I have a confession to make. I think it’s best to get it out of the way. I barely eat fish and I don’t touch seafood. Judge me or not, I think a lot of people do. For most, seafood is a delicacy, a treat to be enjoyed on holiday. For me that fishy just out of water smell makes me want to run a mile. Everything smells salty, overly garlicky, it makes me want to wretch. So there we go, just not a fan.
It can make it really difficult to eat on holiday if you like being near the sea as we do. In Puglia last year I’d heard that the food was amazing but when I got there every single restaurant advertised seafood as their speciality – I hate to break it to you but when everyone is doing it it really isn’t that special! Puglia was great for seafood lovers but even Phil who likes seafood struggled to want it all the time and getting a good meat dish in Puglia was a rarity.
Since I’ve been travelling this time I’ve had mixed feelings about the food. I’ve had some good food, mostly in New Zealand, but overall I’ve been a little disappointed. I concede that I’m a fussy eater and that we are on a budget, and in Australia especially this made it difficult. Phil and I thought back to our dinners in Sydney and couldn’t name a single memorable one. In Melbourne, arguably the more foodie city of the two we found a couple of good places but our lack of available budget was a real barrier. Phil and I thought about this some more and played a game where we had to recommend cheap to mid range restaurants in London to tourists (oh yes, the Jacksons know how to have fun) and we came up with an abundance of options, a whole range of cuisines, from non chain restaurants, chain restaurants, gastro pubs to pop ups.
To be fair we know London so well and are bound to know all its hidden gems but we even compared the restaurant lists on Trip Advisor and there were so many more cheap eateries rated highly in London than there were in Aus and so much greater variety (Italian and Asian restaurants are abundant along with standard pub fare eg Chicken Parma … you have to really search for other cuisines).
I don’t want to do entirely down on Aus. Although we ate a lot better in New Zealand we had recommendations from friends, the hostels we were staying at and the place is that much smaller. We stayed in air bnbs in Aus and had to rely on Trip Advisor and googling for restaurant choices which is bound to be less reliable. And that’s not to say we didn’t find some nice places (and I’d even recommend the Sydney Pitt Street food court for a cheap dinner takeaway, tasty and good quality for very little money) but compared to London I’d say Australia has a way to go.
As for Malaysia well I don’t think it was ever going to be my most loved for food. I do enjoy Asian food from time to time but I wouldn’t ever say it’s my favourite unless it’s Hakassan! Hardly a realistic everyday dining option. In Borneo we were on a tour for most of the time and the food was pretty pants as it was lukewarm buffet, bad quality meat and basically the same every day. The best meal I had by far was in an Italian in Kota Kinabalu that served fresh pasta and authentic bolognese sauce and the restaurant was rammed which speaks volumes.
Langkawi, being an island obviously serves a lot of seafood (almost every restaurant does it, it’s a speciality!) and I can’t comment on it as I don’t eat it. I’m sure if you’re a lover then it’s amazing. Phil who likes seafood hasn’t eaten much of it either as he doesn’t like having prawns with heads or shells on (lazy boy!). The quality of the meat has been very disappointing, many restaurants seem to buy cheap grisly cuts of meat both here and in Borneo. The buffet meat was barely edible and since coming to Langkawi it has been inconsistent and patchy – we had a lamb moussaka the other day which was essentially lamb bone in sauce, very little lamb included and I had a chicken curry this evening and it was the same.
However, there have been some glimmers of hope. The pizza over here is great and I’ve enjoyed trying Malaysian Beef Rendang and Nasi Ayam Pontay chicken. Langkawi has so many restaurants and some of them are really good, such as one near us called Fat Cupid which is brilliant. I just wish more would improve the quality of their meat or offer more vegetarian options (which are limited in most places) for the non fishy (and fussy) eaters…
It has not all been bad! Here’s some of the food/restaurants that I’ve really liked while we’ve been away…