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LOOKS can be deceiving. Sometimes, even to a pair of highly trained eyes, you can be misled by what you see.

My cycling and makan buddy Billy B made a “discovery” when he got lost during the 11th Putrajaya Inteparks ride last month.

He spotted a makan place in Jalan Diplomatik in the township while trying to find his way back to the starting point.

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Billy was with his son Khidir, who took part in the public cycling event for the first time.

Eh Samo, I got lost la!

“I followed this bunch of cyclists and as they approached a shoplot in Precinct 9, they got off their bikes to makan at this crowded nasi kandar place,” he said.

We talked about this discovery at length and made plans to check it out on a weekend.

So, I arranged a ride to Putrajaya’s lakeside, covering a distance of 10.5km.

Michelle, my wife came along for the ride and we were quite excited about the prospects of having lunch at this well-known place on a Saturday morning.

And after working out a good appetite, we packed our bikes and headed off to Jalan Diplomatik.

8B6E0FA302324E03B162F1E2C06054B7Wide range: Customers choosing dishes at Haji Tapah’s nasi kandar shop.

But before that, we met Izwan, a folding bike kaki (enthusiast) who works at the Health Ministry to get some low-down on nasi kandar.

“Hah? Nasi kandar?,” he responded with amazement.

Izwan, however, did give a simple instruction on how to get to the makan place.

With the directions given, we navigated to Jalan Diplomatik with our vehicle’s GPS.

It wasn’t hard to find this place as it was on the map and even the food outlet, Nasi Kandar Haji Tapah was listed on the map’s Point Of Interest.

The place was crowded with Putrajaya residents having an early lunch.

From our experience, if you see a steady stream of people queuing up, it’s a good indication.

Billy set off to place his order while Michelle and Khidir searched for a table.

At a glance the variety of dishes there seemed impressive.

But upon closer inspection, the description nasi kandar has been taken out of context.

I was pretty sure that what I had for lunch was “Nasi Campur”.

None of the dishes were convincing at all.

Billy and I are regulars at nasi kandar stalls in the Klang Valley and from the initial tasting-session that we had at Haji Tapah, I would say that they scored a meagre 2 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.

What made it worse was the fumbling food server who spilled iced Milo on my shorts.

For service, the experience was -5 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.

How about pricing? Well, a piece of fried chicken with some vegetables costs RM6.80 a plate. So, the round figure was RM8.30 including drinks.

Having said that, we were obviously fooled by the crowd and quoting Mr T’s character B.A. Baracus from 80s campy TV-series the A-team: “I pity the fool!” — that was our predicament.

On the origin of the shop, I did ask an elderly man about the owner’s namesake, he said: “Ah, ini Haji Tapah, dia asal dari Tapah…” and I tried not to burst out laughing.

Okay, for you curiosity seekers out there, this makan place can be located on the GPS by keying in these coordinates: N 02 56 686, E 101 43 376.

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