Discover Malaysian Kopi (Coffee)

Malaysian Kopi (coffee)
Malaysian Kopi (coffee)

Once I wrote about our kopi (local for coffee) culture in Travel Malaysia Guide, talking about the evolution of the way we enjoy our coffee in generations from your old local kopitiams to the giant coffee franchises to our very own upper class kopitiam chains.

Ah indeed we have came a long way as coffee drinkers.

Either it is due to my taste bud being accustomed to our local coffee, or it is just me, I find that Malaysian coffee is one of the best, probably only topped by Hong Kong which is very similar to what we have, in terms of Asian coffee. But don’t let me tell you about it, you should go and try it out yourself and then let me know! For locals alike, do you think you know our Malaysian coffee well?

If you want to try and enjoy some of our local coffee or if you’re local to rediscover your love for local coffee, here are some good to know lingo for ordering the local Malaysian kopi to your liking:

Kopi O – black coffee

Kopi – coffee with condensed milk

Kopi C – coffee with evaporated milk

From here you can customize your coffee to your liking with:

For cold iced coffee, you add Peng at the end

For extra thick coffee you add Gao at the end

For less sugar (less sweet) you add Cheah (for north) and Xiu Dai (for south) at the end.

For without sugar, you add Kosong at the end, but bear in mind it only works for Kopi O or Kopi C, as condensed milk comes with sugar by default thus cannot be made without, that’s local tip for you so that you won’t be getting a stare back as response.

So for example if you want a cup of black coffee extra thick with less sugar you will say “Kopi O Gao Cheah”. Phew, how’s that for a highly customized coffee!

Where to find good local Malaysian coffee

You may find local kopi in the many Chinese eateries or hawker stalls restaurant, but not in proper dining or upscale Chinese restaurants, which actually serves Chinese tea instead. You may also succumb and try our mid-range kopitiam chains which you mostly would not miss if you hang around malls or popular districts.

If you know any good places in Malaysia for a good cup of coffee do let us know!

Durian : The King of Fruits in Malaysia

As I have written here, durian, the king of fruits, the nasal wars and the thorny looking thing that I had the love and hate affair of. It is indeed a fruit to be reckon with. Not only does it look suspiciously odd on the outside, with a thick husk of thorns all over, it looks even weirder on the inside, a sort of gooey yellowish pulp that reeks of a certain kind of smell many gave various ugly terms to. There are also indeed many people who would curse various ugly terms when they first had their piece, though there are some who would fall in love instantly, rare for such an ugly thing to love but not impossible, but something you can surely learn to love and get attach to for sure.

Durian Malaysia

What is it exactly?

It’s a fruit. Yes it is. It is just another fruit where we would eat the flesh surrounding the seeds. The outer layer, its husk ranges from green to brown with thorns to keep preys away but so it seems it never did for the humans, even despite trying to hide themselves in a really pungent smell. The edible flesh would normally range from pale yellow to almost orange color, with a thick gooey sort of texture. Although the looks of it already might deter some away from it, but nothing beats the smell itself to make on discern a durian from even a kilometer away.

Try it anyway

Yes regardless the smell, the look and the feel of it, be a sport and try it anyway. You will be amaze by how someone looking and smelling so odd can taste so uniquely delicious. The tastes depend on the type of durian that one consumes, but normally it ranges from sweet to bitter with a slight tone of alcoholic characteristics. Personally I am those who goes for the bitter alcoholic ones, but the rest of sweet and mix are just as good themselves. Try it and then let me know what you think. Be forewarn though that you might get hook like me, and went into a frenzy of durian feasting, and then much later on, you would suddenly have a hankering for it.

Durian in SS2 Petaling Jaya

Just last weekend, all of sudden I have a craving for durian, it just feels like its been a long time since I truly indulge in some and moreover the durian season is about starting now, where you can see various lorries and stall selling the king of fruits in almost every street corners beckoning to you. So I managed to gathered a bunch of friends who is crazy enough to agree with me to eat durian for dinner. We brave the crowd to the famous corner in SS2 PJ, where there are rows and rows of stalls selling various types of durians. Here people normally come for the buffet style eating of eat-all-you-can for RM10 or RM25 (for the deluxe). As for me I would rather choose the durian I want specifically, buy it and have it open there for slow indulgence. Being late, we only manage to have a few but it at least satiate my cravings for the time being. Though I must say the prices at SS2 are a bit steep, what not with it trying to charge the city dwellers, normally you would get it cheaper at villages or at least outskirts of town. In a pinch you may go there else try to hunt for better bargains and even fresher durians out there.

Traditional Ways to Enjoy Durian

Most enthusiasts or purists would say that the best durian are those that has just fallen from the tree. When I was young, I had the luxury of eating freshly fallen durian from my Nanny’s husband’s estate. He would come back with a few and the whole family will go into some sort of an esctatic celebration. Everyone will huddle together at the floor, already lined with newspaper and now laid across with durians half opened, and then dig into each for the pulps. Yes these are ceremoniously eaten with your hands, digging into its soft flesh while slowly licking them off the seeds and your fingers of course. Another way that many people like to do, is to stand by the lorries selling those durians, having the proprietor open it for them to taste one after another while standing right beside the road with cars whizzing by just inches away.

Truly Malaysian

Seeing how people go crazy over durian especially during the seasons, the way they crave for it, and then hunt for it, buy in bulk, the eat together like a little ceremony or eat it under any condition, makes this truly a showcase of what Malaysians can be. Therefore not only durian is the king of fruits, I dare say it is the fruit of Malaysia too.

Time Out KL Food Awards 2010

I’ve always believe that good food establishments will last through the onslaught of economics as we all no matter what needs to eat, some of us wants to eat (yes, like me). We all have our own personal favourites for certain dish or certain cuisine. There are always the go-to restaurants when the cravings strike or when we need to entertain. There are also some place where it had swept us off our feet yet we know we can only go back once in a while, like playing a nice flirting game. Regardless of which, we always have our own love affairs with food and what’s the better way to show appreciation to them than having them crown with award as best in the country?

The coveted magazine Time Out KL (TOKL) is currently having their annual food awards, whereby thousands of KL-ites get to choose their favourite restaurants according to categories; this year in 2010 they have split it into 13 categories. Nominating has started and will end by September 16th with open fields where you can fill in whatever restaurants you want to and they will do the shortlisting for us. Then polls will be re-open in October 1st for us to vote the shortlisted ones in two stages and then onward to the eventual winner.

So head on here to the Time Out KL Food awards and submit your favourite restaurants. My trick is to write in the first thought that came to mind cause if I tried to compare with another, my head will burst. After all I am tham jiak.  Fret not if you could not submit all the fields as it is not mandatory so just key in your favourites and cross your fingers. Hopefully by awarding our favourites they will stay in business long for us to continue to savour the food and satisfy our cravings.

As TOKL says, every vote counts and this is the only food awards in Kuala Lumpur which are free and fair and voted by YOU, the citizens of KL. May the best restaurants win!

Update: Winners of TOKL Food Awards 2010 here.

Best of Tham Jiak – Malaysia Food Guide

I felt like as if I have dropped out of this Earth. Does transitioning of years (man-defined even but with backings of astrology sorts of course) has anything to do with it? Does everyone fall out and return just like me? Or am I the only one? * insert mysterious tune at the background * Since we are at that , why not ask who am I? Where does the world comes from? Pardon me as I have been a tad philosophical recently due to reading a really good book that weaves the history of philosophy together in a 400 page story – Sophie’s World. The amazing thing is, a good friend introduced me to read it, so I went in search in the MPH bookstore and found one lonely book left and quickly grab it and ran to the counter with it under my sleeves lest somebody came to fight with me for it! I got out alive and thus been enjoying reading tremendously. Just about weeks later, I casually saunter into the same MPH bookstore, and walk around, lo and behold at the middle of the store on the tables where they usually showcase pick of the week or bestselling books, there are mountains, yes mountains!, of Sophie’s World stacked up on the table mocking me. At that time I was wondering if there is a conspiracy following what I read (such arrogance) but now on retrospect (writing does this to me), it seems then that they normally feature books that they just restocked (I bought the last one remember) so maybe to just get the books moving! Bah, I hope this assumption is wrong as we would not want our ‘pick of the week’ to be actually truly ‘new stock of the pick’, it takes the novelty out of it, it would even be slightly, just slightly better if it is ‘rokh’s current reading’ right?

Anyhow, back to Earth for me, we should be talking about food! See how I explained that I have dropped out of Earth, it seems I am still floating in and out of it, I wonder when I would settle down. Nevertheless, the world keeps spinning, people keep eating and I am still tham jiak. So just to kick start the year, I am reviewing this dear little blog of mine, after the four years anniversary, I found that there are few popular posts of all time in this blog, and I feel that it would be nice to share a little glory of this humble blog of mine, and also to put into retrospective where I want to head this blog towards. So without further ado, let me present you Tham Jiak’s top 8 (8 because Chinese New Year is just around the corner and the number 8 is especially auspicious for us Chinese, as it has the same homophone as ‘fortune’) blog posts:

Bak Chang @ Chinese Rice Dumpling
Bak Chang @ Chinese Rice Dumpling

Bak Chang

Oh this was definitely one of my own favourite posts too, as I learnt the ‘dying’ art of making Chinese bak chang. I was really worried then soon one day this will be lost to our current and future generations, as many now choose to purchase the commercial ones or eat at restaurants rather than make their own. Making them with Lai Ma that time was truly exciting and in short, though this may make me sound real young and over enthusiastic, simply awesome! I love how we had walked down the street from her house to an old wooden tim chai(sundry shop) nearby to get the bamboo leaves and the peas to the whole process of preparing all the ingredients which seemed like an endless list of things, but when you get down to it, it isn’t all that immense after all, then to the cooking of the meat and then frying of the rice to scooping all of the fillings onto the leaves and to what seem like my honest attempt to wrap them all in and then lowering them into boiling water while uttering some sort of prayer that it will not all turned loose and became a huge mess. After the whole endeavour, the bak chang came out perfect and somehow it tasted extremely good, thanks to all the heart and sweat poured into it. So go on and read about it all here, and who knows, you may make a resolution to make one for yourself this year?

Penang Food Diary

Oh how can I forget this food adventure of J and mine, at the food haven up north of Malaysia. Thinking back on all the food we had consumed in a span of one day, and yes ONE day, makes me shudder. I felt I had ate for the entire week! One of the most memorable dishes that I had in Penang that time, apart from my all time favourite Kek Lok Si  laksa of course, is the Mee Mamak. The sinful plate of red stir fried noodles has a huge myriad of flavours all packed into this seemingly simple dish. Now I have a sudden hankering for it. Ah, it will definitely be on top of my list if I ever go visit Penang again.

Best Mee Mamak @ Penang
Best Mee Mamak @ Penang

Teochew Steam Fish

Ah, so it seems that a lot of people googled for this recipe and I hope it did certainly helped many of them to have this dish grace their dinner table and feed many tham jiaks out there. Though I would have loved to re-enact this dish instead with a huge fresh fish, but nonetheless what I managed to concoct the other day remained fresh in my mind. The recipe was definitely a keeper and one day I shall attempt it again when I get my hand on some good fish.

Chinese Egg Tarts
Chinese Egg Tarts

Egg Tarts

This was definitely one of my favourite attempted recipe, one that is truly Chinese yet able to satisfy my sweet tooth. Since young I have loved this dainty dessert and especially so after the Portuguese egg tarts made their inception in Taiping. Although this recipe of mine was not of my favourite Portuguese egg tart (the idea of puffy crust still scares me, but one day I shall brace it like how I did for my Sponge Cake), but I still love the soft eggy and slightly sweet filling and the cookie-style crust was quite good too.

Bangkok Street Food
Bangkok Street Food

Bangkok Street Food: A-Roi

Yes I do have to admit that, although I have been to Bangkok for numerous times, yes even at one point I am there more than I am in Malaysia, this had been the one of the very few post on Bangkok food, and it turned out that the crowd pleaser was the street snacks. I guess sometimes when one go to someplace too much, they took for granted all the good food that they can have all the time there and forgot to document everything down as if it is really precious. Looking back now, I really do miss a lot of Bangkok food, and someday I am so heading back there again (though I also had numerous time swore I did not want to go back after many, many flights), not just for the shopping, which was unbelievably cheap, but definitely for all the a-roi (delicious) food there. Oh I have a sudden vivid recollection of my favourite, one must be forewarned when reminiscing on food that it will leave a huge longing in the heart.

Best Char Siew @ KL/PJ
Best Char Siew @ KL/PJ

Char Siew

Now I know that so many people out there shared my sentiment to this meat call pork, and one that have been barbecued to point of charred skin but locked with all the sweet meaty juiciness inside. Ah, just trying to describe this special dish again makes my mouth waters. Anyhow, I have indeed wrote a long post of praise to it, so head on to read all about and where to get your hands, or rather teeth in this case on it, and the best ones at that. What are you waiting for?

Pandan Leaves

Although this post was also about Hak Lor Mai, the sweet Chinese dessert that uses Pandan Leaves, it seemed that the whole information in regards to pandan leaves was the main attraction to people. Probably I took this leave for granted, having it embedded in our various local cuisines from aromatic Nasi Lemak to kaya (coconut jam) to kuih-muih. It is no wonder that these plain looking leaves in disguise of a wonderful yet not intruding aroma that it imparts to anything it came in contact with, in this case cooking with would garner so much attention to this date. I am so grateful that it is one thing that is easily obtained in Malaysia.

Pandan Leaf
Pandan Leaf

Chee Cheong Fun: The Breakdown

It seemed that this guest post of mine from my dear friend L is here to stay definitely, with her extensive research and also eating of course on the many types of Chee Cheong Fun that one can find in Malaysia. We might not have covered the whole Malaysia entirely but even then, we have already manage to find four variations of totally diverse style and sauces, but all with the main ingredient of steamed rice flour sheets rolled up. I for one feel the need to inject here that, although I have tried so many of the types mentioned, the Taiping style Chee Cheong Fun is the best and shall always hold a special place in my heart, bias I may be, but it is really tasty, one must try it at least once in their lifetime!

So there you have it, the top 8 posts of this blog. From here I would announce my return to planet Earth, and I would like to resume some sort of normality, then again what is normal? Nevertheless, stick around a little longer as I have a long postponed write up on chickens, and I promised it is going to be interesting, think free range and castration (yes, you read this right). Till then, happy eating and cheers to a 2010 that would be filled with loads of good food!