.

Trashed said...

Ais Kacang in SS2 square there izzit ? Tried some before but still think Peggy's the bomb.

Really fine ice and gula melaka with evaporated milk, cendol, corn, black and red jelly and red beans. Shiok betul as it melts in your mouth.

Anonymous said...

my roommies and I did patron many times at Denny's and Mel's drive in. But nothing beats frying cucur udang in the middle of the night. Even the hot chocolate's not that good at Denny's. but try driving along sunset or santa monica blvd and you'll find some great late night cafes... some even sell mexican food! mmmm... the burritos and enchilladas are so awesome over there!

Chet said...

Jumping into the discussion late (newcomer to blog), and replying PT's question about being overseas and craving home food.

When I was studying in England, my cousin was craving for meen fun kuei (pan noodles but pulled and not neatly cut). He used pastry dough that is easily available in the supermarkets to use for the noodles. Put in lots of ikan bilis for the soup stock and added sliced chicken and Chinese mushrooms. Later, when I had a friend over for lunch, I tried making the same thing, and loved it.

patrickteoh said...

I never went to any school except St. Michael's Institution in Ipoh. So I don't have stories to tell of Meen Fun Kuei or cooking nasi lemak in a one room flat or inventing new and innovative ways of cooking Maggi mee etc. After 58 years all I can admit to is that I can do a pretty decent ribeye steak on the grill.

Okay while on the subject. Those folks in KL/PJ who want to can check out this place called Yat Yai Lay in Jalan Kuchai Lama. It's easy to find. Here's directions given by the guy who first introduced me to the place....

Go uphill to the top and then straight downhill (on the left at some point should be a giant KFC, double-story in its own large compound) until you hit a major traffic-lighted cross-road. Three o'clock at the intersection is an uphill road leading into the Kuchai Industrial (or Business?) Park. This road is not too long, a kilometre or less. Practically at the top, at the end, is a row of three- (or maybe four-) storey shophouses. Yat Yat Lay (Everyday Come) is in the middle of this block, with tables on the roadside. Facing the shop, on the right-hand side of the road are blocks of condos, with a brightly lit Chinese restaurant and KTV lounge on the groundfloor. There is usually ample parking if one goes to the end of the block of shophouses, the end of the road, turn left.

The thing to order there is deep fried pork trotters in butter sauce. YES! It tastes as good as it sounds. It will add a couple of cm. of cholesterol to your insides but it's worth it.

susmaryosep said...

anyone knows where is the best prawn mee, or mee yok in PJ?

Penangite said...

Er, laksa in Ayer Itam? I'm from Penang and I don't think the best laksa is from that area? Maybe you should try the stalls near Pulau Tikus market (There are 3 laksa stalls which I recommend, one is just opposite the police station, the other close to Fatty Loh, and last one just between both of them).

patrickteoh said...

Hi susmaryosep, have u tried Champ's at Centre Point, bandar Utama? For me that is the best Hokkein Prawn Mee in town. Costs RM12 a bowl but it is HUGE. Big PRAWNS, HUGE RIBS, loads of pork crackling. Nothing bluff. All real stuff made from scratch. Tell Richard, the owner, I sent you ok?:-)

Penangite, yes i have had the laksa in P Tikus. I used to frequent that place when my aunt lived in Cantonment Road. The laksa is good but nothing to travel all the way to Penang to eat. The fatty lo one haven't tried yet.

Kat said...

Deep fried trotters in butter sauce? At Kuchai Entreprenuer Park? Must try, must try. Can go on vege diet 1 week before and after...

Trashed said...

If I go to Champs and tell them Patrick Teoh sent me, got discount ah ?

patrickteoh said...

Discount ah? Probably not lah. But if he is in the right mood he might tell you the tragically funny story of how he was arrested by the Polis Diraja Malaysia for drug abuse recently. And all he had to do to partake of the PDRM hospitality was be a diabetes patient on medication who went to take a leak at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Hi Kat, is that what it's called the entrepreneurial park? Dunno lah. Just know how to get there. We are going tonight. Yay!

hungheykwun said...

erm....different kfc outlets, the chicken has different taste. really....