It is the 15th century. The place is the royal palace of Melaka, a strategic port and center of a great trading empire that bears the same name as the city.
By all accounts it is a rich place, with goods from all over the known world available in its markets. And the wealth is reflected in the prosperity of the people, not least embodied… More »
"I've been converted from a tenggiri hater to lover"
A relative of mine mentioned that another distant relative had opened up a banana leaf restaurant. Well it made sense that since I work in the food line I just had to go give it a try. I went with an open mind trying not to be biased. I even looked up some reviews online to get a good feel of the place before setting off for lunch. Every single review recommended the fried tenggiri (which didn't matter to me as I don't even like fried tenggiri).
Moorthy Mathai's sits right on the busy Tun Sambanthan stretch of Brickfields. As you drive past you'll notice that it is one of the newer spots along the row of makan joints and fabric stores. It is both clean and air-conditioned, which is lovely in our hot and humid weather.
We immediately place our orders to appease our ravenous rumbling tummies. Along with the usual vegetarian set, my friends each ordered the fried tenggiri (none for me, thanks!), and we got a fried chicken, and two fish cutlets to share.
Now I suppose I should explain my aversion to fried tenggiri. I have never had an enjoyable experience with it; it's either very fishy tasting, overcooked and stringy, or it has soaked up so much grease that you're basically chomping on a fishy grease sponge. When the fish arrived at our table however, I decided to give it a nibble just to be able to write about it. I was not prepared to like it or even enjoy it, and I sure as heck was not expecting to be frantically waving down a waiter to place one more order for it. The fried tenggiri here is extremely fresh, the flesh is soft and flaky with a hint of sweetness, and the spice coating is packed with flavour. To ensure that it is freshly-cooked, the tenggiri is prepared in small batches throughout the day. Moorthy's Mathai has completely changed my view of the humble tenggiri.
A year ago, I bumped into a series of flag designs created out of food for Australian Food Festival. The idea was simple, each flag was composed with traditional food elements that related with each country. And then me and Honey thought, what would it be if it were a Malaysian flag? Would it be made out of nasi lemak? Or chicken curry?
Jalur Gemilang was designed by Mohamed Hamzah in 1947 for the Malaysian flag design competition. The first design was a green flag with blue kris in the middle, surrounded by 15 white stars. The second design, which was among the three finalists, was similar to the current flag but with a five-pointed star. He borrowed major elements from the American flag, by using stripes as the idea to represent the 14 states.
Anyway, Malaysia just celebrated their independence day yesterday, so as scheduled this week would be Merdeka week in FC headquarters. Everyone has their own project and contribution for website content. And I have my own project too!
Hence this is a tribute to my adopted country, a Malaysian flag made out of Nasi Lemak- rice, sambal, ikan bilis, boiled egg and peanuts on top of banana leaf. An edible Jalur Gemilang.
Happy Independence, Malaysia! Continue reading »
"It's like food Russian roulette..."
Brad Farmerie, the Executive Chef of Double Crown was in a good mood. They were opened in the morning because of the world cup and both US and England just won their matches. That day when we there talking about his last trip to South East Asia he fed us soft, starchy pau's filled with shredded duck, a refreshing watermelon rind pickle and Shishito peppers. These are addictive, just seared on a flame until they blister and pucker up releasing their natural sugars, then salted. This is the ultimate bar snack. "I love them, in every ten you get one that's super hot, it's like food Russian roulette," Brad grins.
Double Crown is one of those places that has a little of that ambience of a time when people had a g&t before tea, wore bush hats and took their rifles to the local watering hole. High ceilings, exposed brick wall, deco collected from all over South East Asia and a menu inspired from former colonies. I suppose the closest term is Anglo-Asian. Ever so often Brad and Chef de Cuisine Christopher Rendell travels down our way, trawling through markets and street-side eateries bringing back copious new ideas and ingredients for their menu.
And what a menu. Incredibly interesting to read and almost tactile in the ideas of flavours it evokes in your mind. Dishes like Miso-glazed bone marrow with orange-olive marmalade, Chinese five spice foie gras, halibut jungle curry and a Singapore style lobster, baked in the shell with chillies. Fusion in the finest way.
So don't expect authentic dishes here folks, instead you can sip a delicate Coconut Laksa from porcelain cups. Not hardly hot enough for me (I ordered a side of chilli paste) but subtle and fragrant. On Sundays he lays out a Nyonya Dinner borrowing liberally from the Strait States.
This book inspires you to cook traditional Malay style dishes with the large beautiful glossy photos of simple and delicious food. Every recipe has you drooling, and we even had a bit of trouble narrowing it down to four to attempt at the FC kitchen.
The first part of the book shares a bit of history on the past four Prime Ministers. We… More »
Join Alex as she shows you the easiest way to cut a pineapple.
"The Sarawak Laksa is worth the journey"
One day, after a long while of not having a bowl of Sarawak Laksa, I travelled with a group of friends to the outer reaches of the city. Alas, the stall was missing! What follows now is a tale of perseverance, adventure, and some pretty darn good laksa.
The restaurant staff gave us a name, the stall moved to a place called Diamond Square in Gombak. “Gombak?!” I internally screech. Nevermind. 'Di mana ada kemahuan, di situ ada jalan'. And I really wanted that bowl of Sarawak laksa. We pile back into the car and head towards Gombak, frantically googling directions on our smartphones. “No, not Gombak! Diamond Square is in Jalan Gombak!” someone announces from the backseat, pointing at their phone. “Just tell me how to get there already,” the driver barks. We go around the proverbial mulberry bush of Jalan Pahang and Jalan Genting Kelang for a good hour. Tempers are running high, stomachs are grumbling, the sun is setting. Finally, we see it. Dapur Sarawak. Collective sighs are heard as we park the car and scramble out in hunger.
A banner with actor Mahmud Ali Basha's face hangs in the restaurant, asking us to “jom berambeh makan”, which translates to “come over and eat”. Owned by said actor, the restaurant is decorated like a typical Malay nasi campur shop, and the smell of laksa wafts out of the window between the kitchen and the dining area. We place our orders. Silence has taken over the table, save for impatient tapping on the table and bouncing of feet. We discovered they also sell mixed rice during the day (I hear there's umai!) and one can also order kuih lapis Sarawak from them.
The bowls arrive. Sarawak laksa – thin laksa noodles in an earthy, almost nutty broth topped with omelette slices. Mee kolok – noodles with sliced beef and chicken, clear broth on the side. And something extra this time for me to take away, nasi aruk dabai – fried rice, but with a bluish tint.