Thursday, March 12, 2015

A whole new world

We went to Low Yat Plaza yesterday. Enfant Terrible wanted a new gaming setup and I was reminded why I coined his nickname in the first place. We actually spent the entire day there. Indoors under the fluorescent lighting amid 6 floors of computers, mobile phones, and their respective components and add-ons. Maybe that's why you don't see anyone aged over 30 years working there, unless they're   management or security.

The place is like the United Nations of technology. Some kiosks are staffed by south Asians, others have what look like Indonesian or Myanmar kids asking what mobile phones you want, and there are Malays assembling computer systems in the back while Chinese sales personnel put together quotes for the rainbow of people out front, including 2 big black guys looking for surveillance cameras (!). Everything is still made in China.

There are still very few females though, both buyers and staff. Imagine an outlet catering to women exclusively that goes beyond stocking items in shades of pink?! Anyhoo, they all want to sell you stuff and nobody gets cussed out for not buying anything (anymore).

There's a food court on the lower ground floor; unlike the grimy greasy nightmares of yore, it's well-lit and looks inviting. Caveat: I haven't been to downtown KL in a long while, so anything that doesn't look like something out of a Hong Kong crime drama set looks like a nice place to me. But seriously, they have J.Co whatever donuts there!

Being provincials, we opted for the ever-reliable chicken rice. (Like other local foods, versions can be excellent, good, average, bad, and mediocre.) The curvy 2 ladies working there were clearly the main attraction, being dressed in form-fitting baju kebaya and gauzy headscarves and wearing trowels of makeup.

If you've been there, you'd have recognized my description of Noor Chicken Rice in an instant. The Quran verses are still on the walls, but otherwise, based on earlier pictures taken by other writers, the place looks very different from its initial warung style. In fact, I braced myself for a mighty hit to the wallet: they have a mini chandelier and the chairs are the heavy, gilded "French" type so beloved of aspirational homeowners with more money than taste.

To be fair, not all of the furniture was like that, but the theme was white and gold (reminiscent of a recent dress debate), and there were rolls of damask wallpaper in a corner waiting to be hung.

The most important thing though, was that the food was (still) very good. I've read some comments that "Chinese" chicken rice is better than halal chicken rice but come on, apples and oranges! The Hainanese chicken I ordered was as close to the textbook description imaginable (dip-cooked 7 times each in boiling and cold spiced water; sometimes a clear gelid substance remains from the chicken fat or collagen; the skin is thin, spiced, and tanned, like the skin of a mummy but tastier and more tender... Er). The rice too is different from other chicken rice places, Chinese or otherwise. The menu said it's cooked with lemongrass, ginger, some other spice, and schmaltz. SCHMALTZ. AKA rendered chicken fat.*

The accompanying soup was run-of-the-mill (biasa), but the fresh-cut spring onion made all the difference. Perhaps best of all, their chili sauce is the type that can burn a hole in your tongue if you eat too much of it at once. Too many places use a heavy hand when sweetening their chili sauce** and these are places I would not deign to mention.

Also, we got the rig. We'd arrived at 11 and left at 5. FIVE PM.

*You can cook the rice in chicken broth too, but toasting it in fat is key.
**What's the point of making something that's supposed to be spicy if all you taste is sugar, eh?

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