Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best Damn Breakfast in Manipal

"Are you sick of Sushi King yet? Yes leh? Dont worry, being as understanding as I am, I am not gonna write about Sushi King today. Today we talk about Genji, okay?" *showing evil grin to s3nw4i*

Rabbit, in her Genji @ PJ Hilton Post


I subscribe to about 20 blogs, and I found that the frequency of bloggers writing food review posts was such that every single day, there is at least one food post for me to read (while simultaneously beating my head on my desk in jealous agony). I’m an enormous1 foodie, and the first month I was back here in Manipal had been particularly trying with all these vivid, gazillion-megapixel-photographs of fine dining taunting my healthy, healthy appetite.

There was Su Ann of quaintly.net’s post on Hajime that damn near made me want to board the next flight to Japan, Mitch Chin’s double threat of Sheraton Imperial’s Botanical Coffee House and (also) Hajime posts back-to-back, Rabbit’s Genji, tong-sui and some-chinese-restaurant-that-also-serve-papadoms posts, Jen’s all-about-ribs post, Shi Han's all-Malaysian-goody-line-up post and also miscellaneous here-and-theres on many, many different blogs that I cannot find the strength to locate and mention. Everytime I see a post about food, I take it personally and go; "How on earth I’m going to survive the next one-and-a-half-years here in India? OMGWTFBBQKLCC!"

Okay, calm down, k0k. Remember that your blood pressure is higher than your 60-year-old Dad’s2.

Well, you know what they always say? If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em. So welcome, Dear Readers to the first of k0k bl0k’s Manipal Epicurean Reviews;

The Sweet Bun Place

Luckily, no one noticed my photographing the place, or they’d go all “Crazy Chinese tourist!” on me.

Here’s a rarely-visited spot for most Malaysian prisoners students of Manipal, though many had no doubt seen it when they go the post-office monthly to pick up the Maggi Mee ration their parents send them. It’s located right across the main street from the post office and in front of the police station (formerly the Nehru Memorial Library). Easy enough directives? No need for a map, I trust? Good, because I’m fresh out of crayons.

The Sweet Bun Boss (Oh damn, I couldn’t stop laughing when I wrote this caption).

Now for a bit of history;

The Sweet Bun Place started initially as a wooden push-cart, which is still there as you can see in the picture above (look real careful-like and you can spot a wheel bottom left). One day, the Sweet Bun Boss (haha) got tired of pushing his little cart around and decided to erect a dilapidated wooden shack around it. So here it’s rooted, till today.

And do you know why it’s called the Sweet Bun Place?

Here’s why; 70 years ago, a pair of lovers shared a sweet bun right on this spot right before they parted because the girl’s family was moving to Kerala. But they promised each other that they’d meet here again a decade later and get married. So, true to his words, the man came back to this spot ten years later to wait for his bride-to-be, which didn’t turn up. He waited three nights and three days before dying of dysenteric bloody diarrhoea due to a Shigella infection he contracted from a sweet bun he consumed while waiting. And henceforth, this place was always known as the Sweet Bun Place to commemorate the undying romance and unhygie…

Okay, that’s a crock-load of cock. It’s actually called that because it has no name and I went there for the first time after my ex-roomie told me that their sweet buns kick ass. If my maiden visit was to try their idli, it might have easily been dubbed the 'Idli Place' instead. Or 'Poori Place'. Or 'Parota Place' – well, you get my drift.

Authentic Indian dining experience.

Like most of the food posts I read, there is usually some description offered about the eatery’s furnishings, d├ęcor, atmosphere, so I’ll stick with the format;

First thing you’ll notice about this place is that almost everything is painted blue; the benches, tables, the now-immobile push-cart – all of them were coordinated in the same sky blue to create a serene ambience that is both pleasing to the eye and calming to the soul. Even the canvas awning was blue, so the birds flying overhead can enjoy it too.

Another thing you’ll notice immediately is that the sitting and dining fixtures were all authentic, hand-made pieces – all lovingly built by the Sweet Bun Boss himself. And in reflection of his rebellious, chaotic sense of artistry, no two benches or tables in this establishment are made exactly the same.

It’s either that or he could not afford a measuring tape.

The communal urn.

Aside from his modern views on art, the Sweet Bun Boss is also a practical minimalist. On every table, you’ll find a stainless steel urn about 15 inches tall which serves a dual function as a receptacle of drinking water and as a dispenser of hand-washing water. In the course of their meals, strangers dining on the same table will take turns(!) drinking straight from the urn (a quaint custom which I had declined to partake). And upon completion of eating, they would pour the urn’s content onto their hands for the purpose of cleansing their fingers.

Ick.

The kitchen area.

And don’t you just love to have your food prepared right in front of you?

I particularly like the way the chef bitch-slap the sweet bun dough. Such emotion. Such majestic power…

Sweet bun and coffee.

Behold the golden-brown, crispy exterior of a sweet bun – a snack of popular repute in small town Manipal (and probably the rest of India too for all I know). Nothing shakes oneself out of the morning doldrums like the satisfaction of breaking a hot, fresh sweet bun into two and releasing a cloud of fragrant steam from its white, hollow interior. It tastes good on its own, having a crunchy texture and sweet taste, but some prefer to dip theirs into coffee or tea to soak up the goodness of the beverages before consumption. Whichever way you like it, it’s superb nonetheless.

If you think sweet buns are those soggy, limp, cold crap they sell behind the Dissection Hall Building every morning, you have obviously never tasted the ones they serve in the Sweet Bun Place. Hey, the place is called that for a reason, y’know?

And notice the funny, extra-deep saucer in which the stainless steel cup of coffee stood? You’re suppose to pour the cup’s content into the saucer and sip from it. How rad is that? – your very own teh-tarik set!

Poori and some special sauce/whatever they serve with it.

However, my favourite dish here is their poori; a fluffy, paper-thin, unleavened bread made from whole-grain durum wheat flour with water and salt, and deep fried in vegetable oil (though the dish itself is not at all greasy). They are like little balloons filled with hot air, and I daresay if you drop one, it’ll probably float slowly to the ground. It’s usually served with dal (lentils) or bhaji (a simple vegetable curry that contains onions) but at the Sweet Bun Place, they’ll give you a small bowl of special sauce/whatever to go with it.

Personally, I prefer the special sauce/whatever they serve at the Sweet Bun Place over dal or bhaji. It’s a savoury stuff containing little chewable tomato cubes that lend the mixture a hint of sweetness which I like very much. The conventional way of eating poori is to tear little pieces of it and use them to scoop up the tomato bits (or dal or bhaji; whichever the case may be). I’d ask for a couple of spoons usually, and the Sweet Bun Boss now knew me well enough to give me the cutleries whenever I come without my asking.

The absolute kicker3 of this place is its price. The whole meal; sweet bun + poori set + coffee cost me only 13 rupees. That’s like 1 ringgit for a perfectly wholesome and delicious breakfast. Beat that!

Anyway, if you’re new in Manipal, the Sweet Bun Place is definitely not the best of places to go for eats. You’ll need to start off with the less 'adventurous' eating places to build up your body's immune system first or – well – you’ll end up like dysenteric-bloody-diarrhoea-lover-boy I talked about earlier.


The connoisseur,
k0k s3n w4i

1 Not in its literal sense, of course.
2 Yes. True. Sadly - and my dad will not let me forget that.
3 Boy, I just love this word.

16 comments:

Innocent^^Guy said...

ah..poori...reminds me of the nites in INTI where I and "her" actually sat down together and share one of those while talking about us throughout the night...

I love POORI!

bubbly soda said...

That is worth eating! I am sure it taste superb! Though the drinking water is... not pleasing. Ta pau back for me next time. ok???

michellesy the glutton said...

Sweet Bun Boss + Bitch Slap Sweet Bun Dough + Erect = AHAAHAHAHH

Am I seeing a pattern here? A slightly leery one perhaps? =P

The food does look extremely good though *drools* And at those prices, who could refuse?

I know, I know, Australia does has a cuisine of its own I guess, but heh, when you've had your 30th plate of nasi lemak with broccoli in it, you'll get why I'm so...over......this entire crock of shit.

Btw, one more food site to add to your agony: www.babeinthecitykl.blogspot.com has the awesomest amount of food links ever.

Guess where I go for some self-torture late at night when there's nothing to eat here *sobs*

ps: Are you sure your dad isn't on cholesterol medication? *looks quizzical*

babyfiona said...

WAH! The Poori lookes Nice to eat Yum yum!

fuolornis said...

that's the only place i will never step foot on or ride my bike there.

One of the shigella and salmonella infested place in manipal. Haha.

U shld cover more place though. We are running out of place to eat nowadays

Rabbit said...

When I first read this post of yours, I was like "eh this looks familiar". *smacks forehead*

That poori does look like an extremely big curry puff to me. Keke!
I want poori la s3nw4i! One bite can? *stare at s3nw4i*

pinkpau said...

omg that bun looks damn nice. ok since u made me jealous, i guess we're even now...

i heart poori!

innshan said...

ah~long time didn't go there dy. Blame the fence d police put up! I'm too lazy to make a big turn to that stall. I miss their chicken puffs btw~

k0k s3n w4i said...

@innocent^^guy

wth, poori also became romance food. but it's cool, just sitting and talking about 'us'... *sigh*

@melly

Cheh. Tapau not nice d la. The point is to eat them hot and crispy. You come over here and try la!

P.S. where's my malacca nyonya laksa?

@michellesy the gutton

leery pattern? only the one in your head, hon. you need to cut down on your indulgence in "special DVDs" XD

And we have lots of nasi lemak counterfeit here too - but the sambal is nvr quite nearly home.

I wish the plague on you, mitch! that blog u rec is killing me. and even sweet buns taste bland looking at those pics *drools*

P.S. him on statins?! hmmm... possible. he's a crafty old fox, my old man.

@babyfiona

Learn how to make for your MIL, haha! I you can find the recipe anywhere - it looked simple enuf to make.

@fuolornis

But you eat at Your Choice and CHaraka, wor. The food there is actually a lot dirtier.

But no one I know got diarrhoea at sweet bun place yet as far as I remember. Try la, aiyo.

P.S. Cover more place? Okay. Check next post ;)

@rabbit

Aiks, full quote fr your blog wei, ahaks. I fill one up with helium and float it back to Malaysia to you, k? No guarantee reach mia, k?

@pinkpau

OMGWTFBBQNEP! It's pinkpau!!! but-just-hold-on-a-cotton-picking-second-here *scrutinize real closely with one eye* You for real?

And since when unagi and sweet buns are equals? "-_o

@innshan

Aiyo, you got ur Pulsar d not say you can take the police path even if u want to right? Sad la u. Sweet Bun Boss miss you!

michelleg said...

wah got pinkpau giving comments ady!! haha.. so still not admitting that ur famous now?

looks nice and cheap the food there!! i think i'll love poori alot. they do remind me of cotton candy floss. fluffy~

baby sa said...

it looks so delicious!!!!!!
oh my god!!!
you're making me so hungry...

Wan Yean said...

macam ham chim peng.

k0k s3n w4i said...

@michelleg

Chiu. Not famous la. She come give face because I spammed her comment box so frequently. LoL.

@baby sa

Come let's trade places. You come live in India and I go back to good ol' Malaysia for good ol' Malaysian food. Win Win.

@wan yean

My thoughts exactly when I first saw it, man.

mrbherng said...

Didn't have time to read you r entire post but just the first paragraph and looking at the pictures (need time for the bloody freaking books).. so you know what, you will be getting a food post from me real soon ( a week or two??) Don't salivate and spoil your keyboard then =P

michellesy the victim of (brisbane) food poisoning said...

LOL - that food blog is pretty yummylicious isn't it?

Now, now, don't wish the black death on me, it's only fair that everyone in exile from char kuay teow and ais kacang has to suffer together *winks*

ps: OMGWTFBBQIKANBAKAR!!!!! One Pinkpau coming right up =)

pps: In case you couldn't tell from my nick, I'm sick as a dog atm - from dodgy TAKEAWAY SPRING ROLLS. WHICH WERE SO DODGY I DIDN'T EVEN ENJOY THEM. Why? Why? WHY IS LIFE SO UNFAIR? *sobs*

k0k s3n w4i said...

@mrbherng

DOn't bother with the reading bit. It was mostly tripe anyway :)

You consider a week or two soon, Ven? Haha.

Bring it on, I'd like to see what kinda stuff u eat at Cardiff (or on your Barcelona trip)

@michellesy the food poisoning victim

Insanely so. and indeed, misery loves company, as long as the others get to be more miserable than you! At least you're getting mcD's, KFC and what-nots! *cries*

ps: OMGWTFBBQFISHBALLSOUP right?!!!

pps: Oh the irony! You got it in a first rate country with first rate sewage treatment and first rate hygiene. hope it wasn't too bad. get well soon, k?