Have you ever had a cocktail that tastes like asam laksa? Well, on May 20, you can.
Lou Shang Bar & The Kitchen Table Restaurant & Bakery in Petaling Jaya, Selangor are collaborating to present #LOVEYOURLOCAL, an event that gives a spin on truly Malaysian cocktails & canapes, with cocktails and food that are made solely with local produce.
“We noticed a lot of local produce is under appreciated, not just in drinks and cocktails, but even foods as well,” said Lou Shang co-owner Lee Ai Peng. “Another reason for using local produce is because they are cheaper and fresher as well.”
Lou Shang has always had items that are very Malaysian in nature – among their drinks on the regular menu are the Uptown Monk, inspired by the Chinese lo hon guo drink, and the Asam Boi Julep, a local twist on the mint julep classic cocktail. However, for the Love Your Local event, there will be two special cocktails that will only be available on that particular night – The Bandung and The Laksa, which take the whole Malaysian theme to another level.
“The two cocktails were created by our bartenders, Demi and Chris, and their brief was to come up with something that only uses local produce, besides the spirits, of course,” said Lee.
Before you ask, let me assure you that this drink may be based on asam laksa and tastes like it as well, but there is no fish or prawn paste in it.
“While coming up with the drink, I realised that almost every Malaysian state has its own version of laksa,” said Lou Shang bartender Demi. “To me, it is actually one of the most iconic dishes in Malaysia.”
The drink is made with tamarind juice, muddled torch ginger (bunga kantan), fresh passion fruit pulp, lime juice, homemade ginger syrup, Tanqueray dry gin, and salt water to bind everything together. It is served in a soup bowl with an iceball containing cucumber bits and pineapple-flavoured jelly “noodles”, and garnished with chilli, pineapple, and torch ginger.
Although the idea of a drink that tastes like asam laksa may seem “far out”, it surprisingly works. It does make sense though – asam laksa has so many flavours going on in it, from sour to sweet, spicy to fishy, and even salty and refreshing.
Even drinking the cocktail is an experience. Served in a bowl with a pair of chopsticks, drinking the cocktail also evokes the image of eating asam laksa – you can use the chopsticks to eat the jelly noodles, pineapple and chilli, and then take a sip of the cocktail after you do so.
The distinct flavours of the torch ginger and tamarind, the sour notes from the lime juice, the sweetness of the pineapple in the noodles, the slight spicy hints from the ginger syrup … it all melds together to form what is essentially a liquid form of asam laksa.
Once the ice ball starts melting and the cucumber bits come loose, it also adds a refreshing element to the drink. In fact, the entire experience was so much like eating asam laksa that I hardly put my chopsticks down the entire time I was drinking it!
Created by Lou Shang bartender Chris, this drink was inspired by the local favourite beverage sirap bandung, which is basically a pink drink made with evaporated milk or condensed milk mixed with rose cordial syrup.
“Sirap Bandung is one of my favourite drinks when I was a kid. My hometown is Penang, and I loved the ‘gu ling peng’ which is Penang’s Sirap Bandung,” Chris said.
The Bandung is made with Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, evaporated milk, orgeat and rose syrup, ice cream soda, egg white, and lemon juice, and served with a side of haw flakes snacks. “I initially wanted to use gin, but decided to use rum because it’s more tropical and Eastern,” he said.
The drink itself is a very refreshing drink that actually does taste like a sirap bandung milkshake, with the spiced rum giving a nice layer of sweet complexity to the entire drink.
The #LOVEYOURLOCAL event will be held on May 20 from 8pm at Lou Shang Bar & Cafe in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. For more information, call 03-7731 8870, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the bar’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/loushangbar).