Brunch at Lucy in the Sky

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Last week over lunch, one of my new colleagues asked how I’ve been enjoying the food since I got back, and I gave him the most unthinkable answer one could give about food in Malaysia: “To be honest,” I said, “I’ve been kinda underwhelmed.” He looked aghast, as did the rest of the table.

I wasn’t really referring to the local offerings when I said that, (despite how the quality of local dishes have also gone down, the good ones are still excellent, even if you have to hunt for them.) Being away from home for ten years taught me to appreciate new cuisines and new foods, especially western breakfasts, or brunch. Bacon or sausage and eggs with toast, pancakes or hash, plus coffee, juice or milk and a side of micro salad or fruit cup–hearty, balanced and delicious!

Sadly, the new wave of cafes that have mushroomed around town–that I’ve visited, and with the exception of Acme–don’t hit the mark. After a series of rather lackluster western breakfasts, I’ve decided I will only write about cafes with dishes that really hit the spot. And hence, here I am with this post! Continue reading

How to Order Drinks at a Kopitiam

You would think that ordering a coffee, tea or juice would be just that simple. It is, at a modern eatery or cafe, but in a traditional coffeeshop, also known as kopitiam in Malaysia, a novice will almost certainly need time to get used to the terms. If Starbucks wasn’t established thousands of miles away in Seattle about 40 years ago, I’d have thought they took the idea of custom-made drinks from our kopitiams, which have been around for almost twice as long as Starbucks. (You know how they are with their drinks. Care for a tall, iced, no whip cream, no sugar, half soy milk, half low-fat milk, green tea frappuccino, anyone?)

Yeah. Ordering coffee or tea at kopitiam and mamak are (almost) that kind of complicated, and having been away for years, I needed a bit of a refresher myself. The traditional corner kopitiam is slowly shrinking in numbers, but terminology for drink ordering is still very much alive at the hawkers. I’m writing this post for my own good really, but those of you who are new to the local food scene and want to learn how to order drinks like a local, here’s a basic guide to help you along. For the purpose of keeping things simple, I’ll focus mainly on kopi (coffee) and teh (tea,) the most customised of drinks by kopitiam patrons.

How Kopi and Teh are Served in a Kopitiam

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Kopi C & Kopi O; Teh O’ Peng & Teh Peng; Cham (hot) and Cham Peng in tapau (takeout) bags.

Three Main Types of Kopi and Teh

with sweet *condensed milk Kopi Teh
black, with sugar Kopi O Teh O
with **evaporated milk & sugar Kopi C Teh C

*condensed milk: a sweet, thick, gooey milk that comes in a can and melts in a hot drink when stirred. It is also used in desserts.
**evaporated milk: dense unsweetened milk. Has a much soupier texture than condensed milk.

Terms to Know for Customising Your Drink

Term Meaning Term Meaning
Ping Iced/Cold Kosong
No sugar
Gao Stronger Xiu (Siu) Dim or Xiu Dai Less sugar
Po Weaker Gah Dim or Gah Dai Extra sugar

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American Brunch At Acme Bar & Coffee

photo1_zps2f189725The eating hasn’t stopped. I haven’t even gone through my list of classic Malaysian favourites, and now I’m sidetracked by the contemporary dining scene in Kuala Lumpur. A friend and I went to Acme Bar & Coffee (ABC) last weekend, because she was craving an American-style brunch and I was curious to visit this much talked-about place.

ABC is a full-service restaurant featuring modern American dishes with a slight pan-Asian influence. The wine list, seasonal entrees, lunch selection (includes soups, salads and sandwiches) and desserts all sounded innovative and mouthwatering, but last Sunday, we were there for breakfast, (or brunch as I like to call it) which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Hurrah for all-day breakfasts!

Weekends get crowded in this double-storey, industrial themed restaurant — I’m glad my friend Cissie made reservations. We were led past a bar — from which coffee and cakes are also served — and into the ground floor dining room. During the day, the space is beautifully lit by natural light seeping in through tinted glass panels at the front of the restaurant, which is perfect for food-photography! The casual yet upscale vibe at ABC is quite inviting, and whether you choose to dress up or dress down during the day, it makes no difference. Outdoor seating is available too, provided it isn’t a searing hot day. Continue reading