The last six days in Malaysia have been a glorious gastronomic blur; we've consumed more food than I can possibly remember. The thousands or so photos on my hard drive and these blog posts thankfully document this food fueled adventure of a lifetime.
The last day was no different - all 24 hours of it was one long progressive meal.
It begins with a sumptuous breakfast at the Majestic Hotel in Melaka. I'm meant to meet Helen at 7:30am but I run 10 minutes late, having spent that time sitting on my suitcase so the zips would align! Shopaholic alert!
I have waffles with blueberry compote, toffee coated hazelnut clusters and cream, with a side of fresh fruits including papaya, dragonfruit, watermelon and rockmelon. There's nothing Malaysian about it but it is a refreshing change of flavours.
After a two hour drive back to Kuala Lumpur and a meeting with some tourism officials, our group, led by Adam Liaw, his sister Amber and her husband Marcio, heads to Lot 10 Hutong.
Adam tells us that what makes the food court in Lot 10 special, is that many of the stalls were handpicked by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (Managing director of YTL Corporation, the company that owns the building). Worthy vendors who were getting lost within the depreciating quality and competitiveness of other street food stalls were given a permanent home at Lot 10, and therefore helped create this magnificent oasis of heritage Malaysian hawker food.
I think it's such a clever idea and it is no doubt a brilliant technique of preserving Malaysian street food, some of which have survived over four generations.
Lot 10 Hutong is busy busy and is a complete contrast to the alleyways and side streets that these food stalls used to (some still do) reside in. It is modern, glamorous and air-conditioned. Many locals and tourists flock here to escape from the heat whilst savouring some of the highly sought after street foods that are conveniently available all under this one roof.
The first dish we order is the Hainanese chicken rice from Chong Hwa Hainan Chicken Rice. The rice is really fragrant and the chicken is so tender and succulent. It is served with a complimentary bowl of soup and costs just 8.00RM for a single serve which equates to a mere $2.66 in Australia.
Next is Hokkien mee (8.90RM), from Kim Lian Kee for less than AU$3. The original Kim Lian Kee stall is at Petaling Street and has been open since 1927. They are renowned for their Hokkien noodles so that is exactly what we order.
Condiments on offer include fresh cut green and red chillies (to be used with soy sauce), minced garlic, calamansi limes and sambal.
The Hokkien noodles don't turn out to be anything like the Australian stir-fried version. They're dark with a deep rich taste. There's bits of cabbage, shrimps, fish paste, slices of pork and lard croutons huddled within thick strands of Hokkien egg noodles. Every mouthful leaves a thick gelatinous gloss on my lips.
We also try some Penang asam laksa and curry laksa from an unidentified stall. The asam laksa is thick round noodles with onion, pineapple and flakes of fish in a hot and sour tangy fish gravy. It is garnished with shredded cucumber and fresh mint which highlight the distinctive flavours.
And we finish off with chicken satay and rojak from Kajang Satay & Penang Rojak. The chicken satay is served with the usual suspects - cucumber, red onion and rice cake cubes. The amount of meat on each stick is a lot more generous than what we've seen around other street food stalls but they lack a certain charred aroma.
The Penang rojak is very different to the mamak (Indian) rojak. It is more of a fruit salad with a pungent dressing when compared to the mamak version which contains fried tofu, tempeh, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cucumbers and morning glory mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce.
There's a few hours to spare before check-in at the airport so after some last minute souvenir shopping (hello pineapple tarts), Helen and I take the opportunity to wander off in hunt of durian, which is just at the start of its season.
But first, a pit stop at Jalan Alor Yau Tiao (ah lor zha kuih), famed for deep-fried bread snacks such as yau tiao, ham chim peng, mah kiok, cup chung, and ngau lay sou. This stall has been operating since 1984, making it as
old young as me!
It's only been a short while since lunch so Helen and I share the butterfly bun (mah kiok) which tastes really similar to the Vietnamese banh tieu. This is deep-fried onsite and served fresh from the wok. The fragrance of the fried sesame seeds paired with the soft chewy texture of the bread is simply divine. If I were here on an empty stomach, I will have eaten their entire stock :)
Now, I've grown up eating durian and anybody in my family will be able to tell you that I eat ridiculous amounts of it. While some may say that it smells like sewage or kerosene, I can't get enough of the sweet fragrance and I love the feel of pulling apart the large segments of creamy flesh.
We stumble across a stall with an entire cart full. There were a couple of plastic tables and chairs on the side and several satisfied customers sitting beneath the shade of worn umbrellas.
There's a few different varieties and we opt for the sweet one. It's not chilled but still tastes sensational.
After reading about the one metre roti tisu on ChocolateSuze last year, there was no way I was going to leave Malaysia without eating it.
We don't have to search too far at all. As it happens, Restoran Kayu Nasi Kandar has a branch just outside Lot 10 Shopping Centre! We're in luck.
This sweet thing costs 6.30RM, just over AU$2!! And it's more than enough to share between 3 - 4 people.
I watch in anticipation as the cook stretches out the rested dough and transfers it onto the hot griddle with his arms wide open. Minutes later, he sticks his bare hands into a bucket of margarine and smothers it unsparingly all over. After a generous sprinkle of sugar, honey and condensed milk, he lifts one end in the air and twirls the dangling roti into a cone.
He presents this mammoth roti tisu to us with great pride and offers a photo opportunity that I can't deny.
When we're ready to eat, the roti is placed flat down and spans beyond three plates. It is wafer thin and super crisp. The caramelised sugary bits are the best.
Our group gathers again, this time, for our last on-ground Malaysian feast. We didn't get a chance to stop by Klang for their world famous bak kut teh earlier in the trip so we decide that a specialty bak kut teh restaurant would be perfect for this memorable finale.
Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh is on the top floor of Pavilion and like the shopping centre, the decor is elegant and exquisite. The menu says that their bah kut teh is cooked in a traditional method that has been maintained through many generations. It is a laborious cooking process that calls on a secret blend of Chinese medicinal herbs to accentuate the essence of the broth.
Bak kut teh choices range from pork belly to pork trotters, and even has delicacies such as sea cucumber and abalone!
And of course, the bak kut teh experience isn't complete without some you char kway (deep fried bread sticks / you tiao).
Then at the airport, we are unwind at the Malaysia Airlines Lounge, which features showers, free wifi, and free access to their well stocked bars and buffet. But that's not the most exciting part... The fact that I get to fly for the first time on business class is! What a treat!
There's fabulous service, complimentary Clarins products including lip balm, moisturiser and hand and nail treatment creams, and food is served in separate courses... wait for it... on tablecloth!
I'm exhausted and can easily dose off, but for research purposes, I eat one of each course, starting with Malaysian satay - charcoal grilled chicken and beef skewers with spicy peanut sauce and traditional accompaniments. Next is Balic salmon with oyster mushrooms and salad, and for main course, stir fried dry chilli prawns with steamed rice and pak choy. For dessert, brownies and chocolate mousse with sour cherry compote.
I finish with a green tea and have the best inflight sleep ever. The comfort of the reclining chair beds is pure luxury. How I'll ever fly economy again is unknown.
188 Jalan Bunga Raya, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 2783 1000
Lot 10 Hutong
Lower ground floor, Lot 10 Shopping Centre,
50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 2782 3840
Jalan Alor Yau Tiao
Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang ( Opposite KFC), 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Open: Monday - Sat, 2.30pm - 8.00pm, normally sold out by 6pm
Restoran Kayu Nasi Kandar
Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh
Level 6, Pavilion Shopping Centre
Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3 2148 6388
JENIUS attended the Malaysia Kitchen Media Famil as a media guest of MATRADE (Malaysian External Trade & Development Corporation) and Tourism Malaysia, with thanks to Ogilvy Public Relations