Wouldn’t it be nice if I could join Martin on this assignment? A food tasting for the Ramadhan Buffett at a swanky restaurant in town.
That was the thought sent to the universe and, thereafter, forgotten. Lo and behold, a few days later, Martin sent an invitation. I jumped at the chance and said yes.
The day is now here. I make my way to KLCC and meet up with Martin. He introduces me to two lovely ladies. Let’s just call them D and P for now for I don’t know if they’d like to be identified. Anyway, once pleasantries are exchanged, we make our way to Chakri Palace for what promises to be an evening of deliciousness.
The Marketing Manager greets us at the entrance of the restaurant. I must admit that I dare not look into the eyes of the other seated patrons. I can feel their hunger as they wait for the appropriate time to break their Ramadhan fast.
One look at the opulent setting and food laid out for us in the private room and I’m worried. Have I starved myself long enough in the past week? How am I going to burn all this off since I’m still on this diet? On the good side, though, I will probably sleep very well tonight as the food looks divine.
So as not to look like an absolute glutton, I busy myself with the menu card and learn a little more about the restaurant. This is some of what I read:
Chakri Palace was founded in 1999 in our quest to bring the finest Thai cuisine to Malaysia. ‘Chakri’ represents the current ruling house of Thailand; ‘Palace’ allows guests to experience the exquisite taste of Thai cuisine like royalty.
‘Chakri’ is also a word that has Sanskrit origin; it means wheel.
I glance around the place and true enough, there’s a gigantic portrait of King Chulalongkorn. Seeing this, I am reminded of a story about this king and his connection with my home town of Alor Setar. It’s well known that the musical instruments used by royalty in Kedah (more commonly known as ‘Nobat’) is special. They are used during very specific occasions such as the Sultan’s birthday or coronation. If I remember my history correctly, there was only one other time the Nobat was used during an official welcome for a head of state other than the Sultan of Kedah: When King Chulalongkorn visited Kedah state in 1896.
My reverie is interrupted when a waiter walks in to add even more food to the table. There’s lots. So, I’m going to concentrate on those that I eat.
The first is called ‘Tom Yum Prawn Soup’. The word I would use for this dish is ‘deceptive’. When I’ve order this dish at other restaurants, the soup has a reddish tinge to it. This one is clear and I assume it won’t be spicy. A minute later, mouth on fire, all I can think of is how foolish I am. Just because it doesn’t look like hot doesn’t mean it’s not hot.
This ‘heat-wave’ continues with all the other dishes, from the ‘Thai Papaya Salad with Tuna’, ‘Stir Fried Beancurd with Hot Basil Leaves’ and ‘Green Curry Crab Meat with Rice Noodles’.
None of this means that I can’t taste the food. In fact, once I am past the heat, I savour the delicate taste of each dish. As I call for the waiter and request more water, the Marketing Manager tells us all: “We don’t use any preservatives. No MSG.”
D and P are quick to respond: “Ah! Good. If not, we’d be drinking lots of water.”
My favourite dish, by far, is one of the last ones – ‘Premium Crab Ball in Yellow Curry’. It’s beautifully delicate and melts in the mouth.
As I sit back to take a breather, so do the others. The conversation veers to things a little more personal than work. And soon, the night comes to an end. So as not to make this piece very long, I shall list the one conversation that will make laugh for a long time to come. (I have the order of things, but you’ll get the drift).
For ease of reference, everyone will be referred to by their initials. D and P, you already know. M will be Martin. A is me (Aneeta). MM will be the Marketing Manager.
D: Oh, I’m so full. There are things I can’t take.
M: Yah. D follows the blood type diet.
A: Blood type diet? Oh God. I can’t even remember what my blood type is.
M: You can’t?
A: It must be the most normal one.
D: That would be ‘O’.
A: So, what am I not supposed to eat?
[D fiddles with her phone then reads some stuff off the screen.]
D: No dairy.
[I say nothing for I have dairy every day. In fact, one of the few things that helps me sleep at night is a glass of milk.]
P: I think I’m A. I know I can’t take pasta sauce.
[D fiddles again with her phone.]
P: Yeah. But I like seafood. The food here’s great.
A: I really liked the sotong.
P: That was great. Actually, all the seafood is great. Lucky there was no octopus.
[We all nod.]
P: I don’t eat octopus because they’re insightful.
[I lean forward. Did I hear right?]
A: Did you just say you don’t eat octopus because they’re insightful?
[She nods, nonchalant.]
A: I can understand if you’re allergic to octopus. Some people don’t like those suction things on their tentacles. They think they’ll stick to the tongue. But…
[I frown and look at her closely.]
P: Yeah! They’re insightful.
I look at the others around the table. We burst out laughing, but there is an underlying sense that she’s quite serious. Maybe, I should reconsider eating octopus in the future as well. After all, it doesn’t seem right to an insightful octopus. Would you?
- all the images used in this post are courtesy of Chakri Palace, KLCC
- to make a reservation, please visit http://www.chakri.com.my
By Aneeta Sundararaj
(16 June 2016)