Despite all its stinky griminess – the hordes of tourists, the taxi fumes, the drunks that use our doorstep for their loo – I will always appreciate London for one thing in particular: the food. Head for Soho or Covent Garden, and, without doubt, you’ll stumble across something new. A restaurant serving cuisine from an unknown country. A stall with samples of fresh home-made produce. A secret cafe with cakes over every surface.
On Friday, as we wandered to the cashpoint, we discovered a little Malaysian place that may or may not have been there for months. What caught our eye was the window, in which a man was making Malaysian Pancakes, fresh to order. Only £3 for a nice hot thick one with various fillings.
We’ve had Malaysian Pancakes before, in a weekly market at Brick Lane. They smell divine but can be kind of strange. A lot of the time they use creamed sweetcorn in their fillings – making them extra gooey. Another of the (apparently) traditional flavour combos consists of crushed peanuts, chocolate sprinkles and cheese. The Man and I ordered it, thinking it’d be like a nutty chocolate cheesecake. But no. Instead of cream cheese they used full-on grated cheddar. It was bizarre: extremely rich and sort of sickly, but also sort of nice as well. As we tentatively munched our way through, we couldn’t decide whether it worked or not. On balance, probably not.
Indeed, it was one of the options available at this place we found on Friday. And no, I was not tempted to re-order it. Instead I went for chocolate and peanut. Gooey and rich – but unmistakeably puddingy as well.
You’ll have to forgive me for all this pancake chat. I seem to be thinking about them a lot at the moment. Mind you, what with last week’s international exploration of Pancakedom, it seems only right to include one more country’s variation for good measure. So… how are they different to ‘normal’ pancakes?
Well, they’re reasonably large (about the size of a small pizza) and are cooked in a special deep pan made of brass – so they’re always pleasantly thick. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside (like all the best desserts), they’re fried with the lid on, one at a time, before being folded in half and served. ‘Apam Balik’, they’re called (a.k.a. ‘turnover pancake’), and if you haven’t encountered one yet you probably should.
How could you resist, after all? Especially when warm chocolate spread is involved (not to mention a good dose of peanutty crunch)?
After the strangeness of Cheddargate I’d agreed to share this time – not wanting to be lumbered with a whole one on my own. But after one bite I immediately wished I hadn’t, and spent the remains of the evening licking my fingers.
Malaysia: I salute you. Just leave the cheese out of it and we’ll do just fine.