Over the weekends, I went to Petaling Jaya (near Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia, with The Girlfriend to help her parents pack their house. They’re moving out, and The Girlfriend would like me to visit the hometown and the home where she grew up and of course, to help the family pack the house.
I had a really bad dust allergy on the first day of packing without a mask. My whole face was itchy and I was sneezing really really badly. Not wanting to suffer just as badly as the first day, we went out to buy face masks. That helped a lot. I didn’t get any allergy reaction at all. Phew!
We did do quite a bit of packing, but I think the one activity we did the most there was eating!
Gosh… On the first day when we landed, we were eating once every three hours! Part of the reason was that The Girlfriend had not eaten her beloved Malaysian food for quite a while. The other reason was to convince me that Malaysian food was way better than the food you get here in Singapore. I’ve always wondered how different Malaysian food could be from Singaporean food when both countries share the same cuisines. Many of my Malaysian friends will often comment that the food in Singapore is not as fantastic as the food back in their hometown. I thought it was just a case of nostalgia. Boy was I wrong! Having gone on this eating trip, stuffing myself with awesome food every three hours, I can say that Malaysian food is fantastically good! It was so good that I was having withdrawal symptoms the day I returned! I wanted to go back so badly to eat their char kway teow (stir-fried kway-teow noodles) and Hokkien mee (Hokkien noodles)
So, what did we eat?
Once we arrived at the airport, The Girlfriend’s parents brought us to Uptown, which is located at Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya. There, we had dimsum (點心) breakfast! It was amazing. Every few minutes, you’ll have people bringing out freshly steamed goodies in huge trays, tempting you to eat more (and pay more). Look at that! Looks so good right?
What’s really cool about the place was that they had dimsum that looked like sushi!
Don’t be fooled by the appearance! It’s not sushi at all! It’s not rice underneath the little strips of meat. Haha… Instead, underneath the little strips of meat is MORE MEAT! A juicy succulent piece of steamed pork wrapped in little strips of seaweed! Super yummy!
Three hours later, it was lunch time, and off we went to eat chicken rice with char siew (pork barbequed in a sweet marinade).
Oh wow… The char siew was unbelievably awesome! Unlike the char siew that I normally get here in Singapore, which tends to be dry and hard, the char siew I was eating was soooooo juicy and tender! There’s something very unique about the sauce too. I can’t put my finger to it, but it’s something I don’t get here in Singapore. It was soooooo good!
Three hours later, we went to One Utama (a shopping mall) to meet a friend of mine for tea. We had roti chanai, which in Singapore, is known as roti prata (it’s a kind of fried pancake/bread thing). The Girlfriend decided to try a dessert version of it, so she had roti chanai topped with a banana and ice cream. It was sooo good!
On my part, I had roti chanai the classic way – with curry. Oh wow… The curry was super flavourful! I rarely had curry that tasted sooooo good! The only other time I tried really really good curry was at a certain prata place in Little India, Singapore (it had so many spices including cinnamon, it was mind-blowingly awesome!)
Three hours later, it was dinner time, and off we went to this place:
The Fatty Crab Restaurant! It occupies two floors, and it’s so popular that there’s a massive crowd waiting. We were there for about 2 hours, and though we were done eating, the crowd that was outside waiting was still as massive as before.
The restaurant had perfected a few dishes and that’s all they have to offer on their menu. I think they only got 6 different dishes to offer. But they are the best dishes! The one thing that stands out is that this eatery does not believe in using utensils. At most, you’re given a spoon for eating rice. As for the other dishes, you are expected to eat with your bare hands! That’s right! For food this epic, there’s nothing more wonderful than to enjoy a finger-licking dining experience! YUM!
So… What did we eat?
Firstly, SATAY! (It’s like a kebab) YUM!
One thing that stood out immediately was the peanut sauce (that goes together with the satay). I was told that the peanut sauce in Malaysia is typically less sweet than the ones in Singapore, probably because the Singapore ones add quite a bit of sugar in their recipe. And unlike the satay that you normally get in Singapore that tends to be a little dry, the satay I ate was soooo tender and juicy! MMMmmm…
Next, we had fried chicken!
Oh wow! This was super delicious! The skin was very crispy, but the meat was so juicy and tender. I think they seasoned the chicken with the Chinese five spice mix, garlic, and pepper. There might have been more ingredients used, but that’s what I could identify. And boy was it delicious!
Next, we had crabs steamed in egg! It’s the first time I’m eating crab cooked this way.
It’s so simple, yet so satisfying!
And along with the steamed crabs, we had sweet and sour crabs. It’s something you can’t find in Singapore.
How was it? It was oh-so-good!
For those who have never eaten crabs in a Chinese eatery, this is one of the weapons that you’re given to break open the crab shells.
It’s Thor’s crab-eating hammer!
Imagine a crowded restaurant, where everyone in every table is busy hammering their crabs on the table! It’s quite a bizarre sight for non-locals (I think).
Here’s the aftermath of the crab-eating carnage:
MMMMmmmmm… So satisfying!
That’s the end of day one!
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my iPhone out, so no photos of what we had for breakfast and lunch. In the morning, we had roti chanai and dosai. What’s really cool about the market place hawker centre was that dhal and chutney was all-you-can-eat! It was soooooo good!
Three hours later, we had char kway teow, which is entirely different from Singapore’s one. Singapore’s one is dark in colour, wet from the sauce, has lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and cockels. The Malaysian one is lighter in colour, dry, and has prawns. Both are fantastically awesome. But the Malaysian one was really good! It has left me yearning for more! I can’t stop thinking about it even till today! I want to eat more of it! (By the way, the Malaysian char kway teow sold here in Singapore is really nothing compared to the real deal – you’ve got to cross the Causeway to taste it for yourself!)
We also had chili prawn-paste chee cheong fan (made from rice flour) in sweet sauce. Ohh… It was so good! I never had anything like it before!
Three hours later, we had durians and durian kueh (a dessert). Compared to the durian kueh in Singapore, the Malaysian one has less flour and more durian awesomeness! MMMMmmm…
Three hours later, it was dinner time! And off we went to another eatery.
One thing you definitely do not see in Singapore is that the cooking is done by the road side (in Singapore, most of the cooking is done within the eatery space). I found it really amazing how the cooks were frying stuff out in the open. I guess the benefit is that there’s more seating space available within the eatery.
Anyway, we had… Hokkien Mee!
The Singapore Hokkien Mee is not dark at all. Instead, it’s made up of yellow and white noodles, cooked in a delicious egg sauce with prawns and slices of pork. The Malaysia one is dark in colour, uses only one type of noodles and has prawns and pork slices. Perhaps what makes this Malaysia-style one really awesome is the fact that the sauce contains pork stock, giving the dish a really great taste!
Another dish we had is unique to Petaling Jaya. It’s known as Pai-guat Ee-min (pork ribs with Cantonese egg noodles).
As the name suggests, it’s Cantonese style egg noodles with tender pork ribs and cabbage. It was soooooo good!
We also had yow-yu ng-choy – sotong (cuttlefish) with kangkong (a type of vegetable). With it is a really delicious black sauce, crushed peanuts and a special blend of chili (seems to contain chili, lime, garlic, and ginger. There might be more ingredients to it – but that’s all I can identify).
Oh… It was soooo good!
Last but not least, we had cockles!
The plate of cockels was served along with a plate of the yummy black sauce, chilli sauce, and crushed peanuts. Oh… It’s was so good!
Oh wow… We ate so much that for the two days, The Girlfriend and I constantly felt so full. In fact, we ate so much, people have commented that we’ve both gained weight. Gosh… It’s so noticeable! But it was soooo good! When I returned to Singapore, I was still recovering from the awesome food. In fact, for the past few days, I’ve been constantly thinking about the delicious food that I ate. When you’ve eaten good food, everything else suddenly pales in comparison. I can’t wait to go back to Petaling Jaya to eat all these wondrous food! My Malaysian friends are right – the food in Malaysia tastes really great!
I think one big reason why the food tastes so good is because Malaysia has farms. So the eateries receive a constant supply of fresh meats and vegetables. Singapore doesn’t have that many farms due to land scarcity, and a lot of them are imported daily from overseas. Since a lot of the meats and vegetables are imported from Malaysia, they are not as fresh as compared to the meats and vegetables you get from eating in Malaysia.
Also, the foods that I’ve shown above are typically classed as street food, and the expectation is that street food shouldn’t cost too much. It puts a strain on food operators because of the ridiculous rate of inflation over the years. Unfortunately, food operators can’t raise the price too much because of the price expectation. My guess is that for this reason, they have to settle for lower quality ingredients to match the price. With these two factors in play, I guess that’s why the hawker food in Singapore just doesn’t match up to the level of awesomeness that I experienced in Malaysia.
Well, with that being said, I look forward to return to Petaling Jaya for another round of feasting! YUM!