The need for a breather from all the weekend escapades involving food led Cissie and I to plan a small road trip to Taman Wetlands in Putrajaya, for kayaking.
Getting there on a Sunday morning was easy enough – light traffic and easy parking near Lake Recreational Centre, the area of Taman Wetlands designed for water sports. Following a tip, I Waze-d directions to Pullman Lakeside, where we found a spot to park right next to escalators that head down to the lake.
Kayak and canoe rentals are available for RM 15 an hour, albeit in limited supply. Take note: the payment counter is separate from the counter to retrieve your rental. We went down the escalators, found the rental counter and were told to go back up, turn left, go past the restaurant and to a room behind the lobby counter beside the restaurant to make our payment, to get the receipt; and then come back down to get our rentals. (If you need to read that again, go ahead. This blog isn’t going anywhere.) Continue reading
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
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
|black, with sugar
|with **evaporated milk & sugar
*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
||Xiu (Siu) Dim or Xiu Dai
||Gah Dim or Gah Dai
Morning wet markets start early and get very crowded by about 10:00 a.m., especially on Sunday mornings.
Kuala Lumpur has seen plenty of new additions to its grocery scene in recent years, and it’s wonderful to have so many overseas-style supermarkets like Jaya Grocer’s and B.I.G Ben’s Food Market cater to customers who’d like a clean and modern food shopping experience. Prices may at times be a little steep, but that’s a given if you want imported groceries and the convenience of easy access to fresh food, anytime during business hours.
Yet, it’s hard to beat the charm of early morning, outdoor produce markets known in Malaysia as pasar pagi, where you’ll find local veggies, fruits, seafood and poultry at its’ freshest. Never mind that the grounds are wet, and never mind that the whole area in the vicinity of the market smells strongly of fish and springs onions; your gourmet side will overlook this upon setting eyes on the colourful array of high-quality produce on sale at reasonable prices.
A busy schedule usually means that I end up buying at the newer grocery stores (they are also closer to where I live,) but I never regret the occasional Sunday morning trip to the Section 17 wet market in Petaling Jaya, of which my family has been loyal customers since I was in primary school. Everything there is usually top-notch, especially the main fruits stall, which carries a very good selection of imported fruits in addition to local delights.
Travel brochures tend to recommend pasar malam, another type of street market that caters to an evening crowd in search of cheap dinners and shopping, as the archetype Malaysian street market experience. But to really explore and delve into local food ingredients, a pasar pagi is the place to go. And no two pasar pagi are alike. Depending on the ethnic makeup of the neighbourhoods around the market, produce sold is usually geared towards the majority’s needs. Continue reading