September 7, 2010, New York – New Yorkers were spoiled once again. At the Chelsea Triangle of the Meatpacking District on 14th St. and 9th Ave. there was the hosting of a Malaysian Night Market. Malaysian Kitchen for the World, a global initiative by the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) aimed to build awareness about Malaysian food and culture in the tri-state area, in conjunction with LUCKYRICE, an integrated lifestyle brand and consumer guide for Asian cuisine, organized this night market showcasing the culinary talents of some of the city’s most popular Southeast Asian restaurants. It was a perfect day for the event. Ramadan had come to an end and Fashion Week had the city pulsating.
Surrounded by lanterns intended to give the authentic feel of a market in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, New Yorkers and tourists packed onto the triangular median with mouths agape because of all the available delicious cuisine. The crowd was so densely populated that maneuvering about with ease was impossible. There were more than several “I’m sorry’s” and “Excuse me’s” being said to one another as people with scrunched shoulders tried to eat their meals while walking, hoping not to spill their food on anyone. It wasn’t the ruining of other people’s clothing that seemed to cause concern it was potentially losing their meal. Each restaurant served hungry mouths in tents lined along the median’s perimeter.
The participating restaurants: Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichais’ unnamed restaurant, Nyonya, Fatty Crab, Laut, Betel, New Malaysia, Spice Market and Cafe Asean. Meals were priced between $4 and $8. The cuisine options could turn one into a food fiend. Betel was serving shrimp and pickled Mango Popiah for $5. For an extra $2, you could also get some Yazo Lemonade. Or you could go over to Laut’s tent and get Beef Rendang for $7. The world was yours.
The tent receiving the most attention was that of a still unnamed Asian American BBQ restaurant consulted by two endlessly talented celebrity chefs: the dashing Todd English and the innovative Ian Chalermkittichais. The line was so long it resembled a line at the Motor Vehicle Administration. They were serving Malaysian Steak Satay with grilled bread and peanut sauce, priced at $5. Neither Todd English nor Ian Chalermkittichais were actually at the night market but their presence was strongly felt.
At the base of the median’s triangle was a stage surrounded by security in slacks and white dress shirts. Soon a Malaysian dance group occupied the stage and performed to melodious and percussive Malaysian music. Wine and dining consultant, Michael Green was Master of Ceremony. Flower petals were thrown and tambourines were beaten in front of a crowd of flashing cameras. The dancing commanded everyone’s attention. It didn’t matter if someone had a plate of Assam Laksa in their hands or a stroller bearing a restless toddler, they still watched the performances mesmerizingly.
There are more events lined up throughout the year highlighting the endearing cuisine of Malaysia. There will be a traveling food truck hitting different bureaus offering food from local Malaysian restaurants. Malaysian Kitchen for the World certainly has the right ingredients to spreading awareness. “Many don’t even know where Malaysia is,” said event staffer, Sherri Poall. The campaign intends to put an end to that.
For more information on the upcoming events by Malaysian Kitchen for the World in the tri-state area,