Monday, February 9, 2009

Tasty treats from the greener sides of the fence

There is one thing this time of the year is good for, amidst the insane heat and traffic in hometown Penang, encounters with rellies and the depressing rapid-fire marital status 20-question check-in, compensatory gorging which quickly sinks one into further recession. This is the only time my two beloved sisters, Mag and Memo, return from faraway lands to complete the family entourage, bearing treats and tales, to a chorus of "oohs" and "ahhs".
We know Malaysia, our motherland, is magnificent land of options and opportunities. And so much good food! Yet recent events in middle Malaysia once again tests the patience of those left behind in the move out of the country. And once again, all things foreign start to look greener, tastier, sweeter, fairer, better and well, cooler.


First up from Japan is Ran-chi Pakku (or Lunch pack). Never mind them singing toilets and speech-enabled robots, I still rate this as one of the greatest inventions from the land of consumerist cool. And yes, it's merely a sandwich with the humblest of fillings...

...but get THIS! The sides of fluffy white bread are sealed off so each sandwich looks like a pillow, with choice filling (in this case, egg mayo) nestled WITHIN. No leaks, no lost filling, no mess! I call this the pillow sandwich and it's available at all convenience stores on every corner of the streets in Japan, in a wide variety of fillings. And here we continue our struggle to find a decent, sandwich bar with prices that realistically reflect the average Malaysian income levels.


One of the Japanese New Year goodies is mochi (rice cakes) which are pre-packaged in dried slabs. Pop into the toaster oven for about 3 minutes and it puffs up into shapeless cakes, crisp on the outside and gooey awesomeness on the inside.

To be fair, we do have a decent variety of Jap snacks available here. But somehow this hasn't been picked up as export merch, or not as far as I'm aware. This is Mame Mochi (soy bean rice cracker). I like that it's not as salty as most Jap rice cracker variants in the market and those crunchy soy beans elevate this above a boring cracker.
From NZ comes a different breed of treats. Admittedly, there's not much food-wise I miss about NZ but the wine, oh the wine! With the exception of perhaps Cloudy Bay, NZ wines are sorely under-marketed here. So when Memo returns once a year, she lugs a couple of bottles back, gamely risking the scrutiny of Tuan & Puan Imigresen.
Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2008. The palest straw in colour, it somehow offers clarity upon the first sip. Is good. Is very good.

Memo also brought some other lovely gourmet goodies like macadamia oil and dukka but Kato's aioli brings back some memories - specifically of bread and aioli, chips and aioli, potato crisps and aioli, celery sticks and aioli, aioli and aioli...

The tastiest treat to land on our shores ever, baby Ollie who turns one very soon! Too bad we can't eat this one. Yet.

14 comments:

cariso said...

"Rapid-fire marital status 20-question check-in"..LOL! I envy you loh for getting the chance to taste those Jap goodies!

Selba said...

So nice.. getting treats from Japan... :)

thenomadGourmand said...

wahh.. ehh..got to share laaa ;P

Mellie said...

Ya, the sandwich bars here r ridiculously priced. They had 'gourmet-cialized' good old fashion sandwich!

Life for Beginners said...

Yikes. I need someone to share or sponsor me some of these Nipponese sandwiches! Any takers? :D

550ml jar of faith said...

Cariso, I only get this once a year... you get Mr A-sponsored meals at Ryoma!!

Selba, yes it's fortunate, but the distance I have to live with from my sisters is hardly worth it!

Nomad Gourmand, of course... but well almost everything's been polished off already so next year, OK?!

Mellie, make our own! Down with the institution!

LFB, I think we need to invest in a sandwich sealer. We can easily get hold of the ingredients but the seal, my friend, is another story!

kampungboycitygal said...

the sandwich looks so fluffy..when are we getting such treats here in msia?

mimid3vils said...

The filling of the sandwich is full to the brim o.O

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Hehe. Cute baby Ollie definitely sealed the deal. :-P Gotta give it to the J-s for their innovation. We can't do things right coz people don't see eye to eye. Which is why we have tracks and roads leading nowhere.

vkeong said...

these treats are rare in Malaysia.. never seen any of them in Cold Storage or Jusco before at all. Real lucky you :)

CUMI & CIKI said...

aiiyoh... so cute.. just wanna squeeze her ler.. lol :D

the treats are great too. love japanese stuff, coz they always think of ways to improve the conventional eating ideas or habits, yet keep the packaging cute and trendy! Like you , i also can browse for hours la.. :)

backStreetGluttons said...

enjoying foreign treats on a Chinese festival is godsend , as the world is now borderless ! We pray next many moons nobody will pop that Q again, ok lets do it this year then ! , no more waiting plse

babe_kl said...

gosh Ollie is soooo kawaiii :D

The Food Site said...

Those pillow sandwiches sure are convenient. Hmmm...my friend is coming back from Japan soon, I'll definitely ask him to get me some.
What in the world is aioli? Never heard of it. Till now.
~Foong~