September 16, 2013

All's well that ends well

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As I look back on this evening, I realized that I couldn't have hoped for a better ending.  Some things just aren't meant to be, and life sometimes just has a way of working itself out.  OK, I should stop babbling…

I was meant to check out Chachawan with Mo' Unni.  The place had created a certain amount of buzz over the last few months, although I paid it little attention.  I don't go out of my way to try out new places, but I figured I'd go along when Mo' Unni brought it up.  By last night, though, I was having some reservations about this place.

First of all, they serve Issan cuisine from northeastern Thailand, which is meant to be more spicy than the "regular" Thai cuisine that the average farang is familiar with.  I can handle some heat, but have serious doubts that I would enjoy dishes so hot that they warrant the placement of warning highlighted in all caps on the menu.  Another issue came about after reading a couple of people's reviews online, I realized that the best dish on the menu might be their salt baked sea bass.  My dining companion is also known as No Fish, so what exactly would we order?

All that became academic when, upon arrival at the unmarked 206 Hollywood Road, I found the gates pulled shut.  Upon inquiry with staff at neighboring 208 Duocento Otto, I was informed that Chachawan doesn't open on Mondays.  Since the place doesn't take reservations, neither of us have bothered to do much research on it… Oops…

Stranded without a backup plan, I suggested we check out Café Malacca.  This is one of my cheat nights, and I wanted to make sure the extra calories I took in were worthwhile.  While I'd never been to Café Malacca, my Malaysian and Singaporean friends universally recommended this place.  I figured the risk of disappointment would be low.

The place is casual, and the menu compact, but all the essential favorites are there.  We had no trouble picking out what we were both hungry for.

Beef and chicken satay - pretty good, actually.  I was surprised to find some cumin on the beef, which made it a lot tastier.

Malay fried chicken - actually pretty tasty.  It's been a while since I had fried chicken…

Penang char koay teow - very nicely executed, with noticeable wok hei from being fried at high heat.  Love the little slices of sausage.

Singapore laksa - this may not have packed a lot of heat, but it was tasty enough for me.

Sambal belachan kangkong - gotta order this dish when you see it… A nice amount of heat and all those wonderful flavors from belachan.  My veg quota for the night.

I washed down the dishes with a glass of calamansi drink.  I could have been just as happy with some barley drink or chin chow, but it's pretty difficult to find a nice glass of calamansi in town… and this certainly did not disappoint!

When we sat down, we saw the display placard on our table promoting two new desserts - one of them being ice kacang.  Our eyes lit up at the sight of this, and we decided to share a bowl.  I was surprised at how fine the shaved ice was… very smooth and velvety.  I grew up on traditional shaved ice, which is a lot rougher but more familiar and therefore comforting to me.  Of course, there's no one "right" flavor profile for ice kacang, since everyone uses a slightly different combination of ingredients… Even though there's the obligatory red beans, some grass jelly (青草) and sugar palm seeds, something just didn't taste that familiar.  Oh well… but it was pretty satisfying nonetheless.

Mo' Unni and I were pretty happy campers at the end of the evening.  No, she didn't get her Thai food fix, but we had a relaxing dinner over some pretty yummy food.  Absolutely nothing to complain about here… and now I know where I can go for some comfort food!

1 comment:

JL said...

Diet Boy, I am quite the avid reader of your blog. Most of your postings are of food that are very much out of my price range. This time around, I am glad that you do enjoy the few famous dishes coming out of my country, Malaysia. That Singapore laksa is contentious, nonetheless. Singaporeans like to claim our food as theirs, we like to dispute it. Anyhow, you have touched on what is important for ice kacang or any shaved ice desserts. The ice needs to be fine enough so not to crack teeth and jaws. A drinks hawker in Petaling Jaya Old Town Market does the best 'cendol' with the best ice shavings. Shows again that it does not have to be expensive to be nice.

Looking forward to your future postings.

Best Wishes,
Jason Lee.


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