Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 10, Madam Kwan’s and Kuala Selangor Fireflies
After lazily taking my time to get going this morning, I headed off to the KLCC Mall in Kuala Lumpur, where I met my buddy Ian for lunch. Ian had been talking this place up and insisted that I not leave Malaysia without eating there. THANK YOU IAN!
Lunch at Madam Kwan’s, KLCC Kuala Lumpur
Madam Kwan’s is known for their deliciously prepared authentic Malay cuisine. They have locations throughout Malaysia, I guess, and if you find yourself visiting the county, make sure you gorge yourself on their menu. I recommend everything that I ate, but I’m confident the entire menu is just as delectable.
This is Black & White drink. It is unsweetened soy milk with added flavorless unsweetened black gelatin strips. They bring out a little pitcher with it that is full of a thick simple syrup to sweeten the milk to your liking. It was awesome! The soy milk had a really great flavor, earthy but fresh, certainly not strong/overpowering, unlike the crap soy milk in the States. The texture from the gelatin was fun. The drink really helped to cool off the tongue after some spicy Asam Laksa.
Madam Kwan’s Tasty Appetizer
Deep Fried Crab Dumplings. Yes, these were good. Nothing going on here except for the crab and the dumpling. Fresh, clean, straight forward, and non-greasy. Good with the tarter sauce they were served with. Why can’t it be this good in the US?
Madam Kwan’s Delicious Malay Soup
We ordered a traditional Malaysian dish called Asam Laksa. This was on my list of must try Malaysian foods. It did not disappoint. Asam Laksa is a tamarind based broth with shrimp paste, raw onions, chilies, rice noodles, and mint garnish. The mint was a surprising pairing with the sour tamarind which worked quite well. I will repeat this combination of those two flavors for sure, perhaps in a thick sauce over chicken or something. The soup was hot, sour, fishy, and delicious.
Madam Kwan’s Authentic Malaysian Entrees
My oh my. Madam Kwan, may I come be your errand boy just for the hope of sneaking some of your gastro deliciousness? Seriously, what awesome food. Authentic, traditional, and superb.
This is Fried Kway Teow (rice stick noodles….think Pad Thai but wider), bean sprouts, chives, chicken, shrimp, and squid. All cooked nicely together in the wok with a very light brown sauce of soy (no fish sauce). It had a great char flavor from the wok and was rather addictive. I found myself repeatedly eating this over all the other amazing dishes on the table for some reason, even though it wasn’t as flavorful as the rest of them. I’ve tried making this at home, but it just doesn’t turn out the same. I’m going to blame it on my wok not getting hot enough (need more BTUs!)…… ya, that must be it.
Next up was another traditional Malay dish that I had on my “must try” list, Nasi Lemak. Coconut rice (awesome!), coconut based curry braised chicken, some really nasty ground shrimp (upper left corner) that I couldn’t deal with, and some absolutely amazing Sambal Ikan Bilis (a Malay style sambal made with dried anchovies, fresh chilies, shrimp paste, tamarind, sugar, and lime juice). It was awesome all mixed together (less the nasty ground shrimp). This is top on my list when I return to Malaysia. I’m not sure how it was able to have a lite feeling despite all the heavy coconut, especially in the rice.
The Nasi Lemak was accompanied with this little jewel called achar. It’s kind of like a little plate of fresh pickled cucumbers and carrots with a bunch of texture added on. It was seasoned with turmeric, vinegar, tamarind, nuts and I think sesame seeds. I ate the whole plate (of only 1/2 cup)….couldn’t stop myself. It was exceptional, and I think I may have liked it better with the Kway Teow. So good!
Burger King in Malaysia
Our evening was planned with a boat ride on the river at Kuala Selangor to look at the fireflies, something I was very excited to see. On our way, my buddy wanted to stop and get some food. His selection, Burger King. Seriously? Burger King when we were surrounded with so much deliciousness? I guess living in Malaysia for over a year could make a person crave a U.S. burger. I reluctantly went along for the “fatty” ride. I was mortified by what I found.
So, nowhere in Malaysia that I had been to up to this point had fat people walking around. Sure, there was the occasional overweight person here and there, but not giant obese folks anywhere. But then I walked into a U.S. fast food burger chain and it was full of them. Fat asians, fat Americans, fat Australians, and fat workers. Absolutely disgusting! I’m coming to truly hate American fast food. Chemically engineered filth to make us fat and keep us that way through metobolic response cravings. Good job Burger King…. your mission of destruction is meeting its purpose to the few poor souls in Malaysia that have crossed your path.
The burger was tasty of course, and made me feel gross after eating it. And the odd thing was that it was exactly the same price (after the exchange rate) as it is in the states. I spent about $5 for my lunch at Madam Kwan’s, and $8 for a burger, fries, and Coke at Burger King. Doesn’t make much sense does it?
Kuala Selangor Fireflies
If you get the chance to go to Kuala Lumpur, make sure that you make the hour long drive to Kuala Selangor’s Kampung Kuantan to see the fireflies. What an awesome experience.
I had never had the chance to see fireflies in the wild before this. I was like a little kid full of glee at their site. We loaded up into some very shallow long boats, manned by a single guide pushing us through the mucky river with a long oar. He didn’t speak much English, but communicated well enough to point out the flies and warn us of over hanging branches. Our guide didn’t notice once that his oar was stuck in some mangrove roots, and when he pulled to row, he nearly pulled himself into the river. We had a good chuckle over that, after the concern of how screwed we would have been on our own in that little boat on a foreign river during a pitch black night.
The fireflies are actually a type of beetle, only about 6 centimeters long. Their little bums light up at a rate of about 3 three times per second. Being that there are thousands of them covering all the mangroves along the river, the light show is quite a spectacle to behold. They looked like thousands of little yellow twinkling stars. It was beautiful. And some of the trees were covered in unison flashing beetles. Hundreds of little guys all flickering together at the same time and rhythm. It was like a flashing Christmas light show. Very very cool indeed.
I sure did love this experience. One of my Malaysia highlights, even as simple of a thing as it was. It was just cool being there and seeing it. The fireflies are diminishing in population though, so I hope that Malaysia will be successful in their conservation efforts to save this national treasure.
The Bald Gourmet travels to Malaysia and sees the fireflies at Kuala Selangor and eats traditional Malay cuisine at Madam Kwan’s.