The Yum List only includes spots that are worth a visit. If it's not good, it doesn't get posted. It's a quick resource where you can find the best places to stay, eat and spa around Malaysia and the world. The Yum List saves you time and money as all of the groundwork has already been done for you. Research is taken seriously. Only things that our writers have tried personally are documented. No payment is taken for any write up on The Yum List and don't allow any advertisements. We try to be specific with our recommendations narrowing them down to particular aspects of a location. For example, sometimes a restaurant might be recommended for one dish only, or a bar for one cocktail, a spa for their signature treatment or a hotel only for their Executive Club. We believe in propagating the good, by promoting the good. We like places that engage in socially responsible practices such as recycling, sourcing local organic produce and who actively participate in programs to help the community. These places will always have a place on The Yum List. We don't like places that sell shark's fin or any other endangered species. We prefer grass fed meat over grain fed and preferably free range and organic too. We like places that celebrate plants and make healthy food deliciously. We also like a good drop of wine and strongly support biodynamic and sustainable farming practices.
Monica TindallMonica is the world wide editor and driving force of The Yum List. Growing up in countryside Australia, surrounded by farmers and a family who grew much of their own food, she feels as though she has an appreciation of where her food comes from and a taste for 'real' food. Some of her favourite things to do as a child were to pick peaches from her neighbour's trees and go yabbying (fishing for crayfish). Shunning overly processed products that come in plastic and cardboard, she prefers local farmer's markets and will buy directly from the source and organic whenever she can. Attempts at growing her own food on her apartment balcony have had mixed results. But she's not giving up. With Degrees and Masters in Education she sees that the path to a happier, harmonious society is through knowledge and awareness. One of her goals for The Yum List is to help educate and 'grow the good.'
Eighteen years as an expat and 22 years of world travel have given her taste buds a worldly cultivation. She loves the freshness of Thai and Vietnamese food, the rustic preparation and use of local seasonal ingredients in Italian, the care and technique that goes into French cuisine, the inventiveness of modern Australian menus and the connection of foods to geography in Latin America. While personally choosing to eat foods that are healthy for herself and for the environment she will try anything within reason (no endangered animals). She has a weakness for desserts, cheese, bread, high-end alcohol and has been known to enjoy a good wine paired dinner and champagne brunch or three.
No longer in her backpacker years, her taste for luxury accommodation and spa treatments continues to grow. While she enjoys the facilities and services of 5 star accommodation, luxury boutique hotels are her preference for stays. She admires hoteliers who honour the local area by maintaining connections to the community both in staffing, architecture, services and culture. Socially responsible organizations looking to make minimal, if not beneficial, impact on their surroundings are held in high esteem.
Caning JaramilloCaning Jaramillo (alias hubby) is the support and carnivorous taste buds of The Yum List. His chief role is charming and entertaining fellow dinner guests and hosts with occasional chauffeuring, bag handling and "staying out of the shot" duties thrown in. Caning’s family used to own a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela so he spent much of his childhood surrounded by products and tasting food and beverages for possible supply to the community. His passion for food and travel encouraged him to study Tourism alongside Business Administration as a young adult. He has travelled around the world for more than 17 years looking for new flavors and experiences. Being a man of all trades he has had careers in Education, Oil and Gas and Banking. Sailing, flying and sports are his extra curricular passions. He is a sensational salsa dancer - music runs through his Latino blood - and his comfort foods are those with a South American and Spanish influence. Recent cuisines tickling his taste buds are those from Japan and France and innovative foods using science to bring the dining experience to an unexpected level. While eating out excites him, he is just as happy staying in savouring a home cooked meal with friends and sipping on a well aged whisky or rum.
|Kristin Cosgrove and Family|
Originally from the largest and most majestic state in the USA - Alaska - Kristin has a love of the outdoors and a great respect for the environment, which was instilled in her from a young age. Childhood summers were spent on the Kenai Peninsula, where she played on the rocky shores of Cook Inlet, fished and dug for clams.
One year ago Kristin, her husband and two young daughters gave up the snowy mountains of Alaska for the tropical rainforests of Malaysia as they began a new adventure in Kuala Lumpur. “I love giving my kids the experience of other cultures,” she says. “It helps them (and me) become more educated global citizens.”
Having lived a three-hour flight to anywhere for most of her life, she is thrilled to now live in a place where international travel is so accessible. She and her family travel throughout South East Asia as much as time and finances allow. Kristin fancies herself the family’s travel agent as she constantly forages the web for the perfect family accommodation, choosing eco-friendly places whenever possible.
Kristin is a hopeless lover of all baked goods and though she once went vegan for a year, her love of cheese and crispy bacon is undeniable. Her western palette is expanding as her travels widen her exposure to new foods (she wishes the same were true for her kids) and she loves both South East Asia's stall food culture as well as fine dining.
Her professional background lies in arts marketing and writing; before moving to Malaysia she worked as the Marketing Director for the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.
Kirsten is delighted to be invited into the Yum List family of writers, and excited to discover all that Malaysia has to offer. She feels the time is ripe for exploration of the culinary world in KL with a smorgasboard of delightful new restaurants popping up everywhere. Kirsten’s love of food was stimulated early; making cakes with granny, cooking fresh fish over campfires with granddad, and being taught to cook by a mother who couldn’t wait to hand over the kitchen. Cooking for her, is a way of showing creativity and sharing affection. At 17 she was privileged to experience life in the kitchen at the Althaharrie Inn, a two Michelin star restaurant, which sparked a life long romance with high quality food and wine. Rowing out in the early morning for fresh mussels was surely worth it.
The romance became a ménage-a-trois when she discovered theatre at Edinburgh University, participating in three Edinburgh Festival Fringes, successfully running a venue as well as performing. Theatre has been another consistent theme in her life, culminating in directing, producing and performing at the National Theatre in Uganda.
Kirsten’s lucky life of adventure and travel was initiated when her parents left their native Scotland for the wilds of East Africa when she was barely two. Having lived in 16 countries since, and travelled through 60+ she considers herself a true global nomad who makes home wherever she lands. Her international career has allowed her success as a teacher, educational trainer and curriculum developer, while including amazing personal experiences. Trekking mountains and volcanoes, canoeing rivers wild and calm, driving across Africa, sailing the world’s oceans and rivers, experiencing Ashram life in India, to name but a few. Throughout her adventure travel, Kirsten has enjoyed ‘giving back’ with several voluntary stints training local teachers in African countries, and has been instrumental in the development of four grass roots education projects in Uganda, a country that stole her heart and continues to tug at it.
Kirsten has delighted in the culinary and cultural trail through Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, India, Vietnam and Thailand. Memorable moments include plantain and red red in Ghana, ajiaco in Colombia, learning Thai cookery at Miss Kwan’s kitchen, and freshly caught lobster on an isolated Zanzibar beach. Favourite restaurants include Mamba Point in Uganda, Seasons Restaurant in Istanbul, La Poitinierre in Gullane; although she knows it was the company that truly made those experiences great. Kirsten loves many dishes but her favourites remain Dad’s Saltimbocca a la Romana and Granddad’s Fish and Chips. To her, food is an emotional experience, best embodied in the remarkable book ‘Like Water for Chocolate’.
Kirsten chooses to live her life in excited anticipation of new experiences and with hope of one day finding the perfect daiquiri.
Louise’s obsession with The Yum List began when after having accepted a teaching post in Kuala Lumpur, she began to research all the things that would have a significant impact of her quality of life out here. Needless to say that amongst those top of the list were whether or not she was going to be able to indulge in fabulous eggs benedict at the weekend and where to experience the best street food, curries, tapas, cocktails etc. The Yum List quickly became her ‘go to’ source of information and then, thanks to a fortuitous encounter with Kirsten Durward and an introduction to Monica, she was welcomed to the team and now has the best hobby that any ardent foodie could dream of.
Araceli Barrera Arismendi is a proud Tejana (Texan of Mexican descent) from Houston, the largest city of the lone star state. Araceli considers herself a “Fusion Foodie.” Growing up in a Tex-Mex (a blend of Texas and Mexican food) household where the smells of red and green chilies, cumin spice, beans and homemade flour tortillas lingered in the air, Araceli has a deep and strong appreciation for Tex-Mex cooking. However, since moving to Southeast Asia with her hubby Jorge, she has developed an innocent love affair for Asian cuisine especially Indian and Thai bites. The similar ingredients used in many dishes from all around the world especially between the Latin and Asian culture is fascinating. The overlapping food combinations such as the Mexican taco wrapped around in meat and spices and the Indian roti wrapped in chicken and tikka masala are two examples of how our culinary world is intertwined and connected in a fusion twist. Araceli thrives on the idea that there are more commonalties than differences between countries and cultures. She enjoys travelling, cooking healthy and savory meals, planning vacations and influencing young minds. Some of her kitchen specialties include fish ceviche, spicy Mexican Chicken tortilla soup and quinoa and black bean tacos. Her Mexican heritage has strongly influenced her culinary creations, and she loves that she can throw in cheese or sour cream to throw in that Texas flare. The gastronomic city of Kuala Lumpur has opened her taste buds to an array of flavors and spices and has motivated her to experiment with Asian zests from behind the cutting board. She currently teaches first grade at the International School of Kuala Lumpur and has flourished teaching and learning from a multi-cultured student population. Her favorite memory this year was when her students’ families brought in authentic dishes from their home countries. Adults and children alike were laughing and having rich conversations all around sumptuous food.
|Han Sen Hau|
Han Sen Hau
It is a known fact amongst Han Sen’s friends that he has a slight frame… a constant source of worry for his mother as she frets over what the neighbours might think (Has she been feeding him?) and a perpetual amusement for airport security guards as they double, triple check his passport (So you’re not eighteen…). But put him at a buffet table for two hours and he could easily land a spot with P. T. Barnum’s travelling museum of freaks for a black hole of a stomach. Needless to say, he loves to eat.
Born into a jet-setting family and having travelled all his life, the grass is definitely greener on the other side for Han Sen, who has trouble ‘settling down’. Over the years, through his many adventures, he has developed a love for different cultures along with the civilizations that define them, the architecture that reifies them, the literature that evokes them, and the cuisine that nourishes them. A self-proclaimed foodie though not quite the aspiring gastronome, he wouldn’t give up on the opportunity to improve his palate and discover exciting, new flavours. As of such, he’s grateful for the opportunity to contribute to The Yum List.
A hopeless romantic who enjoys weaving the occasional sap while listening to repeats of The Golden Girls, Han Sen faces the future with a cloying sense of optimism. With plans to return to academia and the UK, developing an appreciation and understanding for great food in the meantime doesn’t sound too bad at all.
Although only 16 years old, Naomi Martin has seen more of the world than many others twice her age. Born in Singapore, Naomi had a liking of the Southeast Asian cultures and lifestyles from the start. Bustling hawker stalls and the smell of durian wafting through the markets are embedded in her early memories. When her younger sister came along, it was time to move into a completely different lifestyle. For five years she grew up in the simple island life that the American state of Hawai’i had to offer, and developed an attraction to the various island meals and treats. Naomi was then off to China at the age of 8, where spicy Sichuan cuisine, the history of the Great Wall, and the Beijing Summer Olympics became part of her formative experiences.
Now, Naomi is back in her birthplace, Southeast Asia. Much of the culture is already familiar to her, and she is delighted to once again experience the carefree lives of the South. Currently attending the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Naomi landed her first writing job for The Yum List, after interviewing its Editor, Monica Tindall, for the school magazine.
Even though she has grown up in a food-loving family, Naomi feels she only recently started developing a real appreciation for the culinary arts after her trip to Italy in the summer of 2013. She and her family had a blast touring several ancient Italian cities, but most of all, enjoying the unique taste experiences each region had to offer. It seems almost fitting that Naomi wrote her first food review for The Yum List on the Italian restaurant Spasso Milano, after her adventures in Italy.
Naomi plans to continue to assist Monica in writing for her blog whenever needed, and hopes to travel and experience more of the world’s cultures and flavors.
|Ross and Sarah Jones|
Ross and Sarah Jones
Guest writers for the Yum List, Ross and Sarah Jones have been living in Malaysia and exploring the growing number of food choices in the city. Dabbling in different cuisines within their own kitchen, motivates them to get out and try new food at unique and new restaurants. They enjoy local venues run by small business owners who appreciate quality ingredients and simple, quality food. They are constantly impressed by the new dining concepts coming to Malaysia and look forward the new blending with the old in this cosmopolitan city.
|Monica R. Clear|
Monica R. Clear
Monica Clear is a community health nurse by profession who has traveled and lived in a variety of continents, and can describe with detail her favorite meal in each place. Monica grew up in a home where the yogurt and granola were made from scratch, and she and her brother took turns punching the bread dough back down as it rose, every Sunday, on the kitchen counter. Birthday dinners were Peking Duck ordered one day in advance from Chan’s Kitchen in Plainfield, New Jersey, and Fodor’s Guide to New York City restaurants sat on the coffee table, thick with dog-eared pages of bucket list eateries to try. To this day, Monica would rather spend an hour shopping in a grocery store than a department store, and can’t quite remember life before the coffee culture.
The art of food appreciation is one thing, however, and the skill of cooking another. It wasn’t until recently that Monica began dabbling with more complicated creations of her own in the kitchen, inspired by a husband with true culinary talent and two children sure to offer their honest opinions. When she can successfully make Thai food taste like the street stall around the corner, she will consider herself a cook.
Still a novice on the Kuala Lumpur restaurant scene, Monica is continuously amazed by the variety of cuisines available locally, and the plethora of little restaurant gems tucked away in the farthest and highest corners of this city. A follower of The Yum List since she arrived in Malaysia, Monica is excited to now be a contributing eater and writer; two activities that, as far as she’s concerned, make life worth living.
It is an honour to write for The Yum List! Although born in South Africa, New Zealand is my home. I have lived in six different countries and travelled widely over the years. This has exposed me to a variety of cuisines, and has developed a curiosity and palate for good food. Even as a cook, I try new recipes and love experimenting with fusion style cooking. Overall, I look for freshness, flavor and healthy options when I choose my food. Malaysia is food heaven and it’s easy to find new eating adventures here!
Manveen goes by the tag ‘Asian-inspired foodie/Western-inspired drinkie’. Growing up in multicultural KL, she spent most of her school days eating everything under the sun (and miraculously not gaining any excess weight) in her native Malaysia. Upon embarking to the Southern Hemisphere for higher education, her culinary world was opened up to a kaleidoscope of flavours as a result of making friends, and having meals, with kids from every corner of the world.
Having spent her formative years in the gastronomic city of Sydney, Australia her daily dinners would consist of tastes from every spectrum of the universe. Coupled with a Mexican roommate and some libation-prone workmates, her knowledge and skills in the kitchen (and behind the bar) soared as a result. Counting Spanish, Japanese, South American, Korean, Thai, Italian and Middle Eastern food as perennial favourites, her American buddies also introduced her to the hedonistic world of greasy diner fare –a calorific combination she guiltily enjoys at any time of the day. When it comes to her tipple of choice, vino is always a winner, but she’s got a soft spot for cocktails – be it a Pisco sour, a fruity glass of sangria or a good ol’ fashioned Margarita.
Despite her love for food from all over the world, she still counts herself as a Malaysian at heart (or is it tastebud?), most pertinently displayed when smashing a plate of chicken rice, inhaling a serving of banana leaf rice or obliterating a Ramli burger at 3am. While she loves the taste of high-end gastronomic delights, she’s always on the prowl for “the best” of the culinary world – often taking her to alleyways off the beaten track and hole-in-the-corner shops, all in search of the perfect meal. Variety is the spice of life – and Manveen definitely revels in the best of both those worlds.
|Dr. Gerry Goeden|
Dr. Gerry Goeden
Gerry is a Malaysian based marine ecologist, Research Advisor to the National University of Malaysia, and marine consultant to the Andaman Resort, Langkawi.
Gerry was born in the United States but spent most of his life working in and around Australia. He is now an Australian citizen but travels in S.E. Asia.
His academic background includes a BSC and MA from the University of Miami and a PHD in Coral Reef Ecology from the University of Queensland, Australia.
Suji DeHart is a elementary teacher-librarian, a mother of two lovely teenage boys and is a "third-culture kid". Having grown up in India, Indonesia, the US, and Pakistan, her culinary tastes are varied; she loves food in general and is fascinated by the different cuisines around the world. Suji lived in China from 2008 until 2012, after which she moved here to KL. While living in China, she loved trying all the different (spicy!) foods from Hunan and Szechuan, and she loves the huge variety of tasty dishes available here in Malaysia.
Polly SzantorGuest writer, Polly Szantor, has always had a passion for food. She grew up in Yorkshire in the north of England, and both her mother and grandmother were excellent cooks. When she was 8 years old, her mum started taking gourmet cooking classes. “Mum would come home with coq au vin, roasted pheasant or delectable desserts. I was lucky to become a bit of a foody at an early age.” Schools in the UK taught cookery as part of the curriculum, and there were often conflicts between her mother’s method and the teacher’s. Luckily, Ms. Polly survived unscathed and went on to become an excellent chef in her own right. “Because I live to eat, I often cook quite complicated dishes just for myself, but I like to be inventive. If I’m using a recipe, I always tweak it to make it more to my taste. I also develop my own creations, but not when I’m expecting guests. I must confess that I’ve had a few disasters!”
For her entire career Polly worked as a speech therapist, first in England and then in Nova Scotia, Canada. She moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2002 to take up a position as speech therapist at the International School of Kuala Lumpur. She retired in 2009 and joined the Malaysia My Second Home Programme. “I love living in Malaysia. It’s green all year, the locals are very friendly, the mix of cultures is fascinating, and where else in the world can you find such an amazing choice of fabulous food?” Polly enjoys all of the local cuisines, and since she is a frequent visitor to Bario, Sarawak and a volunteer with Gerai OA, this includes food cooked by the indigenous people of Malaysia. “I tried civet cat in Bario,” she recalls. “The taste was OK but it was pretty oily and would have benefited from at least two more hours in the pot!”
Polly has always been a writer, and over the years she has written newspaper columns, scripts for adults and children and magazine articles. Most recently she had a short story published in a book of travel stories, Sini Sana – Travels in Malaysia. She is also an actress, and was involved in theatre productions and film in Canada. She even had her own children’s television show, Miss Polly’s Playtime, which aired on Cable TV. She continues to take acting classes and hopes to tread the boards in Malaysia sometime soon.
We’re very happy that she’s joined The Yum List as a food reviewer. She would like to share with all our readers that she LOVES durian, which is not so common for an expat. “I’d like to know more about the many varieties of durian, and I’m hoping to do a review that involves this distinctive delicacy.” If you would like to help Polly in her search for the very best durian, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest contributor to the Yum List, Elizabeth Kendle grew up in Perth, Western Australia, born to a Thai mother and Australian father. She learned to enjoy eating both Thai and Western food. From Tom Yum Goong to the Sunday roast and her nanna's baked macaroni. Elizabeth also grew up eating her best friend's mother's cooking; dishes such as goulash and schnitzel, influenced by her Hungarian father. After graduating from university, Elizabeth began modeling in Asia and enjoyed traveling and tasting the different local cuisines. After meeting and making friends from all over the world, furthered more travel and opportunities for her to try various cuisines. Currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, Elizabeth enjoys the variety of food the international city has to offer. With many foreigners living in Bangkok, there is fantastic international food to eat as well as appetizing Thai food found on every street corner. Elizabeth especially enjoys noodle soup and loves that all Thai people, no matter what their social demographic, enjoy it too.
|Chef Peter Webber|
Chef Peter WebberPeter grew up in the country side of Devon, England and started cooking with his Mother as a child. He cultivated a fondness for the culinary arts since a young age, in fact a Christmas cake competition decided his future career.
He started at The Inn on the Park, London and The Savoy Hotel where he gained his first Executive Pastry Chef position and was honoured to be sent to do promotions at The Okura Hotel in Tokyo and The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok, also involved in many special events and competitions in Europe. Peter was awarded a Silver medal at the Frankfurt Culinary Olympics, Germany. He was also enrolled in School Le Notre in Paris to study pastry and chocolate. His plans materialized and he then moved abroad to The Hyatt Regency Dubai as a Pastry Chef running the Pastry & Bakery Department. During his period in Dubai, Peter was part of the opening team for The Hyatt Regency in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Back in Dubai, he was featured in a culinary television series aired on TV in Europe and the Middle East show casing the pastry arts. Thereafter, he moved to Asia to the famed Oriental Hotel, Bangkok as the Executive Pastry Chef where he would stay for more than a decade.
During his time Peter pleased the taste buds of the Queen of England during the Official State Visits at the Grand Palace. Also at the Oriental having opportunity to work with most of the 3 star Michelin Chefs from France was a great honour to him. He has won many medals and wins for desserts, show pieces and wedding cakes.
After the Oriental Peter took a year off to travel around the world, he called it his self discovery tour and he spent time in India, Europe, America and South America finishing in Australia before returning to Thailand. During this time he found the opportunity to expand his expertise in Patisserie and launched Les Anges, boutique patisserie/restaurant at the Royal Phuket Marina. It soon became MUST place for sweet-toothed lovers be it tourists or residents on the island. Les Anges proved to be a huge success with many of the 5 star hotels being supplied with Peter's specialty goods.
After 6 years building Les Anges Peter was headhunted to join the expanding Watermark Group as Director of Operations where he set up the new bakeries and in Bangkok and Phuket. An opportunity followed which took Peter to Malaysia away from his beloved Thailand.
The interesting new role as Culinary Director with the prestigious YTL Group involved the introduction of culinary courses for the new I.C.H.M College and overseeing the pastry departments of the Ritz Carlton and J.W. Marriot hotels. Valuable experience gained in Malaysia was a significant career enhancement but Peter’s affinity for Thailand remained prominent, such that he has now embarked on a freelance role as a consultant in Thailand.
He loves all and any food, favourites being of course Thai but also Indian, Middle Eastern and classical French. His only dislike which saddens him is the Chilli which he has never managed to acquire a taste for, he says this is because his palate is too delicate due to being a pastry chef!
His favourite foods are freshly prepared fish and salads, dessert is Rum Baba or Savarin with fresh berries and Chantilly or the Indian equivalent Gulab Jamun, simple but delicious washed down with a glass of bubbly, of course!