Truth be told, this is only the second time I’ve been because I couldn’t be bothered to make the trek into the city in previous years. Until my friend P told me about all the delicious food I was missing out on.
Mr. Kitchen hand was a bit tired after an epic effort cleaning the carpets on Saturday (my hero), so I took a very excited Mini-critic Senior into town for a feed. (Mini critic junior stayed home for afternoon naptime – she was a bit vocal about being left behind though, but we’ve promised to take her next year).
There were so many stalls to choose from, all offering something I wanted to eat. Oh look char kway teow (fried rice noodles), but ooh, there’s rojak (spicy fruit salad) over there, oh wait, is that laksa I spy?
Eventually, mini-critic senior made the decision to head to the Mamak stall for roti canai (a type of pan-fried bread), satay and nasi lemak (a rice dish). She loves this restaurant and earlier this year patiently lined up in the restaurant queue for close to 40 minutes because that was her chosen birthday treat (future food blogger in the making?).
Nasi lemak (literally Creamy Rice) is often touted as the national dish of Malaysia. It consists of rice cooked with coconut cream and various accompaniments. The usual sides include fried peanuts, crispy fried ikan bilis (anchovies), cucumber slices, half a boiled egg and sambal (fiery chilly relish). It is usually sold wrapped in banana leaves and newspaper and eaten anytime from breakfast through to dinnertime. The breakfast nasi lemak is usually very simple, but lunch and dinner versions can include rendang (a type of curry), or my favourite – fried chicken…mmmmmm. Chinese versions include taukwa (bean curd) as well – or maybe that’s just how my mum made it.
Not the best presentation of Nasi Lemak, but very tasty nonetheless
Satay is probably one of the most widely recognised Malaysian dishes. However, when Malaysians say satay, we are referring to the skewers of meat and not the sauce. The sauce is called kuah kacang (literally peanut sauce). The satay sauce at Mamak tastes really authentic – I’m still trying to work out how to replicate it. Mini-critic loves satay and I have to fend her off to make sure I get a fair share of the meal too.
Roti Canai (roti=bread, canai=knead) is also another famous Malaysian dish, and both the mini-critics love it. They eat it plain without any accompanying curries as they are still coming to terms with chilli. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the finished roti because mini-critic Senior was too hungry and hooked in straightaway.
After lunch, it’s time for Cendol. This isn’t the traditional way it’s served. Usually, the green cendol “noodles” (made of green bean/ mung bean flour) are placed in the bottom of a shallow bowl, then ice is shaved over the top. Gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup is then ladled over the top and a final spoonful of coconut cream is added for richness. Sometimes, cooked red beans (aduki beans) are added in with the noodles too. In Malaysia, cendol is usually bought from a street vendor and one can find a few different variations of cendol including cendol jagung (corn), cendol pulut (glutinous rice) and very rarely, cendol durian.
While eating, we were entertained by lots of performances, including a few Malaysian artistes flown over for the occasion. It was very hard work prying mini-critic senior away from the stage area.
Mini critic was fascinated by the cendol "noodles"
As an added bonus, when we wandered through Chinatown on our way back to the car, we bumped into a “Lion Dance troupe” working its way through Dixon Street.
If you live in Sydney and would like to check out Malaysia fest next year, keep an eye on the Darling Harbour calender.
Also I completely forgot to include Mr. Kitchen Hand’s scoring for last week’s Malaysian Monday, so here they are:
Scores out of 5 for Mama Carries biscuits
Appearance: 4: "Nice and cute and it doesn't look very Malaysian does it?"
Texture: 3.5 – "crunchy, biscuity"
Taste: 3.5 – "Bit too sugary"
Have a great start to the week.