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As a lonesome traveller on the highways and by-ways of life's sprawl, I shook off my caffeine buzz and jumped in a grab taxi to a part of town I won't claim to be familiar with. He dropped me a few meters away and I took in the view of rather ordinary looking shops and houses. The facade fooled me into believing I was entering some cross between a hip bakery and an architects office. Thank goodness the interiors were more bewildering.
I had one thing on my mind: LAKSA!
Having read about their fantastic Nyonya Laksa while I was in Europe, it had taken months of deadbeat deliberation and patience waiting to board a flight back to Malaysia and track it down. Rumours of a godfather like character "Baba" who watched over all, the very soul of the enterprise were not proven false. I ordered a laksa from the waitress only to be told they didn't serve it today, fell into a deep sea of despondency and frailty, to which Baba, from his luring perch behind the desk, came over and assured me that since I was dining alone they would accommodate me.
I shook off the scales of mild anxiety and peered around at the odd furniture and decor. Wafts of godly persuasion started whisping through from the kitchen and my stomach began to rumble.
Placed before me in divine photographic resonance, the nyonya laksa bowl. I almost forgot to eat it, that intent was I at staring at the various colours, textures and contrasts. The delicate greens curled inwards, the dash of sambal, the fish cakes poking their head above the surface, the tofu puffs and half cut egg precariously balanced above the hidden noodles washed in love.
I ate in a swooning spill of laughter and exhilaration. The textures and flavours all melded together in perfect harmony and I was stuck in a moment I wished wouldn't end.
But like life, it does end. And we return to the realities of work and rest. And we brave the streets once more in the hope that tomorrow will throw another surprise quite like the one today, and that we can be reassured that the pursuit of happiness through a plate of food is not a foolish dream, but like today, it is a realised glimpse into the contentment we all seek.
If only temporarily.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"