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The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 19 September 2014

Roti kahwin, Nonya kueh and Musang King durian @ Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

A few months ago, we spent a few days in Kota Kinabalu on the eastern part of Malaysia, together with my younger sister and her husband. We rented a nice apartment in Alam Damai, and had a pretty laidback schedule as we had an infant in our travelling party. On our first day in KK, we explored the nearby Damai area for food and then took a taxi into the main part of town to check out the various specialty markets at the Filipino Market (aka Handicraft Market).

Fook Yuen shopfront:

After our second breakfast in Damai Plaza, we walked the short distance over to Kedai Kopi Fook Yuen (translates to "Fook Yuen Coffee Shop") for some roti kahwin ("marriage bread"), as we had been told by some KK residents that Fook Yuen makes the best roti kahwin in town. So just what is roti kahwin? Two slices of bread sandwiching the combination of butter and kaya (a delicious coconut spread that I grew up eating). Basically kaya toast with butter. Honestly, I think roti kahwin is lost on me. For one, I don't like butter, and much prefer eating kaya by itself on bread. Secondly, unlike most Asians, I love crusty breads (think European-style breads), and Fook Yuen's bread was pillowy soft. I do like the kaya made in-house, and I bought one small bottle to enjoy back in Hong Kong. Service at Fook Yuen is a bit spotty at best. The staff at the counter seem to speak and understand English, yet on both occasions that I visited, my order got jumbled up. Fook Yuen also sells hot and cold drinks, a range of cakes and breads, and warm pre-prepared food from the bain marie near the front of the shop. It's open from 6:30am to 2am, so I can see why Fook Yuen is a popular choice with the locals. If I had to choose, I would say I prefer the kaya toast in Singapore (because we could order soft-boiled eggs with them!)

Two untoasted roti kahwin and one toasted. I actually requested one to be made with toasted wholemeal bread, and one white to be toasted, but received all three white bread and only one toasted:

A pandan kueh (cake) from Fook Yuen, which appeared to be made from glutinous rice flour:

Kedai Kopi Fook Yuen
Block A, Damai Plaza Phase 4
Jalan Damai, Luyang
88300 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
Tel. +60 88 232 794

Opposite Fook Yuen was a shop with tables set up filled with a variety of Nonya kueh. My sister and I were drawn there like bees to honey, and we bought a few kuehs to try later. They were all good, and I wished we went back again for more!

Tables filled with kueh goodies:

Pretty colours:

A fried pandan kueh I'd never before encountered. It was a little greasy, and not to my taste:

This kueh was like Kueh Talam, except it was green and yellow, not the usual green and white. Perhaps the yellow was from yellow split peas? Whatever it was, delicious!

Kueh Talam, upside down. Actually, I'm not sure if this is Kueh Salat (aka Kueh Seri Muka) or Kueh Talam, and it was too long ago for me to remember if the white part was glutinous rice or just a coconut pudding that took on the crumpled pattern of the plastic it was in. Also delicious:

Pandan kueh - second one of this type encountered on this trip to KK. I don't think I've seen it before. I guess it's like an unbaked kueh bakar pandan. Another delicious one:

We took the short taxi ride into town, to check out Pasar Kraftangan (Handicraft Market), or better known as the Filipino Market (so-named because many of the stalls are run by Filipino immigrants). There are other specialised markets along the same street, one part being the Pasar Besar Kota Kinabalu (Central Market), and there are also hawker stalls at the Pasar Malam (night market) and Pasar Ikan Masin (salted fish market).

The hawkers were just beginning to set up their stalls when we arrived. By nightfall, the place would be heaving with buyers and vendors alike:

Inside the Handicraft Market, literally stuffed full of merchandise and souvenirs. Rows and rows of jewellery, scarves and various knick-knacks. It was pretty impossible to navigate with a baby stroller, and I got a little claustrophobic after a while:

We indulged in some expensive Musang King Durian (I think it was RM50 for this amount). It was good, but the one we bought from a street vendor in Penang (that converted hubby) was still so much better:

We also drank some delicious young coconut water. This one was called pandan coconut, which was more expensive than the normal coconut, but half the size. I asked the vendor why it was more expensive, and he said it was sweeter:

So we got the normal coconut water for research purposes. Sure enough, the pandan coconut was sweeter!

This was a productive foodie day in KK. We then headed back to our rental apartment, and enjoyed more food from the Damai Plaza for dinner.

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