Brickfields, now and then

On last Friday evening, I and several friends whom slept in the jungle of Endau-Rompin with the stars painting our roof gathered at Nagas at Brickfield. When I first read the email about the gathering, I was quite nervous simply because I didn’t know where Nagas is. All I knew was that, it is on Jalan Tun Sambanthan . But I got there, eventually.

Nagas is a restaurant serving Indian food. Not the posh kind but a few notches above typical Indian restaurant. I like the atmosphere, except, maybe, it is right beside the busy Tun Sambanthan and whenever a huge vehicle passes, a bus for instance, the ground shakes. But with good company, nobody would care about that minor nuisance.

More about Nagas from The Star:

When Nagaragen R. Pillay set up his business in Brickfields about a year ago, he initially wanted to open only one Indian restaurant on a 1,765 sq m area.

“But when I came to plan the renovations, I saw the potential and decided to split the area into three restaurants with different concepts,” he said.

Nagas is divided into the Nagas Self-Service, Nagas Cafe and Nagas Fine-Dining.

Nagas Self-Service serves Malaysian Indian food on a self-service basis while Nagas Fine-Dining caters to private functions.

Nagas Cafe, which will serve burgers, hotdogs, pizzas, pasta and Western food, is not yet open.

“We serve curry dishes, our speciality chicken briyani, tandoori chicken and bread dishes at the 24-hour Nagas Self-Service.

“We cook our briyani rice with the chicken and the tandoori chicken is prepared by cooks from West Bengal who specialise in tandoori cooking.

“We also have South Indian cooks who make roti canai, tosai and speciality dish Chicken Tosai.”

Nagas is located at a t-junction with the main street being Tun Sambanthan and some less used road going somewhere that I don’t know. But across the I-don’t-know street is a restaurant called the Pine. According to a friend, whom is 70 this week, The Pine was the place where everybody wanted to go and have dinner. The prawns were delicious and the mutton soup was oh-la-la!

Back probably in the 60s or the 70s, there was nothing on Brickfields, except the Pine. Another friend reminisced how the cooks of the Pine would boil live prawns into a pot of water. I found that disturbing, really, but by judging his expression, The Pine must have had some kind of reputation. But that was years ago. And yeah, I hang around old people. Tsk, tsk, tsk…

Nowadays, the Pine looks dead.

Today of course, Brickfields is full of Indian restaurants. After all, what would Little Indian be without Indian food?

But Brickfields is undergoing rapid transformation given the development effort being carried out under the KL Sentral initiative. But I wonder how it would be like if the Pine had continued to operate the way it did long ago. I am sure Tun Sambanthan, already offering horrendous driving experience, would be impassible.

Sometimes, conversation among friends would drag for hours. We met at around 1930 and at one time, I realized that it was already 2200! A bit sleepy and we all wanted to go home, or somewhere else, if you know what I mean.

But anytway, another interesting tidbit: old folks play Bingo every Tuesday’s night (or is it Thursday?) at a community hall behind The Pine.

A game of Bingo, anybody?

1 Comment so far

  1. plonkwonk (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 7:01 pm

    Ah yes indeed. The Pine is part of a long row of restaurants that was THE place to dine in the 1970s.

    I remember my parents taking me there for roast chicken, seafood and rounds of beers and Baby Cham wine coolers.

    Those days are gone. Brickfields was called such as there were brickworks and kilns there when Kuala Lumpur was slowly coming into itself as a city.

    In fact, the road that skirts the YMCA down from Nagas is named Jalan Kandang Kerbau – Bull Pen Road – as that was where bulls that pulled the bullock-carts were kept just at the edge of city limits.

    By the way, there is the Kandang Kerbau Hospital in Singapore – which was previously a bull pen too.

    Nagas is nice and a good place to hang out late in the night and early in the morning!

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