The Peranakan community in Malaysia unites Chinese and Malay (Baba Nyonya) cultures. Martin explores the Melaka branch of Peranakans and explores their customs as well as their food preparation. He visits a Peranakan family at their restaurant and later joins them for a Chinese New Year celebration at home. In the kitchen Martin learns about how Peranakan cooks expertly balances their spices.
The state of Johor is full of small culinary gems. Martin explores the area around Tangkak, sampling the famous flying roti and freshly made wonton noodles. Nearby he’s shown the many healthy food products derived from brown rice. For a change of pace he stops by the Gunung Ledang Resort next to a palm oil plantation, and shares a cooking lesson with the local chef.
Kuala Lumpur is a dynamic modern Asian capital with a rich food history. In this episode Martin explores the capital tracing its food history back to its humble kampung (village) origin. Along this fascinating journey he also explores Chinese and Indian influences in Malaysian cuisine, showcasing classical dishes such as Nasi lemak, Bak kut the and Mie goreng.
Many of today’s “who’s who” in Malaysia grew up in quiet small towns such as Sitiawan.Martin shares his day with a network of old friends at their hometown. He visits a local baker and a noodle maker who are pillars of the community, not only with the food they provide, but also for their strong communal spirit and support. The old friends invite Martin to a banquet at their favorite restaurant.
Martin travels to the scenic Cameron Highlands for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, a colonial history lesson and a cup of tea. At Boh Tea Plantation and the famous Smokehouse Hotel, Martin learns about tea cultivation, the contribution of Indian workers and the region’s connections to Malaysia’s colonial past. He overnights at a most unique ‘homestay’, an ecological Tree House.
Martin explores culinary treasures of Penang, a World Heritage City and a cultural and historical gem. At Georgetown he drops by Ghee Hiang, the iconic pastry maker. At a traditional Nyonya rice cake factory Martin witnesses a most unusual way to squeeze out the air from the cake dough. At the classic 1881 Hotel Martin learns a special wok-seared rib recipe from the local chef.
A two-hour ferry ride from the mainland of Malaysia is the 99-island chain of Langkawi. Martin explores this vacation paradise and its many sporting activities. He finds a culinary hideaway where the seafood is always fresh and jumping. For a taste of the high life, Martin visits the world famous Datai Langkawi resort. For contrast, he samples every day dishes in a pavilion above a rice paddy.
Martin is charmed by the graceful essence of Kelantan on this episode. He starts the day by visiting the colorful Siti Khadijah market, where he spends as much time shopping as he does tasting the offerings in the food court. Later he admires the craft of the master kitemaker, songket weavers and batik painters. At night he visits the famous shadow puppetry theater in the area.
Pristine white beaches and spectacular mosques greet Martin on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. He gets up close with beautiful coral reefs. For a taste of history and the common life he samples the popular egg and toast breakfast at the famous Tai Peng Canteen, where Mr. Wong the original owner who emigrated from Hainan Island to open the café back in 1941, is still living above the shop.
Pahang is the longest river in Malaysia. More than a water highway it’s a complete ecosystem. Cooking local river fish with durian fruit (called the ‘king of fruits’) is a favorite among the residents. Martin visits a durian farm in the area where the best ‘king of fruits’ are grown. Nearby he visits Malaysia’s famous chef Wen — a celebrity chef and TV host — to compare recipes.
A road trip across Malaysia can also be a culinary adventure, as Martin finds out. Along Malaysia’s highways and byways are a wide variety of snack stands and countless roadside cafes and eateries, serving food that the average westerners have never seen or tasted. Coconut shakes, Malaysian famous cendol, piping hot samosas and flavorful shrimp chips, Martin snacks his way across Malaysia.
Martin trades in his chef jacket for formal wear, all in preparation for his audience with the queen of Malaysia at the royal Istana. This is a very special audience since Martin gets to cook with her Royal Highness. Graceful and charming, Tuanku Hajah Haminah demonstrates her culinary acumen and introduces some of her favorite dishes to worldwide viewers.
Martin explores both natural and man-made wonders in the spectacular Sabah province of East Malaysia. He tours the magnificent Mount Kinabalu, visiting a nearby farmer’s market where he samples roasted wild boar. Afterwards he visits a European-style dairy farm where they make excellent mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, as well as creamy gelato.