The temperature is cooling. It’s perfectly 13oC in here. Kings of Convenience’s Mrs. Cold is playing in the background. In my hand, a chilled bottle of Sapporo Black Label. The view from here is beautiful – snowcapped mountains and a misty, turquoise lake...
A pair of elderly women, followed by a man in his 50s shared my table at the food centre. Next to me was a group of French, digging into some fiery red mutton curry, mee goreng and rojak. In between family gossips, newspapers and the hot-looking dishes, they all turned my way, perhaps disturbed by my appearance. I guess they’d never seen a person drenched in sweat drinking a bowl of mutton soup before. It was a blazing hot afternoon and the oscillating wall mounted fans did absolutely nothing for me. The cool fantasy I created didn’t help much either and before long, I’d used up the last of my very few sheets of tissue hidden in the forgotten compartment of my work/study bag since 2008.
But it was really good, this bowl of mutton soup! Most that I’ve tried were defected by one thing or another. Usually, it’s the tastelessness of the soup that annoys me the most. I liked the pronounced, appropriate blend of spices and when combined with a slight sweetness (and gaminess) from parts of the goat, was appetizing. The generous use of chilli and pepper increased my perspiration rate by ~100% but I enjoyed the heat a lot. Toppings like fried shallots and chopped coriander gave extra flavours. In fact, I’d say that a bowl of sup kambing is almost incomplete without them. Worth mentioning as well were the tender, scissors-cut pieces of mutton, added into the bowl just before the pouring of the soup. Other parts offered include the tongue, brain, ribs and leg.
I took notice of the long queues at the nasi lemak stalls across Bahrakath.
At 9.30 pm, the rather small food centre felt cosy, unlike the claustrophobia-inducing lunchtime. The queues at the nasi lemak stalls had dwindled to a scatter of few customers. I came for the complete set called the Royal Rumble that includes all the side dishes available such as otak-otak, fried chicken wing, fish and egg. Except for the wing, the rest of the sides were sold out for the day. No regrets, really. And if I were to return, I might just order the same thing and request for more of the wonderful sambal. I belong to the cult that worships the thick, slightly tangy sambal and Selera Rasa’s interpretation, though not as tangy or savoury as I would have liked it, was still way better than many. It was not runny too - another plus. A tinge of enjoyable sweetness was provided by the minced shallots. The use of basmati rice, to me, was more of a novelty than being essential. Given the reasonable prices and good food, it's no wonder that the stall is still doing well after all these years.
I had decided to visit this food centre only at night, around 10 pm to be precise. This is when I get my nasi lemak and sambal without having to wait in line, just as they prepare to close for the day. As far as the sup kambing is concerned, the cooling night breeze should fairly prevent me from transforming into that scary sweatman. It gets uglier if I forget to shave.
Note: The weather has been crazy since the lunar new year. Rain pours as frequent as my toilet visits and when not, the scorching heat can be conveniently used to fry crunchy lard cubes for Hokkien mee. On several occasions, as I was stuck in the bus or train with the air conditioning system on full blast and a view of the unpredictable rain, I get warmed up by reminding myself of the delicious, spicy food I had in recent memory. Hence this post.
Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak (Stall No. 2)
Bahrakath Mutton Soup King (Stall No. 10)
2 Adam Road
Adam Road Food Centre