Fast-forward to this past June, I received a gracious invitation to an event titled "Foodie Silk Road". A "foodie", by perception, is an extremely generic term that can be applied to any mortal that appreciates the process of filling their appetite with food; an "enthusiast", on the other hand, narrows down the group within that is equipped with the knowledge of comparing and contrasting food-related concerns. The "enthusiast" can be narrow- or open-minded, though his or her opinions will likely be of analytical nature. To many, this is deemed as "pickiness", however I tend to enjoy referring to this accumulation of gustatory knowledge as a path of continual development and self-improvement.
The event was to be held in the recently refurbished food court of Scarborough Town Centre, a shopping centre that is quite distant from my own suburban quarters. To meet the start time of 11:30 AM, we set out just following the morning rush and arrived with ample time to spare.
We were ushered into the area upon arrival, provided beverages and complimentary gift bags, and seated soon after our lunch orders were taken.
The reign of Middle Eastern cuisine remained exotic, unexplored territory for me, so I had requested the assistance of the event staff for meal selection advice. Apparently, standalone locations had different best-sellers as opposed to the quick service outlets, and reasonably so as the establishment categories catered to different niches. The Shish Kabob and Tandoori Chicken were notable picks amongst the Grilled Kabob Plates, so we followed suit.
Shish Kabob and Tandoori Chicken Kabob Plates would ring in at $8.49 and $9.99 respectively, with the addition of rice tacking on an additional $1.50 to $2.00.
Plastic black containers donning our names were presented to us shortly after noon. My immediate reaction was appreciation towards the labelling and organized manner of distribution. Containers with snap lids ensured that all leftovers could easily be taken home, while labelling prevented conflicts and confusion over similar orders.
Given the quick service setting, these operation details are key to maintaining steady service and uncompromised efficiency.
As the bases were essentially carbon copies, we took turns in sampling the marinated skewers. Tandoori Chicken featured six vibrant pieces boneless, skin-less chicken breast that were charred to perfection. We had been warned of its not-so-mild seasoning profile, but the result was a bold, smoky flavour with underlying flickers of pepperiness. Its cross-section was, interestingly, paler in tone and a bit dry given its glossy appearance. An entire platter of the chicken may have exceeded my own spice tolerances, though my dining partner-in-crime enjoyed the moderate mildness.
The curried chickpeas were on the spicier side for me, so I resorted to mixing them with rice for some relief. My partner commented that a fluffier variety of rice would have been preferred, though I begged to differ. Any softer grain counterpart would have resulted in an overall soddenness and failed to carry the herb-infused flavours.
The ideal termination of an event or activity is an eye-opening experience that can pave the way for further exploration. With that said, I'd say that N&K was successful.
Following a stopover at Lindt (chocolate cravings still haven't hit the curb), a mutual decision landed us in the Sweet Jesus - Love Me Sweet - Squish collaboration shop. Neither specialty gummies nor diabetes-inducing soft serve was my cup of tea; instead, I made a beeline for Love Me Sweet to pick up their Matcha Cheese Tart.
The box was transported home and stashed in the fridge until the next day. To my utter dismay, I arrived home to witness the red packaging uncased and the one and only cheese tart sliced in half. My heart shattered at the sight, and fury rose within me.
Shaved ice was available in Small and Large sizes, with tinier cups ringing in at four dollars instead of six. It was odd that this selection hadn't been listed anywhere else, and that customers were locked in Large cups by default.
I also took to verify the store opening hours during this visit: 1 PM on weekdays, and 2 PM on weekends (if I remember correctly, then if not vice versa).
We were barely able to polish off the entire bucket, though its contents disintegrated along the way with time anyway.
With the exception of the sticky cup rim, the chilled variation was far better (and less sweet) than before. Equal parts invigorating and refreshing, the generous spoonful of grapefruit pulp was an added bonus.