Asia Cafe is located in SS15, Subang, which is about 20 minutes (by car) from KLCC. This naturally means you’ll find less tourists here, and since it is right across Taylor’s University, you’ll most likely see a lot of college students there. The fact that it’s always packed, is a testament to itself.
While the street food culture is so incredibly huge in Malaysia– and you’ll see stalls and kiosks at just about every single nook and cranny of the country– Asia cafe was my first, truest and most ghetto street food experience till date– but then again I was raised in a sheltered bubble. If you want to go all out ghetto, you should go to Klang (which is also dubbed the gangster area); Asia Cafe is basically in a student town, and hence very safe. What makes it so great is how alive it is, and how it’s open till late.
The concept is very interesting. Asia “cafe” is essentially a food court/hawker center in it’s truest sense. It’s an open-air complex housing dozens of stalls selling inexpensive cooked food from a plethora of cuisines. If you find yourself in Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong, you have got to get yourself to a hawker center, else your trip shall remain incomplete, and gastronomic aspirations unfulfilled.
I did the most daring thing possible, and went to Asia cafe on the very first night of my “foodcation” in Malaysia last month. Full disclosure: I was terrified I’d get food poisoning, but we were supposed to be meeting M’s friends there and the last thing I wanted was to look like a prissy, fine-dining spoil-sport. So I took a deep breath, snapped open the disposable chop sticks and dove right in. Unintelligibly delicious food ensued, and the food poisoning I was afraid of never happened.
I’m ashamed to admit that this was my first time at a hawker center (even though it was far from my first time in any of these countries), and if it wasn’t for my truly foodie of a husband, I might have forever been deprived of the glory of hawker centers. M has consumed hundreds of meals at hawker centers and prides himself for how well-versed he is in Asian food.
The first thing you need to do at a hawker center is find yourself a table and then occupy it somehow. I’d advise sitting one of your friends down, because leaving your bag is not a safe option just about anywhere in Malaysia. Then, you can skim through the dozens and dozens of stalls, pick what you’d like to have, place your order and give them your table number. The dish is then brought to your table along with the bill, which is to be cleared immediately. Orders for drinks are taken at the table; beware though: “Small” here is basically a “Venti” in the rest of the world. Expect super-sized, super cheap, and super refreshing drinks.
The drink on the extreme right was a “small” chai. It wasn’t small.
The size disclaimer also extends to the food. Serving portions are huge, generous, dirt cheap and unrealistically delicious.
Here’s what we had:
Pineapple fried rice. I don’t understand my luck, but whenever I order this dish, it comes in a plate more often than inside a hollowed out pineapple because somehow the restaurant/hawker is always fresh out of pineapple shells. This has happened to me in so many different places, that I actually squeal with joy when I finally end up being served the rice inside the pineapple itself.
Satay with peanut sauce, because when in Malaysia, how does one not order satay?
Takoyaki, which is basically wheat flour batter, diced up octopus and a bunch of other things cooked in ball shaped moulds in something similar to a waffle iron. This one is topped with Kewpie and Bonito flakes.
My favorite: Kang Kung or Morning Glory. If I see this on any menu, I’ve got to order it, and I’ve never had bad Kang Kung anywhere. You just can’t go wrong with this.
Crispy fried Oyster mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms and Button mushrooms with a spicy dipping sauce.
This was a new discovery and it was AMAZING. These were basically clusters of fish eggs, coated with salted egg yolk and then deep fried. They were placed a top a super spicy okra stir fry and were M’s favorite dish of the night.
Sambal spiced Stingray: MY favorite dish of the night. This was my first time trying stingray and it might just be my new favorite fish. This was definitely one of the highlights and best discoveries on this trip. So incredibly YUM!
Stir Fried Kway Teow. comfort food just doesn’t get more comforting than this. Now i feel really sad that we don’t have Asian hawker centers in Dubai.
There were also some sweet, deep-fried buns that made no sense to me. The best part? This entire meal (inclusive of drinks) cost about AED 200. Life’s good in Malaysia.
Have you been to any hawker center’s? If so, do tell which ones? 🙂