Back from a year in Malaysia, plus SE asian fruits

Besides the relatives, the food, including the delicious exotic fruits you described, are the biggest reason I have for wanting to go back to Malaysia after all these years. Thanks for bringing back all those memories of “home”. I’m very Canadian now, so the thought of the heat and humidity is not something I look forward too.

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I did try Jackfruit, but didn’t like it that much. I felt like I almost could like it, but it had a kind of underflavor I wasn’t fond of. Too bad though, since that was another one available fresh. My wife ate a lot of papaya too, though none of the rest of us like it.

Penang (well George Town anyway) was probably my favorite place in Malaysia, and without a doubt the place with the best food. More human scale and walkable with pretty historic buildings compared to KL. Plus, I had more opportunity to practice my Mandarin in Penang since it is majority ethnic chinese. Mandarin is not most people’s first dialect, but a lot of people can speak it to a greater or lesser degree. They get a ton of mainland chinese tourists there too so probably it is worthwhile to get up to speed on mandarin if you work in a tourism type business there. At my job we may have an opportunity to do a project with a company that has a factory near Penang; I’m hoping that works out so I have a chance to go back!

Yes, Ondol concept is very appealing. When renovating my house we put radiant under bathroom and kitchen floors and it is the best.

The place we were building our machinery was right next to Camp Humphreys! Pyeongtaek is where we would take the bus to from Incheon, then a cab from there right past the Camp and into Dunpo-Myeon, where the assembly plant was. Dunpo-Myeon is a newly developed township in a project called “Techno Valley”, considered part of Asan but really closer to Pyeongtaek. Kind of a strange town since it is all isolated in the countryside but with condo high rises, a few hotels, and lots of restaurants. It was a pretty good place to spend time. I took the bus up to Seoul to sightsee when I would get a day off.
Yeah, Ondol does seem a little scary with carbon monoxide; really it is just a thin sheet of oiled paper between you and CO poisoning.

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Heh, jackfruit is among my favorites and mangosteen does not impress me. Everyone’s tastes and experiences are different.

We plan on being in the Philippines for most of February. I’m looking forward to the mangoes, the jackfruit, the guyabano (soursop), and the passion fruit. In the Phillippines the passion fruit comes from the area around a mountain city named Baguio so I guess it doesn’t like a climate that’s too hot. Unlike what you can usually find here, that passion fruit is on the large side and sweet not sour. I once got this passion fruit in Cancun, where they for some reason call it “Chinese Dragonfruit” but it was not as consistently good there. My wife’s favorite is the star apple, which I also like but not as much as the others.

I still haven’t tried durian and due to its reputation I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to seek it!

You should definitely try durian while you are in the Philippines, just for the life experience!

We also had good passionfruit in malaysia. My middle daughter liked to cut them in half and eat the center out with a spoon. They were pretty small, maybe raquetball sized, and sweeter if you let them sit for a while on the counter before cutting.

There was plenty of dragonfruit around too; actually there were a ton of dragonfruit orchards between cyberjaya and port dickson on the coast. What a strange looking plant. I’m not a big fan of dragon fruit though; looks outrageous but I think the taste if so bland.

We ate some nice local starfruit too, though it wasn’t a favorite.

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I just asked my wife about durian. She says it’s actually not stinky, but it’s mushy and kind of bland. She says it tastes better when you make it into candy. That’s one woman’s opinion. I can say from personal experience that a good jackfruit is like a sugar bomb. Even when you obtain it in the USA after it was picked green the jackfruit can be very good.

I expect the hotel we are staying at to have plenty of dragonfruit in the lounge. Last time they had plenty of cavendish bananas, navel oranges, and red delicious apples available plus some cut up fruits that would be recognizable to an American. Dragonfruit was the only fruit one of us might find to be “exotic” that they offered. We had to make friends with the staff to get mangoes. They had them on hand but only for the bar. I understand catering to western tastes, but not even making mangoes available in the land of mangoes is pretty weird! This is both Hyatts in Manila that did this and, I assume, still do it. I’m also very much looking forward to drinking fresh coconut water.

I look forward to the fruits more than any of the other foods, even though the foods are good. Some are deadly bad for you. Sizzling pork sisig, when obtained from a place that does it good (usually a “nice” mom & pop bar/restaurant, chains seem to do it wrong), is probably the deadliest of them all. It’s made from many different parts of the pig, much of which are not used for human consumption in the US and served with a raw egg on top.

Do you expect to be sent back there any time again?

Wow, great write-up. Thanks for sharing and welcome back!

Thanks for sharing!

Penang has a well deserved reputation for having some of the best, most delicious foods around. Some of the foods from the hawkers puts most restaurants to shame. I’m lucky my mom is a fabulous Penang trained home cook so I’ve been spoiled with Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Mee Goreng, Laksa, etc all my life. I’ve learned how to make some killer Malaysian dishes myself so my kids can enjoy the same cuisine I grew up with.

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Really enjoyed reading about your adventure buddy. I also feel sort of hoodwinked by both dragonfruit and starfruit for looking so tasty and exotic and tasting like a boring prickly pear and interesting to hear that even fresh malaysian was pretty basic.

Welcome back. Next time you’re in the Watertown area, check out Russo’s. They have both of these from time to time, and some other good finds as well.

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Impressive mangoes!!! Nice photos!!

Actually the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead Florida has/had Mangosteen trees, and if one happens to be there when in season, the fruit is obtainable.