VagaBabe - I like the food. It is very good. There haven't been a lot of things that I haven't liked. Let me just say that Durian is not the best. One simple food that I have really liked are the gelato stands. They are amazing!!
WanderMom - Food has been an important part of our trip! We are living in a country where the food is completely different from what we eat at home. We don't cook in our apartment aside from some morning toast, coffee, and tea or an afternoon snack of cheese and crackers. There are too many phenomenal options here. It is not uncommon to walk through a food center, known as a Hawker Center, and be able to try dishes from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and India. When we first arrived, it all looked the same to us. After a few weeks, our ability to identify food and express preferences has developed. We've also learned how to stake out and claim a table at the food centers - referred to as "choping". There are no westernized versions of these dishes around. Here is a list of everything that we have tried, so far! I've marked each dish if someone in the family loves it - @VagaBabe Favorite, #WanderMom Favorite, $Hubby Favorite
Food we've tried as of 06 June 2011.
($) Barbecue Chicken Wings
Bee Hoon - Served for breakfast, super thin rice noodles - often served mixed with veggies and a soft boiled egg on top.
(#, $) Beef or Chicken Rendang - This one is all about the spices - YUM!
Carrot Cake - Fried dish and the main ingredient is "white carrots", which we refer to as radishes.
Durian - This is the most disgusting food I have ever put in my mouth. I want to throw up just thinking about it. It is a fruit that many here consider a delicacy.
Chapati - Indian, Unleavened wholemeal bread.
(@) Char Siew Bao - Dim Sum, VagaBabe likes the version stuffed with yams.
Chee Cheong Fun - fun for your mouth! Thin rice sheets covered in a thick sweet sauce - can be stuffed with roast pork or shrimp. We like the shrimp version.
Hainanese Chicken Rice - This is a simple dish and at first glance, looks pretty boring. What makes this dish phenomenal is the rice. It is cooked in chicken stock and ginger sauce. The chicken is very tender. We've had good and bad versions of this dish. The jury is still out.
Chwee Kueh - Another party for the mouth! Rice flour and water are mixed and steamed into little bowls. Each "bowl" is filled with diced preserved bits of radish. This is a good snack and was more than a little surprising the first time we tried it!
Curry Puff - This little snack reminds me of a samosa.
Kachang - This is a shaved ice dessert. It is very colorful and underneath the ice there are "hidden treats". These treats can best be described as uncooked red beans. Our first try of this dish had a durian/creamed corn topping. We were all disgusted and have never had the heart to try it again.
(#) Kopi/Teh - WanderMom could be considered a national security weapon if not provided with adequate doses of coffee in the morning. There are a number of subtleties to ordering Kopi here: Kopi C = coffee with evaporated milk and sugar, Kopi C Kosong = coffee with evaporated milk but no sugar, Kopi Kar Tai = Coffee with condensed milk and MORE sugar, Kopi Kosong = black coffee, Kopi Kow = strong brew, Kopi O = coffee with sugar, but not condensed milk, Kopi Peng = Iced coffe with condensed milk and sugar, Kopi Poh = Light coffee, Kopi Siew Tai = coffee with condensed milk but less sugar. Imagine my confusion and dismay upon trying to decipher this code for the first time!!!
(@,#,$) Kaya Toast - Kaya is a jam made from coconut milk and eggs. Delicious!!
(@,#,$) Kueh Tu Tu - Steamed rice flour cakes. We like the versions that are stuffed with peanuts or coconut.
(#) Laksa - Coconut milk party in a bowl! There is a lot going on in this dish! The ingredients in the gravy should win you over - chillies, shallots, glangal, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, turmeric, candlenuts and hae ko (dried shrimp paste). Then you add coconut milk and shrimp stock, mee tai mak (round thick noodles), chor bee hoon (thick rice vermicelli) and tau pok (puffy tofu cubes), shrimp, bean sprouts, and cockles.
(#) Lei Cha Fan - aka Thunder Tea Rice. WanderMom loves this sooo much that she has led the family on treks around the city trying to find the best version. My favorite version consists of brown rice topped with ground peanuts, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), coriander, chinese parsley, dried shrimp, chai poh (dried preserved radish bits), and diced portions of cabbage, tofu, and long beans. On the side or mixed in, the dish comes with a bowl of "tea" soup made from ground green tea leaves, basil, mint, coriander, and Chinese parsley.
Lime Juice - sour but good! This drink is surprisingly refreshing after walking around in the heat all day! I love finding sour plums at the bottom of my drink!
(@,#,$) Milo - MILO - where have you been all of our lives? This is a chocolate and malt flavored drink/snack/cereal/ice cream. We're bringing some of this home with us!
(@,$) Murtabek - Like an Indian sandwich? This dish consists of unleavened bread that is fried and filled with minced chicken, A LOT of onions, vegetables, egg and sometimes cheese. It is served with a spicy, curry soup. It is fun to watch the hawker make this one!
(#,$) Nasi Padang - This is a Malay-Muslim dish. You are given rice and then allowed to choose from an array of curries, rendangs, and sambals (items covered in chilli paste and then fried). We had a version of this with tapioca leaf and banana flower curry. It is was out of this world!
Plum Juice - Tart and sweet. VagaBabe finds this more tolerable than straight up lime juice.
Popiah - This is kind of like a spring roll. The skin is paper thin and made of wheat flour. The filling consists of bangkwang (Chinese sweet white turnip), cooked tofu, pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. This whole concoction is fried and then sliced into pieces for sharing.
Prawn Noodles - I ordered this dish and immediately pushed it across the table to Hubby. The stock was fish based (and smelled like it) and the prawns were huge and intact - with their beedy little eyes staring up at me and there little legs looking like they wanted to dash from the bowl. NO THANKS!
(@,#,$) Roti Prata - Another type of Indian bread - delicious!
(@) Satay - We've tried them all - beef, chicken, and lamb. VagaBabe LOVES satay - we just always have to hope that the peanut sauce is not too spicy for her!
(#) Sayur Lodeh - This is one of WanderMom's favorites! This is a Malay dish that is like a creamy coconut vegetable stew with beans, cauliflower, carrots, turnips, eggplant, baby corn, and tofu.
Soya Bean Milk - I thought this would be the same as soy milk, but it is not. The milk is made from soaking and straining softened soya beans and then adding water and rock sugar. I tried a version of this with fresh ginger and it knocked my socks off!
(@,#,$) Tau Sar Piah - This is a Hokkien bean paste pastry. It is a biscuit with sweetened red bean paste inside. VagaBabe loved the version stuffed with a pineapple paste. WanderMom and Hubby liked the more traditional salty and sweet versions.
(@) Wanton Mee - If there is Wanton Mee in the house, VagaBabe will eat it! The dish consists of three parts 1) Silky pork dumplings, 2) BBQ pork loin, and 3) mee kia (similar to angel-hair spaghetti).