NOT a food blog
Six of us squeezed into Bald Eagle’s Audi last weekend and headed off towards Kapar, armed with just a GPS and a lot of faith, on a quest for some “pretty awesome seafood”. Only Jun had been there before in his much younger days while riding in the backseat of his mummy’s car, so his only recollection of the place was:
1. The food is damn good
2. The restaurant is located just off the main Kapar road
3. Make the first right turn after the masjid/surau
4. Don’t expect much, it’s just a shack.
For the most part of the journey it was a rather pleasant drive thanks to the various super highways leading from our homes in Shah Alam to that little town beyond Klang. Our GPS was keyed in with the address, 162 Kampung Perapat – information we had lifted from the only blog that had a write-up on this restaurant. Prompted by the GPS, we turned off Jalan Kapar into Jalan Kampung Perapat, counting down the distance with the enthusiasm of a herd of ravenous pigs. As we drove deeper and deeper into the kampung with nary a restaurant in sight, the manifestation of yet another banana tree didn’t seem reassuring. The surroundings were eerie, like a scene from a Malay pontianak movie. Finally Jun spoke up.
“Hey guys, this doesn’t look right,” he said. “It should be just off the main road.” (refer point two above)
“Well, we’re following the GPS. Let’s just see where it leads us to,” I said.
We learnt, within seconds, that 162 Kampung Perapat was a dilapidated factory, situated in the middle of an overgrown thicket, with wooden gates that were carelessly held together with a rusty lock.
“Meena, did you see a masjid/surau when we were coming in?” Jun asked me.
Jun must have thought that my four eyes functioned as such – two eyes focused on the GPS and two on the surrounding landscape. Luckily, as we were retracing our route, we saw a surau on our left.
“Okay, turn left at the surau!” Jun, the only “authority” in our group remarked. Bald Eagle dutifully turned. “It should be just…..about……here!” Jun exclaimed. We looked. Crickets. A frog croaked. Something wasn’t right.
Sammy was the only person in the group who spoke Hokkien, to be specific, Penang Hokkien, so she was tasked to call the restaurant for directions after we agreed that we were getting nowhere with Jun’s able navigation. The first number she dialed led to a fax machine.
“Bugger,” I cursed. I pulled up the blog post again to look for more numbers. Three numbers were listed there. I tried the first number, a mobile phone number, and hastily chucked the phone to the Hokkien-speaking lass.
“Hello,” Sammy said hesitantly when someone answered. “Ini Restaurant Batu 8 kah?” she asked. We all wondered why she wasn’t speaking in Hokkien. “Kami nak cari Restaurant Batu 8!” More talk on the other end.
“Oh, maaf ya! Salah nombor!” Sammy hung up sheepishly and swore at us. “I think we woke that person up,” Sammy growled. “But nobody sleeps at 8 o’clock!” Karen interjected defensively. The unexpected remark broke the building tension in the car.
Hope was getting slim. I tried calling the second number. There was no answer. Then I looked at the blog post and saw that it was written in 2009. Unlike England where a copy of the Lonely Planet travel guide from 1981 can still be used as reference, nothing is of permanence in this country.
Could we be third time lucky, I wondered. We were already lost and hungry and had nothing to lose.
I cannot even begin to describe the joy we felt when the person on the other end of the line replied in the affirmative in Hokkien that we had dialed the right number. And therein began a comedy of errors as the man described mosques and suraus to turn at when there were at least four of those in a one mile vicinity. When he eventually realised that we were not achieving any progress as far as verbal directions were concerned due to a serious linguistic failure, he told us to go to the nearest surau and wait for him there. It was a testament to small-town hospitality and we applauded when he turned up on a motorcycle to lead us to the shack of food salvation.
We cheered as we saw a glimmer of light along the dark and narrow road; a silent welcome to the battle-scarred troop that had braved the journey from Shah Alam to Kapar bearing a bottle of Hibiki 17 year whisky on the promise of a meal of steamed mantis prawns, crabs in sweet and sour sauce, salt baked chicken with flesh so tender and flavourful that it needed no accompaniment, spicy squid, and fried beehoon with clams. It was a meal that satisfied every craving. It was a meal that was deserving of the one and a half hour journey of blunders and lapses in judgement.
Our journey home took 25 minutes.
The CORRECT address on the business card:
Batu 8 Kapar Sea-foods (yes, with an “s”)
162, Batu 8, Jalan Kapar,
42200 Kapar, Selangor.
….except that it’s not really on Jalan Kapar, is it? Head towards Jalan Keretapi Lama (runs parallel to Jalan Kapar) between the intersection of Jalan Masjid and Jalan Kampung Perapat. And if all else fails, you know you can call the friendly local tour guide at the numbers listed below:
Tel: 03-3250 8326, 012-318 6465, 012-218 6465
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.