Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Malaysian is the new Thai

All of a sudden, Malaysian restaurants are springing up everywhere around us. A new place in San Mateo - Malaysian Kitchen, a place in Millbrae - Melaka Restauran, and another nearby joint called Penang. The venerable Straits Cafe, in SF is still going strong, but like Singapore itself, it's menu is a melting pot of Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, Indian, Dutch colonial, etc. Not a bad thing, actually.

But more Malay restaurants is great news. If there's one thing I truly miss about all the biz travel I don't do anymore, it's the regional cuisines. So far I haven't seen anyone offering Durian and sticky rice, but maybe if I keep asking...

Another item I hope catches on is Malay-style coffee. It has a dense consistency, closer to wet mortar than water. Unbelievabley potent in the caffeine department too. Usually served with condensed milk. Starbuck's, it ain't. Talk about truth in advertising - there's a local coffee that's very popular throughout SEA. It's called Keppel Tanker. The packaging has a picture of... an oil freighter.

Back before there was a 'super' highway, running N/S on the Malay Peninsula, we used to drive the two lane blacktop roads between S'pore to KL. We were not alone. The main road was the backbone of the commercial traffic between the two metropolises. It was a non-stop, 4 hour, white-knuckle ride. Oncoming traffic was expected to be equally present in your lane as in it's own. Busses, trucks, cars, motorcyles, mopeds, pedestrians, even the odd water-buffalo cart. Roadside 'kopi tiams' did a banner business refueling you and your caffeinated courage.

We have a few malay cookbooks - I might dig one out soon. Oh wait, now I can just make reservations...

"Chuchi Tangan Sebulum Makan!"


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