The visa-runner’s guide to Malaysia Part 1: Food

On Tuesday I went to KL to get a new Visa. I stopped over for a few hours in Medan which doesn’t have a lot of charm but it does have Starbucks.

Yes, I know. I can already hear your disapproving groans.MJ has already given me a formal written statement about mega-coffee chains (it’s true! I can supply it on request) but come on… It has wireless! And Peppermint Mocha!

Christmas has hit Starbucks in a big way and they’ve introduced limited edition Christmas drinks.

I’m pleased that the good people of Starbucks didn’t let the ‘most populace Muslim nation in the world’ thing stop them from implementing their Christmas marketing strategy in Indonesia. The fact that non-Christian Indonesians don’t seem to give a fig about Christmas makes it an even more courageous move.

When I went to Starbucks to waste four hours of transit in Medan, I just got a little Christmas cheery! Because I am not going to be all ‘bah humbug’ about it, I won’t discuss just how hideous the drink was and how crazy and shaky it made me go from all the sugar and colouring.

After checking into my hotel in KL I went out to eat something. In anticipation of KL food I hadn’t eaten all day and was seriously starving. So I ducked over to “ONLY MEE!” a cutesy noodle shop and ate Ginger Chicken and Prawn Dumplings. PRAWN DUMPLINGS!

Here is a close-up of the dumplings.

Unfortunately my return to dumplings wasn’t great. I got violent stomach cramps about 10 minutes after leaving and had to go back to the hotel and curse Indonesia for destroying my stomach forever (not sure of the connection between Indonesia and stomach cramps, but I sure wasn’t going to blame the sweet sweet dumplings).

Day two involved a morning of running back and forth between the Indonesian Embassy and my hotel so it was almost midday before I got to eat! Fortunately I found another mega-coffee chain to patronise. This time it was DOME which aims to be the classic French café…everywhere in the world. In addition to a tasty ginger tea I ate a sausage roll. A chicken sausage roll.

You are going to be shocked when I tell you it wasn’t scrum-diddly-umptious. I know! I thought so too! Actually the real surprise was just how tasty the tomato chutney was. I got a generous serve so I smothered the sausage roll and mostly cover up the taste. Sadly, I didn’t feel super after the sausage roll. At this stage I began to think my cold/cough might be more to blame than Indonesia for my poor belly performance. I didn’t eat again until the Sushi King at about 9.30pm that night (Salmon Bento, no photos, I’ll give it a solid 6/10).

Day three
started with a three hour stint at, you guessed it, a mega-coffee chain. This time it was the Coffee Bean. Here they had free wireless and tasty bagels.

The tragedy of my trip came into sharp focus this day. Again I didn’t eat until dinner time and I realised I had gone three days without eating three meals a day! In KL of all places! So I guess I really am sick.

Anyway, the meal was wanton mee! If you know me well enough to read this blog, but don’t know about my pure love of all things wanton/dumpling/dim sum-ish (foods in parcels – I also love ravioli and manti) we need to hang out more. Preferably in Chinatown.

That night I went to sleep thinking about spaghetti Bolognese and schnitzel and it occurred to me that in all this time I hadn’t eaten any western food. My body craved! And gosh darn it if I wasn’t going to listen!

I began day 4 on the wrong foot eating the hotel breakfast. Not delicious. So I moved right on to earl grey tea and email at the Coffee Bean. After some shopping and more embassy mucking about I went where I was sure to find western food: the fancy new shopping centre Pavilion (because KL needed another shopping centre).

As a rule I hate food courts (unless they’re so dirty that it’s like going on safari, then they can be fun). But Food Republic at Pavilion changed my feelings towards food courts forever. It was shiny and new, it had comfortable seats, and every food stall looked delicious! Well, they all looked delicious with one exception: the food stall imaginatively called “Western food”.

I didn’t take any photos of the very old or plastic food (I couldn’t tell) they have on display under gladwrap because it seemed mean to make fun of someone’s food stall. But there were chicken sausages in everything, so maybe my scorn was deserved.

*Chicken sausage and potato

*Chicken breast with potato and chicken sausage

*Spaghetti bolognaise with chicken sausage

So I ate Thai instead. Here is my Pad Thai Chicken and the ‘Italian Soda’ I had for lunch.

The Italian soda was my shout out to western food for the day. Or so I thought…Until dinner time….

 Yes, I actually ate at the Outback Steakhouse. And yes it was terrible.

Deciding what to order was a dilemma. It seemed appropriate being the day before the election to order the Prime Minister’s Rib Eye. Or in honour of Kevin Rudd, the Queensland pasta but how can you choose from so many hilarious-sounding and hideous-looking foods?

I opted for the ‘Mad Max Burger’ and the ‘Bush Walker’s Dream’ smoothie. The Mad Max burger came specifically with American cheese. I don’t know if that’s a comment on Australia booting Mel Gibson to America or maybe it’s recognising Tina Turner’s contribution to Beyond Thunder Dome.

Did you notice something about that photo? How about the giant knife?!

I put the chip on it to provide context but obviously chips come in a million sizes. If this was a skinny fry this knife wouldn’t be that big at all. Anyway, this knife made me think of the “you call that a knife?” scene from Crocodile Dundee, which seemed an appropriately Cheesy Australian thing to think of at Outback Steakhouse.

 Bye bye Outback Steakhouse. Fortunately in your grossness there was nothing Australian about you other than the names on the menu.

4 thoughts on “The visa-runner’s guide to Malaysia Part 1: Food

  1. Lars

    Ta55555ffy wrote that.

    She likes the number 5 a lot cos after the first line I moved her off the keyboard and then she stood on the 5 again. Weird.

    I can’t wait to experience asian food with you again fortch. Just can’t wait.

  2. Ben

    Question: Why do u go to KL to get an Indo visa? Are u closer to KL than Jakarta? A google map pinpointing ur location may help..

    I post here for the benefit of other uninformed peeps like me.

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