On Location: Eating Your Way Across Malaysia


Dutch colonial influences are still evident in Old Melaka

Chinese window decoration adorning a Melaka home

Always good for fun times on holiday

not what it seems—mango pudding in coconut cream at Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur’s Lafite restaurant

Traditional Meets Molecular

The Peranakan culture of the former British Straits Settlements (Penang, Melaka, and Singapore) where Chinese, Malay, and European foods and preparations intermingle to produce dishes unique to Malaysia.  Peranakan cuisine, also known as Nonya or Nyonya cuisine, is most remarkable for the flavour given by the unique spices collectively called rempah, which must be prepared to precise requirements with regard to texture and flavour in order to be considered even remotely acceptable to exacting chefs.  With Melaka an easy daytrip from Kuala Lumpur, it is not at all uncommon for local foodies to visit just for lunch or dinner at their favourite restaurants. 

The former Portuguese and Dutch stronghold of Melaka, a newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the traditional centre of Peranakan cuisine and purportedly home to the most authentic laksa in Malaysia.  Portuguese influence is still tasted in the food, heavily favouring fish dishes in this seaside city, and the tongue-boggling sensations of spicy nuances and flavours bring groans of satisfaction from many a visiting diner.  Extremely lucky visitors to Malaysia may find themselves invited to a Peranakan tok panjang, the ‘long table’ feast involving a twelve-course banquet and a huge number of guests coming and going to and from the table while other foods are served all around the room for those not seated.

To balance traditional with ultracontemporary, don’t deprive yourself to the amazing culinary experience offered at Lafite, Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur‘s very modern showcase for the talents of Canadian chef Damon Campbell, whose forays into molecular cuisine leave his guests agog with delight both before and after tasting his got-to-be-seen-to-be-believed creations.  For those unfamiliar with molecular cuisine, it involves presenting food in such a way that plays with the expectations of the visual vis-à-vis actual taste; for example, that is not a hard-boiled egg cut in half, but rather a perfect sphere of mango pudding set in a bed of coconut cream.  Given the demands of foodies around the world for the latest and greatest in all things edible, molecular cuisine seems to have remained somewhere in a realm of exclusivity usually reserved for white asparagus and November truffles, the difference being that molecular fare is available year ’round.  Eat!  And don’t worry when the last morsel disappears; in Malaysia, there is always plenty more.

To end a night in KL in memorable fashion, head to Shangri-la’s sister property, Traders Hotel, and enjoy the spectacular views of Petronas Towers from the rooftop SkyBar, where the fashionable crowd meets for many a happy hour after work and pre-club.  The lychee and rose martinis will have you changing the return leg of your reservation home before the night is through.

Tourism Malaysia


KL Tower as seen from Skybar
Portuguese influences live on in Melaka


Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.L.B
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