We've had some spotty internet in the past few days so I have three days of eating to tell you about! :)
The weather here is very predictable, but quite different that what we're used to. It's in the 90s with a TON of humidity most of the time, and then pretty much every single day there is an INTENSE thunderstorm. I've seen some crazy lightning and thunder storms in the midwest, but NOTHING compared to what I've seen and heard here. And interestingly, they don't have surge protectors here, so when it's storming, people unplug all their major appliances to prevent lightning from striking and frying their expensive electronics. Anyway, this also affects the quality of the internet, and I think this is why we lost internet at the house for a couple of days!
So Monday was the day that Derren's uncle and aunt from Australia were heading home. We went to a nice restaurant for brunch with the whole group as their last meal. The group ate a ton of food, and I was able to eat two different things (which was plenty!) And this dim sum place was fancy, but still really cheap compared to US standards. This first picture was one of the favorites - they had about five orders of this. It's a flat rice noodle with either pork or shrimp rolled up in it and then covered in a soy sauce. I ate a whole plate of this myself, with vegetables instead of meat rolled up inside.
Here's an order or steamed pork buns ("char siu bao"). These are very common and easy to find in the US. In fact, I bet that of all the Asian food I've showed you, most of you have had this one before!
And another dish that I've seen at many dim sum restaurants in California - chicken feet. Derren refuses to eat this stuff - so many bones!
And one more picture - a shrimp dumpling, and then in the background is a fried sesame ball - this one had a lotus bean paste inside. This was the only other thing that I was able to eat outside of the flat noodle.
And here is the whole group at dim sum. In the back row is Monique, Jenny (Derren's mom), Francois (Derren's dad), Derren, and me of course. Then in the front row is Derren's Aunt Wendy (whose house we are staying at), Derren's grandmother, Derren's Uncle Francis from Australia, and his wife, and then on the far right is Derren's other Aunt from Ipoh, Malaysia.
That night, Derren's aunt cooked another delicious and healthy dinner. We didn't want to eat too much because we had plans to go to the night market for lots more food after dinner. His aunt cooked two plates of steam vegetables (they call it simply "choy"), then two plates of steamed bean curd (with soy sauce, garlic oil, fried onions, and green onions), a plate on the right with whole fried fishes, behind that is steamed egg with green onion, and then on the left side is two plates of stir fried shitake mushrooms with chicken breast. Yum!
Then we headed to the night market with Derren's dad, sister, and Aunt Wendy (we need her to escort us so that she can translate for us and so that the local people don't rip us off!) Here's some more fish stands with TONS of raw fish (so stinky!!!)...
And here's a dessert shop where we tried a couple of things. The balls are fried sweet potatoes (tasted like little donuts), and behind it on the cutting board is a really tasty dessert. It's a large pancake with butter on it, then filled with a sugary peanut paste stuff. I tried a piece from a different stand, and although it was quite tasty, it was REALLY greasy.
Here's another thing I tried at the market - this is a red bean ice cream on a stick. The other flavors they had were sweet corn and a few exotic fruits.
Derren had a second dinner - this is Laksa soup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laksa). It's a spicy fishy noodle soup that's a cross between Chinese and Malay food. In Malaysia there are two distinct cultures that exist - the Chinese and the Malay (a Muslim culture that has a unique cuisine similar to Indian food). It was so hot and humid outside and Derren sat there and ate this really hot (temperature) and spicy soup (he was absolutely DRIPPING sweat!!!)
Then on Tuesday, we spent the day with Derren's cousin Dominic, who is our age. Since none of Derren's family will eat Indian food, we had Dominic take us out to Indian/Malay food for lunch. We went to this very popular place, which is open 24 hours a day!
Here's a sample of what we got. Derren, Monique, and Dominic ate fluffy white rice with spicy chicken breast and curry sauce to pour on top. The yellow plate in front is a cabbage with turmeric which is one of the things I ate with rice. I also had a green vegetable which is not in this picture. Derren absolutely LOVED this food, and we went back again a couple days later so he could get more!
Derren and I ate with chopsticks, but Derren's cousin ate in the true Malay style - with his hands. The Malay people eat with only their right hand. They are experts ate scooping up the rice and tearing up the chicken with one hand only. Derren was scared to try! :)
After lunch Dominic took us to Parkson mall again for some more shopping, and then after some shopping we went out for coffee. Instead of going into the old town to get the cheap coffee that we absolutely love (and only cost about 50 cents), we went to a new chain restaurant that has famous coffee. It's called "Old Town White Coffee" and imitates the coffee shops that we eat at in old town Ipoh, but is MUCH more expensive because you pay for the ambience (and air conditioning!) Here's a picture of Derren and his sister and their cousin Dominic (notice that Derren finally got a hair cut! For only $1!!!!!)
And here's our coffee from "Old Town White Coffee" (this cost about three times as much as coffee from the original coffee shops that we like):
With our coffee, we shared this famous dish - "kaya toast". This is just plain bread, toasted, then with chunks of butter and kaya spread on it. Nothing too special, but good with coffee:
After coffee, we went to a golf resort and went to the driving range. We hit golf balls into a lake - a unique experience for both of us! It was especially unique because it was SO humid that we were dripping sweat after hitting a few balls - and it was 5pm!
After hitting some balls, we went back to Dominic's dad's house (Derren's uncle Desmond) for dinner. His uncle Desmond is a millionaire due to the family business that he now runs (a wholesale pharmaceutical company) and he lives in an incredibly beautiful mansion in Ipoh. He collects antiques and has quite an incredible collection - I would have taken pictures but it felt awkward....
Here is what his maid cooked us for dinner - prawns, green vegetables, white rice, soup (broth to drink with the meal for the non-vegetarians), omelette, pork (the plate on the right), and I also ate a pickled vegetable which isn't yet in the picture:
While we were there, his Uncle went to a back room and came back with a small photo album, featuring some old pictures of Derren and Derren playing with Dominic when they were little. Derren used to go to Malaysia with his mom almost every other year when he was little, so there are lots of old family pictures with Derren as a little guy. I took pictures of a few of the pictures so I could keep them. Look at how cute he was! Derren's mom said he was a very happy kid, and was already smiling at such a young age!
After dinner, Derren's aunt took us to a stall for some ais kacang. This one looks a little different than the one we've eaten earlier. This dish is unique to Malaysia, so we might as well eat it as often as possible! Underneath the shaved ice is some grass jelly and roasted peanuts:
Then on Wednesday, we started out the day by going to the original infamous coffee shop in Old Town for breakfast. I took this picture of Derren walking his grandmother into the coffee shop...such a good grandson!
For breakfast, we obviously had some coffee, and Derren had two bowls of chee chong fun...from two different stalls. This first one had green beans, fried onions, and curry sauce on top:
With my coffee, I ate a helping of kaya rice - my favorite!!! (Oh, and there was another one waiting at home for dessert that night...even though I was really full, I still ate it!!!) Here's a better picture than the ones I've showed earlier. This is after I'd eaten more than half of it - you can see that the kaya is spread in between the sticky rice:
And here's Derren's second bowl of chee chong fun with the mushroom sauce with fried onions and preserved chilis:
For lunch, we went to a different stall (actually a motorcycle stall) to get chee chong fun again (this stuff is delicious...and you CANNOT get it in America!). This is the best one we've had so far! Here's the guy we got it from (each serving cost about $1):
We took the chee chong fun to go and went to the mall with Derren's mom, aunt, and sister to do some shopping, and to go to the supermarket (in the mall) to shop for snacks to bring home!). We ate our chee chong fun in the mall food court so that we could have some more icy dessert afterwards!
Here's my chee chong fun with a sweet-ish red sauce on top (and fried onions and dried chilis):
And here is Derren's third helping of chee chong fun of the day - and his favorite one of the three. He soaked his is curry sauce. A few minutes later the flat rice noodles had absorbed all of this curry sauce, and it just looked like noodles!
And for dessert after my chee chong fun, I had a bowl of cendol (remember this one?):
For dinner, we went out with Derren's rich uncle to a seafood restaurant almost an hour drive away. This small village is well known for their giant prawns, which are farmed there in small abandoned pools. There was seven people besides me who were eating seafood (derren's parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and cousin Dominic). Here's the first plate of fried prawns - it was quite entertaining to watch them all tear these things apart - sucking out the head, deveining them (aka removing the poop), and sucking the rho (eggs). It seems like so much work to me...but they say its worth it for these large juicy prawns!
Here's another dish - a few fried fishes:
And here's one of the things I ate - steamed bean curt with soy sauce and green onions and fried onions. This is similar to the dish I've had homemade by his aunt, but this particular bean curd was extremely delicious! I also ate omelette fried with onions (the picture was blurry), and rice and TONS of green vegetables! Even though I wasn't partaking in the seafood feast, I still had a VERY delicious meal, and I was so stuffed afterwards!
Here's the second type of prawns that they ate - steamed prawns. They ate two plates of this one:
And on top of everything else - chili crab!
I wish you could zoom in on this picture and see how the group of us cleaned off every single dish. And you could also see the PILES of prawn parts on everyone's plate or on the table - all the shells and poop and heads, etc. And tons of tissue since they were all eating with their hands!
After dinner, we drove the hour home, and then Dominic took Derren and I out to a pub to have a beer. He took us to an Irish pub that served Guiness, Heineken, Kilkenny, and Tiger (from Singapore). Malaysia is a Muslim country so they don't actually make any local alcohols or beers to discourage people from getting cheap alcohol. So I drake a Heineken...in an Irish pub....in Malaysia. Weird.
Derren and I head back to the US in five days...we've got a lot more eating to cram in, and we both have "wish lists" of things we want to make sure to eat. There will be lots of dieting and exercising when we get home, so we've got to stuff ourselves silly until then! :)
Thanks for following along, I will update about our last several days in Asia soon...and there will be one final post with our first class flight home! :)
We miss you all!
Ashley & Derren