Asia, Malaysia

Malaysia Trip 2022/2023 Day 26: Kota Kinabalu

Today is Lunar New Year’s Eve. As usual, we’re on the hunt for a specialty cafe to visit. Unfortunately, being from Canada, where Lunar New Year isn’t really celebrated, we didn’t realize a lot of stores close here today for the holidays. We tried going to Tree Monk but they were closed. Then we went to Breadboss and they also were closed. We were about to give up but checked out Woo! Cafe which was open! This was located in the same complex as Nook Cafe, just one door down. This area seemed to have a lot of cafes catered towards foreigners and tourists so it made sense that they remained open today. They did post a sign outside that they will be closed for a few days for the holidays – good to know. The lower level of the cafe is just for simple coffee takeouts but the upstairs area is for a nice sit-down meal. The menu looked so good and I wanted everything on there. I had to panic order and had their Woo! breakfast with a cappuccino. Aaron had their grilled cheese, which was amazing. You can’t really go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich. My breakfast was also good with scrambled eggs, beets, chicken sausage, cucumber salad, waffled hashbrown, baked beans, caramelized onions and a salad, but I was feeling FOMO the whole time as dishes were coming out of the open kitchen (which we sat right next to). I vowed to return to try out some of their other menu items.

After that, we headed home to prepare for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations. Being a married couple, we had to stuff some ang pao/lai see/hong bao/red envelopes to give out during the holidays. The rules are not super clear and depends on the region this is celebrated. At the end, we concluded it is usually given to those in the same generation or in a younger generation than you who are unmarried.

That evening, we headed over to Aaron’s grandfather’s for a festive feast. The “tuan nian fan” or reunion dinner is one of the most important dinners of the year. It is where the family all gather together on the last day of the year. All the aunties were cooking up a storm all day and there were also dishes which were ordered. The dishes included dry buttered prawns, roasted duck, stir-fried veggies, steamed fish, stuffed tofu, KFC fried chicken, crabs, roasted pork, noodles, braised pork, and taro pork belly. The center piece is the Yu Sheng which consisted of raw fish with various julienned vegetables. Like most things during the Lunar New Year, the meaning of the dish is usually a play-on-word. Yu Sheng means raw fish in Chinese. In that case, “yu” sounds like abundance in Chinese and “sheng” sounds like increase so the two together means an increase in abundance. It was referred to as a prosperity toss because everyone was supposed to gather around with their (clean) chopsticks and toss all the ingredients together. After dinner, we had some local fruits including kampung durian which was nice and creamy and not as pungent as the types of durian I’m used to. The baby was not a fan of it, however. After the feast, some enjoyed some gin rummy while we headed home as the baby was getting sleepy. As a matter of fact, she fell asleep in the car on the way home.

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