Monday, 9 April 2012

A Malaysian Street Food Brunch

When it comes to food, Malaysians know their stuff. Most of their best food is sold on the streets at hawker centres and during my two weeks in Malaysia last year I slurped my way through bowls of noodles while sat on plastic stools, cooling cendol standing on street corners and sticks of satay, barbecue smoke stinging my eyes. We just don't have that kind of culture here, although things are improving with collectives like Eat St., and markets like Berwick Street allowing traders to peddle their wares. But still no Malaysian street food. So, I jumped at the news of Wild Serai's supperclub hosting an Easter Monday street food brunch.

Located in New Malden aka. Korea Town, I battled through driving rain and wind to sit at the lunch table. Two tables were decorated brightly, huge prawn crackers (krupuk) waiting for us to snap our way through them.

Chicken and beef satay was served with a spicy, chunky peanut sauce. The meat was smoky and benefitted from the charcoal it had been grilled on outside. The peanut sauce was so addictive I turned to just slathering it on the red onion and cucumber it was served with.

Mee Goreng was a big towering pile of fried noodles for us to all dig in to. Huge prawns were nestled within and tiny dried anchovies (ikan bilis) topped the dish. The noodles were well balanced, all sweet, savoury and tart and unlike other variations of the dish I've tried even in Malaysia, these were grease-free. I loved their colourful melamine plates.

Rojak is the Malay term for 'mixture', and a rojak salad consists of fruits and vegetables in a fruity, salty sauce. This was a strange one; sweet chunks of pineapple mingled with sour green mango, cucumber and tofu puffs. There was the unmistakable funk of fermented prawn about it. After my initial misgivings, as I speared more and more chunks onto the skewers we were given to eat it from, it became more and more palatable.

We were handed banana leaves to place on our plates for the next course, nasi lemak. At the core of the dish is a spicy sambal sauce, with fragrant coconut rice to eat it with. The rice wafted its perfume towards me as I waited for the rest of the accompaniments. I caved in, the sambal breaking my will. Sweet, spicy and with a hint of lime leaves, the sambal was gorgeous. More of those anchovies created a deep savoury base. My neighbour, Goz explained to me that sambals are all made differently according to taste; some people make theirs spicier, some sweeter. A piece of fried chicken, a couple of boiled quails eggs and some cucumber completed the plate.

I was pretty stuffed by now and grateful for the break that came in between courses. Roti jala, a type of pancake made by creating a lattice from the batter was to come. It was less crisp than I imagined, but it went well with the rich, coconutty curry sauce.

I love Asian desserts; tapioca pearls, jellies, beans and shaved ice feature a lot in hawker centre desserts. Cendol is probably the most famous, with those little green worms. We had ice kakang and beneath the shaved ice drizzled with coloured palm sugar syrup, sweetcorn mingled with red beans, sea coconut and fruit jellies. The most prominent was the honeydew melon jelly. This revived me.

To finish, cups of teh tarik - a type of black tea sweetened with condensed milk, and then poured at a high height to create a foam - reminded me of my childhood. A four hour brunch was perfect for a rainy day, and at £25 per head I felt like I was ripping them off since so much work goes into supper clubs (where do they keep all that crockery?!). It was as good as any street food I had in Penang.

Their next event is a seafood feast and you can book tickets here.

Read more about Malaysian Street Food Brunch on Edible Experiences


Shu Han said...

looking at this makes me both hungry and homesick.

(btw the link appears to be wrong..?)

Mr Noodles said...

Blimey, that was quick! I think you summed the experience perfectly. The highlight for me was the sambal served with the nasi lemak. It was SO intense - I need to get my hands on some ikan bilis!

J@Feasttotheworld said...

Yes Mr noodles, I have to agree with you on the speed and the was so good! That nasi lemak was definitely my favourite....still salivating looking at these pictures :)

Anonymous said...

Cool Post, Gordon Ramsay has amazing dishes from Malaysia.
His Nonya fried chicken dish is amazing.

tuzvekarabiber / Salt'nPepper said...

headed to Malaysia next week so this post was really on the spot! everything looks yummy.. I started my on blog on food & travel (particularly in Istanbul).. would love if you could check it out.. have some troubles getting readers

Unknown said...

I LOVE your post! I went to malaysia last christmas and we had all the food you mentioned! Seeing all the pictures brings back such good memories! Did you manage to try the Ipoh Hor Fun?
<3 nat

Anonymous said...

Hi, have you been to Puji Puji on Balls Pond Rd.? Went there some time ago for delicious satay (the lamb satay was wonderful!)

The Grubworm said...

Hot damn, that all looks bloddy good. I particularly like the sound of the Mee Goreng and Sambal. And the bana leaf took me right back to Penang. Malaysia really does have superb and varied food.

I'm quite envious of the spread here, and am impressed by what sounds like extremely well thought out and well prepared dishes