Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Get a taste of Malaysia’s multi-cultural, mouth-watering menu

Malaysian cuisine covers a wide, unique spectrum, thanks to the melting pot of cultures that make up its population. Malays, Thais, Chinese, Indians and a host of other ethnic groups from near and far have brought their specialities to the table, and the result is a country that is a foodie’s delight.

Malaysian food has evolved over the centuries, influenced by the people passing through or settling there, and has been adapted over time to create exotic new flavours. Curry powder, spices, mint, tamarind, fish stock, coconut milk, peanut sauce and other local ingredients give the dishes their unique Malaysian taste. Each state in Malaysia has something different to offer and, with the assortment of exotic fruits and vegetables available all year round, the menu is simply never-ending.

In Kuala Lumpur, you can indulge in any cuisine from any part of the globe, all of which is mouth-wateringly delicious. One of the restaurants you must visit here is the Bijan Restaurant in Jalan Ceylon. The menu blends traditional recipes with fresh innovations, offering a variety that spans forgotten favourites as well as intriguing new textures, along with a flavour-enhancing wine list. Recommended dishes include Masak Lemak Ikan, Ikan Panggang, Rendang Daging, Durian Cheesecake and homemade ice cream in local flavours.

In Petaling Jaya, Selangor, you can find all sorts of Asian and Western restaurants – Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Hong Kong, Italian, Halal and more. Head for the Indian-influenced Mamak restaurants, where you can indulge in Roti Canai, Murtabak, Nasi Biryani, even Tandoori Chicken, while watching soccer matches. Good places to dine include Damai Plaza, Jalan Gaya and Sri Selera Food Court. Don’t miss out on the seafood in Borneo Island too.

When in Sarawak, it’s time to experiment a little with the exotic fare available here. You should try the Sarawak Laska noodles served with tangy, aromatic soup; Mee Kolok - handmade noodles tossed with meats in oil and vinegar; Manok Pansoh – a chicken and ginger dish cooked in a bamboo log and Bird’s Nest Soup – the highly prized Chinese delicacy which is said to have medicinal properties, available at upmarket restaurants.

Ipoh’s Chinese mixed with local flavours is so good that people drive in from distant places to enjoy the delicacies. Order the Bean Sprouts Chicken - chicken meat, chicken innards and bean sprouts boiled and served with soy sauce and sesame oil, which you can savour at Onn Kee and Lou Wong Restaurants, located at the junction of Yau Tet Shin Street and Osbourne Street. Try the Salted Chicken or Yim Kok Kai – whole chickens wrapped in ‘oil paper’ and baked in large woks filled with heated salt – at Aun Kheng Lim Restaurant on Theatre Street. The white coffee of Ipoh is legendary, and is a must-have with condensed milk at coffee shops like Nam Heong Restaurant, located opposite the Kinta Heights flats in Ipoh's old town.

Malacca is home to delicious Baba Nyonya food, which is usually served in quaint cafes and traditional shophouses, as well as Portuguese-Eurasian cuisine. Seafood is popular, and you might risk the fiery "devil curries". The favourites here are Satay Celup – skewered seafood cooked in peanut sauce, Cinacaluk – fermented shrimp relish, Lemang – glutinous rice cooked in bamboo, sold on the side of the road to Telok Mas, Ikan Bakar – fresh caught grilled fish and crustaceans which you’ll find at Umbai, Pernu or Serkam, Kuih Udang – a popular tea time dish available at Alor Gajah Town, and Jalan Alor – stingray and grilled chicken wings. Jonker Street serves up some of the best cuisines in town; the most popular eateries are the Geographer Café and Jonker Dessert, known for its delicious Baba Nyonya delicacies.

To truly experience this feast, make sure you take time off to indulge in its spread of delectable cuisines only in Malaysia.  

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