Words by Franklin Tan
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha
Going to a place that is unfamiliar to you would almost always be a slightly uncomfortable situation. Unfamiliar food, faces, culture, language, etc. However the one thing that all individuals would understand would be kindness, and that’s where Queenie comes into the picture and her lovely restaurant, the Tanjung Puteri Restaurant.
Entrance to Tanjung Puteri
Coming into the small town of Ranau, we stopped to stretch our legs and to break for lunch, going our separate ways in search for food. Well, most went to KFC, mainly for the Wi-Fi. A few of the more adventurous ones however decided to deviate and ventured off in search of better food. It was when Norman, through the power of cellular data and the search engine we know and love called Google, he searched for a place with good reviews and happened to stumble upon Restaurant Tanjung Puteri.
The one thing that was the highlight of the restaurant was called sup tulang which could be translated to ‘bone soup’. The assumption of the bone soup would be that they would boil the bones of certain animals which would then make for a very delicious soup. It was then topped off with either noodles or rice. Unfortunately, they had ran out of it when requested, so we had to settle for other items on the menu. Norman and Li-Sha had just the regular chicken and beef soup with rice while Tuck and Nanna went for the chicken soup with noodles. I settled for the fried rice with chicken, no vegetables of course! (They gave me veggies anyways and I begrudgingly ate them).
Food at Tanjung Puteri
It was then a little bespectacled lady with a kind smile walked up to our table and asked if I would like some soup with my fried rice. I instantly took a liking to her. The soup she had given packed a punch and was really, really good. By now I was beginning to hate myself for missing the sup tulang.
Paying a reasonable price for the food we had, we walked off in search of the others whom had desired Wi-Fi above all else. It was then when we were requested to have a little ‘In Search of Ranau’, looking for things to write about. My mind immediately jumped to that nice lady at the restaurant and we went back there to talk to her.
Her name is Haji Queenie binti Lasiman, and she is the owner of the restaurant. A proud Ranau native, she hails from the Dusun people of Sabah. As the owner of the restaurant, even as she was busy serving customers, she still had time to answer the questions that we have. According to her, she has had the restaurant for a staggering 20 years, with the place being rented. Before this, she had remained unemployed but decided to open this restaurant after a while. She has many children and while one was working at the restaurant, the rest reside and work in Kota Kinabalu. She would not mind making it a family-run restaurant, saying that she would whole-heartedly hand the reins over to her children to carry on the restaurant, only if they want to.
At one point in the 90’s, her restaurant had served a various number of dishes that are similar to a mamak stall, with roti canai and such being on the menu. Though after a while it mainly just serves rice and noodle dishes. Her proudest and most famous food items she has on her menu would be the soup, especially the elusive sup tulang. While she was super secretive about the exact ingredients, she did mention that she had made it herself, discovering it during her restaurant years (perhaps this was the deal-breaker as to why she switched from mamak to soup?) and it could take as many as 12 hours to make, from morning to around 10 pm!
With soup made with such dedication, one could only dreamily wonder what the soup would taste like. With that, the questions we had dried out and we took our leave, with Queenie waving us off with that same kind smile.
Would half want to hibernate at home with Netflix and tea but would also half want to travel the world looking for something/someone/somewhere new.