My mum called me up one day in November and asked me if I could accompany her to Malaysia in 2 weeks time, it was a rhetorical question and I couldn’t say no…It’s the first time in 19 years since I’ve been back to my mother’s homeland. My memories of Ipoh consisted of utter boredom during the 6 week summer break. Every day was spent in various living rooms whilst my mum, aunt & uncles nattered on in Cantonese, myself & my twin sister resorted to food & TV to combat the boredom. We would have the rare trip to the beach, cave or casino, but I can’t say that I really ever enjoyed my summer holidays in Ipoh. However, this week was my chance to remake better memories of Malaysia. We would fly to Kuala Lumpar and stay with aunt for a few days before heading north to Ipoh. To keep myself sane, I resorted to food photography.
Airplane food – Malaysian Airlines. Went for the vegetarian option out of curiosity. The food was actually quite good! Dinner was babaganoush, stuffed pepper with curried vegetables, bread roll & fruit salad.
Jet lagged cuisine at my Aunt’s house in Petaing Jaya (KL). We had brought cereal from the UK as I knew 12 days of refined white food would leave us somewhat constipated. However, we hadn’t expected to be eating cereal so soon – my aunt hadn’t bothered cooking for us, so dinner was a bowl of cereal topped with fruit. This was pretty disgusting as we used creamer that was warm, lumpy and tasted of plastic, as my Aunt didn’t have any milk. Yum…
After that, I tried what reminded me of rice-krispie cakes, but was more like batter fried in stale oil that had been stuck together with syrup. I was so exhausted by the flight I was more than ready for bed. However, my mum & aunt were like two giggling school girls at a slumber party, they didn’t stop talking until 3am!
The pace of life in Malaysia is painfully slow…. By the time we arrived at this restaurant for breakfast, it was almost mid day. However, it was worth the wait. Vegetables & tofu stuffed with homemade fish meat was delicious!
Che chong fun with fried onion. I was feeling wise about the cereal.
Local food stall in Petaling Jaya
In the afternoon I was free to roam! I ventured into the centre of KL for a wander around the shopping malls which left me feeling rather depressed, and got lost on my way home.
Dinner at a popular food stall that sets up every evening in a car park. They only have one thing on the menu, and when they’ve sold out they pack up & go. Tonight was homemade fishballs with homemade noodles in a soup. Simple, but delicious.
My mum & I went on a pre breakfast walk around the local shop houses. It was tradition for my mum to get her blood pressure checked every day, as they do it for free in the pharmacies. I was reluctant to take part, but the band was around my arm before I could say no…(my blood pressure is excellent). My mum, determined to be healthy stopped off at a herbal drink vendor and downed a pint of bitter herbal tea. I wasn’t so brave and went for the sugar cane.
‘Smelly bean’ vendor
Shops in Petaling Jaya – I was surprised to see a number of organic and health food shops.
The fruit here was amazing! Pomelo, mangosteen, bananas, rambutans…
Sticky rice cake filled with red bean (pink), coconut agar cake (white & green), tapioca cake (yellow) for breakfast
Had another afternoon exploring KL. I got lost, had my feet nibbled by fish, wandered around China Town, Little India & Bangsar, nearly got knocked over by a car (no pavements in KL!) and narrowly escaped a mugging by a mad woman. I don’t really like this place…
Dinner at another local restaurant.
The tofu was incredibly fresh & tender, covered in a sticky soya & caramel sauce.
Fresh fish, greens & rice.
I decided to go on a wander around the neighbourhood, (foolishly without my map or phone) took a wrong turning & spent the next hour trying to find my way back! Street naming system makes no sense here…When I finally got back on track, I treated myself to a bubble tea. Very sweet lychee green tea with chewy tapioca pearls.
After hours of waiting around, our lift to Ipoh finally arrived. I was relieved to enter the cooler climates of the more northerly part of Malaysia, amongst lush rainforests and mountains. On the downside there were more mosquitos, which are attracted to me, despite wearing insect repellant! We knocked up at a local eating place, Marpoh which was crowded with locals. The decor was pretty basic, but the food was far from simple! We had a feast of local fish, pork knuckle cooked in soya vinegar, tofu & vegetables, five bean dish, and century egg soup. I was absolutely stuffed!
local fresh water fish dish
Pork knuckle cooked in soya vinegar
The highlight of Ipoh life is eating. I won’t mention the dodgy hotel that my cousin booked us into accidentally. I was so short-tempered due to lack of sleep I wasn’t in the mood for taking photos of the hotel breakfast ( I had watermelon and american pancakes, passed on the noodle vegetable dish which was tepid and swimming in oil.) By the time it got to lunch time, I was really hungry. We were brought to the Woolley Food City in Ipoh Garden. Not wanting anything to fussy, I went for the popiah, which was like a soft tortilla wrap filled with glass noodles, vegetables & tofu, and drizzled with sweet chili sauce. We also had a portion of smelly beans & prawns on the side. My mum & Aunt are unashamed of their bodily functions, they happily ate away.
Ice kerchang for dessert – creamy coconut milk, peanuts & grass jelly is a winning combination for the hot humid weather, but this has to be eaten fast before it disappears into a slushy drink!
Squashed up in the back of a people carrier, my mum, aunt, uncle & cousins headed out for dinner at Nonya restaurant in Ipoh. We ordered the set menu for 6. The food was incredible!
Tofu with fried onion & garlic
Green mango salad
Fried breaded chicken (far better than KFC!)
After a stressful and un-enjoyable few days in Malaysia, it was time for me to escape to Singapore. My cousin, aunt & mum treated me to a Dimsum breakfast before I embarked my 10hr coach journey. We tried a few different types of bau – pork, chicken, vegetable, black sesame & red bean. They were bouncy & stuffed with delicious fillings, and sticky rice was lovely & comforting.
Although I couldn’t stand the weather and didn’t understand the culture, I did enjoy the food in Malaysia.