Monday, May 03, 2010

April 5, 2010: Melaka to Kuala Lumpur

On our last morning in Melaka, our only objective was to find a breakfast more interesting than the one offered at our hotel. Although they don't have a dedicated breakfast menu, the staff at Geographer Cafe were happy to fill that request. We had walked past them several times over the past few days and noticed many a pink-faced tourist sipping drinks from coconuts at their tables. When we stopped by ourselves they were out of coconuts, but their other tropical juices were very much to our liking.

Eating at such a tourist-friendly restaurant meant a couple of things - the prices were a little inflated compared to other restaurants we'd visited (though it was still very affordable by our Aussie standards) and the menu was easy to navigate. In fact, there was a dedicated page of 'Geographer's vegetarian specialties'!

Michael thoroughly enjoyed the Geographer Curry Rice (RM9.90 ~ $3.30), and pronounced that he would happily work more breakfast curries into the Australian diet.

My Nasi Lemak (RM5.90 ~ $2) was a very pleasant surprise indeed. Though I'm not much of an egg or chilli eater, they went down a treat with the coconut rice. The chef had chosen to use brown rice and I found that its filling, nourishing qualities sat well with me at this time of day. The peanuts and tempeh chips had a toasty flavour and pleasing crunch, which worked well against the steamed greens. Nasi Lemak isn't the kind of meal I'd typically cook or order at home but this experience of it had me wanting to change that.

With that, we finished our packing and headed to the bus station. These pineapple tarts, bought from the night market when we first arrived in Melaka, didn't last much of the journey back to Kuala Lumpur.

Michael led the way on our first exploration of KL, nutting out the monorail system and tracing the Lonely Planet's walking tour through the colonial district. Here we saw fountains, stately buildings, and even a cricket field.

The tour took us on to Little India, our dinner destination. We wandered round shops and street markets, noticing that a number of the dedicated vegetarian Indian restaurants were on Lebuh Ampang.

Hot and very sweaty by this stage, we ventured into Sangeetha - it out-competed the other vego restaurants with its promise of air-conditioning.

Sangeetha also boasted a menu with dozens and dozens of items. We may have deliberated over the drinks even longer than the food, eventually going with a ginger lemon cool for Michael and a lime mint cooler for me (RM7.50 ~ $2.50 each).

Michael can never resist a thali and at RM16 (~ $5.40), this Punjabi thali was certainly one of the better value ones of this holiday.

I'm a similarly predictable sucker for dosai, and their were numerous options to choose from. I eventually settled on the cauliflower masala dosa (RM6.50 ~ $2.20) and did not regret it one bit - tender cauliflower made a fabulous filling.

Even while devouring a dosa so good, I couldn't help but take furtive glances at the dessert cabinet throughout our meal. It was heaving with fudgy Indian sweets, and we had some Date Ladhu and Kaju Katli (RM2.50-3.50 ~ $0.80-1.20 each) boxed up to enjoy later (... for breakfast, as it turns out. You'll see why, later.)

We were just barely cooler, though utterly content, as we made our way back past the glamourous Petronas twin towers to our hotel.


  1. I am LOVING these posts. I lived in Malaysia for 2 years when I was 10, and hearing about Melaka and KL are making me so nostaligic! I wasn't a vegetarian back then, so I'm interested to see just how well they cater to us non-meat eating folk. I'm headed to Malaysia for Christmas next year, so will keep my eyes out for the places you've gone to :)

  2. I surprised myself by my reaction to your meal at the Geographer - I was all THAT IS VERY EXPENSIVE and then I laughed at myself.

    Curries are the best for breakfast. Eat it all the time, Michael! (And please let me know every time you find a restaurant in Melbourne that serves curry for breakfast. So few do)

  3. After Melaka I started making an almost (just omit the shrimp paste from the sambal) vegetarian version of nasi lemak. I'd love to eat it for breakfast but it's a bit too fiddly to make from scratch at 7am. I enjoyed the Geographers brown rice option but I would have liked lots more chili sauce on mine :)

    Here's my recipe if you are tempted to make it yourself

  4. Am impressed with your trip. :-) The main thing I miss about M'sia is the food.

  5. Thanks Christine! I'm sure you'll have no problem finding veg food on your travels - Indian restaurants are always reliable and there's also some great Chinese fare if you do your research. :-)

    Steph, my reaction was very much the same. :-D I've never noticed a cafe doing curry breakfasts here in Oz - we might have to start this habit at home.

    Thanks for the recipe, AOF! I realised on reflection that the reason I rarely cook like this at home is all the separate components that need prepping. I'll be plotting which bits I can do in advance and in bulk.

    I almost miss it myself, Penny. ;-)

    Hi Chai! The food was certainly my highlight. :-)

  6. I seem to remember the food in Malacca is a bit 'different' from the rest of M'sia. More nyonya styled food.

    The food up North is v good as well (KL, Ipoh and Penang).

    Penang is quite touristy ... Ipoh not so much but it's one of the bigger towns in M'sia.

    Anyways.... am happy to hear you enjoyed M'sia.

  7. Yes Cindy its the prep issue. It looks so bloody simple but apart from slicing the cucumber every other ingredient needs a pan to cook in (I'm a lazy cook, I like to have minimal washing up!). Roasting the peanuts in a bigger batch (though I like my roasted nuts to be pretty fresh) but can be easily done a day or two in advance and I reckon the same can go for a batch of sambal. On that day that means just cooking the rice, blanching kangkung, frying tempeh or tofu or whatever protein you want and boiling an egg for the non vegans. But that's still 4 pots and pans.

    It's worth it though.

    PS: I have become addicted to kangkung - I get it from Vic market, the end of the first shed (the one next to the dairy hall), in the not-organic aisle. Its on the left just before you get to the road between the two covered market areas.

  8. Thanks for those tips, AOF! We are actually shopping for our first home-made nasi lemak today. :-)

    Watch this space!

  9. I thought kangkung was just spinach. Seems like it is considered a weed in the US of A.

  10. Thanks for that link, Chai! It'll help me remember what I'm looking for. :-)