Monday, April 14, 2014

Crazy Crabs

I had mentioned in a previous posting that I would be featuring more makan places in the Oasis Square in Ara Damansara. This is yet another one. The Crazy Crabs is apparently owned by the same proprietors as the nearby Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock. We were eating in Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock one day when a service guy told us not to miss Crazy Crabs. And so we went.

Crazy Crabs occupies a prime spot in the central court of the Oasis Square. It is a big restaurant, with tables spilling into the walkway.

And they have a dining area up the stairs on the upper floor of the building.

We decided to dine alfresco and picked a table with a view like this.

The menu was simple, with not a whole lot of selections. What you see in my picture below were all they had to offer. Surprisingly, in spite of this name, they only offered 4 different dishes of crab - salt baked, butter milk, steamed and kam heong (金香 - a Chinese spicy concoction). The other options in the menu were very common and ordinary, and nothing interesting to look forward to.

Like a lot of seafood restaurant, the aquarium display was obligatory.

We made our choice in a jiffy. There was not much to choose from anyway. With such an elaborate set up and in such a prime location, I would had thought they would be more imaginative in their menu.

We started with the siong tong lala (上汤拉拉 - lala in superior soup). The clams were of good size. They were fresh and the soup tasted very delicious. Eating lala anywhere is really quite a waste of time. The shells occupied 90% of the dish and the morsels were hardly anything. I guess we enjoyed the soup more.

The seafood koay teow (Cantonese style) was very good. There was ample pieces of shrimps, squids and fish. The gravy was thick and tasty. I enjoyed this noodle. If I return, this would be the top of my list.

This was the 四大天王 -  a mixture of 4 vegetables fried in chilli and dried shrimps. In the plate were long beans, okra, brinjal and petai. It was not bad. Not too spicy and the fragrance of the dried shrimps was distinct.

We ordered the satay after we saw it delivered to a nearby table. It looked so good - big and juicy. But only the looks. The taste turned out disappointing. The satay tasted very curried and did not have the roast flavour. It was not authentic. The meat tasted like it was marinated with curry powder. The sauce likewise was not authentic. It lacked the peanut flavour. To me, this was a satay fail.

The finale was, but of course, the crab. We picked steamed for the original crab flavour. It was 2 huge crabs of about 600 gms each. The crab was super fresh. The flesh was sweet and firm. We took our time to relish the dish with our fingers. They provided a plate of chilli sauce. There really was no need for it. The crab tasted good by itself.

This restaurant has a nice lavish set up in a very well appointed location. But it did not have the food offerings to build up a reputation. I don't mean that the food was bad. In fact it was credible and worth a revisit. But the menu was so mundane and unexciting. They could certainly be more innovative. And where were the crab dishes?

Yet the crowd packed in. By nightfall, the place was almost full. Perhaps they enjoyed the ambiance more.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Tasty Porridge

We were in the mood for some porridge. Honkee immediately came to mind. But we could not find them any more. Their outlet in PJ Uptown was no longer there. So was their branch in USJ10, Subang Jaya. Both had closed shop. We wondered if Honkee, Klang Valley wide, had finally called it a day. While we cruised USJ10 with blank minds, wondering what to have for dinner, we stumbled on this place - Tasty Porridge.

The place is located on Jalan USJ10/1C, opposite the car park complex in USJ10. It was just our luck, our crave for porridge was not to be in vain. But the place was packed. This apparently was a popular makan place. We were going to find out if their food was that good to attract all these people.

Porridge was obviously the mainstay of what they had to offer. But they also served rice. And there were quite a number of dishes that went with rice - including, of all things in a porridge shop, fish head curry.

We came for porridge and we stuck with that. I ordered a bowl of my favourite - the pork innards porridge (chu chap chok - 猪杂粥). It was good. The porridge was typically Cantonese (Hongkong style), boiled to a gruel. In my bowl were adequate variety of pork innards. On top were pieces of deep fried pork intestine. These fried intestines are absolutely my favourite - one of the reasons why I love this pork innards porridge. But I found the fried intestine insufficient. I wish they had been more generous on that. Still I enjoyed the porridge. It did not disappoint.

My wife's choice was rather unique - minced pork and salted egg. I had a taste of it. It was good. The salted egg blended very well with the minced pork and the porridge was flavourful. She liked it enough to order it again on a subsequent visit.

The yew char kueh (油炸鬼) to go with the porridge was surprisingly good. It appeared freshly fried, still crispy and not at all soft or flaccid. Dipped into the porridge, the crispy YCK tasted very good indeed. I was impressed that the shop serves such fresh YCK. I think they made their own YCK as against buying them off the street which by then would be limp and totally not the same.

On the table were various condiments - sesame oil, pepper, fried shallots in oil and soy sauce - to complement our porridge.

We liked the porridge so much that we re-visited the restaurant a couple more times. And each time we ordered one or two side dishes. This salty chicken dish had a thumb-up in the menu. And indeed, it tasted very good. It was served piping hot in a claypot. The aroma was mouth-watering. The sauce was salty and tasty - with some goji (wolfberries). And the chicken meat was tender.

This mui choy stewed pork (梅菜肉) also had a thumb-up. And it too was served hot in a claypot. It was a very well done. The flavour was really good. They blended the mui choy (梅菜) very well with the meat. It was not at all salty. The belly meat had some layers of fat in it - sinful but what good meat is without some fat?

This soft tofu (水豆腐) is more suited for rice. But we had it anyway. It was quite ordinary. 

So was the blanched vege. There was a good amount of deep fried shallots. Certainly made a difference to the flavour.

This place is a porridge haven. Besides the pork innards, and the salted egg and mince meat, they have a good variety of other porridge flavours. And if your dining partner is not in the mood or dislike porridge, there is always rice and dishes for him or her. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Choon Prawn Mee House

Peter Kang used to have a prawn mee stall at the O&S coffee shop in PJ Paramount Garden. Not too long ago, he moved out to open his own makan place specialising in, what else but Hokkein prawn mee. 

He calls his shop Choon Prawn Mee House. Choon apparently is his nickname. Or perhaps even his actual Chinese name. I know him only as Peter. Anyway, his shop is only several doors away from the O&S coffee shop, along Jalan 20/14.

I asked him how his business was. "OK lah," he said in his modest genial manner, "can cari makan (can make a living)."

Judging by the crowd in his place that weekend morning, I think he did better than just "cari makan". He had several foreign workers and all of them were working hard to cope with an constant flow of customers.

His shop was basic but comfortable. It was even air conditioned. He brought along his old stall from from O&S coffee shop. Ever wondered why all prawn mee stalls have this unique design - with a glass window?

He had a proper menu. His main offer was of course prawn mee, with various extras - pork ribs, pork tail, pork intestines and so on. Beside that, he also offered other coffee-shop food like chee cheong fun, koay teow soup, nasi lemak, to name a few.

And the whole range of hot and cold beverages. We opted for the normal tea with milk. They came in mugs, which was nice and sufficient.

I ordered a bowl of prawn mee with pork tail and intestine. Peter Kang certainly had not lost his touch. As far as I could remember, it tasted exactly the same as it was in O&S. There were nice pieces of pork tails. The intestine tasted particularly good. The soup was rich and tasty but rather oily. The generous sprinkling of fried shallot and the small dish of chilli added extra oomph to the total flavour. This bowl reinforced my verdict that Peter serves the best prawn mee in Petaling Jaya.

My wife had this bowl of koay teow soup. In it were fish balls, fish cake, pork slices and ample chu yaw char (猪油渣). I had a taste of the soup. Not bad at all. There was definitely adequate flavour in the clear soup.

My wife likes Penang chee cheong fun (猪肠粉). So we ordered a plate. Again, it was good. The prawn paste sauce was thick and flavourful. A dash of chilli paste added to the flavour. The ample fried shallots and sesame seeds made the dish very appetising.

We only managed to taste 3 dishes in Peter Kang's new makan shop. And we liked them all. I wish him luck in his new business venture. I hope he will be around for a long long time; so that whenever I have an itch for Penang prawn mee with some juicy pork tail and intestine, he would be there to serve me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kumar in Oasis Square

The Oasis Square in Ara Damansara has matured into a wonderful food haven. The central area is very well done with water fountains and simmering pools. It is especially nice in the evening when lights combined with the water provide a carnival atmosphere to dine, drink or simply walk around. Beside this central area are side roads where there are a lot more restaurants and eateries to indulge in.

I have written on several food outlets in the Oasis Square in the past. This is yet another and will not be the last. There are still more restaurants that I have not patronised.

This time it is Indian food. There are three large mamak places in the Oasis Square, but they are not my focus. My subject is an elegant Indian restaurant simply named Kumar's. It is located in the central water area and adds to the electric atmosphere of the whole place.

Kumar's is gracefully furnished with a very conducive contemporary ambiance. My wife and I had eaten here several times and we had liked the atmosphere and the food each time.

It was a large dining party this time around. We were allocated a long table on the upper floor. We went up the stairs...

Into another large dining hall. We were the only group upstairs. It was like having the whole restaurant to ourselves.

Our table was by the side of large frontal glass windows. We had the whole view of the revelry below. It was a most pleasant dining experience indeed.

The restaurants takes it business seriously. They apparently attempted to project a fine dining image. We dined on appointed Kumar's cutleries. But they neglected on proper fabric napkins and provided paper serviettes instead.

Drinks all round were by choice, non-alcoholic. Kumar's does have a wine selection. The popular choice that evening was the mango lassi.

I went against the norm and opted for a salty lassi instead. I instructed the waiter to put in less salt. My "lassi masin" (salty lassi) during my previous visit was far too salty. As it turned out, the waiter followed my instructions a little too far. It was not sufficiently salty and tasted a little bland.

Generous portions of papadam were brought to the table to tease our taste buds.

Then the dishes began to arrive. Heading the pack was the curry fish head. Two big portions were served. The fish was very fresh. The curry was rich and creamy. In it were some nice tender okras (ladies fingers) and brinjal.

This was a chicken curry. The aroma was authentically Indian. 

Same with the mutton masala. The use of spices was perfect.

Squid rings cooked in spices and curry leaves. The squid was over-done and rubbery in texture. But the flavour was very good.

This dish of spinach was wonderfully done. It was cooked with cubed cheese. It was delicious.

Bitter gourd with lentil. A great combination.

I honestly am not sure what this dish was. There were multiple plates of the various dishes - spread on our long table. I went around busily taking shots of the dishes. When I finally settled down to eat, the meal was well under way. I don't think I got to taste all the dishes. This might had been one I missed. Whatever this was, it certainly looked good.

I think I know what this was - a dish of potato. Like all their dishes the combination of spices was superb.

All these were eaten with fabulous pieces of naan. The bread were thick and soft, and the texture was great. Really good quality bread.

The nasi briyani was likewise marvellous. The basmati was long and fluffy. The saffron and spices in the rice were absolutely right. But the servings were rather small. I didn't think I had enough of it.

This was their rasam. Unfortunately they did not provide us individual bowls. How were we supposed to share the soup? I had a sip of it. It was not great. I had tasted better rasam. So, individual bowls or not, I didn't think I missed much.

The Kumar's is a great Indian restaurant. The locale and ambiance was fantastic. The food was very respectable. Somewhat pricey, but certainly a place worth the while.