By Stella A. Estremera
Goin' Places

I WAS on my way to accompany my friends Bob and Feyma who were summoned over at the barangay hall because their *&^^$$# neighbor. Suffice it to say I've never met an uglier old woman whom you'd love to be your enemy's neighbor (Poor Bob and Feyma, they don't deserve such monsters). But that's not the story here. It's how I discovered this place because I was trying to calm myself inside the taxi on my way back to the office.

Still fuming but trying hard to convince myself that it wasn't my battle (although I'd love to sock that skewed face of the old woman), I took deep breaths, let my brain go blank, thinking, seeing, feeling nothing. It was as I released my short meditation that the sound of the radio playing in the taxi seeped into my consciousness. First thing I noticed was the unnatural, put-on English conversation of the radio advertisement. But I soon realized it was all about a restaurant. Never mind the put-on, stilted, unnatural accent, I listened on until the end to catch where the place was.

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Suffice it to say, I only remember it was Malaysian and since I really waited for it, I remembered too that it was beside the Carmelite Church. And so the trio volted in anew -- Imee, Charmaine, and I (the other regular ones named Deng and Trish are busy flying around the Philippines and the world I can hardly catch up with them) -- to do what we love doing best: eat.

Now... where is it? The advertisement is right, it's right beside the Carmelite Church in Lanang. But for easier navigation, it's right inside the Jetti gas station compound beside the Carmelite Church, and the name is, "Taste of Malaysia."

That was one radio advertisement I will be forever grateful for because inside the restaurant is real Malaysian food. Whew! (Uh, yes, that's the chili doing its job.)

We ordered the bean sprouts with salted fish because it was the most unfamiliar veggie dish there. We also got prawn curry, chicken liver satay, and shrimp omelette with salted fish fried rice.

First, service is fast, very fast.

Second, the curry sauce can burn a less chili-inclined tongue, so better be warned. (I asked for additional chopped chili just to get into the real groove of it). You can always request for a milder blend, the father of the owner cum kitchen chief seems to be very amiable.

The peanut sauce of the liver satay is the best I've ever tasted, very light, not eekily sweet.

Third, their salted fish is more like the naturally salted fish we can get from the deep-sea fishers of General Santos. Meaning, it's not really salty, and so tastes better.

The bean sprout is good and so is the omelette. But the curry sauce is the best. Like tongue-burning best.

We told the waiter we were on diet and so ordered only fried rice that the waiter said was good for two. "We'll just share," I said. That was wishful thinking of course as we ended up ordering another cup of plain rice. The sauce was that good.

Now the story...

The owner, we forgot to ask his name, who checked on us and how we were enjoying the food said they're real Malaysian and even showed his Malaysian driver's license to prove it. Kota Kinabalu, he said. They were once residents of Cebu for four years, they also had a restaurant there. But they closed it and moved here because "Cebu was giving them a lot of problems". What those problems were, we didn't have the gumption to ask. He also didn't elaborate, so Imee talked about playing golf in Kota Kinabalu instead, which he said he also does. He mentioned something about enjoying free membership in this "small" golf club whose course he designed. "Just small," he said, nothing like the ones Jack Nicklaus and other golf greats design. Still... interesting.

Most interesting is the food. Try it some time, but remember to ask if the food you're ordering is hot. With Malaysians and our other Southeast Asian neighbors, you can never tell how spicy their food can get. Lucky me (unlucky you)...

By the way, if you still cannot figure out where this place is, just drive down J.P. Laurel Avenue in Lanang and look for the yellow monster pick-up with "Juicy Fruit" painted on it squashing a Maligaya Taxi. It's that Jetti station.