When you step into Makan you are quickly transported to the tropics of Malaysia by the smell of fish paste and curry permeating the air, the simple wood tables and chairs, and the cucumber green walls. It only takes moments for your stomach to catch on that it will soon be fed some enticing and exotic food.
Step into the smells of curry, fish paste,
and coconut permitting the air…
Our Global Grubbing group of 7 took the table closest to the kitchen. Here you could easily watch owner and chef, Karen, preparing all the meals just beyond the glass panels that separated the dining room.
To begin, our meal started with a selection of Asian teas, including a pot of green, jasmine, and chrysanthemum tea for the table to share.
Over tea, we each talked about our passion and interest in the global world, travel, and what brought us to the Malaysian dinner. For some, they had been there and wanted to return through the journey of food, for others, they loved to travel and the tastes of Asian food was something hard to resist.
The Uniqueness of Malaysia
As our first course was served, Suraya, our guest, shared about Malaysia, what the ethnic and religious make up was comprised of along with some traditions and customs unique to the region: including people living with their parents until they are married, that life revolves around eating (some people leave the office up to 3 times a day to go out for food and snacks), and how your calendar included the celebration of all religions. It wasn’t unusual to go to a Hindi festival, then celebrate a Muslim holiday, with another Christian event mixed in the middle. Not only was that common, you also catered to your friends and community, “A Muslim is coming over, no problem, we won’t cook pork. An Indian family is coming, let’s cook some Satay.”
As Suraya shared her own journey of emigrating to the U.S., other guests shared about their own travels through Malaysia, reveling in how friendly and helpful the Malaysians were during their time there.
Makan Means Eat!
As the food was served and passed around to the table, we all indulged in the tastes before us. Starting with the satay and curry puffs, I think we were all in agreement that curry puffs are one of Malaysia’s greatest inventions when it comes to food. Okay, perhaps that’s MY opinion!
As the conversation continued, so did the food, and our second course consisted of nasi goreng, a Chinese-inspired fried rice dish served with a fried egg, and mee siam, a spicy noodle dish with shrimp, a Thai-inspired dish.
Suraya pointed out how Malaysian food was influenced by many of the cultures and people that migrated there. The food shows evidence of that with many of the dishes being adapted by the various countries in Asia.
Malaysian food is influenced by the various
ethnic groups that have migrated there,
from the Chinese, to Indian, to Thai.
I personally loved the mee siam, I loved the texture of the thin noodles, the spiciness of the sauce, and the perfectly cooked shrimp. I could’ve easily eaten this as my main entree for the night. I also enjoyed the nasi goreng, however, the fried rice dish was a bit different from what I was used to and provided more of a crunchy texture. It was still delicious, but I preferred the mee siam.
Our last course consisted of roti prata, a fried bread that resembles more of a pancake, Kari ayam, a chicken curry, Rendang daging, a beef dish, and coconut rice.
Let’s first talk about the roti, maybe I’m just a bread-hog, but there’s something about bread already that I love. Then fried, it’s just dangerous! Crazily, our table didn’t even finish the two servings given to us, probably because I contained myself and withheld my desire to devour the whole plate and the others were to full or polite to do the same.
The curry and rendang were quite lovely as well, the chicken and beef were so tender you could cut the meat with your chopstick. Served over the coconut rice, it was a splendid blend to end the night on.
As our stomach filled and the night came to a close, we all shared our favorite local ethnic eats from around town. Our conversation was rhythmic and engaging and everyone was eager to stay connected to those we dined with at the enchanting Makan Café.
If you live in Denver, be sure to grab some global grub over at Makan, which is the Malay word for Eat!
If you’ve had Malaysian food, what’s your favorite dish? Have you ever cooked any Malaysian dishes, if so, what’s your best recipe? Share in the comments below.