Blog of an aspiring foodie

Cafe Malay

Posted by beer_chris on 24-May-2007

My coworkers from Kuala Lumpur are in town for the next few weeks, and today for lunch we went to Cafe Malay over on Westheimer. What tasty food! I had Nasi Lemak, a dish of cocunut flavored rice surrounded by 4 different 'sides' on one plate – meant to be eaten with the rice. Included was a tasty (but bony) chicken curry, a cold mixed vegetable pickle, a boiled egg with belechan (spicy shrimp paste) on top, and a mixture of dried anchovies with a sambal (spicy chili paste) sauce.

Usually Nasi Lamak is what Malays eat for breakfast – bought from a booth wrapped up in a banana leaf to go, but it is a dish that can be eaten anytime. At Cafe Malay it is on both the entree menu as well as the lunch special menu.

I also shared some other quite tasty dishes. My boss, who is a vegetarian, ordered a fried tofu satay – basically tofu chunks deep fried, put on a stick and grilled with a peanut sauce. This was served over cooked bean sprouts and served with rice. She also ordered a stir fry kind of dish called Kang Kung – after hearing my native Malay coworkers pronounce this, I decided the best way to describe the pronunciation is like Cancun (the Mexican beach resort) with a 'G' after each 'N'. The leafy vegetable tastes like a very mellow cousin to a mustard green – and after some research it seems like the thing certainly does grow in Texas – so we must have been eating the authentic Kang Kung.

She also ordered Roti Kanai, which is an Indian-inspired flatbread that comes out something like a mix between a crepe and a tortilla. Stretchy but poofy at the same time, and with the flavor of roasted flour like a tortilla would have. This was served with a dipping sauce made of the aforementioned sambal mixed with a generous amount of palm oil and coconut milk. YUM!

For dessert we got an iced kachang – kind of like a sno-cone. It may seem strange to eat dessert with rice, beans and corn in it, but all of these are somewhat sweet tasting, and when condensed milk is poured over it it actually is quite tasty. Finished off the meal with a tall Teh Tarik – a tea drink with quite a lot of sugar, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream mixed in. It was amazingly easy drinking, and had me wired for the ride back to the office.

On a rather amusing note I asked my coworker what type of tea was used as the basis for teh tarik – green tea or some other special type? “Yes,” she said, “a special type of tea grown on the hillsides in northern Malaysia.”

“It is called lip ton.”



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