Sunday, September 26, 2010

Healthy soups

To the Chinese especially the Cantonese, soup is a very important component of a healthy diet. The Cantonese take their soups very seriously. They boil and double-boil for hours to extract the goodness of the ingredients they use. Often sons and daughters are summoned back home by their mothers for their regular fill of thong sui (汤水).

Well, perhaps you need not go back to mum for that after all. For in Plaza Damas in Sri Hartamas, there is this nice small restaurant that specializes in soups. All types of it. The place is known as Ah Yip Herbal Soup. It is located on the second floor of Plaza Damas on Jalan Sri Hartamas.

They have a wide variety of soups in their menu. The most humble is sold at RM15 while the mighty wild ginseng and cordyceps soup is at a whopping RM88 per shot. 

The function of each soup is written in the menu. Some are for general health while others are very specific - for the skin, for the various organs of your body and even for the manhood.

Beside soups, the place offers rice, noodles and various meat and vegetable dishes. That is most logical. A soup is always taken with a meal and over there, you have everything that mum would want you to have. They have a very reasonable set offering. You order your soup and for an additional RM3, you get a set meal of rice, chicken and vegetable. Very wholesome indeed.

Or if you prefer noodle, they have a good selection too. Most of them are served in good nourishing herbal soups that are not only beneficial to health but very delicious too.

And of course desserts. What meal is complete with some sweet? For that Ah Yip offers some nourishing natural desserts. Like this bowl of snow fungus (雪耳), longan (龍眼) and lotus seeds (蓮子).

Even drinks they serve are healthy. No frizzy drinks that mum disapproves. They serve fresh fruits juices or traditional Chinese drinks like this boiled sugar cane (竹蔗水).

So... Go ahead. Call mum. Tell her not to worry. Tell her you will be well taken of and will have your fill of thong sui (汤水) and everything good.  Ah Yip is available in 8 locations in the Klang Valley - in City Square Complex, Plaza Low Yat, The Mines Shopping Fair, The Summit in USJ, Kompleks Mutiara in Jalan Ipoh, First World Plaza and the Pavilion. Find one near you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This is my favorite yong tau fu (釀豆腐) place in PJ. The name is Restoran 3A Yong Tau Foo & Cheong Fun. It is located just 2 doors from Green View on Jalan 19/3 in Section 19 PJ. I have visited this place many times and often had to drag my wife along as she is not too fond of YTF.

The place is always jammed during lunch time. It is pork free and I have seen Malaysians of various ethnicity eating in this place.

They serve 15 different types of YTF here. Beside them, they also offer a limited selection of chicken, fish and vegetables dishes and various preparations of noodles.

The YTF, sold at RM1 apiece, are generously stuffed. There are the wet and the dry varieties. My personal favorite are the stuffed long beans. They are not commonly available elsewhere. The long beans are crunchy and fish paste is thick and springy. And of course, there are the ever popular crispy stuffed fu chuk (腐竹) and sui kow (水饺).

They offer various types of noodles to accompany the YTF. The noodles may be in clear soup, kon lo (干捞),  curry or fried. The curry in this shop is not bad at all. I enjoyed it.

I liked the stir fried glass noodles too.

And of course the chee cheong fun (猪肠粉). It comes with some crunchy deep fried dried shrimps and shallots. Very delightful. You have the choice of having it in curry or in chili and sweet sauces.

Or you can opt to have rice. For that they have some chicken dishes, vegetables, assam fish and Thai style tau fu. I have seen a lot of people having the honey chicken which to me, was quite ordinary.

Last but not least, their desserts. They have various tong sui (糖水) on different days of the week. On Saturdays, they have a really nice bubur cha cha which I like very much. There are sweet potatoes, yams, beans, etc in it. The bubur is creamy and rich in santan. This bubur cha cha is highly recommended.

3A YTF is opened at 11.00 am daily. On weekends, they are available one hour earlier at 10.00 am. They stay open for dinner. However, I feel they food they serve is more for lunch.

For YTF lovers, this place is definitely worth a visit.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fish & Noodle House

I had been eying this fish head shop for quite some time, but did not get to patronize it. When we finally did, I could not help but compared it to Guo Lou Choy on every aspect of the makan experience.

The Fish & Noodle House is located on Jalan SS 20/11 in Damansara Kim, PJ. It is adjacently opposite the Damansare Kim branch of the Extra Super Tanker. It is rather small and plainly furnished, with simple tables and stools that are not very comfortable.

Unlike Gou Lou Choy, the menu here is very limited. It offers just a small variety of fish head, fish fillet and salmon noodles and rice. The side dishes are also very limited.

We started the meal with some chrysanthemum tea with some wolf berries (枸杞) in it. It was nice and refreshing.

My wife had a bowl of fish head mee hoon with milk. The fish head was deep fried. Like Guo Lou Choy, there was an option whether to have the fish deep fried or otherwise. The serving was not as generous as Guo Lou Choy.

I decided on the fish paste (鱼滑) noodle without milk. There was a paltry 3 pieces of fish paste. The noodle serving was small. But the soup was really nice and tasty.

We had a plate of blanched choy sum (菜心). It came devoid of any sauce - just some sprinkling of fried shallots. I guess it is meant to be eaten with the noodles and soup.

To me, the jewel in the crown of the meal was the fried fish skin. It was a tiny plate of extraordinarily crispy fish skin that was so delightful to munch. If you are ever in the Fish & Noodle House, just do not forget this side dish. I could not find this in Guo Lou Choy nor in any other makan place in Klang Valley. It was one of a kind.

The meal was quite enjoyable. Being the glutton I am, I only lament on the limited menu selections and the small servings in this makan place. I could not find very much difference in taste and flavor between this place and Guo Lou Choy. But I think I like GLC better. The fish in GLC come in more generous portions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lorong Seratus Tahun

If you are in PJ and dying to have some good genuine Penang makan, this is probably not the place to come to.

The place not to go is Lorong Seratus Tahun (One Hundred Year Lane or 百年路). It is located in Jalan SS 2/66 in the SS2 town centre, PJ. It professes to serve authentic Penang cuisines, but after having visited the place a number of times, I really do not feel it lives up to what it proclaims.

It apparently got its unusual name from a famous curry mee stall in Penang, which is located in a lane that carries the same name off Jalan Anson. Thus this shop is supposedly good for the curry mee and whether or not it has any connection to the famed stall in Penang, I really do not know.

At our last visit, we noted a total makeover of the restaurant. It has a new interior and new furniture. In the previous set up, they had some mickey-mouse seats that were neither chairs nor stools and were very uncomfortable to be on. Now they are proper chairs and the decor is much more pleasing.

We did not have the curry noodles during this visit, so I do not have any visual to show you how it looked like. But believe me, I had tried it on previous visits and it was not great.

This time I opted for the char koay teow and it was not great either. It was rather mushy and overdone. The taugeh was over cooked and the prawns were burnt. It was nothing like the CKT you get in Penang.

The bowl of  fishball koay teow looked and tasted very ordinary. It came with a couple of ordinary fishballs, slices of fish cake and shredded chicken. The soup was not sufficiently sweet and tasty. 

The lemon chicken was served with rice, a sunny-side-up egg and some lemon sauce. I tasted the chicken. It was not bad. But I thought the whole thing was rather dry.

We had a plate of assorted lobak and this was how it looked like. It was less than ordinary and was not good. I did not enjoy it. The only thing I savored was the century egg and the pickle ginger.

The sotong kangkong came totally covered with grounded peanuts. I like the peanuts. The sauce was not bad. I guess it wasn't too bad a dish.

The Penang chee cheong fun (猪肠粉) was not bad at all. It was served with a generous sprinkling of fried shallots and sesame seeds. I guess this was my favorite dish in the whole meal. 

All in all, it was not too bad a meal. We may probably return for more. But Penang authenticity? I have to differ. There are definitely other makan places in the Klang Valley which would do more credit to Penang.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Uniquely fresh seafood

It was a treat to remember.

Restaurant Fresh Unique Seafood 23 (quite a mouthful name) is located on Jalan Kemajuan in Section 13, PJ. It is in the same vicinity as the PJ branch of the Ah Yat Abalone Forum. According to its website, the restaurant is owned by an Ipoh company with outlets in Kayu Ara PJ, Cheras and Tambun, Ipoh.

The place is big, with a large main dining hall and several private dining rooms at the back.

At one side of the restaurant is a large aquarium complex. In it were crabs, lobsters, fish and seafood of various sizes and origin. There were the Alaskan king crabs, Australian snow crabs, Scotland clams, Californian geoducks and various types of lobsters from I-don't-know-where.

One item in the aquarium that struck me was the large Empurau fish. Empurau is a fresh water fish from East Malaysia. It is supposedly the most expensive food fish in Malaysia.  It was being sold at RM650 per kilogram.

Twelve of our family members dined there one Saturday evening. We had a private room. We started with some wine while waiting for our food.

The first dish was the blanched grass prawns (草虾). It was fresh prawn plainly blanched, to be dipped in a chilli or garlic sauce. It was cooked just right - not under or over done. It was absolutely succulent and very delicious.

The braised lamb that followed was also very delicious. It was done in a peppery sauce. However the lamb was over-tenderized and rather soft. I would prefer the original lamb texture. It also lacked the gamy flavor which I like in lamb.

The tofu dish was simple but good. The large pieces of home-made tofu were accompanied with some tau kan (腐根) and vege in a light simple sauce. 

Next was what the restaurant called "Scotland clams". I tried googling "Scotland clam" but found nothing. In the aquarium, it looked like this...

The clams were steamed with garlic and glass noodles (粉絲). They were served individually in small elongated dishes. This is the first time I had "Scotland clams" but I found them rather ordinary. The pieces of meat in the shell tasted were not very much different from ordinary squids.

The vege dish was the kai lan (芥蘭) prepared dual style. Part of the vegetable was blanched the normal way and some of the leaves were shredded finely and deep fried till crunchy, with tiny strips of deep fried cuttlefish. I have tasted this preparation in Evergreen before. I found the preparation here better.

The grouper served to us was a big fish. It was steamed in a simple soy sauce. The freshness of the fish was most evident. The meat of the fish was sliced into bite pieces before they were steamed. We had it with steamed rice. The sauce in hot rice was most delicious.

The finale was the Alaskan king crab. Its origin was perhaps from the same Discovery Channel Deadliest Catches. It was a huge crab - just one was enough for the 12 of us. It was prepared in the restaurant's signature style, in a mild sauce that was supposedly to bring up the genuine flavor of the crab. Indeed the sauce did not over power the sweet succulent taste of the crab meat. We all enjoyed it very much.

The experience at Fresh Unique Seafood 23 was great. The dishes were not elaborately cooked as to mask the freshness and original flavor of the seafood. I would definitely return. I only wish they are not so pricey.

Thanks Mei.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Crispy yam prawn

I remember my late mother prepared this delicious crispy yam prawn many many years ago.

You need some mid size prawns, shelled and seasoned with some black pepper and salt.

And of course yam (or taro).

For 20 mid size prawns, you will need just half a normal yam.

Grate the yam into fine strips like so.

Prepare the batter. Mix about 150 gm of self raising flour with 5 tablespoons of cooking oil.

Add in about half cup of water to get a nice semi-liquid mixture. Stir the mixture for about 15 minutes to get allow the leavening in the flour to work.

Heat some oil in a wok.

Deep fry the prawns individually with the yam shreds and batter.

To do so, dip a prawn with a small amount of yam shreds in the batter. Then fry it in the hot oil. The prawn and yam should be fried in a medium flame. The pieces are done until it is a light golden brown.

The outcome looks something like this.

It is absolutely superb. The yam is wonderfully crispy and the prawn is soft inside and provides a nice flavor to the crunch.