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Jaya Malaysian

Urges are weird and unpredictable. Right in the middle of lifting weights, I
got the strongest craving for laksa, not even real laksa, but this odd
semi-authentic version I used to eat all the time in Portland. Laksa
thoughts continued to pop up in my head for days afterward, but it wasn't
until the following week that I was able to seek out my fix. This craving
prompted a conversation where I was asked if I had food urges even when I
wasn't hungry. Well, of course. Isn't that normal? Not that I'll always
follow through. A giant piece of cheesecake may sound good, but that doesn't
mean I'm going to go out and eat some every time it crosses my mind. I'd
like to hear from you freaky types who only crave food when you're actually

Anyway, Nyonya is usually my first choice Malaysian, but you've got to
branch out sometimes. I've walked by Jaya enough times and not gone in that
it seemed worth a try. They didn't have the turnip cake or mee siam like I
was hoping for, but they did have a good, cheap roti canai, a whole section
separate from soups devoted exclusively to laksa and a rambutan beverage. I
always have to check for the rambutan on the menu (not that I order it, but
I've gotten a kick out of the demented fruit ever since I first laid eyes on
the prickly beasts in Toronto).

The main thing is that my laksa craving was temporarily sated. And it's
not every day that you can wolf down a bowl filled with spicy oil and
coconut milk without thinking of your arteries just a little bit. Gone are
the days of yore ('95-'97) when I could eat a bowl or two a week without
even blinking an eye. The weird thing is that I'm so used to the fake laksa
that I think I prefer it. Jaya's had thick yellow egg noodles when I'm used
to rice vermicelli (actually this is the only difference that I really
miss). Jaya's broth was much spicier and yellower–more curry or tumeric, I
guess. Now that I think about it, the fake laksa's broth was more like the
roti canai gravy, minus the potatoes. Gravy? Broth? It's all the same. I do
that I ate a bowl filled with a satisfying liquid, left stuffed (but not
ill) and in a pretty good mood.

Jaya Malaysian Restaurant * 90 Baxter St., New York,NY

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