Experience a Malaysian Home Cook Meal through Withlocals.com!
I love to travel and can never get enough of visiting the world and what it has to offer. It is such a blessing to be able to travel and see other countries’ geography, culture, people, food and more. Though most of the time we can see the sights and places, I think it’s through people and food that speaks out louder to me that gives out the best travel experiences. I feel lucky to be born during this era as traveling is now so much easier and accessible compared to before. With the WWW on our fingertips, travelling is definitely made easier with all the information we can obtain and research.
With this said I came across Withlocals.com, a website that offers so much to travelers who wishes to travel on their own and yet experience local experiences on their own without a local tour guide. Withlocal.com not only offers travelers an insight to a country but also provide sustainable income for locals who wish to share their knowledge, skills and talent to everyone on the country they called home.
It is basically a networking platform that brings both sides who share common interest together from all over the world. Currently, Withlocals.com is now offering many activities in Asia under the categories of Eat Withlocals, Tours Withlocals and Activities Withlocals. Each category features dining, sightseeing and other local activities respectively. Right now, there are tours of pasar malam, city tours, mountain trekking, jungle trekking, cooking classes, photography sessions, festival photo tours, local home dining and many more activities.
I don’t know about you but if I happen to travel, I would love to visit the home of a local to experience a home cook dining meal. It would certainly be an eye opener as this is as real as it gets. With that said, I had the opportunity to join the Eat Withlocals for a local Nyonya dining experience with Eric available here.
I happen to love Nyonya cuisine and while scrolling through the website, I spotted Eric K. and his offer for authentic home cooked Nyonya dining experience. The site shows photos and sample food photos of what Eric’s signatures are with location and pricing, so once you made up your mind, simply contact Eric for the arrangement. If you have something you cannot take or do not prefer, no worries, Eric can personalize the meal for you.
Click on the Contact Eric button to start your Eat Withlocals experience! Booking is also very easy and payment can be made through Paypal.
Each experience is truly unique and Eric takes up to four guests each time. I grabbed some foodies with me and we confirmed our bookings for one evening. Once the booking is confirmed and payment is finalized, Eric and Withlocals.com will send you the full address of the dining location. I happen to like surprises so I left the menu to Eric.
We arrived at Eric’s house without any difficulties. Immediately, Eric and his wife with his little one welcomes us to their home. The experience is casual and I like it because it makes me feel right at home. Eric and his wife chatted with us briefly and showed us their home. He has a beautiful kitchen where he and his wife also held cooking classes. A man of many talents, Eric loves to cook and he does a lot of food recipes testing too. He offers cooking classes upon request.
Eric and his wife have whipped up a lovely spread of Nyonya dishes that evening for us. Our drinks are Chilled Lemongrass Drink homemade by the couple. It’s very light and thoroughly refreshing with subtle hints of lemongrass. It’s perfect with the heavy flavors of Nyonya cuisine.
A soup is essential in every Chinese household and so it is the same with a Nyonya one as well. Eric made us a very unique soup from a plant named Du Jiao Si Mao. I am not familiar with the English name of the plant and so I refrain from butchering the information of this plant. It shares a similarity with the more common spring onion but this one has a bigger bulb beneath the plant and is naturally colored purplish pink while the flavor is heavier. Eric was kind enough to show us the actual plant.
The soup is lightly tinged with a hue of pale pinkness. The Du Jian Si Mao Soup tasted oniony and sweet. Apparently it has good medicinal benefits and many elders used to boil this plant bulb in soups. With the modern generation, this is almost lost unless the information is handed down from an elder.
This is what makes dining local truly beautiful. I love to learn something new as such information can only sometimes be obtained when you learn from a local!
The appetizer of the evening is one of my favorite dishes in the Nyonya community. Pie Tie takes effort and skills to be made and even then, every household has its own recipe. Eric made his Pie Tie shell from scratch and is beautifully thin and golden.
We spooned in the sautéed jicama and vegetables into the crispy cups and add on a dollop of homemade chili sauce. Such juicy and sweet with crispy crunch… the Pie Tie is delicious! I lost count of how many I had that evening…
Main dishes that evening were Nyonya Curry Chicken, Nyonya Style Steamed Fish and Nyonya Chap Chai to be served with rice.
The Nyonya Curry Chicken is lovely and well balanced with all the spices. Nicely creamy and medium spicy, the chicken is braised till tender and absorbed the curry flavors well. Chunks of soft potatoes meld well with the curry chicken. I can taste hints of kaffir leaves in the curry as well as the aroma.
What I love the most that evening was the Nyonya Style Steamed Fish! Eric used Jade Perch with his own sauce. The sour and spicy Nyonya thick gravy is gorgeous and makes a lethal combination with rice. The fish is sweet and soft while the gravy is robust and flavorful. Lady fingers and tomatoes added texture and richness to the dish. I practically spooned the gravy straight into my mouth as it was so addictive and tantalizing. I can taste the lemongrass among the spices and I also enjoyed how sour and spicy the gravy is.
For greens, we had Nyonya Chap Chai. My mom makes a similar dish but with heavier flavor notes. Eric’s version is decent and has the usual combination of cabbage, cauliflower, wood ear, carrot, mushrooms, vermicelli noodles and chives.
Dessert for the night is Pumpkin Onde Onde, little balls of pumpkin with glutinous rice encasing bits of Gula Melaka, steamed and rolled with fresh coconut. The little balls are nicely soft and lightly chewy. I would have loved a little more filling to get the richness of the Gula Melaka. Still, it’s a decent well-made kuih that completes the evening with much sweetness.
We lost track of time while dining there. Soon it was time to head home and we bid our farewell to Eric and his family for hosting us that evening. Dining at Eric’s left us a lovely experience as we felt very comfortable and at ease from the moment we step in till we left.
It’s thanks to Withlocals.com for this truly unique dining experience that brought us and Eric together. There is just so much on Withlocals.com and they are expanding through Asia so we can now really explorer Asia like a local!
For more information on Withlocals.com, do check out their website: www.withlocals.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/WithLocals