my mental health is tenuous admissionÂ Â poverty realityÂ rule we don’t take the boys out to dinner very often. Sushi train and yum cha scenarios are tolerable and these days generally quite successful in that noone gets hurt, public humiliation is minimal and everyone finds something they love to eat, but that is about it.
Oscar gets incredible anxious if food does not appear as his butt cheeks meet the seat so that can take the edge off, as can Grover having an inexplicable strop perhaps over the flavour of air, Jasper having a whinge about Grover breathing his air or Felix getting his emo-on for some other reason I have completely missed, perhaps where he’d been asked to sit in the car. Good times!
Combine that delicious scenario with a complete absence of disposable income and hello eating in! Again!
Enter Stage RightÂ Malaysia Kitchen Australia. Proof to me I have made it in the blogging world. FINALLY, a program that fits me a to a tee. Eating.
The project is an international one and all about increasing awareness of Malaysian Cuisine. Considering everything else Malaysia has been in the Australian press about for the last few weeks, turning to all things culinary is really quite lovely.
First up, some geography:
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I know right! It’s not very big at all. 28 million people still manage to squeeze in there and what makes it interesting is how its location influences its food – there’s Indian spices, coconut curries, a LOT of chilli and a nod to the China. YUM.
My task? To check out four different Malaysian restaurants and tell you about it. Seriously, such an opportunity is like winning lotto in my mind.
Getting us out of the house on a weeknight for dinner is worthy of a blog post in and of itself. That each of the boys went and got dressed in their own interpretation of ‘good clothes’. Or the pure FRENZY of excitement they were in by the time we got to the car, thereby rendering them apoplectic by the time we got to the restaurant. Or just seeing the mere thrill on their faces at being out! Eating new food! Being all grown-up!
It has been an absolute blast.
Oh dudes, I have to give you the ending first because after four restaurants this remained the firm favourite of all of us. The restaurant is jumping. It’s loud, fast, the staff are so friendly and helpful and then there is the food. Flavours outrageously clean, crisp and fresh. I’ve also got to confess that two of our four restaurants were the two Mamak restaurants – the Chatswood one and the Chinatown one. WHAT? It is sensational.
So what is Malaysian cuisine? Let’s start with roti. I think Indian bread with roti but this is something way beyond. Think a dough thrown in the air and ultimately paper thin, then thrown on a hotplate and then scrunched. It’s sort of crispy and flaky and bready all at once. AND there are varieties – some savoury and some sweet – what is not to love oh blessed roti.
think wafer thin dough, smeared with butter and sugar, rolled and then coiled and then slowly cooked on a hotplate. It’s called roti bom which seems appropriate. Geddit! If I were a skater. Or is that so 2005?
(One of) The savoury version:
And look – NOT a display salad:
Up the top there is water spinach with chilli and shrimp paste and then there are the beans. Both are incredible but those beans? I could eat them until my head fell off quite frankly.
From my highly uneducated just pass me more food seat, shrimp paste is big in Malaysian cuisine. As is tamarind and sambal (think chilli, think condiment, think ridiculously hot but then strangely sweet and ridiculously addictive).
Next to the roti tisu the biggest hit with our guys were the satay – skewers of marinated chicken then cooked over a flame grill. No anaemic looking dried out
boot leather old bird here, just some very juciy tasty chicken on a stick served with possibly the best satay sauce I have ever ever tasted:
But I’ve saved the best to last. I did not know – but nor had I ever spent much time thinking about it – that nasi lemak was Malaysian. Dudes, the only thing that got me through my first real job ohmygodgetmeoutofherethestressiskillingme was the Thursday lunch special of nasi lemak in the Asian joint downstairs. I had not had it in about 15 years. I kid you not.
Hello old friend:
Shame the next restaurant wasn’t of the same calibre…