VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: Malaysia

Midvalley, KL’s largest mall

A day eating and shopping at Malaysia’s Midvalley mall.

Given the heat and humidity of the country, many of its visitors and citizens flock indoors to keep cool and entertained. Therefore the city of Kuala Lumpur is speckled with high rise malls and shopping complexes. A few stand out, but many offer the same international shops. Below is an account of the handful we visited, what we saw there and what we ate within. Most of it is very modern, with some updates to that of the traditional.

Here is where I would learn how tourist friendly the city is. How majority of the locals are fluent English, so there is no need to speak in simple terms. There is English and Malay on most packaging and many signs, so you can read and navigate yourself. There is also a lot of familiar North American shops and international brand name boutiques to make you feel right at home. However we would not be visiting any of these, as I allocated all my funds in the support of exploring the Malaysian food scene.

And this food scene within each mall we visited, was very memorable. Pretty much every modern restaurant was consistent in delivering great service table to table. Everyone was super friendly and chatty. There were jokes told in exchange for a little extra in our servings. The energy was so positive, happy people socializing over delicious food.

We visited the “Midvalley mega mall” a handful of times, it is the largest in the city. It is advised that you visit them before 11am to ensure you get yourself an underground parking spot, or be forever searching for a stall round after round. The mall also offers a women’s only parking area, where it is sectioned off in pink, but not entirely enforced. The idea is to have a designated space, close to the mall’s entrance to give women a quick trip to their vehicle, and the feeling of safety while traveling.

To watch the summary of this mall account, click below for my video featuring the food courts of Malaysia.

The mall itself is huge, spread across two buildings. The main tower has four levels, and the higher end boutique side has four more. The second half of the mall is referred to as the “Gardens”, it includes stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Prada. As well as a TWG kiosk that ran down the length of a corridor, about 7 shops long.

We started at the very bottom of the mall’s main tower, at their basement foodcourt, where they offered more traditional Malaysian meals. At “Ting Tan Foo” they have a choose your own adventure of noodles. You begin by getting a bowl and picking through all the dried and fried ingredients. Using tongs, you place what you want in your bowl. And at the register you tell the clerk your choice of noodle, and what you want over it between a curry or chicken soup broth. They take care of the rest behind, topping it with fried onion and sesame seeds to finish.

Here, regular food court rules apply, your bowl is served on a plastic tray, you gather your utensils and take them to any free table. And once done you leave everything behind for the staff to bus up.

With the curry base bowl of noodles we had some “beef intestine noodles”. Noodles given their name based on how they look when being made. With it we had fish cake, artificial crab, and fish cake stuffed eggplant. The texture of these noodles were nice and starchy, a chew to them that I would crave for again

Our bowl of chicken broth noodles had two types of noodles a thicker yellow egg one, and a thinner vermicelli. With it we had a flattened fish cake, fried prawn cake, and a type of Chinese spinach. It is all cut up with scissors by the clerk before being topped with the broth and some fried onions. This was less tasty in comparison to the crimson soup above.

At the “I Love Yoo” stand, we had some coffee with condense milk in hot and cold. And a snack of deep fried glutinous cake. The cake was grainy like mash potato on the inside and crispy and fried on the outside. Not sweet, not quite savoury, just something hearty to fill you up with.

Given its appearance, I couldn’t miss having a bite at the “Dazzling Cafe”, only to learn that we had a location in Richmond as well. It is a well decorated, girly-themed cafe. A chic white and grey motif with pops of gold and a garden of orchids. I remember it well for its mezzanine-gazebo with hanging bulbs and trails of white flowers, and its white chairs with erect rabbit ears. It was all too cute.

We ordered one of their waffles based on its handsome photo in the menu. Here you are given a choice of texture for your waffles: Soft, normal, or crispy. This is a crispy waffle with chocolate chips, whipped cream, and a pour yourself jug of maple syrup. It is served with Valrhona chocolate ice cream. I have had my fair share of waffles, and deem this one pretty standard.

We visited the Kit Kat chocolatory where we customized our own chocolate bars as well as picked up some of their regionally specific flavours to take home. To watch the video of us customizing our own kit kat bars click here.

To customize your own kit kat bar, you basically work your way through the kiosk’s options. Choosing the base chocolate between white, milk, or dark. Then making it your own by adding up to three different ingredients with options like chilli pepper flakes, pistachio, and dried blueberry. You then get to customize the packaging by adding your name and photo to one of their preloaded backgrounds and titles.

After paying they begin crafting your bar. Behind the glass window of their work space you get to watch this unfold before your very eyes. Toppings, melted chocolate, cookie waffle, a hard shake and more toppings; then off it goes into the freezer. They text you when your bar is done, packaged your way, and ready for pick up.

We then moved on to making our own magnum ice cream bars and the “Magnum Cafe”. Here you can order one of their preselected flavour combinations or dare to come up with a mix all your own. We decided to test our imaginations and create yourselves a three ingredient combo on the spot. Once again it starts by picking your base bar from either white, milk, or dark chocolate. The bar then gets a dip in a pool of either white, milk, or dark chocolate; depending on your tastes. This is before being topped with the three toppings of your choosing. It is then finished off with a chocolate drizzle and their trademark and edible chocolate “M” embossed medallion. They are generous with everything here and what you get is one of the most sumptuous ice cream bars you will ever have.

My host had a white chocolate bar with a milk chocolate dip; topped with mango, hazelnuts, chocolate crisps, and a white chocolate drizzle. I had the milk chocolate bar with white chocolate dip. It was topped with chilli flakes, Assam jawa, and sour plum. His was sweet and crunchy, whereas mine was spicy, sour, and sweet from the ice cream. We both agreed that mine proved to be a unique combination worth revisiting.

Looking for something savoury, we stopped at the “Popiah” stall, to try a snack of the same name. It is essentially a thin egg crepe used to wrap several ingredients. This included julienned carrots and cucumbers, fried flour, eggs, and crushed peanuts. All sauced in a sweet and spicy dressing, and served to go in a plastic tray with chopsticks. Although it is much easier to eat it with your hands. It is the texture of the crispy bits and the heat from the warm crepe that really sets this one apart.

I stopped to admire the collection of “Dunkin Doughnuts” at their kiosk. A showcase of cake and sugar raised rounds filled or topped with various spreads, nuts, and sprinkles.

We also did some grocery shopping in the mall, as I am interested in what the people of other countries deem everyday and essential. Of note were all the displays of cooked food and raw meats out in the open. You were able to help yourself to each. Whole uncooked and seasoned chickens ready for the oven verses Japanese tempura, yakitori, barbecue, and fried foods on sticks. Using tongs you put what you want into an available plastic bags, then simply proceed to the cashier to pay for it.

Pork products and alcohol are kept in a separate room out of respect for the majority of the population, and their religious beliefs. I picked up a bottle of hello kitty rose from here and ogled the many cans of many flavoured spam.

I can see why malls draw in the crowds here. The weather is at times too warm, and the rain is unpredictable. Each tower full of shops offer rest and entertainment with the convenience of satisfying any of your cravings across their multitude of food courts and indoor restaurants. There is a mall practically around every corner for good reason.

Eastern Airlines to and from Malaysia

Malaysia trip flying to and fro with Eastern China airlines. Covering a 16 hour flight with a layover in Shanghai both ways, and where I stayed during my time in Kuala Lumpur.

 

I don’t like missing an opportunity, and this year I had a good one to travel to Malaysia for the first time. I was able to visit and stay with a good friend in Kuala Lumpur. To take advantage of his born as raised perspective, to be able tour the city the local way. But first getting there.

This would be the first time I travelled alone with a layover. A thought I originally hesitated over, but after half way through my flight from YVR airport to the one in Shanghai (or about three movies worth of time), I was counting down the seconds to be able to get off and stretch my during this necessary three hour layover.

I was travelling with China Eastern for the first time. I was passenger on a flight that felt like I was being policed rather than serviced. There was the constant correcting from staff on what I should and couldn’t do. Even when we had the window shutters open and closed was determined by them.

And worse of all, even in airplane mode I was unable to use my phone. Unable to use the camera on my phone to capture one city as we flew away and another as we landed. (But as you can see I did so anyways.) Laptops, iPads, and regular cameras were allowed, so I don’t understand why not a phone with limited features as well? So the time on the plane I had plan to spend writing for my blog and listening to the music I specifically downloaded for this trip was wasted. Instead I had to rely on the inflight entertainment provided on the touch screen monitors, at the back of every seat. It kept me occupied enough. Although with the chair in front of yours reclined, the screen in front was tilted below your natural eye line. Very uncomfortable. And nothing could distract me from how uncomfortable the seats themselves were. They were situated so close to one another. I was practically pushing elbow to elbow and thigh to thigh with the gentleman next to me. And each time I dropped anything on the floor it was near impossible to reclaim it. Impossible without intruding in my neighbour’s personal bubble.

Then there was the food. I was smart enough to pack some snacks and supplement what they offered with things I liked. Our first meal was dinner an hour into our flight. It was a choice between fish on rice or beef over noodle. I had the latter and found it as dull as the side of egg noodles and slice of ham it came with. Dessert was a square of mango cake that was neither fresh or tasty. And the bread meant for the package of butter came later, once we were done with everything else, instead of as an intended side.

Our second meal came two hours to landing. Breakfast was either egg fried rice with shrimp or an omelet with bacon and a hash brown. Once again I got the latter and once again the bun came way after. This American style breakfast was pretty simple and therefore not bad. The orange juice and melon cubes as the side was no surprise.

At this point I was just happy to get off the plane, but dreading my return trip, another 10 hours from Shanghai to Vancouver, five days later. And as much as I was uncomfortable, for the price I paid for my ticket, I will continue to travel with them.

Shanghai’s airport is nice. From the ceiling bars of light point downwards like rain in a darken sky. Other than that, there is not a lot to look at visually to kill time. But there are plenty of duty free boutiques and multiple souvenir shops to linger within. Though the latter seemed to be the same from one to the other. They sold panda everything and decorative sweets and snacks in gift-able boxes. What the airport was lacking was wifi connectivity. Only a certain area allowed you to log on, but even then, with China’s social media regulations, only a few channels were available to you.

What I did like was all their stand alone cafes offering a nice environment to spend your layover wait at. Not just a crowded food court, but sit down services with a host and server tending to you. And they offered a variety of cuisines like Japanese, Korean, and of course Chinese.

I didn’t visit any this time around, as I wasn’t all that hungry. Although I did spend a longer time at the Family Mart, a convenience store staple in Japan. There I picked up some specialty Pocky, unique flavour of Lays chips, and left with a small scoop serving tub of Haagen-Dazs’ toffee mochi ice cream.

To watch the video of the Lays chips I eventually took home and did a taste test on, click the link below.

I really enjoyed the Asian exclusive, “Toffee mochi ice cream” with bits of chewy mochi embedded within vanilla ice cream and caramel toffee.

From there my hunger for mochi only grew, so I stopped at “Pink Mama”, specializing in “luxury sweets”. Where they sold various flavours of filled mochi and waffles sandwiching mochi. I only had an appetite for the former and got three in green tea, red bean, and purple yam; wanting to go for the more exotic, given where I was. Though I was highly disappointed that they didn’t come with faces as their plastic counterparts showed.

When it came time to board for the last leg of my travel to Malaysia, the gate led to a bus where we would be transported to the tarmac to board a smaller Shanghai airlines plane. This plane had two rows, instead of the three the last plane did. And once again, my request to be given a window seat was obliged. Although this would be a long flight window or not. Five hours and no in flight entertainment, and as per China’s airline regulations, I was not allowed to be on my phone again, even on airplane mode. I didn’t do all that much, but I was already tired and looking forward to taking yet another power nap in uncomfortableness.

Mid way through the flight we were entertained by the serving of dinner. Our options were yet again fish on rice or beef over noodles. I went for the former this time around and it was actually good. The fish was well cooked with enough of its sauces to coat the rice. The veggies were softened yet still crisp. And you were given a packet of pickled radish to rip open and enjoy as another side. It offered the vinegary tang that the dish was missing. And this time the bread came with everything right away, served in a literal air pocket. The other savoury side was cold pork meat over steamed vegetables. I didn’t like the sweet yet tangy sauce the cubes of carrot were in so passed on those. For dessert there was watermelon cubes and a small biscuit. There was also wine to be had with all this.

When off boarding there weren’t any instructions and I found myself struggling to find the luggage carousel. Thankfully the clerk at the information desk knew enough English to confirm the need to board the internal airport train to retrieve all of our belongings.

Unbeknownst to us, our flight was delayed and by the time we landed and picked up our luggage it was 2am instead of the intended 1am. I felt bad for leaving my host waiting. He had arranged for a car to be waiting for us. Which drove us to the studio apartment we would be staying at for the week.

The apartment was one of many in an expanding complex of high rises and restaurants. The lobby was oddly underground, but conveniently close to the cars parked in the parkade. On the exterior the building was decorative with antiques in the lobby and artwork crowning the corners, however the hall and entrance to our suite looked more like a detention centre. With concrete walls and military style font used to mark suite numbers. Here there is a floor and room 13, but no 4 and 14 as are unlucky in Malaysia. This has to do with how they are pronounced and how closely they resembled the word for “death” and “beckoning death”. In their place was a 3a and 13a.

Our home for the week was an open room studio with two floors. I would get to bunk at the top with the actual bed. My host bit the bullet and made himself comfy on the couch for five days.

Conveniently, each level had its own washroom. Though a shower was only available on the top floor. And without any stall doors, when you bathed you got all the fixtures wet and the floor would flood, draining itself by the toilet. Little did I know, this would be a common place occurrence, as I was slowly forced to explore Malaysia’s washroom scene. Though that was not the main issue. What I struggled with was the lack of hot water, despite cranking up the heater, I was left with brisk showers compared to the hot ones I enjoy in Vancouver. A struggle worsened by needing to wash long hair often, as sweating became a pastime during this trip. I guess there isn’t a need for hot water when its already so hot outside, so much so that the water inside dries fairly quickly, even with the air conditioning constantly running.

After freshening up, we weren’t ready to sleep just yet. Looking to graze we stopped at one of the many dining solutions in our immediate vicinity, the only one that was 24 hours, serving Malaysian comfort food. There were seats across the front patio or backside court yard. Plastic patio chairs and wooden tables There were no menus, so you just had to know what you wanted, and that my guest did.

We had two iced milos, the popular powered hot chocolate brand in south east Asia. It is iconic for its name and its bright green tin, often with a sponsored sports athlete printed on the package.

With it we had a plate of fried “Maggi” brand noodles, topped with a fried egg. You puncture the yolk and let its liquid enrobe the spicier noodles. It was mildly spicy and well seasoned in a thick sauce, giving the noodles a nice softened, starchy texture to them.

They made their garlic naan from scratch. It was like a doughy pita embedded with actual chunks of diced garlic. I just wanted something to dip it into to round it out.

The chicken was already seasoned and cooked, skewered and kept warm in a display case. It was furthered cooked to reheat and to give its skin crispier crunch. Therefore it isn’t surprising that the meat was as dry as it was tough. It is topped with raw red onions and citrus for some balance, and that only helped so much.

Across the next few days we would frequent the 7-Eleven in our area for conveniences and toilettes. And make the wine bar, “Sip” our daily stop, after chatting up one of its employees and creating a report with him. It was in the same area as our apartment and often open late. They had daily drink specials like ladies drink free on Thursdays and offered the rentals of hookah. Their Hookah was a make shift contraption, creatively made by reusing alcohol bottles. We would indulge in them a few times.

The rest of my series on Malaysia will be divided between sight seeing and types of cuisines and their venues. Outdoor market place meals, the mall culture and it’s popularity, and international fast food comparisons. But for now I will fast forward and recall the trip home.

On my flight back to Vancouver, Canada there would be a delay at the Malaysian airport. I had arrived there three hours early to catch my international flight, only to have to wait an additional two hours to board the plane. Luckily almost all the restaurants were open and available for seating. I walked the entire perimeter of the airport before choosing the “Old Malaya” restaurant as my late night dinner spot.

Here I had their sweet and salty fruit salad, “rojack”. Made with apples, cucumber, pineapples and jicama for a mix of crunchy textures.

With it I had only my second bowl of laksa during the whole trip. They didn’t have the regular kind, so this one is “Assam laksa” with a sour and spicy finish. I found all the shredded preserved vegetables distracting and instead sought out only the noodles to slurp up. It gave me the full belly I needed to sleep soundly on the flight from Kuala Kumpur to Shanghai.

During my Shanghai airport layover I indulged in another meal at another airport restaurant. “Tsui Wah restaurant” was a Chinese cash only establishment. You sat yourself and checked off what you wanted from their menu listing. The food came fast and when you were done you brought yourself and your bill over to their cashier to pay.

I had crispy barbecue pork belly and Hainanese chicken. Two dishes I was already familiar with, but was curious as to how what is offered in Vancouver stacked up to something more authentic. Both were deliciously well seasoned and cooked tender servings of meat. Both on the saltier side, so best enjoyed with the rice provided and the accompanying sauces used to help balance and rejuvenate their flavours.

On the actual planes there were meals served as well. Three meals with a choice and sides, similar to what was offered on the trip here. However they were cracking down on the all cell phones off rule and therefore I was not able to capture any of them this time around. Just as well, as I was also not given a window seat on my return trip and didn’t have much need for my phone. Especially as I was content on completing the entire “Hobbit” trilogy on the second plane ride home. It did wonders in helping to pass the time.

Long story short this was a trip of a lifetime and something I would not have been able to experience, or experience in quite an authentic way if it weren’t for my friend and host. I would love to come back and visit other parts of Malaysia, like the well known food Mecca: Penang, and explore the other side of the pond: Singapore.

To read about the other places I visited during this trip, check out the newly created “Malaysia” link under the “Travel” heading of my site.

Malaysia Trip 2017

I, like many folks in my generation have lost myself to travelling. The more I explore in one country, the more I want to see what it is like in another. And during my latest travels, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, we explored the country he grew up in, from his perspective as a local. Where, I was also able to reintroduce myself to many of the snacks and dishes I remembered fondly from my own childhood. In many ways I was familiar with Malaysia culturally, thanks to my experiences visiting Brunei (in Southeast Asia, where I was born), the two times since our family left so many years ago.

But I was also able to find so many commonalities between this country and others, from my experiences growing up in Vancouver, given how diverse our city is. But in bringing them all together did Malaysia make it their own. I discovered that Malaysia doesn’t necessarily have its own distinct style, instead it takes what it deems the best from various cultures, and combines it all together to form a mosaic of customs, practices, and a cuisine all their own. Indian, Chinese, French, Korean, and Japanese influences found their way around the city and into concentrated areas. It gave the city character amongst its mix of old and new.

It was a wonder to see towering skyscrapers beside abandoned lots. To drive past multi million dollar luxury stores, turn a corner and be moving past a bank of small businesses stacked in a worn building, one on top of another. The city was a teeter totter of opposites. It had so much and gave you a little bit of everything.

As a whole my five days there was a truly memorable experience, and one that has me wanting to explore more of Malaysia. I am looking at specifically Penang next, with a trip to Singapore as well. But for now I will have to contend with recalling the memories made and encapsulated on this blog.

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén