A face from the past reappeared. Seeing Phillip again takes me back to the dark days of the Service where we spent a few months in a mechanics' course on the the repair and maintainence of the AMX-13 armoured fighting vehicle, a WW2 relic even back then. Actually the days on course were the brighter days with more freedom, shorter hours and less responsibility. The remainder of my 2 years in Service were best passed over quickly.
Today Phillip runs Baba King. Don't underestimate the quality of the cuisine from the fast-food sounding name. Arby introduced the place to us as a must-try, hence the drive up to the Expo for a Peranakan lunch.
We had the usual babi pongteh and chix buah keluak, staples of Peranakan fare, cooked very tender and flavourful. The sides were quite intriguing: a traditional otah -- the kind where the fish is still intact rather than mulched up into a paste -- baked brinjal (eggplant) with lots of chilli sauce and a homemade black sauce concoction to take the purple edge off the taste, and where I find the taste of ngoh hiang (I have no translation for this... um, five-spice roll?) too overwhelming, this version is more subtle in flavour which I prefer. For dessert Arby recommended the pulot hitam served with a liberal spoonful of XO in the mix, but my history with alcohol has not been a happy one, so I opted for the gula melaka sago instead. Served with sprig of mint, the sago pudding finished light and refreshing.
Whomever Phillip is keeping in the kitchen has got to be a Nyonya treasure. Baba King is about authentic Peranakan food, and what we get here is quite a match for the food we had in Malacca, a.k.a. Nyonya Central.
Finally managed to squeeze a good lunch with friends out of this week. We picked a great place, and I found an old friend. Now I'm happy. :D
P.S. The silly BFC non-meeting in the morning did wonders for my spirits too. It was painful to watch President Tommy struggle through the food on his plate, but the company was good and I'm grateful for the break.