Malaysian cuisine, Argentine rose
I once had to spend 2 weeks in the (then) charming sleepy little beachside town of Georgetown in the Penang Peninsula of Malaysia waiting for my Thai visa. I had inadvertently flown into Thailand without a visa and they would only let me stay a few days without one so off I trekked with my traveling companion to the nearest Thai consulate, which just happened to be across the southern border of Thailand in Malaysia.
There wasn’t much to do at the time but lay on the beach and eat. Every night we looked forward to the night market. After a long hard day lazing around the beach, it was the only thing that could refresh us for the next day’s beach tanning session. I loved those Asian night markets and the night markets of Georgetown were culinary Alice in Wonderland type scenarios. Various strange fishes and rice and noodle concoctions. Malaysian cuisine is a melange of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Eurasian influences. Mee Goreng, fish in spicy chili, sweet and sour crab legs, so many variations of veggies, noodles, rice, fish and meat.
That was probably some of the best eating of my life but sadly after that experience, I never really had the chance to eat Malaysian food again.
Until the other night.
Rushing down Holland Park Rd, I was late for the launch of the Malaysian Kitchen passport at Kiasu (a restaurant in Bayswater) which translated means “afraid to be second best.” They strive to be as authentic as possible, making everything from scratch each day and sourcing their ingredients as freshly as possible, even going so far as to import what they can’t source here.
Let me tell you, the food is incredibly spicy and tasty. A fantastic meal! I missed some of the starters but what I did have was very authentic. Malay chicken satay, special fried calamari - not rubbery at all, and stir fried radish cakes were some of the starters I was able to sample.
The mains included sweet spare ribs, Char kway teow (noodles with prawns and pork fat) -which sound awful but were awesome and whole chili crab! That was a bit messy to eat and I don’t think my neighbour enjoyed my lustful gorging of the crabs, but it was so good I had to get my hands in there to really enjoy it. I love eating with my hands!
Me being The Winesleuth, of course I had to have wine. A quick look at their wine list and it was not disappointing. Some thoughtful soul had actually put a bit of effort into the wine list with a small but wide-ranging assortment of wines from around the world. All the wines were also reasonably priced ranging from £11 (!) for the respectable Argentine house sauvignon blanc up to £35 for an organic California Chenin. Most wines fell somewhere in between price-wise.
I ordered the Cuma Organic Rosè from Michel Torino (£13.50) . Cuma means pure and clean in the Ayamara language (the indigenous peoples of Chile) and Torino strives to produce and fresh and clean wine. I can say they’ve achieved it on both counts. Fresh red fruits on the nose and palate and a pleasingly dry wine. There was no residual sugar, which I do detest in rosés. There was a nice bounce of acidity to it and it was just the palate cleanser needed to both put out the fire of the spicy food and deal with the sweetness of some of the dishes. Rosés are my “go-to” wines when I’m not sure of the food and wine matching and this one was a sure hit!
The Malaysian Kitchen Passport is sponsored by the Malaysian government and will be an ongoing event until Dec 31, 2010.You can order your Malaysian kitchen passort online, which entitles you and a guest to 20% off all participating restaurants in the UK. There are over 40 in London to choose from so sign up here. There are also going to be a number of events around the UK including night markets in London, Birmingham and Manchester. They’ll also be headlining Taste of London this year so no excuses for not trying this delicious and often overlooked cuisine.