Date of Visit: July 11 2013
Ramadan started on July 8, 3 days ago. Although I am not a Muslim I had planned to join in their religious cleansing and purification hoping to shift some weight (by skipping lunch:-)) But with this-and-that and visitors popping into town, it is a monumental task. My blog does not feature recipes, this is because I eat very simple foods at home – blanched broccoli, stir-fried cabbages (with store-bought Lee Kum Kee chilli paste) and cabbage soup (by dumping all the vegs from the markets into a pot) – which are hardly anything interesting.
As I spoke with an overseas counterpart recently, keeping fit was a fast topic. Yes I was quite an athlete before my arrival in Malaysia early this year (without sounding cocky my partner and I came 3rd in the Lantau Race in Hong Kong a few years back. And that was our first time running a trail race!). With the change of environment, especially the weather and culture (there is NO Fitness First here *shockers*), I am missing my 6:30am training sessions with my trainer, daily spin classes and running back home in Sydney. I have also changed my diet, in order to fit into my new context – I was following a predominantly raw food diet – but ahd to abandon it because getting the food I want (organic) is very hard. Moreover, vegetarian in Malaysia means oily greasy pedestrian stuffs like noodles, rice, tofu, etc. Moreover, it is very rude to be not eating if you are entertaining. Therefore, I eat clean when I am at home.
Anyway, Dr Liu’s name came up in our conversation. He is the Chinese doctor who practise Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Bondi Junction, who gain fame for putting his patients on a 2-week fast subsisting only on herbal concoctions. I am very eager to try and hope to make an appointment to see him when I am back in Sydney next.
In the meantime, I had a whirl-wind trip to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak today. The flight took 40minutes, being the Ramadan month, only drinks and some nuts were offered on-board. This left me wondering whether Emirates has the same policies.
Lunch was at a Thai restaurant at a non-descript corner lot of a shophouse typical of any Borneo townscape. The restaurant was very well-patronised as it also provide buffet lunch. I had almost forgot to check name of restaurant being distracted by the striking Thai memorabilia and statues, the servers are all dressed in traditional Thai costumes to impart authenticity. I later did a google search and found out that this restaurant is the 1st Thai restaurant in Kuching.
We started off with a DIY appetizer of Betel Leaf Salad also known as ‘miang kam’. This is a typical Thai street-side snack whereby you wrap an assortment of – whatever that takes your fancy – pomelo, chili padi (bird’s eye chili, which is very fiery), fragrant fried coconut flakes, roasted baby peanuts, dried shrimps, spanish onions, fresh young gingers – to wrap in a betel leaf with tamarind paste. This was my very first time trying the snack and I was absolutely taken by it. Being a peanut-addict, I could not stop myself from picking at the freshly roasted baby peanuts.
Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus is a must-order in any Thai meal. Chicken pieces were marinated in ginger and herb paste and then chargrilled in pandanus leaves. While unwrapping the package, a sweet fragrance wafted through the air. The chicken pieces were done just right, juicy with a lot of ginger-herb-nut paste, thus did not require a dip in the sweet chilli sauce provided.
It’s been a long time since I had Shark Fin Soup. This used to be a very traditional Chinese soup until the environmentalists kicked up a fuss. It’s a thick soup with silky smooth egg white in starchy base.
Sweet Sour Midin stir-fried with minced pork and shrimps is a twist from the usual midins stir-fried with garlic found in the other restaurants. Midins is a type of fern that is only available in Sarawak. This was also the first time I sampled a different style of cooking midins, so I had a few extra helpings. Now, why can’t the Chinese restaurants be more adventurous in their cooking?
Grilled Squids, springy and creamy, I prefer the squids to be in its natural taste so did not bother with the sweet chilli garlic sauce provided.
Pineapple Rice is another must-order in any Thai restaurant. I especially like how the restaurant prepared it by frying the rice with turmeric, raisins, baby shrimps and pineapple chunks. The final presentation came in a hollowed-out pineapple and topped with generous pork floss.
Deep fried Garoupa. Another sweet sour dish. The fish was deep-fried in a light batter, then served with mango slices and aromatic herbs on top. A perfect dish with flaky fish flesh off the bone.
Although a plate of fresh cut fruits were pre-ordered for our table, we still insisted on having some Thai desserts. There were a lot to choose from the picture menu. Since it was a hot afternoon, I chose Chestnut in Coconut Milk which I had enjoyed in my previous Thai meal (review here). Unfortunately dessert today was a letdown. My request for extra ice went unheeded, so I was left with the overly thick sweet santan. There goes my sugar quota for the week.
Overall, I have to say, this is the best Thai food I had sampled so far. Although the dishes seemed to taste the same – all sweet and sour – they were extremely tasty and very satisfying. I had a sugar high and had a difficult time keeping awake for the afternoon.