Friday, May 27, 2011

Kafe An Nasuha Beverages

The Masjid India vicinity is especially stark and quiet pass the midnight hour. It’s the absolute contrast to the thriving, colourful daytime when mercantile activities are in full swing. I felt like an abductee, blindfold removed as I was led to a strip of old shoplots along Lorong Bunus 1, after crossing a few dark lanes. Here, it was bright and lively. Who would have thought? A few Mamak (Indian-Muslim) restaurants were hiving, particularly one with stools and tables spilt to the adjacent units. That’s where we ate.

We found a communal table and shared it with a few others that seemed hurried. It’s not strange, but a courteous act as they observed the influx that increased by the minute. Naturally, we followed suit.

There’s no need for any recommendation when every table is piled with the same servings of roti banjir spesial and pre-packed pyramidal nasi lemak.

One can probably find similar, rather mechanical food at any Mamak stall across the city but sipping teh halia or masala tea and downing chunks of fried bread drenched in dhal curry with sambal and runny eggs by the Klang River in a historical that's something special. And that's why we keep coming back to An Nasuha.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fine Palate Café (and the Singapore Art Museum)

Part of Quiet Rooms (2009), an installation of charcoal drawings on paper collage by Malaysian artist Nadiah Bamadhaj.

Art is something that strikes me as beautiful. Like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But modern art, to me, is rather a case of nebulosity. During my travels to some of the major cities in the world, I try to fulfill my obligation as a (shamelessly) savvy tourist by visiting some of their infamous, quintessential modern art galleries/museums. From the video of a progressively rotting plate of fruits at the Tate Modern to the haunting, ghostly images and installations at the Guggenheim, the artistes’ expressions have exponentially expanded my conservative outlook of the arts itself. I begin to question the complexity of modern thinking and if that does us more good than bad. And like it or not, I often leave these places feeling more confused, but relieved. Does that make any sense at all?

I might not have understood or appreciated some of the exhibits at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) but solely for showcasing contemporary pieces of some of the renowned artistes in this region, its effort should be applauded. Also, the architecture and facilities are, in my opinion, of world-class standard.

Truth be told, it was neither the love of art nor the Biennale hype that brought us here. SAM was a side trip after a visit to the nearby Fine Palate Café.

It’s really rare of us to brunch at cafés, mainly because of the expected typical offerings - toasts, bacon, poached eggs, pancakes, etc. But there were some interesting dishes on the menu that caught our attention - sesame buckwheat noodles and tuna with capellini. The buckwheat noodles (soba), with its natural tinge of salt, were dressed with an aromatic goma (sesame) oil. A curl of the soba with the seared, crunchy prawn (although I do question the size of the described “tiger prawn”) was simplistically a delight. I also enjoyed the tuna with capellini very much. The tuna chunks were succulent and fresh while the mixture of shoyu and mayonnaise was tasty without being confusing. Unlike some of the art pieces. I should also mention the complimentary fluffy, toasted bread and slightly tangy dip that I assume to consist mainly of tomatoes and bell peppers.

The arts didn’t just end at SAM. At the nearby SAM at 8Q, in conjunction with the Singapore Biennale 2011 Open House campaign, a few more exhibitions were offered to the public for free that day. At the mini theatre, an independent film was being shown. It was about death. By then, I knew I had enough for the day and dragged myself out to the adjacent lounge where a few modern chairs were placed. It was cool and quiet. I found myself the most comfortable spot and napped.

Singapore Art Museum
71 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189555
Tel: (+65) 6332 3222

Fine Palate Café
51 Waterloo Street
#01-04/05 Singapore 187969
Tel: (+65) 6336 5120

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Indomee Burger @ Bestari

A few years back, when a good friend said that Bestari's where the best Indomee Goreng can be found, I was intrigued. How much more can one do with a simple pack of dry-tossed instant mee (noodle)? As I'd suspected, they'd merely added minced beef and a sunny side up. But this Indomee Goreng, they call it Indomee Burger, was tasty. When you have all the seasonings from the sachets and beef patty, it has to be. Bestari, like many nasi kandar chains conglomerating the city, offers an extensive menu that's beyond common culinary vocabulary. For example, what the heck is Mee Kahwin? I'd discovered later that it's a combination of mee rebus and Mamak-style rojak. However, another friend said that it's nothing more than a mixture or bee hoon (rice vermicelli) and egg noodles. I’d yet to give it a try.

My friends really, really enjoy the Indomee Burger here. They like it so much to declare this the best version of Indomee Goreng in the world. And just like that, we’ve been hanging out here for the longest time. At this branch in Desa Hartamas, we’d shared many interesting, ambitious conversations and recovered from extreme inebriation with the cups of hot kopi O and teh halia (ginger tea). For me, it’s more of the company than anything else.

We’ve been taking a hiatus from Bestari to make way for exams, business trips and conferences. Yes, the more important but less fun things in life. So, when we met up here two weeks ago, you can imagine how long we’d actually stayed to catch up on one another. They had their favourite Indomee Burger (of course), while I had myself some hot beverages to take away the tipsiness from consuming way too much wine at a fantastic party that took place just a few hours earlier.

We must have stayed until 2 in the morning that day before deciding to drive around KL to enjoy the vibrancy of the city’s nightlife. A few hours later, I was on my way back to Singapore, bringing with me a weekend that many would call wasted, unconstructive and unhealthy. Well, I had fun.