So, how do you fancy a restaurant that centres on bitter gourd? There is one in PJ, Taman SEA. The name of the shop is Restoran Fu Kua (苦瓜潮州菜馆 - translated as Bitter Gourd Teochew Restaurant). It is located on 19, Jalan SS23/15 - co-ordinates N3 06.931 E101 36.748.
In spite of the infamous gourd that it specializes on, it is really quite popular. The restaurant occupies 2 shop lots - one is air-conditioned and in the other, you have to sweat a little. The decor, from the wall to the tables and chairs, are in yellow and green - the colour of bitter gourd. There are tables spilling to the 5-foot walkway and even to the road. On the day we were there, the air conditioned section was full and we had to settle to being fan cooled.
The restaurant has a dazzling selection of bitter gourd servings. They have bitter gourd cooked with chicken, fish, beef, pork, venison, seafood and so on and so on. The selection is displayed on a huge board on the wall. For people who cannot stand the taste of bitter gourd and who have been dragged along by their parents, spouses or friends, mercifully they also have a good selection of non bitter gourd dishes. The menu printed on yellow cards, was so compact with so much selections; it was too difficult to read and absorb. I had to put it down and asked the waiting lady for her recommendations.
The place is famous for it bitter gourd soup (苦瓜汤). So we naturally had to have that. It turned out to look like any bitter gourd soup. But it tasted very good. There were pieces of pork in the soup that were smooth and tender. The soup had the tingling bitter flavor that I liked very much. Highly recommended.
Next was the bitter gourd omelet. I had tried making this omelet at home but it did not turn up to be good. The bitter gourd omelet in this restaurant had a very nice bitter taste.
Our daughter was one who was dragged there. So we ordered a venison in black pepper for her. The meat was very tender. The black pepper sauce was good. We liked it.
Our final dish was a red snapper steamed with choy po (菜甫). It is apparently a Teochew preparation. The choy po was chopped into tiny bits. I had never tried fish steamed with choy po. And I did not quite like it. I found the choy po too strong for the fish. The dish was also too salty. We should had order a plain steam instead.
The o-ni (芋泥 - Teochew yam paste) we had for dessert was rather different from those we had in other places. It was water based rather than oil. O-ni in most places are cooked in a lot of oil but here, it was cooked in a watery sugar syrup. It had some some gingko and a reddish (I believe was pumpkin) condiment on the surface. It wasn't bad. Perhaps the oily o-ni tasted better. Still, after a meal some thing sweet was welcome.
The meal was rather pleasant. It certainly wasn't a nightmare. Unfortunately there were only 3 of us, and our daughter was not a fu kua fan. So we did not get to taste many of their bitter gourd dishes. Perhaps next time. I will have to get a few bitter gourd die-hards and have a fu kua orgy.