I had this strange feeling as soon as I entered the restaurant and saw the decor. Its ambience somewhat disturbed me.
Its Balinese decor gave me the feeling that I was in a Hindu temple.
"It's ok my dear, give it a try..." I said to myself as I sat on the chair.
The waiteress quickly filled the table with a variety of dishes - there were grilled fish, salads, sambal belacan, fried chicken, tempe and fruits.
The chicken, the whole of it, with legs and head attracted me. I pull the head towards me and flipped the neck. The first thing I saw was a hole - too small for a halal cut that I was used to.
"It is slaughtered not according to the halal way!" I whispered to Hj. Ismail.
"Don't investigate, Dato'..just eat."
"I'm not investigating...it is right in front of me...the chicken is not halal!"
My appetite quickly vanished. Not even the seemingly tasty sup buntut (ox-tail soup) could re-open my appetite.
I was no longer hungry as I had felt ten minutes before. I just nibbled on the grilled gourami - that too did not help. Its taste was weird...too herbalic.
Others felt the same. They too chose not to eat.
"Izzah, make sure we have Nasi Padang for our next meals!" Dato' Manaf reminded Izzah, our tourist guide.
That night, I silently went down to the Cafe and ordered grilled tuna and pink guava. Both grilled tuna and guava juice tasted different, kind of weird.
Then only I realized that my taste was not for Indonesian (Javanese in particular) food.
It was different with Nasi Padang. The ox's skin and the brain were something else. Both Dato' Manaf and I really enjoyed the food. The skin, taken next to the hoof, was cooked in large chunks. Back home, I was more used to it being sliced and cubed and made into soup or rojok kateh.