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Vlog: Is This The Best Halal Ramen in Malaysia?

A couple of months ago, I wrote about Ramen Seirock-Ya, an up-and-coming halal ramen chain that specialises in toripaitan (chicken ramen) – and how it might just be the best halal ramen that I’ve tasted. Well, my opinion hasn’t changed – but this time, I’ve made a vlog about it. And in Malay, no less!

The video clips have been in my folder for some time now, but I just couldn’t find the time/energy to edit them. But better late than never, right? PS: This was filmed before the Movement Control Order 3.0 came into effect, when dine-in was still allowed. Fret not, though – you can order from them online here.

BTW, this is the first time that I’ve vlogged in Malay. Language gets rusty if you don’t use it often, which is the case with my Malay, and that’s why I wanted to at least practice it a bit in my vlog.

“But aren’t you Malaysian?” my non-Malaysian readers might ask. “You should be fluent in Malay, since you live there.”

Well, technically, I am fluent. I learned it for 10 years in school. I even got a “Best in BM” award in high school, which is a pretty good achievement if I say so myself, seeing that I’m Malaysian Chinese.

Here’s the thing though. It’s complicated. Malaysia is a pretty odd country. You have all these different races living together in relative harmony, but racial (and religious) polarisation has been on the rise in recent years, and it’s no longer surprising to find people who aren’t that fluent in Malay, even though they are citizens. My parents, for example, can speak in Malay relatively well. But they tend to mix English words into their conversations, and if you asked them to speak purely in Malay, they would find it difficult. Would that be considered ‘fluent’?

As for myself, well, being stuck at home means I only speak Cantonese and English (my first language) most of the time. And to be honest, my Malay has been on a downward spiral ever since I graduated from high school, because I don’t have that many Malay friends (or friends in general *cough cough*) who speak to me in Malay. The only occasions where I have to dig up my long-lost BM vocab are when I have to visit a government office.

Anyway, I hope to make more vlogs in Malay. I’m already an outcast when it comes to Chinese (I can’t read Chinese characters and I’m not fluent in Mandarin. Third culture kid problems), so I don’t want mastery of my second best language to go down the drain.

If you liked the video, please consider subscribing! Or you could buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon.

Til the next one!

5 Must-Try Traditional Dishes In Selangor, Malaysia

Malaysia has 13 states and 2 Federal Territories, each with its own unique cuisine. Some are better known than others:  Penang for its assam laksa and char kuey teow, Negeri Sembilan for its Minang cuisine, Sarawak for its mee kolok, and Kuala Lumpur for its Kari Laksa. But despite being one of the country’s economic hubs and the gateway to Malaysia, Selangor food is often overlooked – which is a shame, as the state is home to a slew of gastronomical delights, drawn from the multicultural background of its inhabitants. The recipes for some of these dishes have been handed down through the centuries and perfected in modern times.

Whether you’re a native Selangor-ian or just visiting, here are five authentic Selangor dishes to indulge in for your next gastronomic adventure!

Pecal from www.maggi.com. my.v1

Pecal

Pecal is a common appetiser that can be found just about anywhere in Selangor. A traditional Javanese salad of sorts, it consists of vegetables topped with a mouth-watering peanut sauce that can also be served with Ketupat or Lontong (rice cubes). Pecal is easy to make, so you can try your hand at making it at home! Key ingredients include peanuts / groundnuts for the kuah (gravy), tofu, bean sprouts, long beans and cucumber.  

Nasi Ambeng

Nasi Ambeng by nona manis kitchen cyberjaya.v1.v1

Nasi Ambeng is made for sharing, as it is usually served on a platter for four to five people. It comes with side dishes such as chicken, fried noodles, long beans and sambal tempe accompanied by white rice. The dish is a common sight at festivals or large gatherings (kenduri).  

Sambal Taun

Sambal Tahun by salamisimon1 on blogspot.v1.v1

Another Selangor dish with Javanese roots is Sambal Taun or Sambal Tahun, which was brought over by early Javanese settlers. A copious amount of chilli is used to make sambal taun. Cow skin is often used as the main protein, but clams, cow lungs and anchovies can also be used, according to one’s preference. Other ingredients needed to complete the dish are red onions, garlic, shrimp paste, coconut milk, oil, tamarind paste and a pinch of salt and sugar.  

Wadai Kipeng

Wadai Kipeng by www. friedchillies.c om.v1

In the tongue of the Banjar people (who are originally from South Kalimantan in Indonesia), ‘Wadai’ means ‘Kuih’, while ‘Kipeng’ means pieces. Back in the day, the Banjar community traditionally served Wadai Kipeng as part of their Thanksgiving ceremony. This porridge-like dessert is made from glutinous rice flour, coconut, palm sugar, granulated sugar and pandan leaves – the perfect sweet ending to any meal.

Bahulu Kemboja by manis2012 on blogspot.v1.v1

Bahulu Kemboja

An all-time favourite snack, Bahulu Kemboja can be served for breakfast or tea. To maintain the moisture of the kuih, original pandan essence straight from the leaves has to be used, along with wheat flour, rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, sugar and salt, as well as a dash of sesame seeds as toppings.

For more interesting tidbits and tales about Selangor, visit www.selangor.travel. 

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Content courtesy of Tourism Selangor. Photos provided by Tourism Selangor, via friedchillies.com, salamisimon1, maggi.com.my, Nona Manis Kitchen Cyberjaya and Manis2012 on blogspot.

 

9 Must-Have Hari Raya Dishes For the Festive Season

Ramadan Kareem!

Last week marked the start of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, when Muslims around the world observe fasting from dawn until dusk. In Malaysia, this is usually a time for Ramadan bazaars – but these have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some states have come up with innovative ways to help traders, such as through delivery services – and while it may not come close to the festive atmosphere at an actual food bazaar, it’s the best option to ensure that we still get to enjoy some food, help out the traders and most importantly, keep safe and healthy.

After Ramadan comes Eid, known colloquially as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, on May 24. Just like Christmas is celebrated in Western countries as a time for family and togetherness, so is Hari Raya to Muslims. But with travel restrictions expected to be put into place to avoid an exodus of city folk returning to their hometowns (which might cause another wave of infections), members of the public are faced with a very bleak and lonely Hari Raya.

Not all is doom and gloom, however. An essential part of any celebration is food – and I’m pretty sure that we’ll still be able to enjoy some scrumptious Raya dishes: perhaps not at a friend’s open house or a family gathering, but from a restaurant, small-time traders (whom we should definitely support), or if you can make it at home – then all the better!

Rendang 

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Photo credit: Kyle Lam via Flickr

No Hari Raya celebration would be complete without rendang – a spicy slow-cooked meat dish braised in coconut milk and spices. There are many different ways to make it, depending on the state/region you’re from. (One thing it is not, however, is crispy.) Typically, a protein such as chicken, beef or lamb is used, but there are also versions made with seafood like fish, shrimp, crab, squid and cockles. The rendang that I am most familiar with is the regular rendang daging, which is drier than curry but still has plenty of gravy that is excellent with rice. A lot of work goes into making good rendang, with ingredients such as coconut milk (santan) and a paste of mixed ground spices such as ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillies and more.

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The rendang from Negeri Sembilan – a state with a large Minangkabau diaspora – has a distinctively Padang influence, with heavy use of turmeric, chilli and santan which gives it a distinctively lighter colour. They also like to use smoked duck as the meat – another Negeri Sembilan specialty. Rendang Tok from the state of Perak, on the other hand, is very dry with little to no gravy, and uses a liberal amount of kerisik (pounded, toasted coconut) and larger chunks of meat that is slow-cooked until tender. My personal favourite? Rendang paru, made from cow lungs. Not very healthy, but t I only have it once a year. 😛

Lemang 

Lemang

Photo credit: zol m via Flickr 

A lot of Hari Raya dishes have strong flavours + gravy, and are made to be eaten with rice. So you definitely can’t miss out on lemang, essentially glutinous rice, salt and coconut milkin a hollowed-out piece of bamboo and grilled over an outdoor fire. You might think it’s easy to chuck rice into bamboo and grill it, but the ‘simplest’ things are often the hardest to execute. The bamboo can’t be too soft or it will break easily, but neither can it be too hard as it will take too long to cook the rice. Maintaining control of the fire and heat is essential, which can be challenging when you’re working with an open fire. The bamboo also has to be turned over constantly, to ensure the rice is cooked evenly and thoroughly. The final result? A slightly sticky, chewy rice with a smoky aftertaste – perfect to go with curry, rendang and serunding (meat floss). 

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Lemang periuk kera, which features rice stuffed into pitcher plants, has become very popular in the last couple of years – although naturalists discourage eating it due to fears that the plant will be over-collected in order to meet demands.

Ketupat 

Ketupat

Photo credit: Sham Hardy via Flickr 

Andddd we have the poster child for Hari Raya – ketupat, or compressed rice. The image of ketupat nasi, housed in iconic diamond-shaped containers woven out of palm leaves, is synonymous with Hari Raya in Malaysia. Like lemang, ketupat is meant to be eaten with all the savoury, curry and gravy-based dishes. Aside from ketupat nasi, there is also ketupat daun palas, which is triangular in shape and made with glutinous rice.  If you can’t get your fill of rice, look out for nasi impit which is basically rice compressed into squares – makes for easy eating! 

Masak Lemak 

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While it’s literally translated to ‘cooked in fat’, masak lemak actually refers to a style of cooking that incorporates coconut milk (yes, we use a lot of that here). The dish is usually prepared with meat such as chicken, beef, fish, seafood and even vegetables. Masak Lemak Cili Api is popular in Negeri Sembilan and has a vibrant yellow colour, with birds-eye chillies thrown in (they’re pretty spicy at 50,000 – 100,000 Scoville units!) alongside turmeric and other spices. For something milder on the palate, there’s Masak Lemak Putih, which is white in colour and often uses vegetables such as cabbage and pumpkin. 

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Masak lemak putih with pumpkin and spinach

Satay

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Satay may not be Hari Raya “exclusive”, but it is certainly part of any Hari Raya gathering worth its salt. And who doesn’t like smoky barbecued meat on skewers, grilled over a charcoal fire? Most common meats are chicken and beef, less common are lamb and seafood. Of course, you can’t miss out on the peanut sauce and nasi impit. Tone down the spice with some cucumber and onions.

Kambing Panggang 

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Again, not Raya exclusive, but you’ll often find it at major festivals in Malaysia celebrated by the Malay community. You’ll often find whole roasted lamb at Ramadan bazaars or at buka puasa/ Hari Raya buffets at hotels, served with black pepper or mushroom sauce.

Sambal based dishes

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Curry-based and masak lemak-based cooking form a large part of Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Rounding it off are sambal-based dishes, which are typically made from a sauce or paste featuring chilli, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallots and other spices. Sambal dishes are very common during Hari Raya – my favourite being sambal sotong (squid), which comes in a spicy, rich and thick, sweet gravy.

Bubur 

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There’s something very hearty and comforting about the humble porridge – perhaps because it is easy to digest, tasty, and warms/fills the belly right up. There are both sweet and savoury variants. Bubur Lambuk, a spiced meat porridge, is a popular dish for breaking fast during Ramadan, and it is also served during Hari Raya. Again, like Rendang, different states have their own versions. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia uses fish meat and fresh herbs such as fern and cassava leaves, while Bubur Lambuk Utara from the northern states of Malaysia contains egg, shredded chickens and nuts. Personally, I like dessert bubur that uses local fruits and ingredients, such as black sesame, mungbean, red bean and pengat pisang (banana porridge? although it’s more like a stew rather than a bubur per se).

Kuih-Muih 

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Ending this post on a sweet note, we have kuih muih. It’s hard to classify what kuih muih is as they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and flavours –  the best I can describe it is an assortment of cakes, sweets, cookies and snacks. Traditional favourites that are commonly seen during Raya include Kuih Koci – a glutinous rice dumpling with a palm sugar-filled centre, onde-onde (chewy glutinous rice balls with shredded coconut), kuih bakar (baked pandan cake), lepat pisang (steamed banana cake wrapped in banana leaves), talam ubi (tapioca cake) and kuih seri muka (a two layered white and green cake).

 

What are some of your Hari Raya favourites? If you celebrate Eid in other parts of the world, let me know in the comments about some of your traditional dishes!

 

 

 

 

 

Nasi Campur Murah @ D Hamodal Cafe, Petaling Jaya

My colleague V has been raving about this place in Petaling Jaya that sells affordable and tasty Malay dishes – so we went to try it out recently! Dubbed D Hamodal Cafe, the cafeteria-style establishment serves nasi campur (mixed rice – ie a variety of different dishes that you can pick and mix to pair with rice). It is popular among the factory and office workers within the area for its tasty food, large portions and affordable prices.

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You can already see people queueing up (this was around 12.30PM) but fret not as there is plenty of seating on the ground and upper floor.

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Line moves quickly.

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Wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures as there were many customers and I didn’t want to hold up the line. The dishes are typical Malay fare: stir-fried veggies, curries, rendang, assam fish, masak lemak (cooked in coconut milk), ulam (Malay-style salads), fried chicken, stir-fried beef masak kicap (soy sauce), turmeric squid, sambal sotong (cuttlefish) and many more. There are easily 30-40 dishes available.

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My admin L took about 4-5 different items (fried omelette, squid, cuttlefish, meat, ulam) and it only cost Rm15, with drinks!

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Boss had fried egg with squid

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Not being a fan of veggies, I had fried chicken on the recommendation of V, as well as sambal sotong and pedal/hati masak kicap (gizzard and liver cooked in soy sauce). The fried chicken was marinated well and was full of flavour but a little on the dry side. Sambal sotong was spicy but not overwhelming, and I liked how well they prepped the gizzard and liver, as it did not have an offal-y smell. All this for just RM10, with a drink of iced tea.

D Hamodal is a good choice for a quick, tasty and affordable lunch if you’re in the Petaling Jaya area. Service is fast and efficient, although it can get pretty warm since there’s no air conditioning.

D’HAMODAL CAFE 

Dataran Hamodal, Block A, Lot 4, Jalan 13/4, Seksyen 13, 46200, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Opening hours: 7.30AM – 6PM (closed Saturday – Sunday)

Food Review: SPG by Bijan

Discerning KL-ites will have dined at (or at least, heard of) Bijan, the grand dame of refined Malay cuisine in Kuala Lumpur. Tucked in the quiet, affluent neighbourhood of Bukit Ceylon, the cosy establishment is surrounded by lush greenery, with lots of wood and traditional elements like batik in a contemporary setting.

Now, the team has come up with an original venture: SPG by Bijan. A playful take on the colloquial term ‘Sarong Party Girl’ (Asian girl who prefers dating white men), the tapas bar and grill is housed in a bungalow, and is accessible from Bijan through an adjoining doorway.

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Where Bijan is elegant and refined, SPG is fun, chic and stylish. Floral motifs abound, as is the lush greenery of its sister eatery, alongside hand-printed tiles, batik motifs and mural walls that lend it a nostalgic feel.

 

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The menu is Malay / Asian with a twist, and the Asian-inspired cocktails offer something for both adventurous palates and lovers of classics. If you’re feeling brave, try their signature Stinkini (martini + dry vermouth + savoury notes of pickled petai) – we could literally smell it as soon as it came to the table. Other signatures include the cheekily named Yellow Fever (gin, turmeric, honey and tonic water), and Cocojito (lime, white rum, coconut water, mint leaves). There’s something for the teetotalers too, like Bluepea Tonic (honey, lemon, bluepea flower).

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It’s all about sharing with SPG’s range of ‘Malaysian tapas’. To start things off, a basket of fries celup – crispy thin cut fries served with anchovy mayo and salted egg yolk dip. They were extremely addictive, especially with the creamy, salty anchovy mayo.

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Keropok-kerepek: assortment of crackers with sambal dip

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One of the restaurant’s signature tapas is the Ah-Ran-Sini (after the Italian arancini). These deep fried golden balls of rice are stuffed with the flavours of nasi lemak, with a hearty sambal and anchovy centre.

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The Pais Barramundi grilled parcel of barramundi with banana leather, turmeric, spices and coconut – was a clever and modern interpretation of traditional flavours. I especially liked the banana leather, which had a beautiful texture, packed with the natural sweetness of banana. It went well with the light saltiness of the grilled barramundi.

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Presentation for the Ayam Limau Purut & Roti Jala Tiffin was exquisite, brought to the table in adorable tiffin carriers. The chicken curry was perfectly spiced – not too spicy but with just enough kick, and the fluffy roti jala (literally net bread – hence the shape) was great for soaking up the delicious curry.

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Jackfruit Rendang Bao is a perfect substitute for meat. The stringy texture of jackfruit is very similar to meat, and when cooked rendang-style, tastes almost like beef – all wrapped in pillowy-soft mantou buns.

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Lidah & Sambal – braised, tender ox tongue; pan-seared and served with sambal hitam. It was my first time having ox tongue. The texture was somewhat grainy and dense, but not unpleasant, and there was no offal-like taste.

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We were feeling pretty stuffed at this point, but there were still several dishes to go. The grilled calamari, served with sambal belacan, was simple but tasty, with a slight char. There was also flame-grilled duck and chicken skewers. 

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Pan-seared black pomfret with coconut and galangal sauce. I like how the fish was completely deboned for easy eating, so every bite was just fresh, juicy fish. The coconut and galangal sauce was like the Thai tom ka gai dish; creamy but not cloying.

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Grilled Lamb Loin

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And for dessert, Bananas Over Bananas – Homemade banana ice cream with smokey caramelised banana and dehydrated banana cone.

We were spoiled by the crew at SPG, so by the time we rolled (yes, rolled) out of the restaurant everyone was well and truly full and satisfied. The food, ambience and service were excellent, and the innovative approach to Malay cuisine is great.

SPG by BIJAN

3A, Jalan Ceylon, Bukit Ceylon, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 12pm – 12am (daily)

Reservations: 03-2022 3575

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Review: Capitol Satay – Melaka’s Original Satay Celup

Happy New Year, everyone!

Whether you celebrated with loved ones at home, with friends out partying, with your pets in your jammies or just alone with a nice book (that’s what I did anyway), I hope it was a good one. I’ve been a bit lazy with my blogging (spent the holiday season gaming, mostly), so now it’s back to the grind again (at work as well)!

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N and I were in Melaka recently, and being foodies, we had to try the local specialty. The original plan was to get oh-chien (stir-fried oyster omelette), but it started raining heavily and we ended up at Capitol Satay instead. Founded in the 1960s, the place is extremely popular with out-of-townies so there’s always a line. We got seats relatively quickly, within 15 minutes of waiting.

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Seating is limited, and the restaurant is not air conditioned. That doesn’t stop the crowds, though.

What do they serve?

Despite the satay moniker, I think it’s more accurate to call it lok lok, ie hotpot. First, choose from a variety of meat, seafood and vegetables on skewers. Then, bring them to your table and dunk the skewers into an aromatic peanut-based sauce, kept bubbling at the middle of your table, until your food is cooked. Voila! Enjoy with bread and cucumber for dipping.

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Choose your poison. There is a dizzying selection at the chiller – sausages, meatballs, seafood tofu, beancurd sheets, oyster mushrooms, Taiwanese sausage, crabmeat sticks, pork, squid, chicken, lamb, etc.

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What we got

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As we ate, restaurant staff came over occasionally, to add more sauce or to stir the pot so that stuff didn’t stick to the bottom. The peanut sauce was fragrant, with a sweet and nutty flavour. I especially liked the bacon-wrapped enoki mushroom. After awhile, everything started to taste the same, although N seemed to like it well enough. Our meal for two came up to about RM30++ which was reasonable since we only took about 20 skewers. If you’re dining in a large group, or if you’re a big eater, the portions might not be filling.

CAPITOL SATAY 

41, Lorong Bukit Cina,
Bandar Hilir, 75100 Melaka,
Malaysia
Opening Hours: 4PM – 12AM (daily)

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DIY Batik For Just RM10! @ Batik Canting, Fahrenheit 88 Kuala Lumpur

Originally from Indonesia, batik is an ancient textile art that involves dyeing cloth with a wax-resist technique. It also refers to the textile itself, which often features beautiful patterns and motifs which differ from region to region.

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Malaysian batik is markedly different from its Indonesian counterpart; with larger, simpler patterns and a preference for floral motifs as opposed to the Javanese love for geometry. Malaysian batik is also brighter and more vibrant in colour than the deep, earthy hues of Javanese batik.

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N and I were wandering around Fahrenheit 88 when we stumbled across a shop called Batik Canting, which sells batik clothing, souvenirs, paintings and other paraphernalia. They also had DIY batik for just RM10 – where you can paint your own batik and bring it home. Thinking it would be much more fun than just window shopping, we signed up for the session. By session I mean it was just the two of us at a small table in the corner.

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Choices were limited (we weren’t expecting much since it was only RM10). N ended up picking a flower, while I went with my favourite – cats. The materials were provided: painting palette, brushes, and dyes in the three primary colours.

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For professionals and hobbyists, I think you can also buy (?) the dyes at the shop.

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Now, I think I’m a decent artist – I used to draw manga to sell in high school (and yes, people actually bought them, lol). But when it comes to colour, I am terrible. Many a time have I created a nice portrait/drawing and what not and completely ruined it after attempting to add colour. This was evident when I tried to mix the primary dyes to create certain shades – everything turned out blue or red, lmfao.

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N, however, exhibited a talent for shading and colouring. His flower boasted a vibrant violet and pink hue which was not by luck but careful mixing.

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Topping it off with a teal background. Notice the ‘shading’ in the petals?

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And voila. Mine looks like it was done by a 6-year-old. But hey, we had fun.

PS: I showed these to my mom asking her to guess who did which. She immediately knew the cat one was mine. Why? “You suck at colouring.” Mom knows best.

BATIK CANTING 

2nd floor, Fahrenheit 88, 179, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

 

Museum of Malay World Ethnology @ Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur

When visiting Muzium Negara (The National Museum), most people make a beeline for the main building – so some might not have noticed the building adjacent to it which houses a small but interesting museum well worth checking out.

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Muzium Ethnologi Dunia Melayu (Musuem of Malay World Ethnology) is dedicated to Malay culture and history, where visitors can learn about traditional games, clothing, accessories, arts and crafts and weaponry, among others. While not very large, visitors will find a good collection of exhibits on display, with detailed descriptions.

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Malay culture is rich and steeped in various influences. This is thanks to the strategic geographic location of the Malay Peninsula which made it an important trade centre for traders from as far as India, the Middle East and China. Wars with powerful neighbouring kingdoms (what is now Thailand and Indonesia), as well as the invasion of foreign powers such as the Portuguese, Dutch and English have also added to the tapestry that is the Malay heritage we know today.

Here are just some of the interesting exhibits you’ll be able to see:

SHADOW PUPPETS 

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Like many cultures in Southeast Asia, Malay culture has its own form of shadow puppetry, called wayang kulit (literally ‘skin performance’) – so called because of the cowhide leather that the puppets are made from. They often feature mythical characters and have a moral lesson behind their stories.

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The northern state of Kelantan is particularly well known for its wayang kulit, with designs carrying a strong Thai influence, where as in the southern state of Johor, the wayang kulit is influenced by the Javanese Indonesian style, brought over by Javanese immigrants. The puppets are supported on sticks or buffalo horn handles and moved around by a puppet master, with characters voiced by different actors. The shadows are projected onto a cotton cloth using an oil lamp. You could say it was the earliest form of ‘animation’ or ‘cinema’. Performances are often accompanied by traditional gamelan music.

TRADITIONAL WEDDING (BERSANDING CEREMONY) LIFE-SIZED DIORAMAS 

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Bersanding is an integral part of a Malay wedding. The bride and groom are seated at a pelamin (an elevated platform, usually elaborately decorated) side by side, and a reception is held for family and friends. Traditionally, one would find items such as bunga telur (a decorative ‘egg’ flower to represent fertility), although these are becoming rarer in big cities. Certain other traditions such as spraying rose water and pouring scented petals onto the couple are also slowly done away for the sake of convenience.

GOLD / METALWORK 

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Malay culture is renowned for its craftsmanship and artistry, especially in gold and metalwork. Geometric patterns and floral motifs are common. In traditional Malay society, the quality of the jewellery worn, such as brooches, pins, earrings, belt buckles and necklaces in gold, silver and other precious metals often indicated wealth and status – so the more intricate the piece, the more important the person or his/her family.

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Silverware and bronzeware exhibits featuring items such as kitchenware, pots and pans, cutlery, trays, jewellery boxes, teapots and more.

WEAPONRY 

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When it comes to Malay weaponry, the most well known of all is definitely the keris, an asymmetrical dagger with a wavy blade – also a symbol of Malaysia’s royal families. The keris can come in a variety of designs (there are also straight-bladed keris), with a meticulously carved handle and sheath inlaid with precious stones, wood, gold or ivory. It is said the wavy pattern made it easier to rend through an enemy’s flesh.

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Diorama of a Malay blacksmith circa 15th century

WOODWORK 

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Woodwork and woodcarving is another area that the Malays excel in, and you’ll see this applied in everything from architecture to carpentry. Decorative wall hangings (above) feature geometric and nature motifs (flowers, clouds) as is common in Islamic design, or Islamic verses in Jawi (bottom left).

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These interesting contraptions are quail traps! You can see even these have a lot of effort put into them from the beautiful cage fronts.

TRADITIONAL GAMES 

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Congkak is a mancala game involving two players and a board with a number of ‘holes’ and two ‘homes’ at each side. The objective of the game is to get as many seeds into the player’s respective home, and involves a measure of strategy, speed and skill. The game was played by people from all classes, although the wealthy would have nicer congkak boards such as the one above shaped like a large and beautiful bird.

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And then we have the Wau – giant kites that span over a metre in length that are flown as much as for sport as they are for recreation. Wau-making competitions and wau races are still popular until this day, dotting the skies with a rainbow of colours during tournament season. The Wau Bulan (moonkite) is unique to the state of Kelantan, and is also used as the symbol of the Malaysian national carrier.

So there you have it! Not a big museum but a nice one filled with interesting things to see. Be sure to check out the Museum of Malay World Ethnology while you’re at Muzium Negara! Entrance is RM2.

Also while you’re here, there’s a replica of a traditional Malay house on stilts sandwiched in between the MWEM and the main building.

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MUZIUM ETHNOLOGI DUNIA MELAYU 

The Office of Malay World Gallery, Department of Mesuem Malaysia, Jalan Damansara,Tasik Perdana, 50566 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM (Daily)