WARNING: This entry contains materials which are detrimental to your state of mind especially when you are fasting. Read at your own risk and wipe keyboard soon after. I am not responsible for anyone breaking their fast.
They came from near and far. They braved the evening rush and heavy traffic to get to west London. SMS’es were zooming in all directions. Word travelled fast that crab sambal was on the menu at Holiday Villa.
I was doing some work when I had a call from atok and I casually mentioned that we should meet up forberbuka . He was iffy about today and I suggested we meet up on a day Holiday Villa serves ketam – sambal ketam, ketam kari masak lemak, anything as long as it has eight (or is it ten) legs. Atok has a direct line to the hotel’s kitchen and by the time he had the confirmation, I was doing some work in a studio in Soho. A very brief sms – “crab sambal today – meet at holiday villa”. Such was the urgency of the message that I had to act fast. I put on a very serious voice to phone the children to eat by themselves. I had cooked earlier and that somehow lessened the guilt. I even invited Taufiq, another ketam lover, over – but he declined. I even phoned ewok .
Urgent and important matters like this need fast and efficient execution. I too have a direct line to the manager and phoned him immediately. Apparently, more people got wind of the unfortunate delicious crabs still simmering in the sambal on the stove, but they had already made reservations...that sort of reduced my portion somewhat. So I booked a table for five...so did atok – such was the enthusiasm.
By 6.30, the restaurant of Holiday Villa was already packed and the queue to the buffet bar was already long. The rush was about to begin. Luckily I had ordered my Nescafe tarek before going to do my asar. The restaurant was unusually full – there’s a table booked by staff from the High Commission, the Tourism director and deputy and families were there, an old, old friend, Millie Danker from those good old days at the NST was also there with some friends of hers.
It was quite an occasion – and everyone had heard about the crab sambal and everyone forgot their table manners and ate crabs as they should be eaten – with fingers and mess all over the table.
Atok and family were still no where to be seen – apparently they were stuck on the A40, “terrible jam”, came the sms, “an accident at Slough!” Hmmm and the crab was fast going leaving legs and claws under the precious sambal. Chef Syawal kept some crab claws for Atok. Millie begged Syawal for some – “claws pun jadilah...anak saya nak datang!” – she pleaded. And she got her claws and one happy daughter.
When Atok and Hazel, kakak and adik arrived, all the way from Oxford, they were happy to see the claws, which kakak promptly demolished. I played nanny and extracted crab meat from every possible hidden parts of the crab for kakak.
Actually I wouldn’t do justice if I didnt mention the other dishes that Holiday Villa served last night. There was kepah goreng sambal, which was just as yummy. Nasi minyak bercolour-colour, beehoon goreng, ayam goreng berempah, kari terung dengan labu, brocolli goreng dengan bawang putih and all the kerabus and ulams. The starter was soup ekor tom yam style. All these to wash down with air serbat and then good old fashion Malay kuehs. Throughout Ramadan, Holiday Villa offers these and many more - a different menu everyday! There's mee mamak on Thursday - by the way!
Well, I did phone the children a few times to see that they were all right. Such a responsible mum, I was and I told Taufiq – "You didn’t miss much – the crab wasn’t as good", I said. "Mama pun tak makan banyak". White lies are sometimes necessary!