Sunday, 15 July 2007

A Slice Of Nirvana

The working title for this post was (seriously), "I Can Has Duck ConFEE?" And the answer? "Yes I can!" And I did.

Friday, July 06, 2007

She practically shoved the address up my nose. "Here." I had obviously made her upset. How or why, I couldn't remember. An amazing feat, since we were on Yahoo! Messenger.

I had never even heard of this place until last night. Somebody had done a pretty good salespitch, ooing and aahing over luxuriously rich duck confit and pasta, creatively scrumptious apple tart dessert and lemon meringue pie, all at "proletariat prices". But she didn't have to mention the pricing.

She had me at "confit".

Which was why I walked all the way from my office to The Bodhi Tree.

It didn't take long to find the restaurant, tucked away so neatly off one of the main roads in the heart of KL. On the outside, it looked pretty run-down. A bodhi tree stood stoically at one side of the gate. In the small front yard a light-box menu tried its tired best to tease potential patrons with pictures of some of the delights to be found within. I walked under a trellised arch thick with vines and entered through the nondescript front door.

The interior was much cooler. Looking around, it seemed like somebody decided on a whim to set up an eatery at his home. The uneven floors, old wood and metal furniture, bamboo-splint blinds, roughly textured paint on the walls that were peeling in places, all this lent the place an old-world, bucolic charm.

There was one disconcerting detail: the indentations in the chair-seats that would fit a pair of butt-cheeks. Please, please tell me those were made by the carpenter - with his tools.

Soon after I ordered the confit set lunch, the soup du jour arrived at my table. I had a look. Looks like pumpkin soup. A moment later, a sniff. Smells like pumpkin soup. After a few shakes of pepper and some stirring, a taste. Tastes like pumpkin soup.

When a waiter came to collect my empty bowl, I asked him. "Pumpkin soup," he replied.

Actually, I could have saved myself all the drama by taking a careful look at the huge chalkboard hanging behind the counter, but that's me. And it was damned good pumpkin soup, by the way.

My duck confit pasta arrived in - and nearly covered - a plate roughly nine inches across. Now this was a main course portion. I was happy.

One thing I couldn't forgive was the tomato sauce. While the dish was good overall, I questioned the wisdom of nearly smothering the duck confit in tomato puree. Gamey meats like venison, duck, reindeer, lamb and impala should be allowed to take centerstage, even if some people are put off by the smell.

Still, it was good duck. Lip-smackingly dehydrating (that tomato sauce again), but good.

But wait, there's the bread pudding.

By the time I had polished off the main course the lunchtime crowd began pouring in. Tranquility was soon overtaken by chaos. While it was irksome, it provided some sense of relief. I am not dining in a dying restaurant. Even before dessert arrived I had already scheduled my return.

I got scalded by my first bite of pudding, thoughtfully heated up by the floor staff.

First-degree burns aside, dessert did not disappoint. Like a teasing lover, the pudding initially resisted my spoon, and finally yielded as I applied more pressure. Most important of all, it tasted like bread pudding should. The caramel sauce that draped the dessert was OK; samplings of other caramels evoked memories of bad cough syrup. The scoop of vanilla ice cream provided the buzz of the post-coital cigarette, contrasting and complementing the warmth and sweetness of the pudding.

Like Buddha all those ages ago, I attained enlightenment in the shade of a bodhi tree. If this unassuming place - hidden away like a hermit's retreat deep in the heart of an asphalt jungle - could offer so much, what other wonders would reveal themselves if we cared enough to venture where others wouldn't deign a second look?

That heady feeling of discovery was still there when I picked up the tab. I was so far gone, I paid for RM31 with two notes: one blue and one red. The lady behind the counter tactfully prompted me with the right amount. Somehow, it felt like a great way to end a wonderful meal.

True nirvana may be beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, but I came away happy, feeling as if I had a glimpse of it.

The Bodhi Tree
1 Jalan Kamunting
Off Jalan Dang Wangi
50300 Kuala Lumpur



  1. Blasphemy! Wanton carnal carnivorous pleasures!

  2. Sneexe: It's a different kind of enlightenment. Was that a dig at my ribs or are you really upset?

  3. Sneexe: What a relief 8-)

  4. Well, your comments tab does say "bit back".

    And your contact says "rattle my cage".

  5. Rattle your Cage.... Hahaha.. Thats a good one. What a way to keep a panther in its place.

  6. Sneexe: Duly noted. Thanks.

    SCCS: Oi.


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