Archive for the 'Malaysian' Category

Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast | Coconut Jam

I cannot stand to throw away food. Whether it’s a half bunch of parsley or or a half-eaten slice of pizza, having perfectly good food tossed in the trash pains me in a very real way. I attribute this compulsion to my mother and grandmother, who forced me to eat every last grain of rice while growing up.

After making a warm coconut rice pudding the other week, I was left with a half can of coconut milk that seemed to stare at me every time I opened the fridge, threatening to go bad at any minute. I could’ve made a Thai curry or soup, but a few measly ounces was not enough, and I wanted to avoid opening up another can of worms, if you know what I mean.

After racking my brain and the Internet for ideas, I found the solution to my coconut milk predicament: Kaya Toast.

Kaya Toast is a popular snack in Singapore and Malaysia comprised of coconut jam sandwiches served with sunny eggs drizzled with soy sauce. I’ve eaten this fabulous sweet and savory creation at a number of restaurants including Susan Feniger’s Street, The Spice Table, and Jitlada, but never considered making it at home until I found this super-easy coconut jam recipe from my friend Sarah.

Sarah’s original recipe calls for a full can of coconut milk, but I scaled down the proportions using simple ratios. After the jam came together, I toasted up some buttered bread, spread on a thick layer of sweetness, and sandwiched everything up nicely. A fried egg with a dash of white pepper and a slick of soy sauce was all that was needed to complete the package.

When life gives you a half can of coconut milk, make Kaya Toast.

  • 13.5 ounces coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado, granulated, or brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Good quality white bread
  • Eggs
  • White pepper
  • Soy sauce

Prepare coconut jam

Kaya Toast | Coconut Jam

Combine the coconut milk and sugar in a large saucepan. The jam will bubble and boil intensely as it cooks, so make sure to choose a vessel that is much larger than its contents.

Boil the mixture over medium to medium-high heat until the jam reduces by about half and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes.

Kaya Toast | Coconut Jam

Transfer the jam to a bowl and set aside to cool. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools.

Continue reading ‘Kaya Toast’

Dinner at The Spice Table – Los Angeles (Downtown)

The Spice Table - Los Angeles

My first visit to The Spice Table wasn’t a great one. I came to the restaurant with high expectations and left feeling mostly underwhelmed after a lunch of wings, coleslaw, and Vietnamese sandwiches. Although The Spice Table’s dinner menu is a completely different beast, I didn’t have any desire to try it after my initial introduction.

The Spice Table - Los Angeles

Sometime last December, I received a $50 voucher from the Malaysia Kitchen Los Angeles campaign* to dine at one of their partner restaurants. I selected to return to The Spice Table after skimming the list of eateries participating in the program.

While the voucher wasn’t enough to cover the entire cost of dinner there, it provided me with the incentive that I needed to give the restaurant another try. I was hoping for an altogether better experience this time around.

The Spice Table - Los Angeles

The Astronomer and I bypassed the official Malaysia Restaurant Week menu and chose a suite of dishes that sounded delightful to us. The beef tripe ($10) from the “Satays” portion of the menu was the first to arrive.

Marinated in soy, garlic, and palm sugar, the tripe was impressively tender and surprisingly sweet. While I’ve always had a thing for a tripe, The Astronomer has been more hesitant to open his heart. He declared these skewers to be the best preparation of tripe he’s come across.

Continue reading ‘Dinner at The Spice Table – Los Angeles (Downtown)’

Urvashi & Love Noodle House – Ho Chi Minh City

Even though District 7 is located next door to District 4, The Astronomer and I rarely venture to this part of town because their brand of suburbia isn’t rockin’. District 7 is Saigon’s first-ever planned neighborhood and is full of wide roads and fresh air. I’ve got nothing against order and cleanliness, but the place just feels a bit creepy to me.

District 7 is home to the city’s largest group of expats—the Koreans—and their influence on how the community has developed can be seen at every sterile turn. Often referred to as Little Korea or Singapore of the future, this neighborhood has a distinct flavor all its own (kind of like kimchi).

On assignment for AsiaLIFE, I traveled to District 7 for a feature entitled Street Smart. Although the majority of the establishments in this neck of the woods are generic, boring and a wee distrubing (check out Petite Ange – 5B 21 Park View Building, Nguyen Duc Canh Street), I did encounter two culinary gems—Urvashi and Love Noodle House.

D003 Nguyen Binh Street
After being evicted from their District 1 location, Urvashi relocated to District 7 late last year. Uravashi specializes in south Indian cuisine and is known for their dosas. This suburban outlet is just as good as the original downtown location, and everyone’s favorite Mega Dosa is still a fabulously tasty treat at 35,000 VND. The chilled spicy coconut chutney is unbelievably good paired with the potato and onion stuffed Mega Dosa.

Love Noodle House
D002 Nguyen Binh Street
While this restaurant’s name conjures up images of canoodling couples sharing bowls of steaming hot noodles, the reality is anything but. Love Noodle House is a casual hole in the wall that wouldn’t be out of place in London or New York City. The speciality here is Malaysian and Singapore rice and noodle dishes, and the Malay chef heading the kitchen knows exactly what he’s doing. The classic Malay dish Bak Jut Teh set (57,000 VND), which consists of meaty pork ribs in a complex broth of herbs and spices including with rice or noodles, tastes just like it was made in the streets of Kuala Lampur. Another hit are the stir-fried egg noodles with slices of barbecued pork and pork ribs. The sauce is notches better than classic Chinese oyster sauce. If your favourite Malay or Singaporean dish isn’t on the menu, the talented team in the kitchen will whip it up for you. How that for great service?

Penang – Philadelphia

February 10, 2007
Cuisine: Malaysian

117 N 10th St, Philadelphia 19107
Btwn Arch St & Cherry St

Phone: 215-413-2531


Malaysian Ice Tea ($1.95)


Appetizer I: Roti Canai – crispy style pancake & curry chicken potato dipping sauce ($3.25)


Appetizer II: Penang Satay Chicken – prepared on skewers, charcoal grilled to perfection and served with peanut sauce ($6.50)


Entree I: Curry Mee with Young Tau Foo Noodles – served in a spicy lemon grass coconut curry with vegetables and tofu stuffed with minced shrimp and fish meat ($6.95)


Entree II: Wonton Mee Special – egg noodles served with wonton in homemade sauce and chicken broth ($5.50)


Entree III: Penang Kari Ayam – White boneless chicken cooked over low-heat with lemon grass and chili paste simmered in thick rich coconut curry ($11.95)


Entree IV: Masak Chicken – Carrot, green & red pepper, ginger & scallion with house special sauce ($13.95)

Malaysian food is literally all over the map. The flavors and ingredients of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cooking influence the cuisine at every turn.

I visited Penang with three former cross country teammates on a brutally windy evening. The restaurant was loud and bustling, but luckily we were seated quickly. Tara ordered a Malaysian Iced Tea to start. It was more or less a Thai iced tea, but lighter in color and slightly less sugary. Tara appreciated the subtle sweetness.

Tara and I both chose the Roti Canai for appetizers, while Molly had the Chicken Satay. Melina did not receive the memo that appetizers were in order so she helped us with ours, which was good because the portions were hefty. Tara and I thought the Roti Canai was flavorful and delicious. The “pancake” tasted like a paper-thin naan and served as a great, although messy, vehicle for the curry. Both the pancake and curry were a bit on the oily side, but nevertheless very tasty. The Chicken Satay was also good; the peanut sauce enhanced the dish’s overall flavor.

For my entrée I ordered the Curry Mee because nothing warms me up quite like a noodle soup can. The portion was very generous and the flavors were familiar, yet foreign. The lemongrass and coconut curry broth was spicy as curry was the dominant flavor. The rice noodles were hearty and fun to slurp. The tofu was fried and thus absorbed the broth beautifully. The minced shrimp and fish meat were tasteless and wrapped in some bitter greens. The soup was topped off with fresh bean sprouts. Overall, I thought the dish was decent, but lacked a strong central flavor.

I had a small piece of Tara’s Penang Kari Ayam. It was good, but not exceptional. Tara wished the dish was spicier. Molly thought her Wonton Mee was very similar to Chinese wonton noodles, but with a saltier broth. Melina found her Masak Chicken too spicy.

Penang was my first introduction to Malaysian food. While I have yet to develop a great affinity for the cuisine (Vietnamese is still tops), I enjoyed the dishes at Penang very much despite their generous employment of oil.

Molly, Melina, Tara

Penang on Urbanspoon

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