15 July 2006

Delapan Kasih, Delapan Kisah, Bahagian KeDelapan

Culinary nostalgia is not limited just to pMom's kitchen. There is plenty to get fed (up) with in Malaysia. Eight of the best are right here....

Eight of Malaysia's best

Char koay teow. Nothing says ‘Gua si hokkien lang’ like sitting down to a plate of char koay teow. Flat rice noodle (the koay teow) pan-fried with garlic, shallots, ku chai /kow choy, shrimp and egg. Deliciously bad for you (and me). And if you go up north, you might be served char koay teow on a banana leaf! Hands up people from Taiping. The Restoran Air Kacang is home to one of your best char koay teow.

Gu leng peng. The bane of my life. Rose syrup into a glass of milk. Called Air Bandung when flavoured with pandan (you can leave the leaf in for extra flavour). The resulting pink drink is curiously compelling, so much so that it is why I am the shape I am today.

Kuaci. Melon seeds. Just like Polly The Parrot likes to nibble on sunflower seeds, Malaysians gnaw on kuaci. Anywhere Americans eat popcorn, a Malaysian will have kuaci. Movies, sporting events, parties. But unlike popcorn eaters, kuaci eaters tend to leave a mess. *sigh, goes for brush and dustpan*

Otak-otak. A wonderful, baked spicy fishcake with a difference: there is actually a slice of fish in it. While there you can get otak-otak without the fish fillet, the best kind usually has a nicely-done piece of piscine heaven hidden inside.

Ark tui misua. 'Duck thigh vermicelli', though the name does not do it justice. Gently coddled for several hours in duck stock with various chinese herbs, the duck thigh is so tender, it falls from the bone to touch.
Misua is a light vermicelli made from rice flour, that has the unusual quality of soaking up flavours. When the soup is good to the last drop and when the company is just as good, ark tui misua is not just a dish, it is a complete meal.

Aiskrim potong. Invariably sold from an iced box on the back of a motorcycle, aiskrim potong is just that. I have not tried it for several years now, so would not know if it is still sold but it certainly did feature in many a Malaysian childhood, from the city to little villages. The name comes from the ice cream itself, which came in blocks the same size as a box of colour pencils. On retrieving the desired flavour of ice cream, the vendor would cut the required amount out of the block of ice cream and hand it over to us. Messy, but heavenly. Modern ice cream is just not as nice for some reason….

Tok-tok mee. It took some time before we Asians got used to the idea of self-service and it was because of this sort of thing. The name came from a noodle stall on wheels, pedalled around while the vendor announced his business by knocking on a hollow, bell-like thing (the name will come to me in a second…).

Kaya kueh. Kaya is our name for egg jam, though the description is not exactly right. Kaya is a sweet, golden brown spread that wipes lightly over a slice of bread at breakfast. Or on to kaya kueh….
The kueh itself is a bite-size square of sticky, blue-veined cake made from zhu bee (lormai or glutinous rice). No light wiping of kaya here.
Today’s kaya kueh is not the dangerous confection of my childhood. All those years ago, kaya kueh was sold as squares as big as my little palm. I spent as much time enjoying it as I did trying not to drip kaya over myself, the furniture or anyone who happened to come within arm’s reach.
I’m sure finishing schools could use kaya kueh to teach… what do they call it? Comportment? Deportment? Balance a slice of kaya kueh on the head while walking. The heavens help you if anything spills….

And that's it, the eighth meme of eights. Thanks, angel!


At 9:06 am, Blogger Chen said...

char koay teow?
sinful, indeed very sinful.. especially the one fried with lard :P

kuaci.. remembering the good old days munching kuaci.. the sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds etc etc.. (and messing the floor at the same time as well)...

At 9:24 am, Anonymous may said...

I'm all for char koay teow!! there are heaps of other great Malaysian cuisine, but me sleepy head right now can't really think straight after a dose of indian cuisine last night... hehehe!

*sniffs for some otak-otak*

At 1:57 pm, Blogger Lao Chen said...

Kuay teow with extra chilli!

That thing that goes tok tok might be the same contraption used by monks, the mu yu (mandarin) or muk yu (cantonese) or wooden fish (literal translation).

psst, I think the southern Peninsular (Johor, Singapore) style of char kuay teow with dark soy sauce is just not as nice.

At 2:11 pm, Blogger fantasyflier said...

no goreng sotong? :P

At 4:02 pm, Blogger plink said...

chen: I miss the Char Koay Teow at the Golden Phoenix Cafe, which used ot be on Gurney Drive. Now it's tomyam place....

*special otak-otak to may* Looks like somebody could do with a snack after the night out last night! ;)

LC must be a Northerner. Yay! Ka ki lang!

FF: I WAS going to mention sotong kangkong / juu huu heng chai, but frying sotong would bite a little close to the bone for some people.... *looks around innocently*

At 6:06 pm, Blogger De Book Worm said...

I learn many Hokkien words from you leh....char koay teow, gua si hokkien lang, gu leng peng, ark tui misua, zhu bee...Thank you teacher. :)

At 11:48 pm, Blogger angel said...

OMG! Gu leng peng!!! *LOL* I nearly forgot abt this drink liao!!

Where is Restoran Air Kacang? BTW, Sungai Petani also got some of the best Char Koay Teow! Their koay teow is super tender wann...

Last time, I used to love kuaci but nowadays lazy... :D

Aiskrim potong, liulian wan preaseee!!!

OMG! Tok-tok mee!! *LOL* KL ppl maybe dunno tat tok-tok me is wan tan mee! Or do they? :P

Oh, tat's the end of the meme eh? So fast wan? :P More more more!! *LOL*

* H O K K I E N M E E & T E H S I P E N G H U G Z *

At 5:43 pm, Anonymous ka..t said...

Lu really penang kia!! LOL

I just discovered the joy of air bandung!! Soooo addictive!! And damn best after pedas meal!! Nowadays when I order ABC, I ask the seller not to put anything. Just syrup and milk!!

Not easy to find good ark tui misua...most are tasteless! sigh...

At 1:49 am, Blogger plink said...

DBW: Thank you! I'm sure somebody else will come up with a Cantonese list (or already has). I'm looking forward to it, but wonder if that someone is going to be you.... ^.^

angel: Restoran Air Kacang ar? Somewhere in Taiping lar, near the old market, I think.
I have to find excuse to go Sg. Petani now, eat Char Koay Teow.
Liulian fravour aiskrim potong is so nice!
*hands out liulian fravour ice cream potong*
Aiyah, tok-tok mee people sure know wan, depending where they are from. KL got a lot of Northerners wan mar... you, me, ka..t.... :)

ka..t: Wakaka! We all Northerners, ho ho chio, ho ho jiak (we like a laugh, we like our food), watudu? Bandung / gu leng peng is soooo... nice!
Shame about the ark tui misua. But I thought the Sun Hin Loong kopitiam (PJ SS2) that one OK wut? Hope that helps. :)

At 3:37 am, Blogger Lao Chen said...

Probably the only time I had duck leg noodle was in Bidor, in a restaurant near (or maybe it is) Pun Chun, that famous chicken biscuit shop that also has heavenly wu kok (fried yam dumplings).

Now that I know it can be found in SS2, I'll know what to do when i get back to PJ.

At 12:40 pm, Blogger Helen said...

Yes, yes, the memory is coming back... so is my sense of deprivation.... lol

I wanna eat now!

At 3:33 pm, Blogger plink said...

LC: Pun Chun... wah, so long ago. I mean, I had not been paying attention when I was last there. The wantan mee was taking up all of my attention.
Ark tui misua is everywhere you look, I think. ka..t has a point though: pick them carefully. ;)

helen: Every time I see this list I also hungry! LOL!

At 9:54 pm, Blogger Simple American said...

Wow. What a tour. *cut and paste food items* More things I need to try as soon as can. Love flat noodles, but I know I usually have them Cantonese style.

At 4:50 pm, Blogger plink said...

Mmm... Cantonese style!

You have to come to Malaysia! Or at least, try a good Malaysian restaurant.... =)

At 11:30 am, Blogger angel said...

*nudges plink*
Ei, since u oredi pinish the meme of 8, i gib u one more, wan? *LOL*

Liu describe lah your Perfect Lovah!


I tag liu, can?
hahaha... :P

At 1:10 pm, Blogger L B said...


At 1:42 pm, Blogger plink said...

angel: Aiyah... People ngam-ngam do finish oredy kena tag again pulak!

Perfect lover ar...? Hmm....


LB: o.O O.o Welcome back! Having fun? ^.^

At 11:37 pm, Blogger Winn said...

i have cravings for asam laksa today:(

why is asam laksa not part of the list?
eh tok tok mee is wan tan mee hor? hehe i remembered we used to call it tok tok mee last time..

At 12:26 am, Anonymous ka..t said...

Oooh..thanks for the SS2 tip..must try soon!

Ya-la hor..where is assam laksa?? And where to find good one??

actually, wa em si penang lang, my ang si. wa si PJ lang tapi wa mak si Bt Gajah lang, so can be considered northerners, I guess!!

At 12:41 am, Blogger angel said...

Becos hor, if i dun tag u, u keep quiet oni... no fun... so i create fun for liu, for me and everybodi!! :D

assam laksa, Mark's Assam Laksa @ One Utama old wing is a-ok lor... if wanna get Penang taste, must go back Penang loh... Ahyitam *LOL*

in PJ, last time got one kopitiam in SS2 got sell quite nice the assam laksa but they sudah chap lap...

At 5:13 am, Blogger plink said...

Mmm... assam laksa!

winn: Sorry, only eight mar, this meme. So cannot put in everything lor.... Yahyahyah! Toktok mee is wantan mee, but special: it comes to you!

ka..t: You're welcome! Haven't been there in a while, so hope they are still open. *fingers crossed* Aiyah, I orso PJ-lang, but both parents from North!
Psst, angel is real northerner and Chen is real (adopted) northerner too!

angel: Yah, for best assam laksa, with bits of kam bong huu, have to go back to Penang leh.... OK, got excuse to go try oredi!


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