I walk past this new shop at Publika every day. It used to be a boutique but from the look of the current renovation, it will be turned into some sort of a cafe as I could see the drinking prep area and the shiny stainless steel kitchen. One day the boutique posted a notice saying they were moving away. Days after that, I saw several workers waiting at the shutters for many mornings. Following to that, I could see the progress of their work – from the new bar stools, to the fresh coat of paint on the wall, to the shiny kitchen equipment.
I could almost feel the excitement as I was there in the same scenario too a few years ago.
A long time ago, in a far, far away place, I had a place where I put my heart and soul into it. It was called Chini – The Malay Cuisine Restaurant. As you enter the restaurant, a low coffee table decorated with fresh flowers and an array of spices will greet you, prepping up and tantalizing your senses for what was awaiting from the kitchen. The show kitchen wafted with beautiful, aromatic smell of food and the satellite kitchen lined up with bar stools where the regulars would hang out for some teh tarik or kopi while watching the kitchen crew preparing some kuih in the late afternoons.
As you stood at the balcony, you could see the blue/green ocean just beyond the horizon and that sight alone, will make you think that you are dreaming.
The three-month renovation period kicked in just right after I paid for the lock-stock-and-barrel of the then Japanese restaurant. The beautiful, shiny stainless steel kitchen was designed and pre fabricated in Peninsular Malaysia then shipped out to Kota Kinabalu. Repainting, fitting, furnishing the 70-cover restaurant was the best part. I’d spent days and days to hunt for the perfect kopitiam-style tableware.
I miss this place.