Table For One



New Year’s Day 2024, Kuala Lumpur. HAPPY NEW YEAR and HAPPY 2024 wherever you are reading this from.


It was mayhem on the roads surrounding KLCC last night. Non-stop hooting started at around 9pm but I was not curious enough to head downstairs to see whether there was an event happening, or whether drivers were just car-horn happy.

Earlier on, we had made the decision to stay in for dinner instead of joining the crowds.

We = Mr Gochugaru and myself. In the event Mr G had to leave for London with very short notice, but I remain in KL to look after my mother.

Having company for a meal makes it convivial, but not always essential. In my previous stay I had seven weeks of my own company most mealtimes and that was really ok. So for New Year’s Eve I cobbled together a dinner made up of some home-cooked and some shop-bought elements. The harsh lighting in the apartment does not do justice to the photos but rest assured I did have a lovely dinner.




Torinesi breadsticks with garlic and herb cream cheese

Garlic focassant

Casareccia pasta in a sausagemeat, mushroom and tomato sauce

Salad of rocket and oak lettuce leaves with apple, avocado, walnuts and pumpkin seeds

Yuzu lemon tart

San Pellegrino sparkling water with a slice of fresh lemon



The garlic focassant from Bake by Mel is a thing of wonder. Imagine focaccia x croissant studded with whole and smashed confit garlic pieces. I simply loved every bite of it and spent my dinner wondering how it was constructed. I think a ring of puff pastry is used to line the sides of a deep tart tin, into which soft bread dough is stuffed, proofed and then baked. When I was in the cafe in Bukit Jalil I ate their signature chicken satay focassont.



For the sausagemeat, mushroom and tomato sauce: fry some chopped onions and garlic in some olive oil, add 800 g sausages without their casing, breaking up with a flat wooden spoon. Fry until cooked through, add 200 g sliced chestnut mushrooms (I added some bits of chopped carrot ends too) and 800 g of tinned chopped tomatoes. Add some chopped herbs and simmer until sauce has thickened. This quantity makes enough for 500 g dried pasta.



I am calling this the Ascott House Salad: I always eat variations of this salad because it is so difficult to cook vegetables in the apartment due to a lack of suitable equipment. In London I cook on a Gaggenau induction hob, and any other hob will be by default already inferior to it. So salads are what I eat for fibre and vitamins. Simply wash and dry some salad leaves, add other raw vegetables like shredded carrot, apple, pepper, avocado, toasted seeds and nuts. Dressing is optional, and I use a ready prepared one from a bottle, with extra olive oil drizzled over.



The yuzu lemon tart which I took away from Kenny Hills Bistro is also another thing of wonder. They describe it thus: Nestled by a Vanilla Sweet Crust, the Yuzu Citrus Tart embodies a citrus-filled dream with Almond Cream, Yuzu Curd, Cream Chantilly, Yuzu Jelly and Lime Zest for a tangy delight. This is for those of us who love lemon meringue pie but can’t handle the meringue sweetness. The tart is also available at their Coffee Lounge on Level 1 of Seibu Department Store in The Exchange TRX.



For lunch I had a salad (home-made) with a heated up mushroom and cheese tart from Kedai Coklat. The latter mainly sells all things made from locally sourced chocolate but their Jalan Maarof branch has bagels and this tart for sale.

Every morning I pray for my daily bread and so far we have always managed to not miss a meal whatever the day looks like. For dinner tonight I had the rest of the pasta + sauce, focassant, salad and a piece of butter cake. It was mid-afternoon, whilst writing this post (and having chosen the title), that I suddenly remembered Yun Ko-eun’s short story Table for One. I had bought it to read on Kindle over three years ago but had not started it, so I read this insightful and humorous story whilst having dinner tonight.