A Fire, Laksa, and a Mini-Break – NYC
As I mentioned late last year, I was going through some tough sh*t in my life, and this week, I finally decided to do something about it. I quit my job! Hurrah! It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. I have nothing lined up, but I desperately needed a break. I’ve been working non-stop for almost eight years at the same job, and it was taking a toll on me physically and mentally. It’s time for me to relax for a bit until I find my next gig. I’m trying. So far, it’s been interesting. Like the fire that happened my second day at home.
Two days ago while I was getting ready to go out for lunch, I looked out the window to check the weather and saw four firetrucks, one of which with its ladder extended above my window, and a crowd of people taking pictures and video with their smartphones below. Quickly, I ducked. Yes, there was possibly a raging fire, but I was also wearing a souvenir Aruba house dress and had a curler on top of my head. Not exactly the best way to be last seen.
Looking more presentable, I made David look out the window, and it seemed the fire was next door. A firefighter in our apartment hallway later confirmed we were safe. Which meant it was time for lunch at the newly opened Aux Epices in Little Italy.
Aux Epices is owned by a husband and wife team; he French, she Chinese-Malaysian. She mans the kitchen while he handles front of house. However, it was clear on our visit, she runs the show. When he tried to give us regular ice water, she quickly told him we would probably prefer tea. Yes, we’re Asian, we want tea! Thank you!
I ordered the seafood laksa ($9.95) with “raman” (wheat noodles; the other options were mei fun or udon). The laksa was two times more expensive than the laksa at Sanur (my usual Malaysian spot in Chinatown), but it was evident why when my order arrived. Instead of the random seafood thrown in a pot (where one or more items inevitably ends up overcooked), I got mussels, salmon, squid, and shrimp, all carefully cooked and beautifully arranged. Not that I don’t like the haphazard Chinatown compilation, it’s still mighty tasty, but you could tell a little more thought had gone into the laksa at Aux Epices. As for the soup, it was velvety with just enough creamy coconut milk. It was a tad less spicy and salty than Chinatown’s rendition, but not to its detriment. I could live with a little less heat, and as for the salt, a salt shaker is on every single table in the restaurant.
David ordered the curry chicken ($8.95), and it too was lusciously “coconutty” with a generous amount of tender chicken. The only thing David didn’t like was that it was all dark meat, but for me, I feel that’s a positive thing. To each his/her own. If you don’t like dark meat, order something else. Leave the good stuff for the rest of us.
Aux Epices won’t replace Sanur for me, but it is a welcome addition in my Malaysian rotation. Especially when I’m with fancier company or need an apple tart for dessert. You need variety in life. Eight years late, but I finally figured it out.
121 Baxter St (b/n Hester & Canal St; map)
New York, NY 10013