Monday, March 25, 2013

Seafood Heaven

To cap off another lovely weekend in Melaka, I went out with my host's big family for a seafood dinner.

That's all I knew, going into it.

But once we arrived, I learned in quick succession a series of interesting facts.

1. This restaurant was sitting on the side of the sea. Well, the Straits of Malacca, to be exact. Imagine my surprise when I walked onto the dining space and glanced out past the rows of tables and chairs. I was expecting to see maybe a parking lot or a few palm trees, but found that vast lovely water instead. I felt like I was dreaming.

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2, At the far end of the dining area was a small tropical wood, complete with a boardwalk, perfect for taking a pre-dinner stroll. And when one of my companions suggested we do just that, I was thrilled. However, upon taking maybe five steps out onto the path, we realized that the trees were alive with wild monkeys. Hungry wild monkeys. The type who aggressively beg for food. So we beat a hasty retreat back to our table and enjoyed our little patch of jungle from a safe distance.

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3. In order to eat at this place, we had to catch our own fish. Or at least choose the ones we wanted to eat from big icy tables heaped with a dizzying array of fresh-caught seafood. It turns out that my host has quite an eye for selecting proteins, and with the help of his fisheries-major brother-in-law, they filled our shopping baskets with squid, prawns, grouper, crab, sting ray, and who knows what else. I had never seem, let alone considered eating, most of those beasts, and my brain could barely keep up with all the options presented and choices that were being so quickly made. In a word, I was speechless.

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4. Back to the table we went to wait while our feast was prepared. Not surprisingly, an impromptu photo shoot materialized. With the irresistible lure of the omnipresent camera phones, pre-meal group shots are commonplace here in Malaysia, just like at home. But what made this session so special is that I have seen dozens of this family's restaurant shots, and it is still an honor and a thrill for me to find myself posing among them. Quick, pinch me. Is this really happening?

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5. Finally, the platters began to arrive and I honestly have no words to describe the variety, beauty and downright deliciousness of this food. I couldn't even gather enough of my wits to take pictures; the ones I've posted here were taken by others. And once I started eating, I simply couldn't stop. Each bite was more tender, juicy, flavorful and soul-satisfying that the last, and I'm afraid I ate much more than I should have. I also drank four glasses of guava juice. No regrets.

Someday, I will get to heaven, and I have no doubts that feasts just like that one will await me. This amazing seafood meal was most certainly a foretaste of the feast to come.

Special photo credit to Xeera, who always keeps her camera at the ready.

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To find all the stories of my amazing adventures in southeast Asia, go here:

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