As gastronomic lovers, Malaysians have an insatiable appetite for the latest offerings from the local food scene. Countless dining options are popping up each week, and so are the websites and social media accounts dedicated to food and dining, flooding our computer and mobile screen with mouth-watering photos. For a long time now, cafés and brunching have remained the main obsession of foodies, invoking the term ‘café hopping’ and launching dedicated brunch menus in almost every establishment. 2016 promises another exciting year for gluttons: some predicted trends have begun to set the ‘flavour’ – and the locals are taking to it like never before. Here are several delectable trends to try this year.
Salted egg yolk
Salted egg yolk-anything features heavily in Chinese cuisine, but lately has been revisited with a new vigour. To create the delicacy, eggs are brined in salt or packed in a paste of salt and charcoal until they are cooked or ‘cured’. These salted egg yolks are typically used in savoury dishes but of late, has been incorporated into desserts, which, unsurprisingly, sent the masses wild. Made into a custardy sauce, the sweetened salted egg yolk is best-enjoyed in the infamous croissant at Le Bread Days, as a gooey sauce for charcoal waffles at GoGetter café, in the toothsome cronut (croissant-doughnut hybrid) at Dotty’s Café & Bakery, or in the decadently rich molten cake at Softcore Sunway.
Tapas style dishes
Dishes to share, tapas-style menus are popular meal options at Spanish eateries, upmarket watering holes and bars in Malaysia, for patrons to looking for elegant and flavourful small morsels over fine wine and long conversations. However, tapas dining has emerged as a new style in eating out, with trendy and innovative joints choosing small-dish, or multi-course types to allow foodies to savour an assembly of inventive flavours. For a taste of this modernist approach, dine at Kuala Lumpur’s first ever Michelin-starred restaurant Babe for ‘Japas’ (Japanese inspired tapas), Torii for perfected roasted, skewered and seasoned meat, or up the ante with authentic tapas at the much touted Ohla Tapas.
It’s been predicted that food institutions will embrace all things eco and green, starting with a focus on more greens on the plate and menu, sourcing for eco-friendly furnishings, and zero-waste policies. Malaysia is slowly adopting the eco-conscious attitude, beginning with an introduction to more veggie dishes and vegetarian options. There has even been a wave of plant-based, health-centric restaurants and cafes, such as vegetarian restaurants and salad bars in Kuala Lumpur. This year marked the hype around ‘eat clean’ or healthy eating endorsed by Raisin’ The Roof and their wholeome meals and ‘clean’ treats, and the city’s first ever smoothie bar Goodness Greens, with salads, smoothie bowls and cold-pressed juices as the highlight.
Malaysians sure love their ‘cheat days’ of naughty treats, and ice-cream is something that will remain understandably popular due to the sweltering climate. Year after year ice-cream gets a facelift, from new flavours (nasi lemak gelato, anyone?) to innovative liquid nitrogen and soft serve styles, scooped atop waffles and pancakes, and now, wedged between cookies. These ice-cream sandwiches take cold and creamy to another level by adding crunchy-chewiness into every bite. The queues are worth braving at IDC Ice Dreams for their peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwich and Negative Celcius for their delicate ice-cream macaron sandwich!
2015 was the year that fermented food took the spotlight, and every respectable café and restaurant offered artisanal sourdough bread. Following that, home-brew beer, homemade yogurt, kombucha and kefir are some notable ferments that have trickled into the market but none quite like the effect sourdough has made. Due to its popularity, sourdough bread has lost a little of its shine, but the movement has progressed to sourdough desserts. That’s right, enjoy sourdough on the sweet side with sourdough waffles drizzled with whipped cream, oats, fruits and honey at Analog KL, or sourdough waffles with a myriad of toppings to choose from at The Soda Factory, which also happens to make wickedly delicious sourdough pizzas too!
Farm to table
An offshoot of the plant-based, environmental-friendly movement, ‘farm to table’ is a concept of conscious dining, with ingredients sourced from local farmers, emphasis on organic produce, and ‘slow-cooking’. Urbanites have taken up small-scale vegetable gardening according to this concept, and some menus pride themselves on freshly picked herbs and plants from their backyard gardens or farms as part of their nourishing, pesticide-free and natural dishes. To taste food that’s made from scratch, Garden To Table Private Dining offers local delights made from ingredients harvested from the backyard, or should you fancy going all out, A Little Farm On The Hill, a farm-retreat that tends their own crops, smokes their own meat, and prepares organic feasts, is an experience to savour.