Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sometimes The Yolk Is On Us

Interesting as the salted egg-yolk saga was, it hit close to home.

Because I did the same thing to another establishment years ago (the original article in The Star appears to have vanished since the online portal was revamped and restructured).

The restaurant tended to be empty every time I went. I'd eaten there several times. I'd taken pictures. And I was sort of charmed by the ambience - and the picture of Anthony Bourdain with the chef.

So I wrote the review and submitted it to the paper.

Back then, it was about the writing, the minor sense of accomplishment in seeing my name in print. It was different from the day job, so I had fun with it. The few bucks I got in payment covered the total tab over the past visits, and if I had a bit left over, neat.

The now-infamous molten salted egg-yolk croissant from Petaling Jaya
bakery Le Bread Days, source of Le Attention et Colère of many
since Le Crème runneth over

Of course there was some worry over whether the place could cope with the increase in patrons following each review. But I was not prepared for what I saw when I returned, about a week after publication.

The place was so packed, people had to share tables. And I did - with two other now-former colleagues. "Oh we read about this place from somewhere," one of them said.

I kept quiet.

The manager claimed that people had been lining up outside the place before opening - until the end of the block, which I'm almost certain was an exaggeration. Those who could not eat were upset. Expletives were slung, along with "I came from out of town to get here!" or "I came from outstation for this!"

Plus, the review was published around the school holiday season.

I couldn't control that, but still ... I felt bad. I don't remember apologising, but I could have. I should have.

This was not what I'd call "helping".

When I left, people were waiting outside. I think I took a picture - not sure if it's still around.

The buzz did not last. About three weeks after that, the place was "empty" again. Watching the once-busy waiters idle around the dining room raised another kind of pang.

Since I learnt to make my own pastas, I never returned. It's been, what, four or five years?

These days, it's still about the writing. But it's a bit more about the money (economy is bad, 'k?) and less for the privilege of being in print. And it still feels nice, being able to contribute stuff: to restaurants, publications and people.

It's fine if it's not viral. I'd much prefer it that way.


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