Sunday, November 14, 2010

Teluk Intan failure

I came across this eatery in The Star food review article on their Metro section. It was about a small restaurant established by somebody from Teluk Intan, apparently serving "specialties" from that small Perak town.  The town used to be known as Teluk Anson (安顺), and is still fondly referred to as TA. Many years ago, the authorities restored it to its earliest name, but removed the Mak from the original Teluk Mak Intan.

Teluk Intan is my home town and in all my years growing up there, I was not aware of it being famous for any "specialty" food except the chee cheong fun (猪肠粉). Still I was curious and without wasting much time, I gathered my kins and we were there the very same weekend after the newspaper article to find out what the place was all about. The name of the restaurant is rather unusual - Anson Food Company. It is situated on Jalan 17/10 in PJ. It is a "remote" part of Section 17 where there are only three short rows of shops and which many PJ folks may not even know exist.

The place was spartan in decor and furnishing. It was gray walls, cement floor, plastic chairs and likewise table tops. It was devoid of niceties and decorations. Still it was doing a good business, possibly the immediate aftermath of the newspaper article.

The menu was impressive with a good variety of selections and was beautifully illustrated. Perhaps they were a little over-ambitious, attempting to serve too many dishes that they somehow could not cope.

We took a bit of time going thru the menu. The dished looked very good in pictures. We made our selections and then waited, and waited. Nothing came to our table. No fork, no spoon, no plate, nothing. Not even our drinks. We had to remind the waiter a couple of times before the drinks finally came and only after the food was served. No, we didn't asked for any hard-to-prepare drinks - just plain water and Chinese tea.

After the arrival of the food, we asked for some chili. The waiter muttered that they didn't have any but he would look for it. He later came out with a small plate of pickled green chili. No, we said, we wanted chili padi or red chili. No sir, they didn't have any other chili. No chili in a Malaysian restaurant - to me it is a cardinal failure.

The first dish to arrive was the tofu in "Anson special sauce". The tofu was most ordinary and we did not find anything special about the sauce - certainly not in taste.

We had asked for their crispy duck which I read was apparently their signature dish. But the waiter returned to tell us that it was sold out. OK, we converted our order to the Anson braised duck. It looked very unappetizing. I did not taste any flavor of duck meat at all.

So was the soya sauce chicken. When both the dishes were on the table, we could not tell which was the chicken and which was the duck. They tasted the same. The chicken did not look at all like how it was presented in the menu. The actual dish was like this...

... while the picture in the menu looked like thus. We had to ask the waiter if he gave us the right chicken. He confirmed that ours was indeed the soya sauce chicken.

The Hakka pork belly and yam was perhaps the most palatable dish that evening. It was flavorful but the meat was too fatty for us.

The sambal-stuffed fish was rather dry and did not have enough sambal in them. There was no sambal kick. Our daughter was not even aware that is was sambal-stuffed. She thought they were ordinary fried mackerel.

Our last order was the plain kai lan (芥蘭). It was so ordinary. Really nothing to write about.

Towards the end of our meal, the waiter brought us a dish of vinegar pork knuckles (猪脚醋) - compliment of the house. I wondered why they needed to compliment us. I was not sure if they did the same for other tables. The waiter also asked us if everything was satisfactory. Perhaps it was because I went around taking pictures of the restaurant, and of the the dishes. With the recent The Star article, perhaps they thought I was another pressman also doing an article of the place.

Anyway, the vinegar pork knuckle was not good. It was mostly bones. Whatever meat in the dish was soft and mushy. Looked like it had been cooked and re-cooked for many days.

All in all, it was a most unsatisfactory meal. The bill was even more so. The duck was RM26. The chicken was RM25. The Chinese tea (not refillable) was RM2 per cup. Far too expensive for a place like that.

There was nothing positive that I can write about this makan place - not the ambiance, not the service, not the price, and certainly not the food. To me, this was one big home town failure.

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