A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
My heart soared like an eagle as I saw him hobble toward the finishing line.
Haruki Murakami, in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, wrote, “People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and being fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.” In light of the motivation that spurs Murakami to do the best that he can, I was inspired to be that motivational force to Bald Eagle as he approached the finishing line at the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, held a couple of days ago.
“Go, Bald Eagle, go!”, I cheered, urging him to pick up his speed and run towards the marker. Deep down, my heart was bursting with pride, and images of me running alongside the man I loved flashed before my eyes as I prepared to sprint with him. I pictured the photographers picking up on this poignant moment of a wife running beside her limping husband, the stories that they would write later, and my heart swelled.
Perhaps I’d be offered a book deal.
“Not. Now.” he snapped, shooing me away.
What? Bald Eagle wants to deny me MY victory at the finish line?
Murakami didn’t warn me about this. Pbbthhh.
Mr Grumpypuss hobbled away. Alone.
No poignant moment.
*poof* (sound of vanishing book deal.)
It was Bald Eagle’s first attempt at the marathon, and despite the less than dramatic ending, he completed 42 kilometres within a respectable 5:37 hrs. This included suffering from cramps at the 30th kilometre, and the lack of water and medication (the organisers had run out of both – what I call bad and irresponsible management) caused the poor chap to hobble the remaining 12 kilometres to the finish line in pain. It took determination and courage to endure the excruciating pain, and for that, I take my hat off to him. I’ll just have to look for another book deal, hor.
A day later, it was Bald Eagle’s birthday.
Now, the thing about birthdays (with us, that is) is that we’re always trying to outdo the previous year’s celebration. That wasn’t so difficult for me considering that I had not done anything for him last year thanks to the fact that he was in Austria on his birthday while I was lonely and alone in KL with nary a friend beside me. Unfortunately, there was no chance of him disappearing again this year, so I racked my brain to come up with something special.
An imaginary lightbulb flashed above my head as I was having lunch at Max’s new restaurant one Friday. Max had been there for so many of our celebrations, serving plate after plate of brilliant cuisine, that it made sense to celebrate Bald Eagle’s birthday here. Sometimes, as a food blogger, it is easy enough to be carried away with the number of new choices available, but it is also sensible to revisit tried and tested favourites. I didn’t want to screw up, and I knew Max would deliver.
So the stage was set for a perfect evening at Max’s.
Max recently moved from Max! Kitchen & Wines at Tengkat Tong Shin to Max@iHaus located in the maze of one-way traffic parallel to Jalan Imbi. Plus points – ample carpark (yay!), large restaurant with eclectic furniture (yay!) and no claustrophobic feeling (yay!). Minus point – hard-to-find location for first-timers.
Housed in a bungalow cum furniture showroom, the restaurant resembles a house with sofas, dining tables and a kitchen. We devirginised every chair in the restaurant in our attempt to figure out which was the best seat in the house. I suppose, ultimately, it all depends on the size of one’s rump and, in Fatboybakes’ case, the level of one’s military upbringing, i.e. posture.
Max’s food has remained essentially the same, primarily because Max Chin himself helms the kitchen to ensure consistency in quality. While in the past, we used to be able to observe him cooking, now the kitchen is tucked away behind closed doors in the far recesses of the house. Nevertheless, Max still attempts to make the occasional appearance to satisfy the curious guest.
The clever use of ingredients to combine the various tastes is ever present in Max’s cuisine. The shredded crab meat gazpacho is a thick broth that is full of ingredients; less of a soup, and the tuna is seared ever so slightly that it still retains a bounce to the flesh. White anchovies complete the first dish, and the combination of the saltiness of the anchovies with the duller taste of the tuna is spot on. Bald Eagle’s favourite dish is the poached egg (with a nice runny yolk) paired with a lovely truffle soubise (onion based sauce?), although I reckon it could do with just a little bit more truffle. The scallops, amazingly sweet and tasty, were seared first, then cooked perfectly in a very light vegetable broth. I loved the quail breast which was crisp and still moist, so unlike chicken breasts which can be stringy in texture. What I didn’t appreciate as much was the bed of borlotti beans that somehow felt like a bad marriage. The lamb roulade and lamb cutlet were gorgeous and tender and the garlic confit literally melted into the meat to create some beautiful flavour. Desserts were nice but not exceptional; in my opinion, Max’s forte lies in his starters and mains.
It is always wonderful to celebrate a birthday with friends. Despite the short notice, they all turned up for drinks at Max’s. Thank you! And thank you, Fatboybakes, for the scrumptious Red Velvet aka Tim’s Velvet cake.
‘Thus the seasons come and go, and the years pass by. I’ll age one more year, and probably finish another novel. One by one, I will face the tasks before me and complete them as best I can. Focusing on each stride forward, but at the same time taking a long-range view, scanning the horizon as far ahead as I can. I am, after all, a long-distance runner’
‘The end of the race is just a temporary marker without much significance. It’s the same with our lives. Just because there is an end does not mean existence has meaning.’
-Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running-
Lot No. 32, Jalan Jati
Off Jalan Bukit Bintang
Tel: 03 – 2142 9720
Open from Monday till Sunday from 12pm till 2.30pm, and 6.30 till 10pm or till late.
1. Opening sentence on this blog was given by Fatboybakes as a challenge to me. I personally think that it’s a blardy corny line, but a challenge is a challenge, so I used it. Check out Fatboybakes’ blog for my suggested opening line to him. You can call me the queen of cheese.
2. Thanks to Ciki who gave Bald Eagle What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Bald Eagle is now a big fan (of you and of the book).
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.