>A little bit of Candies loving was just what I needed after last night’s misadventures. I needed to be at Candies, the cafe outside my house at Bandra. I needed the familiarity of the staff in red and white uniforms, the soggy chicken sandwiches, the Petite Fours which come with the coffee, the benches and chairs where I always feel at home.
And I found it next door to my hotel at Penang. I returned to Kafe 78 where I had a fantastic Curry Mee for lunch yesterday. The ladies who cook there smiled at me in recognition the moment I entered. The lady who made Curry Mee remembered my order and I had to tell her that I wanted Laksa, another local favourite, instead. This is a dish I had heard of but not tried. The chubby, short, Santalike, smiling owner came to me and asked ‘the usual?’. Or actually, ‘Hot Chinese Tea’ which is what I had yesterday. This was Candies. They knew me here. They welcomed me here. I was at home here. I looked around and saw the same happy families one would find at Candies on a weekend morning.
Thick hot noodles slurping down my throat was just what I needed. The laksa here is like a sour clear soup. The sourness comes from tamarind (Assam). It is flavoured with shredded fish.. The fish wasn’t overpowering and the dish turned out to be a lovely morning ‘pick me up’. I preferred yesterday’s Curry Mee over the Laksa though. Once again, I had all the noodles with the chopsticks. They didn’t even bother to offer me a fork after I won over their confidence with my performance yesterday.
I then got talking to Andy, the young son, of the owner when he came to settle the bill. A princely 3.5 Ringitt (Rs 50). Andy spoke very good English and is a photographer too. He explained what goes into various dishes to me. He told about how all the neighbourhood restaurant folks were his friends. He patiently and cheerfully answered all my questions. He posed for me. Took my photographs. And desperately tried to round up his shy staff at my request for a photo. With limited success as not everyone took their smiling boss seriously.
As a parting gift the ladies called me and offered me some hot jack fruit fritters that they were frying. Yes, I have found my Candies here.