Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When The Heart Yearns For Something Simple. Tanjung Bunga Nyonya Cuisine, SS2, PJ.


"Dedicated to people who has the tenacity to consider me a friend despite my inadequacies and eccentricity, I humbly seek forgiveness for my failings. 

To workaholics who forge on, in the hope that you will attain your goals in life someday.

And finally to weirdos who persevere on with their unconventionality. It is you who add colour and charm to my dreary life."

(non halal)

Nasi Ulam
Living in a heartless city can be reassuring. Sometimes. Moving along as a bustling herd of humanity like a swarm of assiduous spermatozoa, I feign being preoccupied, being lost in my little world of make believe. But in reality, I am in a state of non purposeful industriousness. Spermatozoa do not stop to make small talk with each other as they race to fertilize the ovum, and neither do have to bow to this ritual of pretending to be interested in the lives of people I encounter daily as a necessity, not a desire. I suspect others feel the same about me too, I am but another potential human to take some advantage of in a heartless city whose soul is corrupted to the core either by economic necessity or greed.

It suits me fine being an anonymous. Putting on a nameless face means I can go through life here with minimal distractions. It is easier to be nasty and uncaring if you do not know the other person. I drift with no fixed purpose except to work and the ultimate goal of fulfilling my desire for material comfort as a compensation for a life devoid of romantic emotional attachment which is an abstract concept to me having experienced it vicariously through books, movies and opera.

Work. A four letter word that takes up more than half of my time for the last couple of years, sometimes more.

Work. A monosyllabic grunt, a vulgar and fractious word that begins with a gentle W, pronounced lips puckered like kissing and ends with a sneer and a smirk of a death mask as the final K is pronounced.

Work. My ovum. My farcical ovum, which instead of giving me life, destroys my essence and purpose.

Sambal Petai Udang
It is only when I am unfettered by work a strange yearning overcomes me. An unexplained feeling of melancholia that unseats reason and practicality which I foolishly hold as the master of my cerebrum. My external facade of feigned aloofness crumbles in the early hours of morning when my bed turns into a wide and deep dark chasm that engulfs me.

A biting cold loneliness that permeates through every cell of my body. My resilience crumbles and for a few fleeting seconds I would feel lonely, the vulnerability exposed seems to feed on the darkness of the night before a toss on the bed dispels it into the deepest recesses of my memory before being summoned out again by periods of emotional vulnerability.

My unrelenting working hours does offer me some refuge from these pangs of emptiness, but it is discomforting for me to admit the irony of finding find solace in the very thing that saps up my zest for life.

I have chosen to be alone and fault nobody for my predicament, if I am allowed to call it so. Sharing a bed with someone means baring my soul, my entire being, my paranoia and eccentricity which will scare the average red blooded human. Something I can never do, and never am proud of.

I have sought a compromise by attempts to forge friendships which offers some temporary respite in which I attempt to be normal. Friends are not with me every moment of the day and I can choose what to share with them.

Inchi Kabin
I have been blessed with many caring people in my life and part of the fun in hunting for good food is hunting for dining companions to share little adventures with which comes from all walks of life. Fellow weirdos who understand me without having to explain myself. People who shower me with love and attention.

Take for instance, M whom I met through blogging. After a particular two months of harrowing workload, we finally met for lunch almost at her insistence. I gave her a free hand to decide the venue and she instinctively chose this little quaint but plain restaurant to dine.

The tacky decor is nothing to shout about with some kitschy Dutch windows hanging on the wall. Food is served on cheap melamine and dining was under almost bare energy saving bulbs that cast a strange jaundiced glow to our complexion. But it was just what a tired soul needed. Not Foie, not truffles nor fancy desserts.

Their Nasi Ulam may not be the best that I have ever had but the effort was commendable, with slivers of the usual herbal condiments. Mint, Daun Kantan, Basil and Kerisik adorned the rice that was served strangely with some chips.

Their Inchi-Kabin was perfectly double fried and crispy with hints of cumin, shallots and corriander powder. It came with the traditional syrupy dip that was redolent of Worcester Sauce.

I loved their Joo Hoo Char which is julliened slivers of Sengkuang, Carrot and Dried Mushroom with Grilled Dried Cuttlefish hiding in between the strips to lend the dish an tantalizing aroma. Place them in a piece of Lettuce leaf and roll it like a spring roll with a dab of Sambal Belacan and you will be biting on pieces of heaven.

Their Sambal Petai Udang was an interesting break for intermission but the spotlight shined on the Nyonya Fried fish with was ravishing. Perfectly fried fish in a beguiling mix of tart Tamarind with nuances of spices, Daun Limau Purut and Preserved Leek.

Desserts were limited to 3 choices.

Nyonya Fried Fish
The meal was not perfect but genuine. It did not use expensive exotic ingredients but the love and pride of the Chef in it's Nyonya Heritage was almost palpable.

It's just like friendship, where once accept and maybe even treasure flaws and imperfections of others as long as it is genuine.

I have been accused of being an elitist, a pseudo intellectual and a snob so many times in life, I've lost count.

I don't just hang out with people who fine dine. The quantum of satisfaction I get from beautifully prepared nyonya fish and a perfect piece of Toro is probably the same.

Nor do I hang around elitists who quote Sartre and discuss post modernist art over salmon and cocktails all the time.

If there is one thing that either amuses me is the superficiality of some people I meet and their inane desire to impress or show off usually with hilarious consequences. Wealth and power does not impress me, for I know the people who posses them will never part with it without me doing something for them in return. I have to recall something very funny that happened a few weeks back.

I stumbled across an acquaintance from my College days whom I have not met for years and after the preliminary how do you do's he proceeded to ask me "What car are you driving now?".

I replied, "Why? Is your job so bad that you have to sell cars to supplement your income?". That ended our conversation pretty quickly and each of us probably think the other is a dickhead. At least I do.

I guess he does not know that the owner of Ikea drives a 20 year old Volvo and some of the slimiest Bankrupts in town whizz around in Porsche SUVs. I suppose a lot of people are trained to asses a person by the car he drives, the handbag she owns and where their family goes for holidays.

Even more irritating are meeting people who try to impress me with their intellectual prowess when they clearly have none. They claim to have read books that they haven't and try to critique movies when they have absolutely no inkling about. But things do break out into a comical farce when they dig deeper into their own grave when they are unable to stop talking.

The the species that deserves the vilest contempt will be those who put themselves on a pedestal for some unknown reason. Sharing a meal with them is just like suppressing a bad case of jock itch. I am just dying to bare it all on the table and give it a good scratch.

Joo Hoo Char
Life is not a competition. Meeting up with acquaintances in a social event is not a job interview or a sales pitch. There is no point competing, to brag and to impress. If there is anything that impresses me at all, it will be your honesty and genuine warmth. There is no need to put on a front and be kissy wissy with every one and the moment they turn their back, start the ritual of gossip and back stabbing. I find it juvenile, petty and revolting.

Some evenings and weekends, I hang out with some migrant factory workers at their quarters and their Restaurants at Jalan Silang. Their lives are simple and uncomplicated but lived with dignity and quiet perseverance. Never on any occasion have they taken advantage of me nor used me for for their personal gain. We spend out time together teaching each other to cook, with them teaching me reading and writing Burmese and me teaching them English and Facebook. Strangely enough, our lingua franca is Bahasa Melayu (go figure) which I seldom use with my Malaysian friends. One day, I may blog about them.

A lot of people who consider themselves hoity toity could learn a thing or two about leading their life from these migrant workers.

I can only agree if anybody comments that I am very selective with friends. This is how I am.

But then again, not everybody can be like M. She knows I will never be cheerful ebullient and accepts my mood swings and I am sure she would let me know immediately if I cross the line. And as a treat for all my sleepless nights and midnight travel, she brought me to a place that she instinctively knew would cheer me up. She knew I was yearning for a simple uncomplicated meal. A meal served in a place unadorned by the trappings of materialism, where genuine food is served with pride and a heart.

Just like a good friendship.

Tanjung Bunga (same row as Chow Yang)
117 Jalan SS 2/6
47300 Petaling Jaya, Taman Sea, Malaysia
+6.03.78.77.45.31

15 comments:

Michelle Chin said...

when i was about to write my post, i read your post and it was almost the same thing I wanted to write. I wrote it anyway and I quoted you. :)

GFAD said...

Sweet post.

I live by this (dunno who said it though): Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.. ^_^

Pureglutton said...

A bad case of jock itch - I like that comparison, lol! Bare all & hv a good scratch, by all means - I won't blink an eye, wahahah!

minchow said...

Bravo on how you handled that car-crazed acquaintance! I can absolutely see myself borrowing that line of conversation to throw back some of these devious, appalling characters unfortunate enough to have stumbled in my way. You're one of the rare genuine ones PA. This post pretty much reaffirms it.

J said...

*HUGS*
*currently drowning in work too*

HairyBerry said...

My ovums are running and doing solo trips. That's 2 ovums! Lucky me....I enjoy the solitude that these activities bring. Strangely enough, I find it liberating.

There are not many posts that I can relate to. This is one of them. So, thank you for this piece, PA!

CUMI & CIKI said...

Dear hairyberry.. that's OVI! hahaha


PA.. I missed such a great lunch.. WAIL!!! i wan inchi cabin!!

asknomster said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Its heartwarming to know that there are ppl out there that respect others decisions in life. Not every decision we make can be measured by success. The journey, the experiences and the ppl we meet along the way are the things that will stay with us forever. There will be ppl that try to demoralized and bring you down just because they think you are not good enough. But these are the ppl tht I’m thankful for, as they are the one that make me stronger every day.

thenomadGourmand said...

Oh my.. no comments from the very ppl you're possibly refering in your post? Waht happened. . they don't agree?? LOL.
Makes u wanna puke doesn't it.. all that BFFsssssss luv... followed almost immediately by malicious backstabbing the moment one's back is turned.

Thailand Club said...

oh u let us wait so long , now u r blogging every other month .. but it worths the wait

the food is similar to Southern TH cuisine, must be spicy too ..

ur post is a mini mini pocket book, can read and repeat to read ..

UnkaLeong said...

I'll pass you some Home-Cooke Ju Hu Char lar, when mom decides to cook it. Not sure if it will help with the Jock Itch though. Hahaha!

Paranoid Android said...

Sorry, sorry sorry for the delayed response. I was caught up with work recently.

@Michelle : What a coincidence. Thanks. Will check it out in your blog.

@GFAD: LOL.

@Pureglutton: LOL. You won't blink, but can I have your word that you will keep it shut too? LMAO.

@Min: Thanks, dear.

@Hairyberry: Thanks, bro.

@asknomster: Thanks for dropping by.

@TNG: *Barfs back*... Mwahahahaha

@J: Hugs back.

@TC: Yes, it does. Sorry, I have been dropping by your blog to keep up with Thai food, but did not comment.

@Unka: Thanksssss!

Quote said...

We rarely thing of work as a quintessential concept. You've put forth some nice reflections on work as part of our life and existence.

Quote

in the sea said...

Good to catch up and see you are back with a new post though I am reading a month late. I thought you might be too busy then. This is a classic fusion food in Malaysia and even long before the nowadays talking-loud fusion cuisine. I like the rice dish and the deep fried look so delicious. Again, your photos are awesome!

fatboybakes said...

that's true, you dont hang out with people who fine dine coz you fine dine alone...GUFFFAW. i love your spermatozoa analogy love love lovvvvvvvvve!

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Unless stated otherwise, all the posts and food here is paid for by the Paranoid Android. He dose not receive any financial compensation for posting in this blog. The views expressed here are an opinion and as usual, taste is subjective and varies among people, time and mood as well! Please feel free to contact me at humanist dot philo at gmail dot com. Unless otherwise stated, the photos here belong to the owner of this blog. You are free to use it for any non commercial purpose. As courtesy, just drop me an email and credit the photo to the blog. Thanks for dropping by!

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