I will never forget my trip to Malaysia. I was 12 years old and super excited to go sightsee and tour around the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. Too excited to sleep all night, I stayed up all night the day before my flight, and was hit by fatigue and fever as soon as I boarded the plane. For the next couple of days there, I was bedridden and stuck in the confined spaces of my hotel room. In an unfamiliar country, I didn’t know where to go to find a simple porridge, so naturally, I turned to Google for help. To my surprise, when I searched congee and porridge on Google, the first search results that popped up around my location was McDonald’s. Being an absolute loyal McDonald’s enthusiast, I had to go see what this was about. Weak but determined, I dragged myself out of bed and went to McDonald’s.
As I stood in front of the extensive menu, I was shocked by all the unique items they had on the menu. Early in the morning, their breakfast menu included everything from a full platter with hashbrowns, beans, sausages, eggs, and pancakes, to a very asian-style simple bowl of congee with a side of fried dough-sticks. Having a weak appetite, I ordered a plain congee, and to my surprise, it really did soothe my throat. Understanding that a lot of Asian’s eat rice/porridge for breakfast, McDonald’s incorporation of “Bubur Ayam” porridge item into the menu was a powerful choice, as it is by far one of the most popular breakfast choices.
Malaysia is a very religious country, with the two dominating religion being Islam and Hinduism, therefore a lot of restaurants avoid beef and pork. That being said, one of the most popular protein is chicken. Capitalizing on that, McDonald’s has chicken everything – including one of their unique Chicken Curry pies. It looks similar to the regular Apple Pie, but instead of a crunchy outer crust, it has a flakey pastry crust, similar to a curry puff. The puff pastry crust contrasts to the curry chicken inside, creating a perfect balance between sweet and spice. This pie also embodies a very southeast-asian style, and is a spinoff to a very local dish known as Karipap. They also have a chicken foldover, which is basically chicken patties with lettuce, tomato, sauce (your regular burger ingredients), folded into a flatbread. I absolutely loved this, as I am actually not a huge fan of burger buns – so this was perfect; it had the contents of a burger, wrapped in a nice pita flatbread.
However, my favorite thing on the Malaysian McDonald’s menu was actually their range of desserts. From banana pie and sundae to frozen coke and fanta float, they have a very wide array of choices for me to satisfy my sweet tooth! One of the best desserts they offer is Cendol soft-serve. For those of you who don’t know what Cendol is, it is a green dessert made of coconut milk, pandan leaves juice, and palm sugar. Traditionally, it is in a jelly form, usually with a slippery and rather slimy texture. With the sweetness of the coconut milk and the fresh tangy taste of the pandan leaves, Cendol is definitely a popular and hit dessert in the hotter countries around the Southeast-Asia region. This unique flavor of Cendol makes it the perfect soft-serve, and the sweetness of the flavor fits perfectly with the cool smooth texture of ice cream. When I first tried it, I got a mixed swirl of Cendol and vanilla soft-serve, and I immediately fell in love. The tangy taste of cendol mixed with the smooth mild sweetness from the vanilla made it the perfect dessert for a hot summer day.
Although I was sick and had to lay back from the street food, I still got a taste of some of Malaysia’s most popular and traditional flavors. By incorporating food like curry and cendol, McDonald’s really tailored to the palette of the locals, reminding us once again why they are so loved everywhere around the world.