Sunday, January 15, 2012

Enter The Dragon

Chinese New Year at KLKuala Lumpur was decked in gold and red as the city got ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dragon. Chinese restaurants in the city advertised special menus with names such as Prosperity, Happiness, Wealth. The upscale malls of Jalan Bukit Bintang were crowded with well-heeled shoppers out to have a special time for the New Year. Seeing all the excitement, one wouldn't realize that only 20 percent here are of Chinese origin while the majority are Malay who are predominately Muslim. This is one reason why Malaysia advertises itself as Truly Asia. With a vibrant multi-cultural population of Malays, Chinese and Indians, this country is a melting pot of religions, cuisines and cultures, not very unlike India.

Bukit Bintang KLI was at the Westin hotel in KL which is surrounded by some of the most upscale malls in the city. I strolled down to The Pavilion mall, past a long line of bears painted by artists representing the countries of the world. This seemed to be part of some kind of global awareness event. The atrium was ablaze in red and gold with a large dragon snaking through the four floors.

Bukit Bintang KLSeveral Chinese vendors show-cased Chinese artistry. One that caught my eye immediately were the delicately painted snuff bottles. Unbelievable as it sounds, these bottles are hand-painted from the inside by painstakingly manipulating a bent brush through the narrow neck of the bottles. The bottles were expensive, but I had to buy myself one - and I did. This art-form was perfected by Chinese artists during the Qing dynasty several years ago and can still inspire awe.

Inside painted Chinese snuff bottle
Inside painted Chinese snuff bottleDuring dinner that night I began with an Yee Sang. This dish of raw fish salad is unique to Malaysia and Singapore and only found during the Chinese New Year. Long strands of carrot, turnip and other vegetables were surrounded by colorful heaps of condiments that were ceremonially mixed together and topped with raw slices of salmon. But the fun part is the 'prosperity toss' where the entire family joins in tossing the salad with chop sticks trying to toss from as high as possible. My waiters joined me in this, while wishing me success on everything thing from health, wealth and even promotions! :)

Yee Sang at KL
Yee Sang at KLAfter this uniquely Malaysian ritual, I followed with a dish of steaming hot udon noodles tossed with black pepper sauce and red grouper. A dessert of Durian ice-cream topped with red bean paste in a pumpkin sauce made for a very different dessert experience. Incidentally, Durian is a seasonal fruit popular here which is notorious for its smell.

Udon tossed with black pepper sauce
Durian ice-creamI saw the term 'China Doll' bandied around in newspaper headlines and conversations - turns out they weren't referring to the delicate porcelain ones, but real girls. Apparently, there has been a influx of pretty girls from mainland China in massage parlors, hotels and other types of hospitality industries with the aim of finding sugar daddies from among local Chinese and rich expats. This has led to a public backlash from local conservatives and Chinese wives who are up in arms against what they see as lax immigration procedures.

Next: Malaysian Cuisine in KL

3 comments:

roses said...

Wow...
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ahmedabadonnet said...

Heavenly...
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picture said...

Liked the colors...
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