No real local drinker hasnt tried at least one of Malaysia’s own local brews – toddy, tuak or langkau. If u’ve had beers from Mehico, schnapps from Austria, Kahlua from goddam Jamaica, and Malibu from fuckin Barbados, it’s time to stop being a poser and have some local brew! Warz wrong witchu man?? Show yer pride!
Toddy aka palm beer is a common drink in most tropical countries around the world. From Mexico to the Pacific Islands. Also known as mimbo (Cameroon), bahar / tuba (Sabah & Philippines), todi (W. Malaysia) and emu among Nigerian tribes. Not to be confused with samsu – cheap shit dat makes u blind.
All that hard work, and u pay peanuts
It’s a sweet, slightly fizzy drink, 100% natural. Very light, possibly lighter than beer in terms of alcohol content, so drinking several mugs is not an issue. Best part is, it’s so cheap, its ridiculous. Also a source of B-complex vitamins. It’s said to flush your system clean, watever dat means.
You can distill toddy and produce more explosive liquor like arrack.
If u ever tried air nira, it’s d same shit. Cept nira is harvested and drunk before fermentation can begin.
What a waste. Throw some yeast into your next nira pack.
It aint fermented coconut water, it’s palm sap. Most palms – whether date palms, betel palms, oil palms or coconut palms – are usable. In Malaysia, we use coconut palms. The flower stem of the palm tree is cut – sap flows out into a jar, where it ferments naturally after awhile due to some yeast dudes still hangin in the used jar. Thus, it’s best had earlier in the day, or else it turns to vinegar (eventually after several days or weeks), tho sometimes tappers also cut again in the evening for a fresh batch.
Anyway, enough crap. You can get this local shine in Brickfields, KL, where there’s an old, low-profile toddy shack.
I just luv Brickfields. Da hood’s got character. A lot of shit goin on there. And the cool world music band Akasha is from there, the Temple of Fine Arts, 30 seconds away from d toddy shack.
Believe it or not, this joint is run by the Malaysian government! Haha! The only useful facility they ever run. Some colonial hangover – the Brits used to run them to keep the labour happy. There are two other government bars – Imbi (by Times Square) and Sentul.
Max sticks his head into a bucket of toddy
But there many others (non-government) in Banting, Morib and Kapar. And served at some seafood restaurants in Teluk Gong and Northport, Klang. Tried ’em all.
Hit the Brickfields branch with Mad Max one Saturday morning. There were already quite a few alcos there.
Set-up is basic. Zinc roof, long tables, long wooden benches, toddy bartender secured behind reinforced iron grille. Not a spot to impress your date, lemme tell u that straight-up.
Go to bartender, ask for a bottle and pay 3 bucks. Dats right – 3 bucks. For a 1.5 litre bottle. Cheaper than coconut water. Must be government-controlled pricing. Haha. Or subsidy.
Thing is, they dont really supply cups.
Some large man known in these parts as Giant, comes up to me. Giant barks “How u gonna drink??”
– “From the bottle.”
“Go outside, ask defella there to lend u cups. 10 cents each.”
– “Ha? OK!”
There’s dis micro-stall next door that sells bites and has large pint plastic cups for rent. Cibai ol man cons me n charges 20 cents a cup, and adds “U bring back ah!”
Like am gonna steal dat piece of shit. OK must bring own cups next time.
As good as it gets
We pour half a cup each, and proceed to enjoy d first sip. Yeaaa, refreshing. It’s sweet and slight bubbly, with a tangy and distinct aroma. The finish is sweet-sour.
Breakfast of champs. They seem to serve pretty fresh stuff here.
Tryin to look cool drinkin moonshine
Giant decides to join us, sayin he’s been drinkin dis shit for 30 years. He’s a cab driver, and had just finished the graveyard shift. We talk cock, read the papers, and i head back to d micro stall outside to get sum meat – ol man has shit like wild boar curry, lamb belly, steamed beans n sum chicken liver i think. I go for the boar.
He’s got a huge phonebook next to him. Tears off a page, puts a plastic sheet on it, and serves d meat on dat. Phonebooks – handy.
We continue to work on our bottle, then Giant buys us another. At 3 bucks, it’s cool to buy each other bottles!
We get a slight buzz, then tapau a bottle to take home. Stick it in d fridge coz its great chilled. It can keep a few days at least when kept cold.
Didnt shoot many pictures. This aint a place to be takin pictures like sum stupid blogger. Might get sumtin thrown at your face. Like a parang.
And i gone n deleted almost all of d pix from that session. Wat a bodoh fumble.
Some like to mix toddy with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Some with fuckin chilies and onions. Watever turns u on i guess.
Got a palm tree at home? Time for DIY toddy.
This toddy shack is unmarked, so keep your eyes skinned (map). Turn off left from Jln Tun Sambanthan into Sultan Abdul Samad, then right into Berhala. It’s behind Palm Court. ‘Palm’ – how appropriate. Haha.
If the scenario there sounds dingy, u can always tapau. A lot of that goes on.
Spot the bar
Plan to hit the real deal plantation bars for real fresh toddy in Banting soon. Should be a trip!
Brain damage rating: 7/10
Pix 1 (Sri Lanka) by Srinivasa Krishna