May 26, 2007 2:03 AM   Subscribe

You cannot live in Malaysia or Singapore without being a foodie on some level. Makan lah! or come and eat is a common and popular expression of welcome. Uniquely in the region, both countries have multiethnic populations each of whom have added their flavours, spices and condiments to the region's foodie heaven. There is Chinese food - Kuay Teow, Chicken Rice, Char Siu and Yong Tau Foo. There is Malay food, rendangs, sambals, petai and belacan adding a certain something to the mix. South Indian food proliferates like banana leaf restorans, idli-thosai pure vegetarian fast food joints like Komala's and of course the fish curries and prawn curries of the coastal regions. The colonial influence is felt with Roti John served up in hawker centres and food courts across the peninsula and islands, ending with cooling desserts like cendol, sago pudding with gula melaka and santan or 'pancake'.
posted by infini (35 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Friendly neighbor Indonesia adds its own flavors to the mix: makan, makan, makan lagi!
posted by mdonley at 2:13 AM on May 26, 2007

The best meal I ever had in my life was at a plastic chaired restaurant not much better than a hawker stand in Little India in Singapore. Dipping lots of roti into the lightest but tastiest curry sauce imaginable before the mains were served. Fantastic.

Also, a great post. Thanks.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:24 AM on May 26, 2007

roti canai! Fish curry! *dies a slow and wonderful death*

Followed by duran!
posted by stray at 2:25 AM on May 26, 2007

No durian please.
posted by teleskiving at 2:39 AM on May 26, 2007

thanks for the gado gado reminder, mdonley... perfect in hot weather!

And of course SATAY with all the fixings!
posted by infini at 3:12 AM on May 26, 2007

I'm not saying this as a complaint, but a question: there are 27 links in this FPP. Which is the primary one?
posted by Bugbread at 3:18 AM on May 26, 2007

Satay kambing! (goat) Extreme hot Fish curry indeed! Rendang! Thai eggplant
Thanks , now I know what to have for dinner tonight!
posted by borq at 3:21 AM on May 26, 2007

& for desert: Spekuk
posted by borq at 3:30 AM on May 26, 2007

Yeah, I gotta echo bugbread here: that's a helluva lotta links!

So, I just clicked on the pancakes one...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 AM on May 26, 2007

Wow, they have idli-dosa in Malaysia? Now that I gotta check out. If they do to dosa what they did to roti, well, man, that could be--- well, it boggles the waistline.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:27 AM on May 26, 2007

I'm not saying this as a complaint, but a question: there are 27 links in this FPP. Which is the primary one?
posted by bugbread at 3:18 AM on May 26

Hi guys, this fact has been pointed out earlier as well to me, and so it seems like a good time to ask [i'm curious, not snarky] whether there is an unspoken rule that FPP's are about ONE link or ONE story? when I was a newbie and read and watched posts before creating one, I got the feeling it was about a topic or subject, not a single story.

if so, please let me know and I'll ensure that I make shorter posts, or have less links, thx.
posted by infini at 4:32 AM on May 26, 2007

Infini: Don't worry about it. There are two basic approaches to posts: One kick ass link, by itself (or with an additional link or two if some sort of background is useful), or the "Sum is Greater than its Parts" posts, where each link in itself isn't so awesome, but put together, they are. When MeFi was made, the first kind was the only kind (that's why the posting page is arranged the way it is), but it's been a while, and things have changed.

With this one, I wasn't sure, and I kinda phrased my question badly (I should have added "or is it a sum-is-greater-than-its-parts" to the end of my question).
posted by Bugbread at 4:38 AM on May 26, 2007

I like to eat -- don't we all? I like to cook -- there's a zen to it. I used to work in restaurants, so I know my way around a cookbook and a kitchen. Then why is it I detest the term "foodie?"
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 AM on May 26, 2007

I happen to live near Falls Church, VA which means I have about 500 chinese, indian, malay, thai, indonesian, vietnamese and korean places within 5 minutes of my house.

Now, which to have for lunch...
posted by empath at 7:18 AM on May 26, 2007

I remember crying when I was taught how to make a spicy sambal from scratch. The tears were equal parts 1) joy, 2) chiles, 3) sadness that the delicious spicy sauce that I had eaten throughout my time in Indonesia typically has raw eels ground up in it (I'm vegetarian).
posted by xthlc at 7:22 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

delightful post

posted by nicolin at 7:35 AM on May 26, 2007

This makes my heart hurt. I lived in Malaysia for a year as an exchange student (now THAT'S a long story) and it has been my fervent life's dream to return there with my mom and my spouse. Sure, I want them to visit the temples and mosques, the Batu Caves, the beaches, Melaka (my favorite city in the world) and whatnot, but what I want most is for them to see how food is done in Malaysia. The food stands, open way into the night, the seafood, the home cooking of the kind people who opened their houses to me, the way that "Makan?" "Eat?" or "Food?" is used instead of "Hello" (it was the first Malay word I learned). The roti canai, char kwey teow, satay, gado gado, ais kacang, cendol, various curries, nonya food, chicken rice... oh jeez. Everything I guess. I miss that country so much I start to tear up every time I think of it. Wow, the memories this post has brought back, I better go now so I don't start bawling.

Great post, infini.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:51 AM on May 26, 2007

My most memorable meal in Singapore was blackened stingray at a hawker stand. It was so spicy I don't know what to say when people ask me what stingray tastes like, though. What I can say is that I wish ALL of my meals were as cheap & yummy.

As for links, I try to figure out what placement works best for telling whatever story I'm trying to put across or point I'm trying to make. Sometimes one link is all it takes, and adding more would be trying too hard because that one link stands on its own. Other times there will be one main link and the rest are research that sets up the background of the main link for people who want to know more details.

And sometimes I'll do a linkapalooza for people to check out a zillion things that all have a similar theme (like this one). A LOT of times I end up having to delete some links I really liked on those because it's overkill. I kind of sacrifice them because I don't want other, better links to be lost in the quick read. Then I try to condense the link placement and make sure that there's a bunch of white to read. When I can, I try to put the links in a series bunched together visually. It's easier to read that way because the eye can pick up the basic info even when it skims over the white type quickly & misses the links. I've found that when every other word is a link, the eye stops and starts and doesn't know where to focus.

Honestly, it just takes time to figure out what works. But that's my 2ยข FWIW.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:03 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Half Malaysian here; yes, I miss the roti, the satay, the sambal, the naan, the tandoori and everything in between, but on a friday night after some drinks, you know what I miss most?

Ramli Burgers.

Hell. Yeah.
posted by dazed_one at 9:12 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am *hanging* for some frog congee!
posted by gomichild at 9:23 AM on May 26, 2007

blackened stingray in lau pa sat? yeah, nothing like it, or even the ones with the thick brown sauce usually served with satay?

good thing tickets are very cheap from new delhi to singapore, I think I'll be visiting mom and dad more than they'd like ;p
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on May 26, 2007

I went for a few week visit to Kuala Lumpur once and stayed an extra couple months primarily because of the food. One of the most fascinating of global melting pots, making the place fascinating in-and-of-itself. But the culinary results: divine! Great post, infini.
posted by tidecat at 10:33 AM on May 26, 2007

Being allergic to both peanuts and shellfish, touring southeast Asia is my most extreme of extreme sports. Gonna go some day with a backpack full of Epi-pens and all my affairs in order. Maybe I'll make a reality show, with dramatic music whenever I take a bite. Did the cook wash his utensils thoroughly? Does that sauce actually contain a tiny bit of shrimp??! This week, on a very special episode of H.I.V.E.S....

I've done some pretty decent white-guy-reading-internet-recipes rendang, sambal, and no-seafood kuay teow at home, though. Yom.
posted by jake at 10:47 AM on May 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

at least in SF I was up the hill from Chinatown, WTF will I do here in New Delhi? The nearest Chinatown is in Calcutta, meh.
posted by infini at 10:56 AM on May 26, 2007

Wow, they have idli-dosa in Malaysia? Now that I gotta check out. If they do to dosa what they did to roti, well, man, that could be--- well, it boggles the waistline.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:27 AM on May 26 [+]

Google murtabak DenOfSizer and drool
posted by infini at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2007

Thank you for all the great links, infini! This is making me miss my mother's cooking. I think "makan" was one of the first words I learned after "mama" and "dada."

When I was a teenager, my family travelled from Canada to Singapore to visit the relatives, and I think we spent approximately 50% of our waking hours eating/deciding what to eat next! Good times, lah.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:27 PM on May 26, 2007

It's true, when I was there we ate like 5 times a day. And when we weren't eating we were considering what and where we would be eating next...
posted by miss lynnster at 12:44 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wistful sigh here. I miss walking to the nearby pasar (street market) for all sorts of pastries, RM1 for a bag of several. Also the weekly tamu (weekly farmer's market) for all the sights and colors.
posted by Xere at 12:54 PM on May 26, 2007

Infini, this is an amazing post. Thanks!!
posted by zarq at 4:16 PM on May 26, 2007

Memories of Georgetown. The mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian food... mmm...
posted by dreamsign at 7:37 PM on May 26, 2007

Oh HONEY. I'm Malaysian currently studying in Australia. I'm highly disappointed that Australia doesn't seem to embrace food as much as Malaysia does. It just doesn't match up.

I'm not a big fan of the rest of Malaysia, but OH THE FOOD. Best on EARTH hands DOWN.

You're making me hungry.

roti jala ais kacang satay otak-otak kwei teow with scallops SWEET SWEET SEAFOOD steamed fish kangkung yellow curry nasi lemak mee rebus ahhh the torture of distance
posted by divabat at 8:23 PM on May 26, 2007

I'm absolutely certain that I'll slowly starve to death if and when I eventually move out of Asia. I absolutely agree; South East Asia makes you such a huuge food-junkie it's not even funny when you consider the implication on your girthlines. Realized it yesterday when I had sheekh kebab with mango lassi at an Egyptian restaurant in this very colourful and historical part of Singapore, and then went another ten kilometres to have some Roti John for supper.

That said, this (gratuitous self-link alert!) is what I'm currently craving for. It's south-Indian-Singaporean.

(We had some discussion here on Peranakan cuisine's outrageous out-of-this-world-liness, but I'm too lazy to look that one up)

infini: Incidentally, it's official; never mind Chinese (or even Indo-Chinese) food, Delhi's more expensive than Singapore even for mughalai food. A meal for two at a fairly middle-of-the-curve-ish restaurant costed me about INR 1000-ish, while I can make do with half that amount for the same order in Singapore. Which is why I've decided to focus on the dhabas solely when I'm back in Delhi.
posted by the cydonian at 9:14 PM on May 26, 2007

I'll never forget the bowl of laksa in the Katong area of Singapore. I must go back someday, just for that!
posted by rajbot at 10:30 PM on May 26, 2007

the attention to the gustatory experience, methinks, is exemplified by the detailed chart showing the difference between curry laksa and penang laksa in the link above by rajbot.

Man, I'm hungry too!
posted by infini at 11:35 PM on May 26, 2007

the cydonian said: South East Asia makes you such a huuge food-junkie it's not even funny when you consider the implication on your girthlines.

SO true. My brother and I had the roundest faces ever in the school photos taken after our return from Singapore. Heh.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:16 AM on May 27, 2007

« Older mouthy little git   |   All your Favourite Conspiracies in Technicolor Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments