June 28, 2010
Yesterday afternoon our old friend Sam Choo, who we met in the early nineteen eighties when he was manager at The Rasa Sayang Malaysian restaurant in Frith Street, Soho, came out to Suffolk to see us for what may be the last time, as he and his family are going home to Singapore. When I had a commercial art studio in Frith Street during the eighties, The Rasa was on the ground floor of our building and became, effectively, our staff canteen, and as a consequence we became good friends with all the restaurant staff. On two or three occasions we held company parties for clients at The Rasa, and many staff birthday events were held there.
This place also served the finest Singapore laksa known to humanity and this was always my favourite dish. Well, apart from chicken or prawn satay, or deep fried prawns in batter with sweet chilli sauce, or hokkien mee, or mee hoon goreng, and occasionally they had the most delicious soft shelled crab. Oh, somebody stop me! Maureen knew when I’d been to the Rasa because my tee shirt would be spattered with what was know as laksa flack, splashes of turmeric stains flipped up by the noodles. Oh, dear. Perhaps the thing that kept the Rasa so particularly close to my heart was the fact that I could eat alone there, something I generally feel uncomfortable about, but if I was working late (which was often) I could go downstairs and have a bowl of laksa and a Tiger beer, and if they were not too busy Sam or Yong or Simon or Tong Tong would come and sit with me for a while. Brilliant.
But sadly the restaurant closed sometime in the nineties and the staff dispersed around London, and we lost touch. But Sam kept in contact with us and when he emailed me a month or two ago suggesting we get together before he left we immediately agreed. He and his family had been out to Suffolk before about fifteen years ago and cooked for us and some friends on that occasion. So yesterday we invited a few friends to join us in the orchard here at the house and, in the best of summer sunshine, we had a great BBQ lunch. This is the life.