Dinner & miscommunication for breakfast in Alor Setar

Hello, it’s #FoodFri again. I came back from a trip to North Malaysia last weekend. It ended a bit badly, I’ll share more in another post but at least the food was great.

After checking in our hotel in Alor Setar (before 10 a.m.!), we went out looking for food. The lady manning the small stall at the hotel/recreation center/swimming pool didn’t give very good directions so we had to hunt around.

Luckily, just one ditch away, a kopitiam was open. Yippee! (Wikipedia has a nice entry on what a kopitiam is.)

Kafe Y Y Hao, Alor Setar
Kafe Y Y Hao, Alor Setar
Even though there were a lot of people, we found an empty table and settled down. There were two stalls selling soupy dishes. At the back, a man was standing behind a huge firey wok and making stirfry. Interesting!

Interestingly, everyone was having rice and plates of side dishes for breakfast. RICE FOR BREAKFAST!

I guess I will have to explain. Even though we are overseas Chinese folks, we usually eat lighter stuff such as fried rice, noodles, bread, nasi lemak and that sort for breakfast. It’s only during lunch or dinner that we actually order plates of side dishes to go with our rice.

Things were very different in Alor Setar.

Another different thing was my ability to communicate with the locals. I grew up speaking my unique blend of KK accent Mandarin which I am sure is understandable by other Malaysian Chinese speakers.

But things were different in Alor Setar. The teenage boy could not tell me clearly what they served. Instead he said they didn’t do noodles. (We found out on Sunday that there was fried noodles.)

When the lady took our orders, I asked that they serve a larger portion of vegetables. She said they could not make the portions larger as the orders depend on the number of people there were.

Fine, I asked her to make a 3-person portion for only vegetable. I wasn’t sure how or why she misheard it as “There will be three people.” and made corrections to her pad.

I gave up asking for a bigger portion of vegetables and asked her to serve the two-person portion.

Everyone at the kopitiam ordered steamed fish, so I asked for one too. Without my prompt, she said they had silver pomfret. Since they only had one type of fish, I expected her to scribble down the fish in her order.

But she didn’t write on the pad so I asked if there were other types since it looked like she was expecting me to say something. She replied that there was only silver pomfret.

Well…I guess we will take silver pomfret. Thankyouverymuch.

I had communication problems with the tea girl as well. I asked what sort of Chinese tea they had.

She mumbled a reply. I asked if they had Xiangpian. She shook her head and mumbled the two brands they had. I gave up and repeated the last name that she said.

When the tea came, it tasted just like Xiangpian.

Chinese tea
Chinese tea
P.S. The Chinese tea we usually have in Sabah are low-grade tea leaves mix and comes in plastic glasses. This tea pot and dainty cups means Alor Setarians take things seriously.

It was the strangest meal I’ve ever had.

Chicken and fish in Alor Setar

Despite the weirdness going on, the food was delicious.

Herbal chicken
Herbal chicken
Herbal chicken was the only chicken dish they had so we got half a chicken on the first day.

Instead of an overcooked tough bird, the meat of the chicken was tender and the skin translucent.

The chicken juices tasted like good chicken soup and went very well with the rice.

Steam fish covered in fried garlic
Steam fish covered in fried garlic
Steam fish is a specialty of the shop as literally everyone had one on their table.

The silver pomfret came buried under an avalanche of fried garlic. It was an OK dish since I’m more of a chicken person.

Misc side dishes

We don’t really get to eat piping hot veg dishes in Singapore so we vacuumed these dishes rather quickly.

dou miao
dou miao
Tofu and veg
Tofu and veg
Fried eggs with onion
Fried eggs with onion

Best kopi in Malaysia

The coffee that we had on our first day was indisputably THE BEST KOPI IN MALAYSIA. It had a caramel taste, according to D. I could only tell that it was delicious.

Best kopi in Malaysia
Best kopi in Malaysia

Have you been to Alor Setar? What do you recommend eating there?

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More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

2 Comments

    1. jangan makan kat nasi mealayu selepas lampu traffic pekan langgar, mahal sangat nasi dgn rebung rm 7.50,nasi, sayur dgn telor rm 4.50.kedai kotor penuh laalt hijau.

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