Let’s talk about authentic, exotic Malaysian food. The list is endless but there are some very popular ones which will always remain as my favourite. I had written about it before but this time it’s special because I went with my daughter to this Malaysian place in London to eat. It’s commonly called Malaysian Hall Canteen. It serves the cheapest and most authentic Malaysian food….cooked by Malay chefs.
I thought it interesting how my daughter, Sharon, and I see and share things quite differently. She shared her interesting part of the story in her blog about eating at the Malaysian Hall Canteen (Cafe) London.
Now, I’ll tell you how good it is. My girl whispered to me on the plane to go to Malaysian Hall for dinner. HUH….CRAZY!! This means putting down our luggages in our accommodation and straight go there. Do you believe that I did that? Taking 2 underground tubes and further walking there in this freezing weather? I mean after landing? It’s just not me. But I lost again. That’s the weakness of a mother sometimes. It’s either I go or I would have to bear with her pestering through the night and be dragged off the next morning, most likely eating lunch and even dinner there!
Each time I went there, it would usually be the same thing we ordered. But this time, we ordered a new one…..noodle soup. It was really delicious. The soup was peppery and tasty, just perfect for the freezing weather. We had a special friend to join us so we had more to share.
As usual, teh tarik (a special, popular ‘pulled tea’) is a must to order. Sometimes we ordered 2 glasses each. I think I can even drink 4 glasses! Looking at the 3 glasses, I just feel amused. I try to figure out how they were at the same level…haha. We must have liked it so much we all gulped it down together without any second thought.
While waiting for my food, I noticed a Malay lady next table eating with her hands. Now, don’t be too surprised or judgemental. This is the way most Malays and Indians eat in Malaysia. Please, for goodness sake, don’t keep staring at them or pass unkind remarks. It’s just part of the culture. They do wash their hands very clean before eating. I am always curious and amazed at how they manage to gather the food together before putting it cleanly into their mouths. I would have dirtied my nose, my cheeks and my chin if I do that…haha. You can try to imagine how I look…..*wink*
I ordered fried rice vermicelli (mi hoon) which was not spicy. But my spicy-loving daugther loves spicy food. She ordered fried spicy rice noodles (kway teow) shown above (first picture). When her plate of fried rice noodles came, she tried one mouth and went, ‘Arrrrggggh, SO spicy!’ I tried a little and my gosh….it burned my tongue. That was seriously spicy. I think they used the tiny bird-eyed chillies (cili padi). The only solution….mix up my dish and her dish. So we had fun doing our own ‘frying’ on the table….haha. Was it still spicy? Of course it was but more toned down. It was still too spicy for me but Sharon loved it. You can imagine her cheeky grin as she ate my share!! I felt cheated. But what to do? My own sweet, loving, adorable daughter! I lost again! She tucked in happily, smiling away.
While my girl went for an appointment the next day, I went to Westfied where there was a Malaysian food fair going on. Several stalls were set up, each cooking and selling its own specialties, some similar types. There were long queues at some stalls while others were not doing too well.
The stall that did the best was the satay stall. The queue was long and the satays were not grilled fast enough for sale. The picture here showed the usual way satays were cooked back in Malaysia. They are often sold at road side stalls or shops, by the sticks and not by the plate as in UK here.
The satays tasted very delicious. The sauce was really good. However I was quite disappointed that chicken breast meat was used instead of chicken thigh. The meat was tougher and more bland. Chicken thigh meat is juicy and tender. Back home satays are not in big chunks and so they cook very quickly. The marinade also gets into the meat quicker so the meat itself is also very tasty. I guess this is to cater to the western palate. This plate here cost £5. It was served as usual with cucumber, rice cubes and sliced red onions. You can use other types of meat to make satays.
I was delighted to find teh tarik stall. It was perfect for the freezing weather. I was thrilled to find the man performing his teh tarik skill right in front of his stall. He drew a crowd. In fact he was giving away small cups of teh tarik as samples to passers by. He had very good business. I often do this at home, too. All you need is 2 cups to pour the tea into each other from a height. Be careful if you are trying it out at home. Just don’t get burnt as you may splash and spill. It takes practice to get it right. You can also try it out with milo or coffee. By ‘pulling’ the drink, you incorporate air into it and gives the drink a special aroma and taste.
Here is a very delicious bowl of sambal fried noodles (mi goreng) served with a piece of fried chicken drumsticks. It cost £5, too. The portion is small. Actually it’s just the sambal sauce scooped over the noodles and you mix it up yourself. You can easily do this at home using my sambal at Easy Nasi Lemak Overseas - Malaysia’s Great Favourite.
Sambal is an important condiment in many Malaysian dishes. If you like Malaysian food and want to learn to cook it, this is one that you must try to make. You can add to almost all dishes or eat it together with other dishes.
In the picture here, you can see the nasi lemak in the forefront. At the right you see the spicy prawn crackers. The ones sold here are nothing compared to the real thing. These prawn crackers are very delicious, full of flavour. Prawns and fish crackers are very popular in Malaysia. We love it with spicy cucumber pickles (called acar), a great favourite during Chinese New Year.
At the top left in the picture here, you see curry puffs, another great Malaysian favourite. These are sold all over in Malaysia and often eaten for breakfast or any time of the day. If you like to make it yourself, I have a very nice spiral curry puff recipe which is deep fried. Check it out at Spiral Chicken Curry Puffs (Part 1 - Filling) and Spiral Chicken Curry Puffs (Part 2 - Pastry). If you want less work, you can use the pastry for my Peanut Puffs.
Another of my great favourite, in fact every Malaysian’s favourite, is the famous roti canai. It’s pronounced as ‘roh tee char naai’. Several of my Western friends here pronounced it as ‘roh ti chey ney’. They are often served with lentil curry but you can also ask for other types of curry. It is quite a lot of work to make at home.
This is how roti canai is made…… grilled on a big metal plate and served hot to customers.
If you ever travel on Malaysian airlines, you will always be served with some of these specialties, especially if you travel in business or first class. I was thrilled when Jill Colonna at Mad About Macarons shared in my nasi lemak post comment box this:
“Your post has just taken me right back to the most memorable and romantic of our trips: Nasi Lemak was our first ever dish served on our honeymoon; in 1st class Malaysian Airlines. I’ll never forget getting that served with such class and surprise for breakfast! Thank you, Mary, for showing us how to try it at home. Could be more likely candidate for a Valentine dish in our household ”
What a way to celebrate honeymoon and the coming Valentine’s day….with Malaysian food!If you like to try authentic Malaysian food, you can go to the Malaysian Hall at the location below. Maybe you can enquire more before going.
30-34 Queensborough Terrace
London W2 3ST
0871 961 8354
Bayswater (Circle, District)
Mon-Sun 8:00 - 22:00
Quote of the day……
“The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.”
- Solomon Ibn Gabriol
Keep Learning Keep Smiling