Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Jen and the Great Jalan Ampang Adventure

"Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions date descry."

Thomas Gray, English poet and classical scholar

I'm sure everyone, at one time or another, have once been pitted against the English essay topic that goes something like "describe the worst day of your life", "a very bad day", "a day you wish to forget", or a yet another variation of the instruction that demands your narration of the mostest foulestest 24 hours you ever experienced (or are able to imagine) in your life. It's a cult favourite of the English teachers' coven, and the standard manner 90% of the students cursed with this writing task will begin their assignation in a manner very much like this;

"I woke up with a start, realising that I was hopelessly late..."1

That's pretty much how my last Saturday began. And I thank all gods both worshiped and forgotten that it wasn't the "worst day of my life". It's rather far from it actually. Stow the questions and read on.

Saturday was the first time ever in my life that I'm meeting someone off the internet - and she goes by the name of Jen, the authoress of the incredibly entertaining Dare You Read On? weblog.

The plan is this; both of us agreed to meet at Ikea at 11.00 am because I was looking to buy a new bookshelf. My books already filed a complained regarding the decline of their standard of living of late caused by overpopulation. You know me - anything to keep my babies happy. And of course, one does not go furniture shopping without the company of a girl. Jen (bless her) had agreed to fill that vacancy.

Here's the sum of my problems; I woke up at 10.30 am. I live in Malacca. Ikea is in KL.

On a side note, I wonder if the folks in Selangor ever got pissed that their entire state is constantly being overshadowed by a tiny smudgin' of a dot on the map in the middle of their land. I mean, we always refer to most of the provinces in Selangor (the happening ones anyway) with the lump name of "KL". I bet they feel exactly how the people in Sabah felt when people say that Sabah is a city in Sarawak.

Oh darn, I digressed.

So, as I was saying; It's a flippin' minimum of two hours of travel in between, and I haven't even showered or brushed my teeth! I bolted out of bed with a bloodcurdling scream. Screams are therapeutic. I screamed while I was in the bathroom. I screamed while I pack my overnight bag. I screamed till I was zipping along the Ayer Keroh freeway. I stopped screaming for a minute at the tollbooth prior to entering the North-South Highway because I was afraid they might not let me through (they screen for nutters, I heard) - and I screamed for the first couple of kilometres there till I shut myself up with a can of coffee.

"If you aren't at Ikea yet, stay home! I'll come pick you up," I SMS'ed Jen.

"Hey, I'm running late a bit. Be there by 11.30 am. Sorry!" she replied.

"Not as late as I'm going to be. Take all the time you need. I'm going to be 2 hours late... earliest," I said, tossed the phone onto the passenger seat with all the macho-ness I can muster, screamed once more for luck, and floored the accelerator.

I reached KL in and hour and fifteen minutes. I officially broke all my personal land speed records. Fortunately, Jen's perfectly cool with me being so bloody late. Ain't she nice? It's either that or people are routinely 2 hours late for dates in KL.

Here's what Jen and I did in Ikea;
  • Examined every bookshelf in Ikea, trying to decide which one could fit in my 'ickle two-doored Vitara.
  • Measured by the interior of my 'ickle car with one of Ikea's handy paper tape measures.
  • Cursed my 'ickle car for being so darn 'ickle.
  • Gave up on the bookshelf and bought a wastepaper basket instead.

Then we moseyed over to The Curve where we;
  • Had lunch at Itallianies (or whichever way it's supposed to be spelt). This marked an upgrade in my status as a self-professed epicurean, as all my previous experiences with Italian food did not transcend Pizza Hut. How peasant of me.
  • Visited the Borders bookstore there.
  • Checked out the Cineleisure cineplex and scoffed at their movie selection.


KLCC was our next stop;
  • And natcherly2, Kinokuniya was where we headed first. I bought two shopping bags' worth of new reads. Happiness is such a simple thing for me; just oodles and oodles of good books. It's been ages since I visited a bookshop with a fellow book-lover.
  • Talked - she, about her marketing course, and me, about crummy ol' medicine - over a drink in KLCC's foodcourt (where it's so posh it has a McDonald's in it).

At a little past 7.00 pm, we headed out of KLCC, marking the beginning of our titular Great Jalan Ampang Adventure.

So what exactly is the Great Jalan Ampang Adventure?

I'll tell you;

It involved driving around the city centre of KL and going all excited-like whenever we saw a road sign pointing to Jalan Ampang. We would then follow that road sign. and drive till we are lost again. After about two hours or so of such a futile exercise, we came to the conclusion that Jalan Ampang is either is very, very long, or there was more than one Jalan Ampang in KL - or even more likely, Jalan Ampang existed in a different dimensional plane from ours and no matter how hard we try to find the dratted place, we didn't have a bloody chance in bloody hell of bloody success.

But why on God's green earth were we doing such a thing, you ask. Here's a list of reasons. I like lists. Don't you? They make everything look so systematic and neat;
  • We wanted to have dinner in Hajime, some Japanese restaurant I kept hearing about.
  • But I have no idea how to get there (yes, I'm an island yahoo living in some cow village in Malacca - you may now proceed to point and laugh at me).
  • Jen showed me a map once over the MSN Messenger.
  • But I didn't bother to look at it.
  • Because I thought I could always check it on the morning before I depart from Malacca.
  • But I woke up late that morning, remember?
  • Therefore, I did not.
  • And Jen only remember bits of the map (she's a KLite who doesn't know her way around KL - how quaint).
  • The only thing she remembered was that there's a road we needed to turn in right before we reach the French embassy on Jalan Ampang, and that Hajime is on Jalan Damai, right beside the Raffles Design Institute.

I bet this is how all great journeys and adventures start: Ignorance of the highest order.

Obviously, we were in dire need of help. Jen suggested we call her French friend and ask him where the French embassy's at. Darn, it's good to have a French friend. I think I'll go get one from Carrefour too.

His instructions were simple: Drive along Jalan Ampang with Zouk on our left - and keep driving till we see a building that looks like a toilet. That's the French embassy.

We did what he said, of course, but there weren't a single building that looked the least bit toilet-like. Was it a French joke we didn't get? Or maybe, French toilets looked radically different from Malaysian toilets? I'm sure if we look into his remark properly, we can work it out to be some sort of insult to our country's tasteless architectural efforts (after all, we are known throughout the world for building giant penises fucking the skyline of our capital city). After doubling back several times along Jalan Ampang, we decided to just stop by a police booth and ask the officer on duty (vowing to smack the bejabbers out of him if he so much mentions the word 'toilet').

His directions were pretty much the same as Jen's French friend's (minus the 'toilet' bit, thankfully) - and were equally as helpful. Just for the sake of it, we went another couple of circuits along Jalan Ampang when I just decided to take a random turn off the main road.

"Look, there's a Jalan Sejahtera3. So, Jalan Damai will naturally be nearby, right? RIGHT?" I said, swerving into a quiet little lane.

AAAND WE GOT A PULSE, DOCTOR! We actually DID find Jalan Damai at the end of Jalan Sejahtera! We were practically jumping in the car. We popped imaginary champagne bottles in celebration. We shook hands in jubilation...

Till we reached Hajime, that is - and discovered that the joint closes at 10.30 pm. It was already 10.00 pm then. We almost cried, I tell ya.

We ended up having dinner (a-very-late-dinner-by-the-way) at a mamak in SS2... a poor substitute, but we were famished.

And that, dear readers, concludes our Great Jalan Ampang Adventure. Sayonara.


Okay, okay, we did return the day after for lunch. Here's some pictures to make up for the wall-o-text above;


Hajime is a bungalow slash Japanese restaurant tucked in a quiet (very quiet, and incredibly hard to find) corner of the city. The first step to improving their exterior decor would be to get rid of that tasteless piece of cloth hanging over their doorway.


And here's half the stuff we ate (I didn't photograph the rest because I popped them into my mouth before I remembered that I wanted pictures of them);

Ebi tempura.

Some salmon thingies. Me no speaka da Yapanese. Sowie.

Soft shell crab maki.

And my personal favourite: Unagi!

Here's a short blanket review of the restaurant;

The hostess was a really warm and friendly middle-aged lady who explained to us Japanese noobs what those squiggles on the menu actually meant. The tableware were really tasteful (they got funky shaped bowls and plates!) and the disposable chopsticks actually broke into two equal bits when I split them - unlike Sushi King's. It really bugged me when my chopsticks don't separate symmetrically. I'd keep breaking till I get a perfect pair. How bloody annoying.

Also, their wasabi aren't chunky either. Awesome stuff. Did I ever mention to you guys that I'm a wasabi addict? Best decongestant ever invented by man. I should know - I'm almost a doctor.

As for the delectables, they are better than any I have ever popped into my cake-hole - though that's hardly anything to boast about considering that my experience with Japanese food is sorely lacking. Only, I kinda expect better. Maybe it was because of the hype, the anticipation, and the awful difficulties we braved to find the shop; our expectations soared way out of reach.

I plan to return there one day for fugu though. It's on my list of things to try before I die. Nothing like a little neurotoxin to spice up dinner, I always say.

And I'm pretty sure I'll visit Hajime again before I fly back to India at the end of this month. Who wants to go with me?

P.S. Thanks, Jen, for being such a great company for the weekend. We should definitely do something like this again soon.

P.S.S. We still have not found the French embassy yet.

Small town yahoo,
k0k s3n w4i

1 I actually chose this topic for the 'free writing' section of my SPM English Paper - only, I would never ever be caught dead starting this topic with such a clich├ęd opening. Instead, I wrote from the perspective of a Middle Eastern boy who watched the decimation of his village by American bombers from a distant sand dune, then dumped a lot of angst and pseudo-intelligent war philosophies into the narrative. The examiner lapped it all up and gave me a 1A grade. Ha! Sucker!
2 It's just like
'naturally' but in an incredibly condescending tone.
'Sejahtera' is a Malay word (which nobody ever use in normal conversations anymore) that means 'wellbeing' or some shit like that. 'Damai' means 'peace', an incredibly so-overused-it's-meaningless concept in my country.


bevE said...

hmn.... funny.


i just realized ur blog dont have word verification. =D suddenly my opinion of u has rocketed. xD

and u already know my comment on this post. =3

mrbherng said...

Why did you looked for "Jalan Ampang" on the blue boards when you are already on it since you came out from the twin jagung?

michelleg said...

haha twin jagung!!! hhaha..

yea that flag outside the bungalow looks out of place.

how's the price at Hajime?

Elaynne said...

hahaha..blogging about food I see...

Is that mamak in SS2 ; MURNI??
Ahhhh I so so want mamak food!!! Help mee!!

Oo Kok! I mean 15-20 mins drive... when i'm in Malacca la..
when will u be leaving.. i should be back for a week ; from 22 sept onwards....

And wahh... u like driving around a lot hor....

Jen said...

we should have just listened to instructions and keep going straight instead of turning here and there. i gave geoff (my french friend) a nice whack for his awful directions which were of no help. he said we malaysians are ignorant and blind. oh well.

but i wanted to check out jalan stoner! (spelt "stonor" actually) your jalan sejahtera and jalan damai conclusion was a stroke of genius i tell you. why are doctors so clever, i want to know.

beve: whats your comment? do tell ;)

elaynne: yes! the mamak we went to in ss2 was murni! i told him it was popular but he doesnt seem too inclined to trust my vast knowledge of mamak popularity.

p.s. about you being so "bloody late", for the record, i'm just nice that way =)

p.s.s. thanks loads once again! you're great company too.

Skyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bevE said...

ahahahahaha mr b xD some logic there ahahahaha xD

jen: my comment? xD hmn..... it was mostly in pictures. xD k0kee coulda told u that. hmn.... maybe i'll post it up... one day. xD

*adds another thing to blog about in the long list of drafts T_T*

damn. i think i need to start posting. xD

gaL said...

where's hajime exactly? did u meantion in the blog? haha. i didn't notice. do tell the add and the overall food pricing plz. =)

ps: i see that u r enjoying ur hols to the max. hehe. thumbs up

Elaynne said...

hey Jen!!

Roti hawaii is wat I always order when I'm there.... gosh!! Thinking about it.. really make he hungry..

I like the lily special there!! Unique!!

Btw I heard Williams is good too??
have yet to try tho...

k0k s3n w4i said...

Now, if only I can turn off that bloody word verification thing everytime I post something. Bloody annoying.

I know. I even exited the parking basement of KLCC using the Jalan Ampang exit. But we tended to get out of Jalan Ampang as we kept driving around. And the traffic in KL didn't help either.

I call it Mahathir's twin penises. They even have corpus cavernosums on then.
The price? one set meal was around RM30, i think.

Yep, Murni. They dun have mamaks in Singapore meh?
We'll meet up for dinner or lunch then when you're back. I haven't seen you in ages.
Driving's awesome. I dun get to do that in India :(

The straight-ahead lane looked dodgy, remember?
So many photographic opportunities missed, sigh. Why did YOU bring ur camera then, huh? Then we would have twice as many pics to post up!
ANd it's not that I dun trust ur mamak know-whats. I'm just not a very big mamak fan. Almost every shop in india is a mamak :(

Set meals are about RM30 per piece. Comes with all the usual stuff; rice, chawan mushi, miso soup, pickles... the a la carte menu is costlier tho.
Here's a map
Are u in Malacca?

U can always get my MSN off Jen :p

michellesy who is now craving hajime said...



Only you, dear blogger, could trans-mortify this event into a mirth-provoking spiel of such stature.

It had everything: a tardy awakening, non-stop screaming, a French dude, toilets that did not in actual fact resemble toilets LOL!

I would beg to differ on two points though:

1. I like Murni. And it IS too famous.

So there: you have it on the good authority of two individuals now - me and Jen.

Mayhap you did not order the right items? Perchance, did one of their yummi-licious, huge-ass drinks pass your lips?

The Ribena special is good. I can vouch for it. I can also vouch that, when ingested in excessive amounts, it stains your buccal epithelium a most interesting shade of lizard-tongue blue.

2. It's no good assuming KL-ites know their way around KL. Because I, like Jen am a PJ-ian.

It's a good (OK, passable excuse and I'm sticking to it, alright?)

Worse, I am a bloody noob of a PJ-ian.

The worst kind there is.

The kind who had never, ever been to KL unescorted, until she turned 17.

And even then The Mother screamed bloody murder when The PJ Noob (very intelligently) informed her of the fact AFTER she'd been (and been lost).

This is because The Mother is convinced that KL is a sink of inquity, with Mat Rempits/ Boh Jans/ Gangster Boys lurking around every corner, dying, simply dying to pounce on The PJ Noob. WTF.

Never mind that The PJ Noob had/ has a face only The Mother could love.

I was also the kind of PJ noob who on her sole, unchaperoned expedition to KL proceeded to stand in front of Central Market and ask each and every passerby for instructions as to how to get to Bangkok Bank.


I shame myself.

But I can redeem myself in this case. Yes sirree, indeed I can.


*Looks insufferably smug*

It's behind Hotel Nikko. WTF.

And I only know cos my friend (after much prompting) drove me there one day. To Jalan Stonor that is. Not Hotel Nikko.

ps: Ah I see that you made it to the Holy Grail: Kinokuniya. Did they have Lud-In-The-Mist then? =D

pps: It really is very very very cruel to post up photos of such delectable food when I am in a semi-starved state here, you know.

Rileen ayaChua said...

how much eh the total of that meal? it looks so sedappss

Rileen ayaChua said...

aahah... saw the reply. MMMm

k0k s3n w4i said...

Well, I did discover that Tuna ROti Canai IS better than Roti Sardin from that place.
I'm not much a Ribena bloke anyway. I'm the Milo sort :D
You talk about your mom as if she's some Hive Mind Queen Entity xD

but my meal in total, with Jen's comes to about RM100. Be prepared to spend more than RM50 per head.