As a white boy who loves to travel, I absolutely live for the moment when a friendly foreign host gets that evil glint in their eye at a street stall. It’s a mischievous glimmer that says, “heh heh heh, it’s going to be hilarious to watch the white American boy eat this.” Previous evil-glimmer experiences involved noodle-stuffed pig intestines in Seoul, chilled pigs’ feet with hot sauce in Mexico, grilled brains in Argentina, and more animal innards encounters than I can dream of counting.
I honestly love the evil glimmer, even if I never managed to develop a taste for brains. I always get to taste something interesting, and I occasionally get to try something delicious.
In the incredibly underrated city of Kuala Lumpur—which is, for my taste, an even better culinary and cultural destination than Singapore—we stayed in a spectacular guesthouse called Sarang Rooms, and the amazingly friendly co-owner, Christina, offered to take us on a tour of the night market. And it turns out that the entire tour is an Evil Glimmer Tour.
We started with spicy duck tongue, which looks pretty hideous when you see it at the stall. It’s like an emaciated and horribly deformed chicken wing, with some extra cartilage attached. And it tastes like… well, an emaciated chicken wing, with lots of crunchy cartilage and an appealingly spicy sauce. Not bad.
For our next stop, we tried century eggs. Our wonderful hostess prefaced our snack by explaining that century eggs get buried for 100 days until they become black and congealed. And then she told us that century eggs were featured on an episode of Fear Factor, and everybody on the show yakked. And then she took us to the vendor that sold them.
So yes, century eggs are black and congealed—they look like blackened orange jello with a dark puke-green-black yolk, and this particular Malaysian Chinese stall served them with pickled ginger and pickled papaya. It was one of the scarier-looking things I’ve ever eaten, but it just tasted like a fairly normal deviled egg—slightly creamy and a little bit gelatinous, but perfectly tasty, especially with the ginger and papaya.
Christina also tried to feed us stinky tofu, but the line at the stinky tofu stall was unbelievably long, so we had to settle for a few minutes spent basking in the irresistible sweat-sock odor that lingered in the warm Malaysian air. I wouldn’t have minded a few bites of the tofu–at least I would have gotten some calories in exchange for the agony of trying to breathe in the general vicinity of the tofu stand.
And then we found this stuff. I could swear that one of the creatures in the bottle got an evil glimmer in his eye as soon as he saw a pair of white people walk by.