Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day - An Unusual Redemption

The cool "jam session" setting at d'Cengkih, TTDI. The musicians (I bet there were grandpas among them) rocked bigtime!

I've had a most unusual Mother's Day - a skewed one bordering on the surreal - and I have fellow blogger Mamasita, the one with the widest grin this side of Suez, to thank for it.

It started innocently enough; the good Datin had asked me to join her for lunch at d'Cengkih, the restaurant specializing in Johore food, which opened its doors in Taman Tun Dr Ismail about a year ago.

Those of you longtime readers of Kata Kama would probably remember the unflattering review I gave this outlet subsequent to our unforgettable maiden visit some time in June last year.

Be that as it may, Mamasita read me well. She knew I wasn't the kind to harbour ill-feelings for long, so she waited for the right time to re-induct me into d'Cengkih.

She must have banked on my mellowness in the light of my Hajj and Umrah. Oh, the wiles of that woman knew no bounds!

I remember being very creative with excuses on the few occasions that she brought up the subject of having a meal with me there. Believe me, Mamasita, Cheshire Cat grin et al, wasn't to be denied.

Anyway, I finally agreed to meet her at d'Cengkih for lunch today. She was slightly late (having driven all the way from Kuantan) but her significant other, blogger Sakmongkol, was already there waiting, with fellow blogger Aspan Alias.

I was a tad apprehensive as I set foot inside, remembering how annoyed we were during that first visit almost a year ago. We left hungrier than when we arrived, and the kids too were late in returning to office after their lunch break due to the fruitless wait.

Guess what? Time heals. And with d'Cengkih it healed good. The old saying that everybody deserves a second chance holds true and I'm glad I did what I did, that I decided to return, even if it was originally only for Mamasita' sake.

Not only did the place look different, it WAS different from the 'old' d'Cengkih. Gone were the Thai menu; in its place was an array of authentic Johore delicacies and they were well-placed for patrons to select what they wanted.

In the old days it was a la carte and you had to wait eons for the food to materialise. Gone were the sullen waitresses; now they had pleasant-faced young fellas who seemed very efficient in doing about their work.

I was already warming up to the atmosphere when Mamasita sauntered in 10 minutes later. With three hours of non-stop driving behind her, the poor woman looked somewhat zonked, but recovered her vitality and zest after a while.

Since I was on a no-rice diet, it was steamed pulut (glutenous rice) with durian sauce and a couple of kuihs for me. The lauks (accompaniments to rice) looked very tempting but I had to resist, Mother's Day notwithstanding.

It was thumbs-up for the pulut dish, anyway. The kuah durian was decidedly rich and very yummy. The proprietor (Tipah, as Mamasita addressed her) later served us seri muka (on the house too!); the pandan-flavoured topping was thick and sinfully creamy.

When I walked into d'Cengkih today, the first thing I noticed was a seasoned musician (in both age and experience) on the keyboard and a younger chap on the guitar. The keyboardist (I later learned he was affectionately called Pak Wan) must be in his late 60s and his playing was simply superb.

Someone I recognised as Sam, Pak Abu's old College mate, was on the microphone, his voice mellowing beautifully as he crooned Widuri. My heart leapt. Ahah, a jam session! Nothing could be better than this!

Apparently, d'Cengkih had been having these sessions for quite a while now. As we talked, jammers arrived with their instruments, hooked them up and started playing. And patrons were welcome to the microphone. Sing your heart out; the audience was appreciative enough.

I was told the sessions were previously held only in the evenings. Over time however, they became very popular that now they are held on weekends (noontime Saturdays & Sundays).

True to form, Mamasita whispered to Aslini, the lady in charge of the jam session, that I would be made to sing for my supper. Over some (ahem..) lame protestations, I yielded.

Alahai, there I was, a karaoke kaki, having to sing with a 'live' band. I had not jammed since the 1970s (here and here), and that was 35 long years ago! Then again, if one is already familiar with the tempo, it isn't hard to get into the groove once the music begins.

And so it was; 'Sway' took off beautifully, after which seven (yes seven, I couldn't help it.. hehehe.. ) more songs followed, including a request for P. Ramlee's 'Ibu' in celebration of Mother's Day.

Bless you Mamasita for a most meaningful Mother's Day ever. The children had asked me days before what my Mother's Day plans were and I told them I just wanted to stay home and catch up with my blogging.

As God wills it, this is the blog entry that I had wanted to stay home and write. Only that I had to redeem myself by being in d'Cengkih to write it. Happy Mother's Day!


Mrs.A said...

will there be another session? give us fair warning and I shall drop by.. ;-). you must sing really well to be given that opportunity to sing that many songs!

mamasita said...

Alahai were such a delightful companion that I silently wished our afternoon did not have to end.

I am so thankful you enjoyed the food and the live band..

You sang so well that it was also a real treat for the other patrons.

All I know is that after this, my love and respect for you has grown even more than ever.

Thank you for a wonderful afternoon and a lovely dinner..thank you to Pak Abu and your family too.

One of my very special and memorable Mother's Day too!

mamasita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kak Teh said...

how i wish i was there! Am sure it was a beautiful mother's day and one to remember.

Naz said...

Selamat Hari Ibu, Kak Puteri :)

How I wish I was there today. Would love to hear you sing one day.

kay_leeda said...

Wahhh...a new RA@d' cengkih?? Heh...heh...way to go!!

Must go check out this place now. Glad you guys had a wonderful time. Mamasita informed me of the get together....but how know me lar and how things are on my end :(

Hope it's not too late to wish you Happy Mother's Day, Kak Puteri.

Anonymous said...


Hai ya next time give me a shout lah. I am only on the other end of the tunnel.


Zendra-Maria said...

Aiseymen kama, missed the chance to hear you sing - me and the hubby couldn't make it today.

So now you and Cengkih kira settle lah hehe... good one mamasita! ...and on mama's day too - very original lah...

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Puteri,
Now we know where to find you on weekends, if not at the other hunting ground. Errr...that band of cats you put up there, did they sing the chorus? purrr....meow!
Happy Mother's Day to you too.

Syed Mutalib... said...

oh my God, after Makkah and Medina, d'Cengkih came next.......

Kama said...

Syed - Hehehe, that was just a peace mission... After Makkah & Medinah, I hv to practise what's preached; otherwise all those prayings and supplications would eb in vain..

Kama said...

MrsA - only when Mamasita is around I'd go,I think. she's really good company..

Mamasita - 'Twas nice having you and Datuk Sak & Aspan & wife for dinner. It was an impromptu decision. The next time around, I'm going to enlarge the circle to include more ppl..

Kak Teh - it certainly was memorable...

Naz - Insyaallah when you're back in town again, we'll 'keriau-kay' like there's no tomorrow..

Kay & Zen - come la to my neck of the woods some time..

Derebar - oh, I didn't know you're living nearby. You've been out of the loop for a while..

Cat - don't they look cute? I found a new website filled to the brim with such beautiful illustrations..

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Well well well, nice to know somebody had a marvellous time on mothers’ day indulging in their passion. Good food, good friends & good time, what more can one ask for…hehehe. Simple pleasure in life happens when u least expect it!

Happy Mothers’Day to u too.



P/S – Did that AK47 fella belt out CCR ‘Proud Mary’ during the jam session? Gee I like to see that, Sak & Mamasita doing a Ike & Tina….hahaha!!!

Kama said...

Hey Tommy! Finally you surface..! Been waiting for you to make your appearance.. hehehe.. That was good fun yesterday but Datuk Sak suddenly got cold feetlah.. he declined to nyanyi. One the other hand, Mamasita sang 2 songs.. wah, her voice also quite 'power' wan lah..

NanaDJ said...

So sorry I was not able to make it. What a pity I have to miss your singing.
Yes Cengkih is one of the places where you can get authentic Johor food the others being Uncle Don's Corner and Aji Don's Alley at Plaza Damas. I know those jammers, they are really good and have even performed at weddings and corporate functions.
Hope to see you soon.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Awww I’m so humbled, Puteri waited for me, *blushing*, just like all those years ago I cycled up & down RTM JB outside STF, waiting to catch a glimpse of the famous Kama & the Vandovers….hahaha. Do u remember Tommy & the Heartbreakers performing at Diamond Jubilee Hall? This one for u, Sak & Mamasita;

Proud Maria



P/S – I can appreciate a man in Dato’s position getting cold feet, the heart’s willing but the head says no…kekeke.

Kitchen Guardian said...

Kak Puteri,
In no time I will bump into you at dCengkih pulak!after MZ, ha ha! Me and hubby and kids love the food there, after all Haq orang Johor kan!

pakmat said...

..sway?..on a Mother's Day..sheesh..thot '7 lonely days' would be appropriate.,.:)..just be thankful that pakmat is not around..if not the jammers will be jammed with a dikir barat or 'ikan puyu'..:)Happy Mother's Day, deserved a joyous one..perhaps, one day, you might hear me sing yet..heheh..

Kama said...

Tommy - talented oldsters seem to be making a comeback these days. At the Lake Club we have four men in the autumn (and winter) of their lives, getting together as a quartet to gigs. They had performed at MCKK's annual dinner and at the Lake Club Mother's Day celebrations over the weekend (to soldout tickets I must add). They do mean acapellas too..

NanaDJ & KG - one day we must; just text me and I'll hop over to join you guys.

Pakmat - "Seven Lonely Days" is so sedihlah Pakmat. We must hv more upbeat songs to capture the spirit of the day. Ppl actually danced to 'Sway' in d'Cengkih the other day! I'd love to hear you doing dikir barat, you must be a mean tukang karut. how I envied tukang karuts of old for their ability to adlib..

the witch's broo said...

salam Kak Haji Puteri,

I'm glad I started going to d'Cengkih after it got overhauled some time late last year and I did not experience your ordeal, so i had always thought it was a good restaurant, serving good Johor dishes.

Bu I must confess that i am not a regular because I am not from that side of the Klang Valley.

I remember the earlier times there, not so many people. But two Sundays ago, it was packed for breakfast, I was shocked because I had not been there for a long time.

I believe another blogger goes there too because i saw her in her work-out garb, cap and jogging shoes and all -- Jalan Sudin (Nuraina Samad), having breakfast. She seemed at ease and I saw her moving to the music of the violin and music machine -- one of those Latin numbers.

Interesting. The next time I drop by, I hope to see you.

the serawa durian, pulut udang and kuih lopis, yes -- to die for.

The nasi ambeng and nasi lemak, also very good!

salam kak haji Puteri!

Kama said...

WB - The vibes were good the other day and that's enough for me to return time and again. Many ppl hv told me the food there is delicious (not to mention authentic) and I'm definitely going to try them all soon enough, Insyaallah. In fact I'd love to hold my ITM buddies reunion there soon.. the singing kakis would be thrilled.. hehehe

pakmat said... about this, then..a little bit upbeat..:) waited for Tommy to post a url..since he didn't..thought I should..enjoy the dikir barat, lady..:)
Takut Bini

zaitgha said...

wahhh...sound so fun Kak Puteri...i hve a fren who sings very well but shes not a blogger....she used to sing with bands too ....

Kama said...

pakmat - it was fun listening to matrof..

zaitgha - then we should include her in our future karaoke outings.. should be fun..

zaitgha said...

i will...thats a date then...but me cant sing lorr...nyibuk ajer boleh he he

D.axeman said...

Salam Puteri, goodness such wonderful description. I really enjoyed your singing and of course getting to know you and mamasita.Definitely would like to see you this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Such wonderful description! I enjoyed your singing and getting to know you and mamasita. Definitely would like to see you again this weekend and other weekends too!


dear puteri,

i am there almost every sunday after our aerobics@the park (Taman lembah Kiara).
About 9am, the violinist will be at the restaurant to start-up. really lovely to be entertained.
Here's the thing. Just the other day (on Friday May 14) during one of my rare weekday breakfasts at D'Cengkih, the lady owner askd me to come over the weekend, in the afternoon for a singing session.
I told her I read about it in my friend's blog (i meant you). before I could mention your name, she said :"Hah, betul.. kata kama, kan?"
She proceeded to tell me that you sang and "pandai nyanyi tu".

But...ah...i wasn't able to make it for the singing session.

Keep on singing, babe!

Kama said...

d.axe & Anon - one day you must join must again..

Ena - i must make it a point to go sundays from now on.. it would be fun to get together and sing..