Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a mongolian affair

This is my 3rd year celebrating CNY away from home. Well, technically speaking, it hasn't really been so much of a celebration per se.

CNY 2007 was spent with the IUJ students from China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Some of the ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia also had their own group gatherings, the highlight being the firecrackers that they played on the rooftops of the dormitories. It was still winter, much snow outside, but lots of warmth within my little community in Urasa.

CNY 2008. Hmmm, what did I do last year? I tried to look through my calendar and schedule, I could not find anything that looked like I did anything CNY-ish. Gosh. This is bad. I think... err, I think... I did not do anything last year!

Come to think of it, I only realised it was CNY when my parents called to wish me. I must have been working too hard to think about it. Hmmm. Not good.

So anyways, this year I decided to redeem the lost CNY. By joining fellow Malaysians for our own version of a the reunion dinner at a Mongolian restaurant. It was located at a dark alley parallel to the JR train tracks at the Ootsuka station, so shady I would never visit this place by myself.

But when we stepped in, were we amazed to find a tent-like interior decorated with traditional textures and paintings. Everyone sat on the carpeted floor with low tables laden with food and drinks.

There were Mongolian costumes for both male and female all over the walls. This was pretty authentic, I thought. Exotic even.

The food was quite Chinese-influenced, much to my delight. I was expecting it to be a meaty affair with minimal servings of greens. To be honest, I was actually not very keen at first, but since I have not tried Mongolian food before, I was game for it.

The restaurant taukeh seemed very hospitable. Knowing that we had gone to his restaurant to celebrate the lunar new year, he went around making sure we had enough food and that we were enjoying ourselves. He even invited the Mongolian guys at the next table to come out and sing a song for us. Rather impressive considering they sang a capella. In parts even.

Later he brought out a bottle of Mongolian liquor, poured some of it into a horn-like pitcher and made the guys in our group drink. The first to kena was our organizer, Chong Wei. He made a toast to which we all shouted "yaaaaaammmm-seeeeennnggg". Later I found out that the alcoholic content was about 90%!

In the midst of all these, the taukeh even organised a traditional Mongolian fight, much alike the Japanese sumo whereby 2 guys would wrestle in a small area. The Mongolian guy that was chosen certainly looked very well-built and muscular, while our Malaysian representative was slightly smaller in size. We feared for his life when the taukeh picked him from where we were sitting! Even though he did not win, we congratulated him for having the guts to take up the challenge.

As everyone began to loosen up after all the fun and eating, we tried on the Mongolian costumes that were in abundance and went krazy with pictures and poses.

Emperor Erick and his gundik haha!

I wish I had brought along my camera with me. This picture reminded me of a scene from a movie set during the Tang Dynasty period. The guys looked like actors for the Chinese emperor and his palace officials while the grrls dressed up as maidens and ladies-in-waiting. Much fun!

And I just got an invitation to an open house at a Malaysian restaurant in Ginza this coming weekend. Yummy, more food :D

Update : I just found out that the restaurant is called Genghis Khan.

Food : 7/10
Service : 8/10
Ambience : 8/10

* All pictures taken by Chun Keat from his Facebook album. (I was too busy eating)

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