Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eating Malaysia with the help of Eating Asia.

Recently, my jet-setting friend Tim found himself in Taipei, where he encountered a number of the tasty and unusual treats that I wrote about during my time there. Coincidentally, I was also in a new city on the same day that he posted his entry, and I too was following the tips of another blogger in order to track down some delicious dishes. However, while I had for Tim only an odd collection of stumbled upon snackfoods to recommend, my informant-- Robyn, of Easting Asia-- offered me a fantastic list of well researched tips.

Her first tip led us to Jalan Transfer, where we found a sidewalk roti stand. We joined the other patrons, who were eating on communal tables under the shade of a slanted metal awning. Bordeaux and I were each served a toasty roti fried with egg, and a bowl of a rich tomato based chicken curry. Though I'm normally a coffee drinker, I ordered instead a glass of hot milky tea. It was served lightly frothed, and so hot that the glass had melted the ice cubes placed around it even before it got to the table.

We followed her next tip to dinner, to a Chinese Nyonya restaurant called Shing Kheang Aun. We were lucky to find a vacant table, because the place was packed-- crowds of families and groups of old friends all enjoying their dinner. I had come with a list of recommendations, and while my efforts at pronouncing our order amused the proprietor, it worked perfectly. We were treated to an outstanding dinner of kiam hoo masak Belanda (pork and salted fish with sweet red chilli), assam heh (crispy shrimp coated in a tangy tamarind sauce), and our favorite dish, gulai tumis (fish in a red curry soup).

All of these dishes were just a prelude to our next morning, where a tip from Robyn directed us to the Pulau Tikus market. There, we had a long palm-sugar sweetened breakfast as we sampled various treats and snacks. Our first stop was a 'pan cake' stand, where we got a slice of giant spongy pancake. It was filled with a layer of dark palm sugar, laced with crunchy broken peanuts.

Next we ordered some treats from a table serving Nyonya sweets. We ordered our soul savoury bite, a slice of white carrot cake. It had been a favorite dish of ours in Taiwan, but we especially liked how it was served here, topped with chili and garlic. Next, we ordered two sweet snacks-- a glutinous bar of brown rice, and a moist slice of a darkly flavoured cake.

Finally, we managed one last stop, to grab a coffee and check out one more recommendation: appom, Indian coconut milk pancakes. They were baked in clay pots over charcoal stoves, and had a nicely toasted flavour, tempered by a slight creaminess. It was the perfect morning of sampling new treats, even if I did get a little sweetened out-- though I did still have to stop by the first stand again before we left, for another slice of the giant palm-sugar pancake.

Thanks again to Robyn for the outstanding tips! If you're interested in food in Asia, you're probably already reading her blog-- but if not, be sure to check out Eating Asia.

Be sure to check out I am a Viking too, for his entries on unusual food discoveries in the British Isles, original cartoons, and essays on Japanese culinary culture.


Jamie said...

This food looks amazing! And I too am in love with the Eating Asia blog...they do such great work.

I wish you guys the best in your last days in Asia, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving...and you have to tell us what you have for you Thanksgiving meal!

kristine said...

its becoming a peculiar form of self-torture, checking out your blog...I almost dont want to do it, because I really do miss SE Asia so much, and your photography is always so yummy. I am not sure whether I am really really pleased, or really really sad that you are leaving asia soon!

Seriously though, you are capturing malaysia so well.

Robyn said...

Thanks Xander - you guys managed to hit most of the high notes. You missed the prawn mee in the same shop as the appom though, so I demand you get back on a plane to Penang before you leave Asia (kidding!).

Enjoy your last days in Asia - really looking forward some hometown-boy posts from New Mexico!

Bordeaux said...

Actually, I think going back for some more bites in Georgetown before we leave is not such a bad idea. I'm with Robyn!

Heatheronhertravels said...

Hi Xander

I'm hoping you can help with a charity initiative started by 4 travel bloggers in Seatle to help raise money for a global charity project, Heifer International. Maybe you know them? They are Pam from Nerd's Eye View, Beth of Wanderlust and Lipstick, and Michelle of WanderMom and Debbie from DeliciousBaby.

The initiative is called Passports with Purpose. You can see more information at


A list of bloggers involved so far


The idea is for Travel bloggers to raise money through a raffle in the run up to Christmas, to raise money for Heifer International, an international development charity. You could help in a couple of ways.

1. Donate a raffle prize worth at least $100 (some souvenirs from your travels?) Even if you can't help with a prize you could still help by;
2. Promoting the raffle through your blog to direct your readers to buy tickets through First Giving.

It would be great to have you involved, do let me know.

Best wishes

Rick Rosenshein said...

Great blog and beautiful photographs. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

Catherine said...

I really like all those close up shots of food....keep them coming...and whenever you get the chance, check out the street food here in Mexico..

Traveler said...

Thanks for your articles on Penang which remind me why I so love the island.

I first got to Penang as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1970, married a Penang girl, and we have been going back whenever we can. Like so many other destinations in the region, Penang has changed over the years becoming more crowded, more polluted, and more hectic. But nevertheless, it still retains a charm that other towns have lost. From its colorful shopfronts to its Chinese mansions to the trishaws and food carts still plying the streets, Penang remains the Pearl of the Orient. And of course, it still has the best food anywhere!

Best wishes wherever your travels take you.