A Week in Sepang, Malaysia

I know you are all waiting patiently for my first post about Melbourne, but I have one more adventure to share first. To save a little cash, we ended up spending another week in Malaysia, this time in the city of Sepang. It is surprising how much money I can save on flights simply by researching my options. I’ll go over this in more detail later, but long story short, I was able to save about $100 by flying from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, staying there for a week, then flying to Melbourne on the first day of my house sit. Here is a quick recap of our week in Sepang, Malaysia.

Sepang, Malaysia

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Sepang is in the same state as Kuala Lumpur, but about 40 miles to the South. It is the city where the main airport is located and therefore very convenient for anyone looking for a KL layover destination.

Our hotel was easily accessible by either the airport train, a 30 MYR taxi for two, or a free airport shuttle (mostly full of employees). This made it incredibly convenient and inexpensive (cheapest option to KL is about 70 MYR). In addition to the cheap transportation, the hotels are cheaper, and so is the food. Sepang proved to have a much more local-friendly price range.

Our hotel was in a small suburb near the train station. We counted about five restaurants, three grocery stores, six laundromats (?!), two barber shops, one hotel, and that’s about it. Literally. Imagine a block-sized strip mall packed with practically identical shops, a parking lot wrapping the whole thing, a street surrounding that, then jungle. Just jungle. That is where we were. It was… odd.

Breakfast? Dessert? Who cares!

We became quick regulars at the five restaurants in the neighborhood. As soon as the staff saw us, they would call for whichever server spoke the best English and he would come running and start offering us all of the same things we had the day before. We quickly learned that our dining choices were the talk of the town. It wasn’t our fault. The server would hand us a menu three pages long, we pointed to what looked good, he would giggle for an unknown reason, then we would eat our delicious meal. We did eventually discover that we were eating the dishes in all of the wrong orders: dessert for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, dinner for lunch, etc. Whatever. It was amazing!

Roti bread dish served in Malaysia. It is a circular loaf of bread cut into eight slices. It looks to be glazed with a light brown sauce. The plate also displays three dipping sauces. There is a dark red sauce that looks spicy, a yellow one, and an orange one.

Let’s put it to the world. The above dish is a deliciously fluffy bread. It is covered in a sweet glaze. It tasted like a heavenly breakfast or a light dessert to me. BUT it is served with savory, curry dipping options. So is it dinner? What IS it?!

Aside from our continual faux-pas or ordering off the wrong page of the menus, we had an amazing time returning to the delightful dishes of Malaysia. We ate as often and as much as we could and enjoyed every bite. We were particularly excited to have another chance at our favorite, three layer tea.

Two tall glasses of iced, milk tea. The tea has three layers, the bottom layer is dark brown and thick. The middle layer is milky, and the top layer is light and brown. A menu for Hijas Restoran is held up in the background.

Eating our way through KL: a dining adventure of spicy goodness. ♥

Staying Busy

It might be noticed that I haven’t mentioned the name of our hotel. That is because we were very torn about our opinion of it. It was cheap, but extremely clean. The internet didn’t work very often, but when it did, it was lightning fast. The staff wasn’t particularly helpful, but they were incredibly friendly. It was just sort of “meh”.

White walls and white floors with a black desk in the corner. The desk holds bottles of water, a purse, framed photo, and a CO alarm.

We were put in a windowless, white room. The only thing that wasn’t white was the tiny desk in the corner of the room (the major selling point to the room), but the desk didn’t have any accessible electrical plug-ins, so that was a bust.

Read about our hotel in KL: Hote123 ♥

What do you do in a windowless white room with random internet? Sleep. A lot. After a couple of nights, completely losing track of time and our tans, we finally came out and started to explore again. Who knew fresh air could feel so good?

One night, our neighborhood hosted a night market. We grabbed one of just about everything and had a small feast of crazy flavors for less than $10. I also purchased my second souvenir of the trip, a beautifully decorated head scarf in the local style. Maybe not my most practical purchase, but I really liked it.

Night market stall selling grilled meat on sticks.

Nasi Lemak Burger

If it sounds like I am giving off the impression that all we did in Sepang was sleep, work, and eat, it is because that is exactly what we did. So the story of our Sepang adventure ends with yet another story of food: the McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger.

That’s right, nasi lemak is one of our go-to meals in Malaysia as it is filling, varied, delicious, and usually cheap. Most often, it is a plate of coconut milk rice, paired with dried anchovies, cucumber salad, boiled peanuts, sambal, and either fried chicken or lamb curry… or both. It seemed like an odd combination at first, but we warmed up to it.

A plate of nasi lemak in Malaysia. White rice, curried lamb, grilled shrimp, cucumbers, hard boiled egg, boiled peanuts, dried anchovy, and sambal

Luckily enough, we passed by a McDonald’s on the launch day of their new Nasi Lemak Burger. In line with our previous American fast-food chain adventures around the world, we went in for a taste.

Close up of McDonald's Nasi Lemak burger in Malaysia.

It was a little more expensive than we would usually pay for lunch, but totally worth it. The bun was the star of the show, a coconut milk bun with pepper flakes. Next, a layer of sambal, cucumbers, and caramelized onions. Finally, a fried egg and large fried chicken breast. We were very happy with this burger and the flavors paired very well together.

To Melbourne… Finally!

As we travel full-time we can sometimes get caught up in the “can’t wait” loop. “I can’t wait until we get to China! I can’t wait until we get to Malaysia!” etc. This is a horrible habit that keeps us from appreciating where we are here and now. We are absolutely excited about Melbourne and we know our readers are too, but I can’t let my excitement keep me from posting about an entire week we spent in Sepang.

But now that the time has come and gone, it is time to get stoked for our next adventure. Good-bye SE Asia (for now) and hello Australia!


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"From This" image of traditional nasi lemak plate "To This" close up of McDonald's new nasi lemak burger in Malaysia.


 

Brews Around the World: Malaysia and Thailand

Long time, no see! That’s right, it has been two months since my last Brews Around the World Update. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drinking beer. It just means I have been waiting to share all of the awesomeness until I finally had enough to write about. Get ready for a dual post of Brews Around the World – Episode Four: Beer of Malaysia and Thailand!

S1E1 Brews Around the World – Beer of Idaho, USA 

S1E2 Brews Around the World – Beer of Florida, USA 

S1E3 Brews Around the World – Beer of China 

Malaysia Brews

The month of February was spent in lovely Malaysia, where brewing beer is illegal! Drinking beer, however, was still OK, yet it was all imported and decently expensive. We did the best we could, though, walking miles out of our way to try something interesting. My favorite find was the Penang Craft Beer IPA, which we drank in Penang… but is brewed in California. I also really enjoyed Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. This is one of my all-time Oregon favorites, so it was really nice to have a taste of home while in Kuala Lumpur.

As a result, I did not collect any new Malaysian brews. I did add a few things to my Life List though. We left Malaysia with six new brew flavors, bringing my unique brew total to 54.

Anchor Smooth Draught, Heinken Asia Pacific - The Places e Live  Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Brewing - The Places We Live  Guinness Draught, Guinness - The Places We Live  Penang Craft Beer IPA, Bay Bridge Brewing - The Places We Live  Skol, Ambev - The Places We Live  Tiger, Heineken Asia Pacific - The Places We Live


Amazon com guinness draught.pngAmazon Link: All purchases earn Josh and I commission. Thank you!


Thailand Brews

We spent the majority of March in Thailand. Beer in Thailand was readily available, but limited in variety. Our choices were pretty much just Leo, Singha, Chang, or overpriced import beers. I was a little disappointed with only three new flavors, but all three ended up being pretty tasty. They paired very well with the hot weather and spicy food.

So, once again, I did not collect many new flavors while in Thailand. I added three new flavors to my Life List, bringing my unique brew total to 57.

Chang - The Places We Live  Leo Beer, Boon Rawd Brewery - The Places We Live  Singa, Boon Rawd Brewery - The Places We Live


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Amazon Link: All purchases earn Josh and I commission. Thank you!


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Brew Around the World S1E4 - The Places We Live Brews Around the World S1E4 Title - The Places We Live Beer of Thailand - The Places We Live


 

Eating Our Way Through Thailand

It is time, once again, for The Places We Live to share our adventures with food in Thailand. Would anyone really be surprised if I said the food was amazing and somehow better than the last food we ate? I’m starting to sound like the girl who cried wolf. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the food in Thailand knocked our socks off. It was spicy, refreshing, flavorful, and full of textures we couldn’t define. Please enjoy “The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Thailand!” *theme music plays*

Check out “The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Kuala Lumpur.”

Check out The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Yangshuo, China. 

Everyday Goodness

Even our small neighborhood in Hua Hin, Thailand had enough variety of food and restaurants to keep us trying new things. There were a couple of restaurants we frequented more than others, but I feel like we fanned out pretty far to taste as much as possible.

Collage of food in Thailand. "Eating Our Way Through Thailand" pork and garlic, fried egg, and rice. Curry over rice. minced pork and curry over rice. Chicken and cashews in tomato sauce

Top Left: Pork with Garlic and Pepper. The garlic are roasted whole (including the skins). It gives the dish a really enjoyable texture.

Top Right: Massaman Curry. Chicken with peanuts and onions in a coconut curry.

Bottom Left: Curry and Minced Pork. The minced pork ended up being one of our favorite dishes in Thailand. It is super simple, but super flavorful. From what we could tell, it was just ground pork, basil or mint, chilis, garlic, and spices. We were also told that some people add roasted, ground sticky rice to add a bit of thickness.

Bottom Right: Chicken and Cashew Nuts. Chicken, cashews, onions, green peppers, carrots, garlic, and tomato all in a sweet tomato sauce.

Passport Cafe

Food in Thailand. Passport Cafe, Hua Hin, Thaialdn. Phone number 093 139 9655. Open times Sunday through Thursdays 11:0AM to 9:00PM.

The Passport Cafe was our closest restaurant. If it weren’t for the packs of wild dogs and the cobras that supposedly frequent the short block between us and the shop, we could have walked there. It is owned and run by our new friend, Mike, an American expat. The cafe serves the most authentic American food I have had since we left the States and had really great Thai food as well. My favorite American meal there was the pancakes, with real syrup, and drip coffee!!! We were in heaven. My favorite Thai dish was the massaman curry.

Mr. Burger 2

I don’t know much more about Mr. Burger other than we ate there a lot. It was close to our favorite super market, had ample bike parking, and had a large menu. I don’t think we ever ordered the same thing twice, instead enjoying a variety of fried rices and other Thai dishes. I particularly enjoyed their chicken dishes.

Food in Thailand. Mr Burger 2. Hua Hin, Thailand. Changwat Prachuap Khiri Khan

The Weird and Unique

It wouldn’t be an adventure in food if we didn’t try some new and different things. And, like most of Asia, there was no shortage of “crazy” new things to try. Our local friends had a good-ole time feeding us new things and watching our reactions.

International Fast Food Visit: Dairy Queen

We visited a local KFC to do our usual International KFC tasting, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly different or weird on the menu to set Thailand apart. So instead, we visited Dairy Queen, where we had a take on a Thai dessert favorite of Mango and Sticky Rice.

Dairy Queen Blizzard cup filled with a bright, yellow ice cream and topped with rice. Food in Thailand

Instead of the more common cut mango, sticky rice, and maybe some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, we grabbed a small mango and sticky rice Blizzard for only 35 baht ($1.12). Even looking at the photo now, I am craving another one. It was so sweet and refreshing!

Bugs, Frogs, and Snails

If you know us, you know we can’t pass up an opportunity to eat some bugs and other creepy crawlers. Here is a quick compilation of videos we captured of us eating some of the fun little treats in Thailand.

Please don’t forget to Follow us on YouTube! ♦

Eating Local

After our Songkran adventure, we ended up continuing to befriend the locals at Lazy Daze Bar down the street. The owners, Linda and George, were so accommodating and answered all of our million and one questions.

Food in Thailand. Lazy Daze. Hua Hin, Thailand. Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Linda explained that Northern Thailand is quite different from the rest of the country, with its own unique dialect and food. She introduced us to the food of her home town by hosting a BBQ at the bar for us and the other patrons.

"BBQ of Northern Thai Cuisine" collage of the bbq food in Thailand

Top Left: Fried rice, mushrooms, and pickled, bitter greens.

Top Right: The Lazy Daze gang at Songkran

Bottom Left: Kissing Snails (pond snails) and grilled fish

Bottom Right: Papaya Salad

Watch our Songkran video again. You know you want to…

Eating All of the Food in Thailand

Despite my distaste for lemon grass and spicy food, I loved the food in Thailand. We expect to return to Thailand before the end of the year. That is the only thing that keeps me from just going nuts on every food stall I see on these last few days.

My favorite food in Thailand has been the minced pork and basil dish, Thai Tea (which is way better here than at home), and the mango/sticky rice combo. I wasn’t a big fan of the crickets Josh bought from the bug vendor, but that’s about it. Otherwise, everything in Thailand is amazing!


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Collage of food in Thailand. "Eating Our Way Through Thailand" pork and garlic, fried egg, and rice. Curry over rice. minced pork and curry over rice. Chicken and cashews in tomato sauce  Eating All of the Things... Thailand - The Places We Live


 

KFC – Kuala Lumpur

I hadn’t planned on making Adventures at KFC one of my regular posts, but each country has at least a few unique items on the menu and that intrigues me. 

I hadn’t planned on making Adventures at KFC one of my regular posts, but each country has at least a few unique items on the menu and that intrigues me.

Photo of a KFC advertisement with Malaysian writing. The images show an egg and fried chicken sandwich, a bowl of porridge, and a plate titled Classic Rice which features a banana leaf topped with a pile or rice with a poached egg on top, large piece of fried chicken, and a bowl of Sambal.
This is the advertisement that originally drew us in. Sambal is a traditional Malaysian sauce and I had to have it on my Colonel’s chicken.

We made a special trip downtown to visit the KFC. We didn’t have to go that far (KFCs are kind of everywhere), but we hadn’t been down there yet and we wanted a walk. So, we took the metro for about ten minutes to Kuala Lumpur City Center and made a quick stop at Petronas Twin Towers!

Man and woman standing outside of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur's city center.

Then back to business. We found the KFC, pulled out the photo we took of the advertisement, and got ready to order. Unfortunately, the food items we saw advertised were only on the breakfast menu. So, we went for our second choice, the KFC Chizza.

A white box with red stripes, labeled "KFC Chizza Chicken x pizza" sits unopened on a table. Next to it is a small ramekin filled with a red sauce and a white cup with a picture of the KFC Colonel and labeled "KFC. It's so refreshingly good"

For 20RM/$5, we got a small fry, KFC Original flavor chicken leg, chizza, and two sodas. In China, we could easily find Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, and Coke Zero. Here, I have seen far less Coke Zero, but a good amount of A&W and Mug root beer. I’m a fan.

Condiment dispenser at KFC. There are three nozzles with a picture of a bottle underneath each one. One bottle is labeled Thai chili, another Tomato Sauce, and the other Chili Sauce.

We had a selection of sauces to choose from: Thai Chili Cause, Tomato Sauce, and Chili Sauce. I thought about trying one of each, but the attendant seemed to be limiting everyone’s sauce consumption. I grabbed the Tomato Sauce, expecting ketchup. It was not ketchup. It was a little more plain and a little sweeter.

KFC Chizza. Piece of fried chicken with a red sauce, a large helping of pineapple, and some sauteed onions. On top are thick dollops of white cheese that is sprinkled with basil and red pepper flakes.

And the main event, the KFC Chizza. It is a fried chicken breast, topped with “pizza sauce” (more of the weird tomato sauce), mozzarella cheese, pineapple, onion, basil, and red peppers. The onions were very good, but everything else was a bit “meh”. I think the most troublesome part was the chicken. Fried chicken does not make a good crust. With tendons and other textures, it is difficult to take a single, clean bite. Also, pineapple does not belong on pizza!

Man attempting to eat KFC Chizza. Looks to be struggling with the white cheese. It looks very thick and difficult to bite through.

We cut the roof of our mouths on the crispy chicken, burnt our tongues on the molten cheese, and stung our nose with the loose red pepper flakes. Yet again, our KFC International meal was less than desirable, but that won’t keep me from trying whatever the specialty is in Thailand next month.

Today’s Adventure

“Some of these girls are really dressed up. Do you suppose it’s a private party?…. There are so many people here. It must be a super popular place… Check out that group of guys over there, they seem really friendly…” And so begins the story of how Josh and I found ourselves in…

Around ten years ago, when we were still living in Spokane, Washington, we had a moment of surprise while looking for a fun new place to hang out. It was still fairly early in the evening, and the place we’d settled on looked clean and not too packed, but with enough people that you could tell it would get busy later. As we walked in, we started critiquing our new potential hang out in hushed tones, as if we were famous bar reviewers. “The music here is awesome! I like the layout a lot. Someone really put a lot of work into designing this place. The people here are really good looking. Check out that group of guys over there, they seem really friendly.” Then, we shared a moment of silence and looked around one more time. It finally hit us and we practically screamed at the same time, “It’s a gay bar!” Every time we do something like this, expecting one thing from a place and getting something else, we re-tell this story, a fun remembrance of that time when we had no idea what we were walking into (for the record, we had a great time!).

Today, we were given a reason to tell the story again.

We were sitting at a little roadside stand, having some dinner, when we heard live music coming from a place down the block. It was time to do a little exploring and see what the fuss was about. The source of the music was a large, three walled-building. It was a bit dark, but we could see tables and people inside, so we walked in to explore. There was a stage against one wall, food stalls lining the other two, a bar, and tons of tables in the middle. “Wow, this is convenient. A food court, maybe? Some of these girls are really dressed up. Do you suppose it’s a private party? There are so many people here, it must be popular with the locals. Check out that group of guys over there, they seem really friendly…”

And so begins the story of how Josh and I found ourselves in a whore house.*

We walked in, took a quick tour of all the food stalls, and made our way to the bar to order a drink. This was my first major clue: despite this being a dirty, three-wall establishment for poor locals, there were only high end beers for sale. Interesting. We grabbed our beer and looked for a table. That is when I noticed how truly beautiful all of the girls were. Wow! Had we just stumbled on THE hottest hang out on this end of town? But wait…

Hint number two quickly followed. These girls are not only naturally hot, they are dressed in club wear. Each is wearing a tiny, sequined dress, and three inch heels. Make-up? Check. Expensive looking hair? Check. It is 6:30PM. Those clothes aren’t supposed to be seen in the light of day. Maybe that’s not the custom here? Also, why are none of the men good looking? I looked closer at the man closest to me. He wasn’t aging well and had a stain on his shirt, but the woman next to him was younger and absolutely stunning… and had her hands…. O… M… G!

“Why haven’t you picked a table yet? That one you passed looked just fine,” says Josh.

He hasn’t figured it out yet.

We find a table and I tell him my theory. He looks around and I can see his whole face change as he realizes it’s true.

Hint number three came next. A man came over, introduced himself as one of the singers for the night, and sat down with us. He said he was one of the 160 people that work there and that he was pretty sure I was the only woman in the place that wasn’t on staff. They were all “singers, dancers, masseurs, or… you know…”

As with everyone else we have met here, he was very kind and answered all of our questions without judgement, and I asked a lot of questions. I discovered, with the help of our new table mate, that this was one of the most well known local’s clubs in town. He told us what this sort of establishment was called in the local language, but we’ve since forgotten. This style of building is very common for these places, though, with a stage, food stalls, and large center floor. These establishments are for the poorer class.

“There are many more all over too,” he said as he pointed towards the night club across the street that I have been complaining about all week. “Those kinds are much more expensive though. They have many private rooms, but you must pay a minimum of 300RM. Some men can spend over 1,000RM in just a few hours. Here is easier. Better.”

As the conversation lulled and the other man was obviously trying to hint at something, we downed the rest of our beer and made to leave. “Thank you for having a beer here. Maybe a 10RM tip for my company?” Josh gave him a five and we left. The girls all stopped this time when we passed and waved good-bye to me and giggled.

Now that I am safely out of that large, dark, and crowded room I can say that this was, not necessarily a fun experience, but certainly an interesting one. We won’t be going back anytime soon, but I’m glad we decided to walk in. It was a candid peek into parts of the local life that you won’t find in any guide books, the type of experience that makes traveling worthwhile.

*Note: Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia, so I’m sure I just misunderstood the situation. 😉

Cover photo by: Caitlyn Wilson

China Brews

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

My favorite brew of China was Guilin Liquan’s 1998 LiQ beer. It was very smooth, refreshing, and a great price at only ¥10 ($1.55). I would also put Guilin Liquan as my favorite brewer in China. I tried two of their crafts. I couldn’t taste much of a difference between the two, but they were both better than the others I had.

On our last couple of days in China, we bunked with a Chinese brewer at the hostel. He was in the middle of a brewery tour in Chengdu. He gave us a list of places to try and talked to us about the growing micro-brew culture in China and how he sees it around the world. It was super interesting to talk to him and we are looking forward to our next trip to Chengdu to check out the breweries he suggested.

I only got a taste for the flavors around me. Please share your favorite China beers in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends!

Top UnTappd Badges Earned This Month


Brew Update – China

New China Flavors: 9

 New China Breweries: 8

Flavor Life List: 51


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Beijing Yanjing Brewery – Beijing, China

  • Yanjing Beer North American Adjunct

China Resources Snow Breweries – Beijing, China

  • Snow Beer 8.0 P Lager

Harbin Brewing – Harbin, China

  • Harbin Beer Pale

Master Gao Craft – Nanjing, China

  • Baby IPA

Panda Brew – China

  • Outlaw Witbier

Shandong Hande Brewing Co. – China

  • Baishi Royale Lager

Tsingdao Brewery – Qingdao, China

  • Tsingtao Pale

Yanjing Pijiu (Guilin Liquan) – Guilin, China

  • 1998 LiQ American Light
  • 10P LiQ North American Adjunct

Sichuan Hot Pot

We enjoyed our first Sichuan hot pot experience last night. I’m so glad we went with someone who knew what they were doing. It would have been a little confusing otherwise.

Our host took us out for a wonderful meal of Sichuan-style hot pot yesterday that she called Chuan Chuan. We met up with a couple of her friends and their kids, ate some delicious food, and had a blast. As we were all non-Chinese, I can not promise we ate this meal correctly, but the servers didn’t seem too thrown off by our behavior, so I’m guessing we came pretty close. If you’d like to try it yourself, or if you’re ever invited to one of these restaurants, here’s a quick breakdown of how it went:

Step One: Select a Broth

20180214_191606.jpg

The choices we were given for broth was Spicy and Not Spicy. We went with half and half. The Spicy side was very flavorful and included some of Sichuan’s famous prickly ash. It looks like a little black peppercorn and creates an almost numbing sensation instead of heat. I can hardly stand food that has a lot of ground pepper, but I really enjoyed this broth. It didn’t burn, it was simply packed with flavor. The Not Spicy side had an almost fruitiness to it and was absolutely delightful.

You may notice the packets of oil on the left side of the picture. Those come in handy for Step Two.

Step Two: Prepare Dipping Bowl

20180214_191751.jpg

The only thing better than oily food, is oily food dipped in more oil. Although we shared the large broth pot as a group, we each received our own dipping bowl. I filled mine with garlic, green onions, and oyster sauce. We then squeezed the packets of oil into each of our bowls and mixed them all together. After a few minutes, the oil absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients, creating a custom-made tastiness for the food to come.

Step Three: Select Skewers

20180214_192223.jpg

Next up, each person grabs a metal tray and collects the food that they want to cook and eat. There were two fridges of vegetables and two of meats. Josh and I went with sliced potatoes, broccoli, lamb sausage, imitation crab, mushrooms, pumpkin, pork wrapped mushroom sprouts, and Not Bacon (it looked and tasted like bacon, but the server insisted that it was not bacon).

Each adult ordered a bottle of beer and bowl of rice (then seconds). We also had our dipping dishes that we prepared earlier and a cup of tea. Our tray (pictured above) was enough food for Josh and I along with two bowls of rice each. Next time, however, I think we will reduce the amount of rice and instead collect 10-25% more sticks of food.

Step Four: Cook and Eat

20180214_194330.jpg

With Josh’s past working at The Melting Pot, the rest of the evening was a little more familiar. We cooked our sticks in the broth, similar to fondue. We occasionally ate each other’s sticks of food, but that added to the fun and variety. It’s a part of the meal, being laid-back about who eats what and sharing as a group.

Once I felt like my stick was done cooking, I took it out and dunked it in my dipping bowl. From there, it either went directly into my mouth or used as a lathering brush for my rice, then into my mouth. With the two styles, I was able to eat yummy sticks of food AND a deliciously saucy bowl of rice.

Step Five: Pay

I can see how this meal could easily take up half of the day. The amount of time it takes to cook each stick encourages conversation and drinking. The two other parties with us were traveling early in the morning, so we left out the heavy drinking part, but the conversation flowed easily and we spent more than an hour enjoying the food and each other’s company.

There was a small charge for the bowl of broth, beers, and rice. The remainder of the cost was charged by the number of sticks we collected. Our host told us that she has never spent more than ¥40 eating there and this meal didn’t turn out any different. We only got a look at half of the bill, but our portion came out to about ¥30/$5 each.

A new dish is always near the top of our Fun List, but a new dish that requires a new approach is even more fun. We had an amazing time with some great people, and can’t wait to try some different variations!