I was a kid with an adventurous palette.
Growing up in an Anglo-Indian family and a household always aromatic with fresh and ground spices, there was little that I hadn't tried or would be willing to taste when it came to the vast dishes of the culture. So when at seven I went to Franklin Station Cafe in Tribeca, a small restaurant offering French-Malay fare, I knew I was about to stumble across something that would last with me- and my tastebuds, forever. It was the Seafood Laksa.
Not only was this restaurant's delicious dishes a staple in my diet over the 15 years that followed in what was the reign of this neighbourhood homestay, it was a beacon that lead me back home. Their cuisine is not fusion- it is French and it is Malaysian, a combination of efforts from chef Mei Chau and her partner Marc.
In 2008, Franklin Station Cafe closed their doors, but in 2013, they reopened and relocated to 121 Baxter Street, under the name Aux Epices. Mei and Marc are back with their 20-seat restaurant, with a menu that boasts old and new favourites and a chalkboard of daily specials. I went this past December, ordered the curry puffs and without a second longer to think on it, the Seafood Laksa.
It arrived. I looked at it and I swear, I was seven years old again and those old days of Tribeca immediately invigorated my senses, along with the coconut-based soup, the sweet and the spicy, the slurp of the noodle and the freshness of spice.
Other favourites among the table that night were the Duck Buns, the Chicken Satay, the Malacca Laksa and the Chicken in Spinach Sauce.
I'm not ashamed to say that even though I was in Manhattan for only a short while, I returned- twice- to order myself more from the menu.
It's just too good not to.
New York, NY 10013