Despite growing up in an environment where spicy food is commonly consumed, my friends are always surprised at my inability to "handle" spiciness, from the mild to the extreme. A little extra chilli normally causes an extreme reaction in me. My eyes tear, my nose chokes, and beads of sweat form on my face and all over my body. It is a highly embarassing situation in every sense of the word. My indian heritage ought to give me immunity to such reactions but I'm beginning to believe (and my Makan Club friends will concur) that my genes got screwed up along the way. My tastebuds, however, crave for chilli, and therein lies the paradox of my life. And so I torment my body as I load up on chilli - my nasi lemak is always swimming in spicy sambal, indian food is relishly consumed and when I eat noodles or rice dishes, I always have a plate of sliced fresh chillies (filled to the point of overflowing) in soy sauce.
The one dish that always evokes the above sensations, without fail, is tom yam. Irregardless of the adverse reaction, I laboriously seek out the best tom yam in this part of the world. Pain is temporary. The taste, however, will be remain in my memory (and now, in my blog) as I strive to overcome the numbness in my body.
And so, with the knowledge that I am a huge fan of tom yam, Pretty Pui introduced a wonderful place to me. This "restaurant" is located in a house in PJ Old Town, and one can be forgiven for thinking that people were eating at this place because of 1. a celebration, or 2. a funeral.
Stepping into the restaurant, I felt like I was intruding on a family dinner. The diners seemed to be regulars as they happily chatted with the chefs, a little old lady and a little not-so-old lady, who cooked outside the house. My excitement was apparent as the smells of sambal belacan, lemongrass and other condiments wafted towards my direction.
The most popular dish at this restaurant is the fish head tomyam. We were led to a freezer box where the fish were kept and we were asked to select the type of fish (either whole fish or fish head) for our tom yam. Feeling extremely hungry, we picked out the garoupa fish head and were immediately informed that the price was RM53. We certainly had no regrets when the dish was cooked and served to us. The flesh of the fish was firm and fresh. The tom yam was of a thick consistency with extreme flavours, both tart and sweet, and it would be impossible to drink it on its own due to the sweetness of the dish. However, eaten with rice, the taste is absolutely wonderful. Before long, I threw all caution to the wind and was drinking the soup and crying in pain at the same time. It was absolute punishment to my body, but I persevered for this little bit of heaven.
We were also recommended the fried omelette with minced pork, but I could hardly taste the meat as the taste of the egg took dominance. It was, nevertheless, very fragrant and a delight to eat.
The stir-fried kailan was fresh, crunchy and contained a generous serving of salted fish. In fact, every mouthful had bits of salted fish in it, so I had to ensure that it was followed by a mouthful of rice to offset the saltiness of the dish.
According to the owner cum cook (a Thai lady), this restaurant has been in existence for 13 years. I can't believe that I could have subjected my body to this torture 13 years earlier when I was but a sweet young thing. I guess I shall have to make up for wasted time.
The total bill for two came up to RM73.
Bangkok Tom Yam
No. 23, Jalan 2/23, 46000 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7782 4469, 012-617 1862
Opening hours: 11.00am - 2.00pm, 5.00pm - 10.00pm