Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eating at a Stranger's House

Have ever invited yourself to a stranger's house for a meal? Not a friend of a friend's place, nor that of someone you've chatted with online, but the home of a complete stranger, someone you have never met or communicated with before. That's what I ended up doing the other day.

It wasn't exactly something on my bucket list, but when the team at The Lucky Taco shared a pop-up event called LAK$A LAK$A organised by one of their crew, Ruby, a.k.a. Miss Changy, I couldn't help but enthusiastically buy a bunch of tickets for me and my friends (never mind that they couldn't make it and I ended up getting some others along).

Enticing artwork for the event.

What's not to love? Here was someone brave enough to invite others into her own home (though she probably never expected random people like me to turn up), with colourful artwork and the promise of delicious Sarawak laksa cooked by a chef who, with her family from Borneo, knows the real deal. I was interested to find our how this dish differed from the curry laksa most places sell in Auckland, and I wanted to support people who share their food with others, especially when it is something unusual and authentic.

Miss Changy encouraged us to treat her place like a cafe. There was no set time, but wide time windows, so we could turn up for lunch at any point between 12 and 3pm. She also had a dinner session from 6 to 9pm, with each session limited to a maximum of 20 people. I really liked this approach, as it meant we did not have to stress about arriving punctually. It would also have been easier on the chef to have the visitors staggered, so she did not have to prepare the dishes all at once.

While we were waiting, we were given little bowls of roasted peanuts. Cue surprise and delight—no one had mentioned we were getting anything other than laksa. We also admired the fresh flowers and general ambience.

Table decorations - but the coriander was for eating as well.
At this stage, you are probably wondering about the laksa. This was beautifully presented, with a mound of rice noodles, omelette strips and shredded chicken rising above the soup base. There was also a prawn hidden inside. We thought the soup had a spicy and tangy flavour, and tasted like it had some curry in it, but little if any coconut milk.

Sarawak laksa served by Miss Changy.
This seems to contradict the Wikipedia description, which claims Sarawak laksa has no curry at all, but "a base of sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and coconut milk, topped with omelette strips, chicken strips, prawns, fresh coriander and optionally lime." Perhaps our tastebuds were defective, or perhaps the online entry is wrong, but the toppings pretty much described exactly what we were eating. Our host also encouraged us to pluck extra coriander from the display on the table, and offered a vegetarian alternative with tofu instead of chicken.

We enjoyed our meal (though we would have preferred it to have been heated to a higher temperature), but it was what came next which blew me away. Completely unexpectedly yet again, we were given a little stack of sesame crisps. I love sesame in any form, but my recent trials with sesame brittle produced something cloyingly sweet and teeth-breakingly hard. The crisps from Miss Changy were far superior, with a high sesame content, brittleness without hardness, and best of all, very little sugar. The recipe, she told us, makes use of egg whites. Genius!

Sesame crisps served after our laksa.

All in all, great concept, great passion, and great food. There was nothing that practice wouldn't solve, and we hope there are more events like this coming!

[Added 20 August 2014: We have since tried Miss Changy's homemade noodles and absolutely loved them!]

This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event aimed at inspiring us to try new things. This month, it is hosted by Dana from I've Got Cake.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds fab. I'm pretty sure the wiki description was contrary to other descriptions of Sarawak laksa I found online. Glad you enjoyed it, and yay for sesame crisps!

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    1. That's very kind. I suspect what's more likely is that we equated weak coconut milk and a blend of spices with curry. Anyway, yes, sesame crisps with egg whites are now on my to-do list!

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  2. What an incredibly wonderful idea! Wish I had gotten tickets!

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    Replies
    1. There weren't many tickets, so it would have sold out quickly!

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  3. It sounded like a great event! I'm drooling over the bowl of Sarawak laksa... :)

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    Replies
    1. Mmm, I wouldn't mind having it again.

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