No matter which part of the world you find yourself in, food will always be the common interest, the bridge that unites people of different cultures and backgrounds. The love of food has such power to bond people, be it a family gathering, friends having a meal together, or even strangers sharing the same table in a crowded restaurant. As the love of food has become a common interest among so many people, the culture of food hunting has also gained vast popularity. As a gastronomical wonderland, Malaysia has so many options of great food to offer. With the help of social media such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, people are more aware of the existence of scrumptious dishes of local eateries, and the establishments also benefit tremendously from this free advertisement, especially when they go ‘viral’. People from all over the country will come to try their food, even when they have to queue for so long!
To help you with your next food hunting trip, here are some tips that might help you:
- Do your research
It is highly recommended that you do some research about the restaurant you will visit. Find out the location beforehand so that you can plan your travel time. Also, study their business hours so you can be there early to avoid the long queue. Another thing to study is their menu, find out the best sellers there so you can order it, there must be a reason why so many people order it!
- Be prepared
Not all restaurants are air-conditioned; most good ones are the humblest stalls you will ever visit, so you better go prepared! Bring an umbrella to shield you from the scorching hot sun while you are queueing; better if you have a portable mini fan too. As the good spots are usually with a long queue, bring a foldable chair if you don’t want to stand for hours. Wet tissue, hand sanitizer, and bottled water, those are important too.
- Sharing is caring!
If you are travelling in a group, or even with a partner or your best friend, it is wise to share food. Of course we want to taste test as many dishes as possible. If you are eating the whole portion by yourself, how are you going to taste it all? It is not possible as our human stomach has limitations. So, if you share, you get to taste more, and you will reduce your calorie intake too!
- Cleanliness is virtue
No matter how ‘viral’ or famous the restaurant is, be wary about its cleanliness. No restaurant or food in the world is worth getting food poisoning for. If possible, watch the surrounding of the restaurant/stall, watch how the food is prepared, and how their kitchen is. Also, look at whether there are mice or cockroaches running around; if yes, you better run away and find another place!
- Do as the locals do
Another tip for you is to go to places that the locals frequent. Sometimes the locals keep the good spots to themselves! More often than not, the ‘viral’ ones are just mediocre. It is just the ‘hype’ that popularises them out of proportion, and there are much better places if you keep a close watch.
- Be patient and considerate
If you go to a famous restaurant, especially the one that went ‘viral’ on Tik Tok, of course there will be a long queue as so many people have the same idea as yours, having watched the same video. So, the most important thing is to be patient in waiting for your turn, don’t get angry at the crying/noisy children, don’t cut queue (no matter how famous you think you are), and when you are done eating, leave gracefully, don’t hog the table because so many people are waiting for their turn too. Just be considerate.
- Dress comfortably
Sure, everyone wants to take their outfit of the day (OOTD) during their day out. After all, you are travelling and food hunting. Still, Malaysia is a sweltering country; it feels like summer all year long. So, when you pick your outfit, pick something comfortable; cotton or linen might be the best choice. Don’t wear clothes that will make you sweat uncontrollably while you are eating later; you will be restless and cannot enjoy your food. If you are visiting an air-conditioned restaurant, then it is okay to wear polyester for example, or leather, but imagine wearing that while eating under metal zinc roof!
Nor Fadhilah Ahmad Powzi
Centre for Language Studies
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)