Since embarking on a our new lives a few months ago Dave and I have become 'regulars'. In Malaysia at least, this is new for us.
Back in our San Francisco Bay Area days the folks at Solano Cellars knew us well. In Bangkok, Fridays were reserved for a certain (now defunct) street side gai yang spot and every Sunday evening our rears were parked on the same two plastic chairs on Soi Suan Pluu's sidewalk as we watched a beloved phat tai vendor pull together our orders. In Saigon too, we had our favorites.
Then we moved to Kuala Lumpur, started this blog and - since Dave spent Mondays through Fridays toiling in a proper office - were obliged to squeeze our foodish explorations into weekends. At the time I was aiming for at least four posts a week. You can do the math; we didn't have much opportunity to become a regular, anywhere.
Recently we ate lunch at the same place two days in a row. And Dave didn't snap a single photo, either day. He doesn't always have to take photos now.
We're lucky enough to have moved, in January, to a neighborhood with a great morning market, a fine Sunday pasar malam, good hawker-populated coffee shops, and a few street vendors of note. On the mornings that we decide to head out for a caffeine jolt we walk into our favorite coffee shop with two fingers raised and utter not a word. Soon enough a helper arrives at our table bearing two cups just the way we like it: inky and potent, with milk.
Just like magic. Or, like being a regular.
We've also become a familiar sight at the stall of this couple. Allaudin and his wife have been dishing up pasembur (aka Indian-style rojak) and cendol in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, a neighborhood about 20 minutes from KL's Golden Triangle, for over 23 years. She's a tiny woman - the top of her head doesn't even reach my shoulder - with a big voice ('Rojak! Cendol! Boss! Rojak?) and an even bigger smile. He's an amiable guy who shows pride in his work.
I never much liked pasembur until I tasted Allaudin's. It looks a mess (it's pretty difficult to combine shredded cucumber and jicama, hard-boiled egg, deep-fried bean curd, and chopped-up fritters on a paper plate, douse it with brown sauce, and make it look elegant), but it's a perfectly scrumptious mess.
Most pasemburs suffer from a gloppy, saccharine, peanut butter-ish sauce that completely overwhelms the flavors and textures of the dish's other ingredients. Not Allaudin's. His sauce, on the thin side so it mixes easily through the crunchy vegetables and chewy-spongy tofu and fritters, isn't sticky sweet but is barely chili-spicy and rich with dark-roasted, lightly smoky-bitter peanut flavor.
A few days ago he talked us into opting for optional udang (prawns). Crunchy, a little fiery, with a fresh shellfish flavor, they made a great addition.
The couple's cendol's tasty too, with its firmish pandan 'noodles' and good quality gula Melaka. Allaudin will gladly drizzle a little extra gula on your mound of shaved ice if you ask.
A couple days ago Dave and I were sitting in front of Allaudin's ice shaver, sheltering from the sun under a plastic umbrella and sharing a single plate of pasembur. When we finished our rojak I raised a finger to order one cendol.
'Satu pasembur, satu cendol.' Allaudin's wife explained our standing order to another customer. Then she nodded at us and smiled.
Jayang Super Cendol, in front of the Maybank Building, TTDI, afternoons.