UK blogger speaks fluent Malay in food review video and Malaysians are impressed

PHOTO: Facebook screengrab

Speaking Mandarin (or at least trying to) has become something of a trend for Western personalities recently, with figures such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg all releasing videos showing off their Chinese oratory skills.

But Westerners speaking in Malay is a much less frequent occurence. Perhaps that is why netizens in Malaysia have been so impressed with a video by British blogger, Rhys William.

The video features Mr William in Kampung Baru, one of the oldest Malay villages in Kuala Lumpur, as he introduces and reviews his favourite nasi lemak stall entirely in fluent, pitch-perfect Malay.

Mr William, who runs a food blog called "Mat Salleh Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan" (loosely translated to Caucasian guy walking around to find food), reveals that nasi lemak was the first local dish he tried after he arrived in Malaysia four years ago.

He then casually walks into a humble-looking shophouse called Nasi Lemak Wanjo, which he calls the "champion of nasi lemak" in the area.

Photo: Facebook video screengrab / Destinasi TV

First, he speaks to the stall's proprietor, a man named Nazri, who tells him that the stall has been in operation since it was founded by his grandmother in December 1963. He also speaks to long-time patrons of the stall.

Photo: Facebook video screengrab / Destinasi TV

After that, it is "makan" time, and we see him asking the operator to add more sambal to his plate.

"The nasi lemak may only look 'OK' on the surface, but you need to taste it to know why it is so famous," he says.

But just before digging in, he muses: "This isn't fish and chips right?" He then promptly sets aside his fork and spoon and begins to use his right hand to eat in the traditional Malay way.

Photo: Facebook video screengrab / Destinasi TV

He compliments the fluffiness of the rice and says that the ikan bilis (anchovies) that is served with the meal is crunchy and not too oily. His final verdict? "Serius sedap!" (Seriously tasty).

Before ending the video, Mr William says that he would like to try other types of Malaysian food that are still cooked the traditional way, and called on netizens to leave comments with their recommendations.

The video went viral after it was posted on travel website Destinasi TV's Facebook page on Feb 13. It has been viewed over 645,000 times, and garnered over 12,000 reactions and over 15,000 shares.

Many users left comments praising Mr William's Malay competency. Said one user, Matt Loe: "Are you sure this fella is actually a Mat Salleh? Walks, talks and eats like a local 100 per cent."

Another user, Victoria Vos Davaraj, commented: "Best part is when he digs in with his hands. Very impressed with his Malay."

On his food blog, Mr William explained that he fell in love with Malaysia while holidaying there in 2012, and subsequently decided to move there. He also said that he started learning Malay in November 2014, and started his blog as a way to practice writing the language.

Spicing up Malaysia's nasi lemak

  • Zainal Abidin's tiny food stall serves just one item and opens for only a few hours but is besieged each day by nearly a thousand customers clamouring for Malaysia's undisputed national dish, nasi lemak.
  • "We need more rice in here!" shouted a sweaty teenager working Zainal's stall as customers waited expectantly in a long queue amid the aroma of coconut milk and fried anchovies.
  • Perhaps no dish is more ubiquitous or beloved in Malaysia as nasi lemak, rice cooked with coconut milk and served with golden-fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, a boiled egg, sliced cucumbers and a dollop of a fiery chilli concoction sambal.
  • Born as a cheap breakfast, nasi lemak is today eaten throughout the day, and is on an expanding culinary sojourn with the classic recipe continually tweaked.
  • Even innovations such as nasi lemak pizza and ice cream appearing on menus.
  • At Kuala Lumpur's upscale Tujo Bar-serrie & Grill, Malaysia and Italy have been united in a nasi lemak pizza - thin crusts infused with either squid ink or spinach, and topped with anchovy, onions, roast peanuts and sambal.
  • Ong Kee Win, who runs the trendy Cielo Dolci cafe known for its original ice creams including beer and soy flavours, came up with a nasi lemak ice cream in 2012.
  • "People thought I was crazy. Nobody wanted to try it at first," Ong said. "But these days, more locals and foreigners want to try it."
  • After cooking his coconut rice, Ong churns it together with a secret gelato base, later topping it off with frozen peanuts, anchovies and chilli flakes.

Mat Salleh ni suka gila Nasi Lemak! Dia claim inilah Nasi Lemak paling sedap dia pernah rasa! Kat mana? Kena lah tengok...

Posted by Destinasi TV on Monday, 13 February 2017