Sup Ayam @ Kasmie Tomyam

"Sup Ayam satu, nasi putih." This is a small, unassuming kedai tom yam at a corner of Tesco in Bandar Manjalara, a beacon on soaked night. I just wanted something that would warm me all the way down to my bones and ease the frustration of making a wrong turn. A short while later, a waiter brought me a plate of white rice and a stainless-steel bowl, steaming with the hot liquid inside. I tucked into my meal. Aaaaah, was my first thought as I sipped the broth. It was delicious; I used to read how Americans always say a bowl of chicken noodle soup is just the thing for when it's cold and rainy and you're feeling a bit miserable. I know now that can hold true. After one spoon, I couldn't stop sipping more! The soup was a perfect meal for that rainy night.

Little surprise then, that I made several more visits to Kasmie Tomyam just to have the soup. And they get it right all the time. Encik Kasmie himself runs the kitchen, although he wouldn't pulge his sup ayam recipe. Now sup ayam is pretty basic as far as soup dishes go, but not everyone can make it a memorable dish. I suspect he uses a bunjut (spice sachet) as a base, but adds his own ratio of spices and seasonings that make it unique.

The soup comes steaming hot, and I loved how it was served in a stainless steel bowl. Inside the soup were generous chunks of chicken; each chunk tender and moist, not at all dried out as if the meat was boiled to death. It was as chickeny as chicken chunks can get. Slivers of onion added a subtle sweetness, while smashed cili padi provided a fantastic 'kick', that was, thankfully, not overpowering. These flavours were complemented by the instantly recognizable mineral saltiness of nam pla, a touch of acid from lime, and as a textural contrast, a sprinkling of spring onion. As with most...

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