Eating As A Spectator Sport

Don’t let the title of today’s entry and the opening photo trouble you. I’m still not a carnivore; have not fallen off the wagon after 25 years. No, the waft of a freshly grilled steak does not weaken my constitution, nor does a sizzling fajita tantalize me. Where there’s no desire, there’s zero temptation. There are so many other food options that make my mouth water instead, especially tropical fruits. If it weren’t bad for my health, I’d happily be a fruitarian (but maybe with a side of lobster).

Sidebar: I would have taken that white Shiba Inu home with me had the breeder been able to assure me that the puppy would stay that size forever.

Sidebar 2: And only if I’d been able to get the thumbs (paws) up from my two cats. I’m guessing they would veto this idea, with a few choice words.

Sidebar 3: Why am I at a breeder of all places when I’m in Kuala Lumpur? Well, it’s because this is where SL got her furkids, and because following SL around town is my way of seeing the city as a local.

So the nine days in KL have been dizzying. My work would occupy the time slot of 7am – 7pm. SL would pick me up for dinner on the evenings I do not have some work function to attend and we’d eat around 8 or 9pm with or without her boyfriend. Once you see how well we eat in the photos below, you’d understand why I’d then have to be wheeled back to my hotel room around midnight or so to check in on the office back in the US. And then it’s lights out by 2am. Sleep is apparently not a high priority on the calendar.

Suffice it to say we squeeze in as much play/exploration time as possible on the final few free days I have at the end of my trip. Of course we need quality time with my godchildren. All one,


three of them:

And then there’s the Malaysian tradition of what I call eating as a spectator sport. It’s a cross between dining as if it were your last supper and competing in some diabolical eating contest. Except you do it every time you go out to eat.

What happens is that you’d pick a place, get overwhelmed by the choices on the menu, then order everything just in case. I don’t know what–like maybe there will absolutely be no food left tomorrow anywhere on Earth–but just in case. Then you look, take photos, panic a little or a lot at how much of that food has to actually go into your belly. Then you just dig in. So a meal on one night would look like this,


or this:

I know, and that’s for 2 or 3 of us in one go. Most of it is vegetarian or pescatarian, and all of it is delicious. And spicy. A girl could learn to live like this. But you know, it would be challenging to replicate my entire Chanel wardrobe in a size or two larger :D!

My first “steamboat” meal with SL was actually at this place in some mall we went to. It’s a little bit like shabu shabu, where you cook your own protein/legumes in a broth of your choosing and then spice up with all kinds of spices and toppings:

The tables at this restaurant are equipped with personal gas-powered pots to boil the broth at your own pace:

I make a mental note to include such a dining table in my dream kitchen.

So that’s what it’s like to eat in Malaysia, or I should say throughout SE Asia. We like a smorgasbord of things at each meal. Maybe eating is more like an art than a sport, come to think of it. But when you’re in this part of the world, you have to leave your comfort zone and be a good sport about eating. Let’s see if we can take the dining experience out of fancy restaurants and on to the street in the next entry!


  1. Cecilia Teh

    Don’t worry. You get the same hospitality when you visit Hong Kong/China. At least that is what happens to me everytime I visit my relatives there!

  2. Zanne

    Hi, Larkie! SO pleased to see that you have “ventured out” to more adventurous places for your dinners. I had wanted to suggest street food to you in your previous post but as I am well aware that you didn’t grow up in this part of the world, I feared that might have been received as a tad inconsiderate. But now that you mention it, I say, “Go for it!” (but perhaps not on your last night in town 😉 ). Did you know Paris is under a blanket of haze as well? So yeah, you’re alright where you are 🙂
    P.S. I don’t know how I survive abroad without all the amazing food I grew up with either!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *