Of Malaysia Day & Street Food PrideSeptember 18, 2011 | 8,819 views
A case of Penang Street Food in KL? (O&S Restaurant @ Paramount Garden – Penang Char Kuey Teow, Chee Cheong Fun and Yong Tau Foo)
My apologies, in case you were trying desperately to reach this blog yesterday, only to view an Internal Server Error screen. After missing out on the extended 3 days break due to a haphazardly-planned regional training session at Saujana, I thought at least I’d compensate by sharing a Malaysia Day story.
Only to be frustrated by an unprecedented crash.
I guess life has its own ways in telling you what to do (or in this case, what NOT to do) on a well-deserved holiday. Two days late, but better late than never ….. here’s an interesting piece to spice up your Sunday, and soften the blow of the impending Monday blues.
They don’t serve the Yong Tau Foo with noodles or rice here, but why should you lament when there are already 1001 stalls around selling almost everything under the sun?
Let me start off with a much belated shout of Happy Birthday Malaysia. Although 31st August has always been revered as the day we achieved independence, yet we were NOT recognized as Malaysia back then. And our eastern counterparts (Sabah and Sarawak) were NOT part of the country until 6 years later.
There was once when I published an article for an online Singapore news portal, on the infamous Food Fight fiasco. You know … on how both sides of the straits laying claims to a few ‘national dishes’.
How petty, how absurd and how irrational.
But my point is, there was this commenter (a Singaporean, no doubt) whom had no qualms shooting projectiles at this Motormouth by dismissing my lack of wisdom, so to speak. That he/she was appalled at the thought of Singapore ever being a part of Malaysia.
To that, I merely suggested for him/her to dig up the History books. Or get the help of a psychiatrist, if he/she was still perturbed by the notion that we WERE of the same nationality back in 1963; until two years later when we became neighbouring countries instead.
Fresh Yong Tau Foo from the wok, these delicious stuffed vegetables and beancurd with a mixture of minced pork and fish paste might just be the essential sides you need to complement your lunch.
But sour notes aside, and letting the childish food fight saga to rest, let me share a story with you.
The 3 days regional training granted me an opportunity to meet up with people from different countries; Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, China, Korea and Vietnam.
Naturally, conversations revolved around the different cultures, belief, background, sights and of course …. FOOD.
Well, blame it on this ravenous creature here. But if there’s anyone asking me about what makes Malaysia so special, I must say it’s the cross-cultural influences in FOOD. And then maybe the languages, cultures, landscapes, racial integration, etc.
For a less damaging effect, go for the boiled soft stuffed white beancurd instead of the fried items.
Then this Vietnam lady from Ho Chi Minh (HCM) city mentioned about how HCM may not have its own identity in a particular cuisine or dish, the food culture is a melting pot of different cuisines from the various regions in the country. Like how our own backyard of Kuala Lumpur; without a distinctive identity food-wise, yet successfully integrating the best (and at times, worst) of what the other states have to offer.
The south Korean with his limited vocabulary of the English language (yes, it was a pain to communicate with each other but then again …. it’s the richness in diversity that brought out the essence of a good conversation) told stories about how the real Korean ginseng might not be as authentic, or genuine anymore. And how Jeju island should be on every traveller’s itinerary. I have yet to step on Korean soils, and don’t intend to in the short run, but yet not dismissing the idea of a holiday there when opportunity beckons.
The crunchy pieces of deep fried rolls stuffed with the fish paste were delectable; and I could have downed 10’s of these had it not been the other food we had. The pool of liquid underneath was not oil, but a soup-like broth with a distinct umami flavour. No MSG detected, thankfully.
Then, conversations morphed to a more local setting. What is there to see or do in Kuala Lumpur. They have visited the Petronas Twin Tower on their first day in town, to which they marvelled, oohed-and-aahed over the beautiful architecture, display of fountains, lush gardens and landscaped pathways in the middle of the bustling KL city.
The next sight-seeing event on their itinerary was a visit to Petaling Street; the Chinatown of Malaysia at night after the training has ended. Deep down inside, I knew this was not going to work, though I kept my reservations at bay and nodded in agreement. I can be such a chameleon.
Penang chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls served with a generous scoop of sticky, shrimp paste or ‘heh kor’, a dollop of chili sauce on the side, a handful of toasted sesame seeds and garnished with fried shallots). This was, however, an over-hyped replica of the real deal. Try the one on Lorong Macalister in Penang if you really intend to go for the best.
True enough, the very next morning most of them came back with complaints. On how the night market at Petaling Street was merely a cheap trade-off of pirated goods, stalls selling almost the same fake watches, shirts, accessories etc.
I knew. Because I have been there, done that many times before. But only because we were on the prowl for the famous ikan bakar (grilled fish and various seafood) stall with a tweak-able spiciness level, the air mata kucing (longan drinks) to tamper the heat thereafter, and the Hokkien mee that has now gone upmarket at Hutong, Lot 10.
(P/S: I am not a fan of night haunt named Chinatown Seng Kee; the famous yet over-rated claypot lou shu fun and roast pork mee, so I won’t mention that in the same breath)
The uncle was working as though he was in a trance. Continuously serving up his incredibly famous Penang Chee Cheong Fun to the crowd.
Given the nature of the almost-lifeless hotel tour itineraries, can you blame them?
When I browsed the list held up by the Chinese lady given by the hotel, I saw Sunway Pyramid, Subang Parade, Citta Mall and Pavilion.
Seriously? They have way bigger malls in China and Hong Kong, do you think she will still be impressed by our local malls populated with mostly home brands? And even when there are internationally-renowned brands, these are already staples in her country?
The Pakistanis intended to extend their stay, and so Genting Highlands was ultimately drafted into a day-trip. That’s possibly the best that we can offer. Pardon the ignorance, for I believe nature walks, conservation/heritage trails and ecological challenges might be viable options, but these are not promoted in a manner that’s captivating enough.
Or should I say, at a reasonable rate that even locals like me and you would be tempted to experience first-hand. Mind you, an excursion to say, Kuala Selangor may cost you an arm and a leg for an ultimately no-frills boat ride in the midst of darkness serenaded by the tranquility and lights from the fireflies. IF the poor insects have yet to succumb to the men-induced pollution.
Char Kuey Teow; fried flat rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, cockles and shrimps in a spicy sauce redolent with a smoky aroma imparted by the heated wok.
Then this same Chinese lady wanted to purchase souvenirs to bring home. Something intrinsically local, but definitely not the goods sold at Petaling Street. How pathetic of me of not being able to point her in the right directions …. But how could I have known? When all we do in our leisure time have always been a visit to the mall; catching a movie or engage in the proudly-Malaysian culture of ‘yum cha’ (drink tea), ‘lepak’ (hang out), etc.
There is a place called the Central Market (Pasar Seni; aptly named Art Market) a short distance away from Petaling Street. This is the place where they sell handicrafts, handmade accessories, clothings, dried foods etc. The last time I visited was back in 2008 or so. When we were made compulsory to wear batik shirts; the indigenous floral motives printed on shirts and dresses originating from Java, and I was searching frantically for one.
I cannot vouch for the quality of the products sold in this indoor market, but certainly this SHOULD be a spot heavily geared towards tourism, rather than being left to rot and face its impending doom of being sidelined in favour of major developmental projects, ie: high-rise towers with no soul or purpose.
Come early, or risk being disappointed. I have been through various situations when I could not even find a seat when I was alone. Imagine that.
Sorry if this post has dragged on for what seems like eternity. And defeated the initial purpose of writing this food review of O&S Restaurant; this extremely famous coffee shop in the neighbourhood of Paramount Garden in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
It just pained me to see how Malaysia is blessed with such esteemed cultural diversity, natural resources, competent people and utmost potential for growth, yet failing to capitalize in areas where even our much smaller (in scale) neighbour down south has managed to attain considerable measure of success.
O&S Restaurant (Non-Halal)
39, Jalan 20/14,
46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Opens for breakfast and lunch only.
GPS Coordinates : 3.107703,101.624917
Google Map to O&S Restaurant @ Paramount Garden