Linsanity: The Rise of the Underdog

Grape Tree Delight (Saberkas) Chicken Rice


I haven’t been interested in basketball since the days of playing basketball in the courtyard of my hostel during my college days. That was the time of Michael Jordan, Gary Peyton, Penny Hardaway, Shaq, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing.  Since all of them have retired, it has been a long time since I paid much attention to basketball. Too many self entitled athletes, too much arrogance and too little feel good stories to pull me in.

That is until last 2 plus weeks ago, February 4th to be exact, when a certain Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks came off the bench to score 25 points and 7 assists. Then for the next six games, he started and helped his team to 6 victories, averaging 20 points and 8 assists. The incredible part of his story is that he is an underdog. He led his high school to the state championship but did not get a scholarship. He got into Harvard, brought that team to the top of the Ivy League, but then did not get drafted. He got into the NBA but hardly played for his team. Then he got released and got picked by another team only to be cut again. Then the New York Knicks picked him up and before the 4th of February, was considering to drop him too!

If that wasn’t enough, the night before that winning streak starting game, he was sleeping on his teammate’s sofa. Before that he was sleeping on his brother’s couch. He is also a devout Christian, a big contrast compared to the gang culture pervading the NBA. Disney could not write a better hero or a sadder beginning. Of course, he is also breaking records. He is now the owner of the most points scored in the first 6 games as a starter. That’s more than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neill. Oh and one last thing. Did I mention he is an Asian-American?

So why is Jeremy Lin such a media darling? My guess is that everybody loves a good underdog story. Hollywood has been trying to churn out as many of these stories as they can and we will lap it all up. From Rocky to The Mighty Ducks, we love underdogs. And here is Jeremy Lin, the no scholarship, never drafted, twice cut, couch sleeping, devout Christian, Taiwanese American, Harvard graduate, going against all odds to succeed.

So the moral of the story is never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes all someone needs is a chance. Which leads us to today’s food review, the chicken rice at Saberkas’ Grape Tree Delight. Hey, I’m not a food snob but if you would have told me that there’s a nice tasting chicken rice on the 5th floor of Saberkas, I wouldn’t believe you. I would nod politely and stuff that information in the back of my head next to chemistry lessons and sejarah factoids, and promptly forget all about it. That is exactly what happened when someone on Facebook recommended this place.

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But on one fateful day, a couple of months since I read the recommendation, I was in Saberkas on an errand when this thought wormed its way from the depth of my repressed memories to turn on the proverbial light bulb in my head. So I decided to give it a chance and like Jeremy Lin, one chance was all that was needed.

First of all, the whole dish looked very rustic, home cook feel to it. The rice was superb and full of flavour. The chicken was cooked properly and maintains a nice silky look. I reckon they did it correctly and stopped the cooking process by immersing the chicken in cold water. The result is a very tasty and tender chicken. The chilli (which is a must in any good chicken rice) is decently done.

But like Jeremy Lin, they still have room for improvements. For a start, they only make Maryland pieces of chicken. While the thigh and drumstick are nice, I do like breast meat as well. Their chicken chopping skill needs improving as well, their current style is amateurish at best.

Overall they’ve shown that they have the potential to be one of the best chicken rice in Kuching and now they just have to keep their consistency to show that they are not a flash in the pan.


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