Thursday, June 6, 2013

Elder wisdom

An old chestnut* states that an eatery must be good if there are a lot of people inside. In Malaysia, this means that if there's a queue outside the place that spills on to the road, most people would bet that the food will blow your mind. That, or they're screening a live badminton final in which a Malaysian is playing. Or the place has a Groupon deal.**

I used to buy into this idea, but now I know 2 things:

1. People attract more people.
2. The quality of a crowded eatery depends on who is crowding the place.

Anatomy of a Malayalee banana leaf meal (how many types are there??) (by The Food Detective)

Observation #1 stems from my peeping tom tendencies. Have you ever looked at the patrons in a crowded restaurant? If they're happily tucking into their food, well and good. If they look testy and their babies are crying, you should take your chances elsewhere. Particularly if the person ahead of you says they've been waiting for an hour (git tae fuck with ye).

Enfant Terrible and I once frequented a very popular banana leaf restaurant in the Telawi area in Bangsar. Popular as in the lunchtime queue spills off the sidewalk and onto the road and waiting times make you late back to the "office", to say nothing of the traffic. 

Once, as we were dutifully queueing, an old gent walked by, paused to take in the silliness, and remarked, "Wah, free ah?" That marked the genesis of Observation #2.

For the record, there is an excellent banana leaf place in Bangsar, but outside the Telawi zone. 

As to who crowds an eatery, I will henceforth first do a headcount of the number of old vs. young people before deciding whether to walk in. This is because most old people are retired, thus have less cash to splash, and will therefore opt for a place that provides better value for money.

Having lived so long, most of the other old people that old people know have "moved on". This means that they are less inclined to do the "see and be seen" thing, and would tend to be more concerned with the more important things in life, i.e., a good meal that doesn't burn a hole in your pocket.

Of course, there are caveats: 

1. If the only old people in a place are a bunch of old dudes and they only have things like Guinness Stout before them, it's probably a front for a casino/"massage parlour"/arcade/all of the above. 
2. If they're there with their family and the kids are screaming and no one is talking to them, allow yourself a moment of sympathy for the morass their life has become before running away.
3. This approach should never be applied to tour groups unless you want to be unhappy.

*The UK definition is that it is an old, stale joke.
**This is Malaysia, and these are the cliches by which we live.

1 comment:

Snuze said...

Interesting observation.

Also, logic would dictate that a deserted place of eatery could serve food faster. Alas, this is not true.

Oh, happy belated Gawai, dear!