Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Conference dinner tales

We took our overseas guests to a supposedly famous Malaysian restaurant which serves Malaysian food. Being a tourist hotspot, they even throw in some cultural dance. Of course, the charges for the performance have probably been factored into the food.

Tale 1: Not so friendly food menu

No, I am not talking about the taste of the food, though I do have something to say about the selection. But if this is a renounce Malaysian restaurant and is indeed a very famous tourist hotspot, all the cuisine should have been labelled… with English!

I spent quite some time going around explaining what is ‘nasi’, ‘daging’, ‘lembu’, ‘kambing’, ‘ayam’, ‘masak merah’, ‘rendang’ and all other words which tourists will most certainly not aware of. Were they trying to teach the tourists our national language? Or they think people visiting from Penang and Johore will pay them a visit too?

One thing though, their waiter’s English is commendable.

Tale 2: Malaysian cuisine and… international?

Based on the name of the restaurant, I have my doubt that it will serve Malaysian cuisine, though they claim they do…I was right. I don’t think I see anything that I can identify to. Fair enough, I don’t expect this restaurant to serve pork… but still!

And the best part, they also claim to have an international buffet… but the only non Malay-sian food I can find is… spaghetti. I am quite adventurous in food but I just couldn’t bring myself to try that.

Tale 3: Malaysian cultural dance

After a few traditional Malay dances, I was quite pleased to hear that a Chinese dance is up next. Yeah, pretty racist huh. Hey, they said Malaysian, obviously must have Chinese and Indian too right? As soon as the Chinese dancers came out…

“zewt, are those Chinese?”
“Hmmm… I am afraid, I don’t think so”
“Who are they?”
“Not Chinese”
“Is this a Chinese dance?”

The conversation went on with me trying to defend my race and trying not to tarnish the country’s image that much… quite a task I must say.

That was the only Chinese dance for the night. While I really don’t want to talk much about the dancers and the dance, I must comment on the costume. I think that restaurant needs to know that by putting on the almost same type of costume of the ‘earlier’ dance in red does not amount to Chinese costume.

I guess I will not blame the world if they perceive me in a certain manner.

40 comments:

Rashikaps said...

I guess everyone MUST know English to whatever limited extent.. especially so if the country is working at increasing tourism. (India included)
We faced this problem in a few restaurants in Thailand too. We ordered red curry chicken with steamed rice and they got chicken with shrimp rice. That said, I think the Thai are really geared towards tourism. They are friendly and helpful. Won't bore more. Have blogged about it. :)

Helen said...

hahaha you sure those were spaghetti..could be just mee in ketchup sauce. ANother Malaysian dish. :-P

As for your no. 3 task.. yeah, that is sure hard. Not good to speak badly about the country, but then you'll have to lie. :-)

adrian said...

When burger king first opened in KLCC, everything on their menu was in BM! I really don't know who's the genius who never thought of how the heck are the tourist going to order! Malaysia Boleh!

tingtitlei said...

wheres that place? sounds like Isthmus haha

Zawi said...

zewt,
Your detailed observation of things really amaze me. I think I have found the perfect job for you, Malaysia's Tourism Ambassador At Large. You will definitely be able to discern and correct many wrongs in how we package Malaysia for sale in future Visit Malaysia Years. Datok Michelle Yeoh who is the current Tourism Ambassador must surrender her job to you ASAP and Tourism Malaysia will definitely save alot of money.
Actually it is our lack of attention to pertinent details that has held us back from doing a better job. The attitude of doing something just 'will do' seems to be in everything that we do. Their perception of 'the foreigners wont know the fifference' make them assume that half measures will do.
So do you want me to talk to Tengku Adnan about it?

Tunku Halim said...

Aiyah, they are doing that inexorable Malaysian thing - cut costs! So same dancers, same costume. Maybe they should have done a Lion Dance instead, then can't see whether it's Chinese, Indians, Malays or Orang Asli dancing! :)

Sunshine said...

where is this place?

Anonymous said...

Sigh... This is just plain pathetic. I am so tired of the insensitivities the people of this country exhibit. Ok so what if there are no chinese dance? It is better they do it right than make a mockery of it.

As for tourism, Malaysia aren't bothered with global market, it is just Arabs this country is after. Safer to just put all in Arabic.

zewt said...

rashikaps - yeah, i have read about that. but from what i heard about thailand, the english there is quite limited.

Helen - and indeed i lied... now, that is really a situation where i had no choice... haha!

adrian - and we claim that we want more tourists... sigh

tingtitlei - what is isthmus? hehe...

Zawi - hahaha... are u trying to be sarcastic? i think tengku adnan will shoot me down almost immediately. indeed... we think we can bluff our ways thru, but most tourists actually read up a lot about malaysia before they came.

tunku halim - lion dance, that would have been something!

sunshine - cant tell la. u want them to sue me?

anon @ 7.51am - you have a point there, we are indeed targeting different group of ppl... those with loads of oil.

Aput said...

Tale #1:

I would think a renowned Malaysian restaurant should have it's menu in English, or at least with the description of the dish in English if they insist on keeping it in Malay for novelty value.

Tale #2:

So they had no Malaysian cuisine, and no international buffet? What the heck were they serving?

Tale #3:

No comment. It's typical in Malaysian society nowadays.

Huei said...

hahahaha i went for the microsoft teched thing..and in conjunction with travel msia07..they have this dance thingy..and um..yea..the chinese dancers were..not chinese..

thank god i missed the whole thing!!!!! and also closed my ears when the *ahem* er..i have no idea who..came out for a boring speech! dey! it's teched! i don't wana know anything about msia!

missironic said...

hmm..chinese dance but not by chinese people. does make sense here...happened often..its a scenario we r very fond of making. lolz..but i guess u surely have a tough time explaining the little 'funny' details of our culture. poor zewt..

mumsgather said...

Yes, Poor Zewt. First you had to translate the menu... and before you know it, you might have to get up to interpret or do the Chinese dance yourself. Haha. Next time go to another restaurant lah.

AngryYoungChild said...

ARGHH..i am backxor! Lol~ been reading your past blogpost. hah..what place is this laa..tell! so that i wont go..haha..

j or ji said...

Restoran kat jln conlay ke?

think about it again...payah jugak nak explain kat tourist eh?

Terima kasih kerana bertindak bijak menyelamatkan maruah rakyat msia!

:P

hehe.

rinnah said...

How typically Malaysian!

Why didn't the menu have translation one? Tsk tsk...

Why was there no other international food at the buffet? Tsk tsk...

Why were the dancers not multi-racial? Tsk tsk...

Answer: Cut cost lah.

cirnelle said...

Tale 1: Was the waiter Malaysian?
Tale 2: Your cina-stomach couldn't take the Malay-sian meal, is it?
Tale 3: I suppose they should have stopped when they were ahead with the waiter's English.

Landed_Angel said...

Zewt, I guess they are living up to the name "Malay - sian" restaurant lor... That's why no ingelis... hahaha..
And since it is a "Malay - sian" res-to-ran, so can't expect much on the cultural thingy they perform ;p

Daily Nibbler said...

Ha ha...welcome to Malaysia...truly Malaysia.

ehon said...

That's what I don't understand about Malaysia sometimes!! There's this HUGE signboard somewhere in KL that says, "SELAMAT DATANG KE MALAYSIA" and some small lettering that says, "WELCOME TO MALAYSIA".

And on my way back to Kuching, the AirAsia crews announced (there were like quite a lot of Caucasians in the air craft), ".... ialah Tahun Melawat Malaysia dan kami menawarkan bla bla bla. Kami harap kamu akan (something along the line of enjoy) Malaysia." I was like.. er... are you telling us Malaysians to enjoy Malaysia? *ahem*

alan zed said...

1. kelas bahasa 101. hehe.
2. spaghetti jer? hehe.
3. malay sia - got it?

eh, what hotel la is this ?

F.O.N @ frostee said...

hahah! Thanks for sharing those tales with us dude. Interesting and funny at the same time. There ain't that many of them cultural themed restaurants that are geared towards tourist in KL, so I can pretty much quess which one. I'd rather take them to Jalan Alor! Haha!

Angie Tan said...

OMG... I think I've been to some overseas M'sian restaurants which are more M'sian than that. (^ ^)

Anyway, should any overseas friends come over for a visit, we'll bring them to some local delights but warn them about the atmosphere, such as the backstreets of Jln Alor. Some of these cultural stuff are just con places. It doesn't reflect the actual "look-and-feel" of a country. I'm not talking about just here, I'm talking about places I've been to in China or elsewhere.

Jade Z. said...

choreograph a zewt dance . then perform . hahaha ! remember to MALAYSIANIZE it lah ~ lol

Mcmercedez said...

Tale 1: They are trying to push for their language and take out English, remember? Or they just dunno how to translate to English. Let's try: Ayam Masak Merah = Chicken Cook Red? or maybe Red Chicken?.. Hm.. Too confusing for them...

Tale 2: Only spaghetti consider international buffet? Sigh.. Misuse of terms...

Tale 3: Hate to say this.. but i think still back to same problem.. I agree with you.. Racist... RAcist.. RACIST!!!!!

littlepolaris said...

afterall, we are still living in MALAY-sia...

zewt said...

Aput - hey bro... u have been frequent lately! they were serving satay, roti canai, roti jala, mee hoon, rendang, sotong cili, and some vege. what do u think?

huei - they always wanna say things good about msia at any chance. sigh...

missironic - lied all the way...

mumsgather - my boss chose it... the gwai los insisted on it... sigh...

AngryYoungChild - dont worry... i dont think any thinking malaysian will so... starts with "S".

zewt said...

zawi - cukup dekat. walaupun saya ada pendapat yang berlainan, di depan pelawat... jagalah sikit maruah negara saya.

rinnah - hahahaha... u sure cut cost?

cirnelle - Yes... No... agreed. will certainly not go there again.

landed angel - yeah, i have wrong expectation already. my fault.

daily nibbler - truly asia! hehe...

ehon - like what i blogged about quite some time ago... the way we managed to meet our tourists target for this year is to get KL-ites to visit PJ and the PJ-ians to visit Ipoh and the Ipoh-ians to visit Penang.

zewt said...

alan zed - not hotel... some really posh tourist spot.

FON @ frostee - hahahaha... at least alor... not very malaysian too... cos got pork...

angie tan - that's why... foreigners are consistently being brain washed about the way we live. this is probably why ppl think we are malay when we step out of this country.

jade z - hey there! welcome to AZAIG. am afraid... i dunno how to do that... hahaha...

mcmercedez - hahaha... chicken cook red! satay... i just told them it's malaysian BBQ meat. as for the last tale... sam jiu la.

littlepolaris - indeed... sigh.

Anonymous said...

one man's meat is another man's poison...

i'll take siew g & lap dancing anytime

cibol said...

nice one zewt! ha ha ha .. man, ur so full of good stuffs

angel said...

last nite, I commented abt the language thing, wrote a paragraph but 'lost' in cyberspace, so i potong stim liao...

i wanted to say that the language 'problem' happens elsewhere too... when i was in sweden, we wanted to buy bus ticket from the machine and surprise surprise, there wasn't a word of engrish... sumua swedish... so how? want to naik bas also tak boleh... tsk tsk...

the rational is becos we/they are 'proud' of our/their language?
*shrugs*

oh soli... terkeluar topik ka??

zewt said...

anon @ 10.34pm - i also want siew g la...

cibol - thanks bro...

angel - they are certainly proud of it. but then again... they dont claim they want many tourists to visit them and all. we on the other hand...

Zaty said...

i agree! sometimes it baffles me how some restaurants claim to be 'malaysian' but they only (or mainly) serve malay foods as well. i mean, although i (and generally malays & muslims) dont consume pork, there must be a lot of halal or modified recipes out there from the chinese, indian, etc communities too that not just the tourists would like to try, me too! ;P

no, zewt, i dont find it racist. it is unfair for the patrons of the restaurant too.

and non-chinese dancing chinese dance? that's pretty odd. but i wasnt there so i cant really comment heheh =)

Bena said...

i hate those fusion restaurant. they serve all sort of food can be too rojak.

i like specific restaurant la... all round authentic.

it's funny how foreigners like to come up to me and do a one of those stupid kung fu scream. HUACHACHACHACA

zewt said...

zaty - i have said it before but i will say it again... if only this country has more rakyat like u... :)

Bena - yeah... they see a chinese face... and they will think all of us are related to jet li or jackie chan or bruce lee... i got that everytime i was out in london.

Zaty said...

lol. nah zewt, youre being too nice.
if only more politicians listened to you.

but then again, since they rarely listen to the rakyat anyways,

at least tourism malaysia then. =P

zewt said...

zaty - it's the truth... we need more ppl like you. i guess they need more ppl like me too :)

Zaty said...

lol. for some reason that sounds cute ^_^

zewt said...

zaty - about more like me? certainly... certainly...