British Malaya @ SS2 & Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock @ Damansara

September 7, 2012

As we hurtle from last month's National Day to this month's Malaysia Day, let's see what two modern kopitiams _ British Malaya and Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock _ can tell us about our culinary past and present.

Replacing SS2's Prince Cafe, British Malaya is where colonial loyalists and contemporary nationalists can come together and compromise over cuisine.

For the Brit: a beef sandwich, with crisp cucumbers in beautifully thick seed-and-nut bread.

For the Malaysian: salted egg fried rice, a little too lukewarm to totally recommend.

For the Brit: steaming-hot Dilmah Ceylonese tea.

For the Malaysian: icy-cold milk with cincau and gula Melaka.

This no-pork eatery is pretty packed on a weeknight. Service is prompt and prices are fair; we might not return, but we're glad we came.

Since British administrators are long gone, this country's Alis, Muthus and Ah Hocks can carve a collective gastronomic destiny, one illustrated by this cutely named Ara Damansara outlet opened by the folks behind Tom, Dick & Harry's.

Nasi lemak, something that perhaps most of our population adores. The version here is nice, with firm, fragrant rice and flavorsome fried chicken.

Sambal kerang, a heap of big, bouncy cockles.

Roti bakar reminds me of breakfasts with my grandfather.

As do half-boiled eggs, which both he and I adored. Perfectly prepared here.

Teh ais and cham ais. The menu at Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock is pretty limited for now, but let's cross our fingers for char kuey teow and roti canai eventually.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana

British Malaya,
Jalan SS2/67, Petaling Jaya.
Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock,
Block B, Oasis Ara Damansara, Jalan PJU 1A/7, Petaling Jaya.