Friday, June 24, 2011

Soon Tong Seafood in Klang

Edwin led a small convoy to Klang for a seafood treat. It was to celebrate Mothers Day for three and half mothers in our party - including his soon-to-be-mum wife. We drove into Klang and came to the complicating Bulatan Simpang Lima round-about. We took the road heading towards Banting - i.e. Persiaran Tengku Ampuan Rahimah. About 3/4 km from the round-about, we turned right into Taman Selatan. The restaurant we finally arrived at was the Restoran Soon Tong (亚海鲜), on Jalan Rengas in Taman Selatan.

It was a simple makan shop at the end of a dark row of shop houses. It seemed rather isolated and out of place in the vicinity of a quiet stretch of road that led to some private residences. We got ourselves a nice table and as Edwin and wife ordered the dishes, I walked around with my camera for some pictures. Then it was deja vu. It dawned on me that I had actually been to this place before. It was easily more than 10 years ago, perhaps when my father was still alive. I remembered a nearby house and I related it to the quiet road to realize that I had been there before. The world of food is perhaps a very small one.

Edwin ordered a feast that night. It started with the hor chien (蚵煎 or oyster omelet) which was really quite good. The oysters were very fresh. But I was a little queasy over them. The little white balls looked like and reminded me of eggs of some lizards or spiders.

The shrimp salad was fantastic. It was deep fried prawns mixed into a salad of vegetable and fruits. The dressing was mayonnaise. The prawn was fresh and delicious.

The fish was a siakap or sea bass or barramundi. It was deep fried with a sweet Thai sauce and some mango and onion strips over it. It was very fresh. It was so well fried that we could eat the fins and tails - bones and all. Very nicely done indeed.

The tofu was ordinary, simple but nice. There was some minced meat and deep fried shallots over it and served with a light soy sauce.

The braised pork knuckle was eaten with a bread roll. It was not extraordinary. It was not too fat. The sauce was light and pleasant. The bread was very nice and complemented the pork very well.

We had a choy sum (菜心) for our vege dish.

The final 2 dishes took some time to arrive. And they were worth waiting for. The duck was meat deep fried with a layer of yam. It was served in a sweet soy sauce. Somehow yam complements duck meat very well. The yam was crispy at the crust. The meat was tender and delicious. I enjoyed the combination.

Soft shell crab is one of my all time favorites. I believe the soft shell is at the time when the crab is molting its old shell. What a time to be cooked! Anyway, the crabs were deep fried in a batter, in which I detected a slight flavor of curry spices. It was covered with a generous portion of deep fried yam in strips. The taste was marvelous. The crab was rich and juicy when bitten into. Most of my soft shell crab experiences were in Japanese restaurants where the servings are small and where I never had enough. But here the portions were big. In spite of the very good taste, I could only manage one piece, which was half a crab.

Soon Tong is a very credible makan place. Beside the taste, the thing that I particularly liked was the freshness of the seafood. The price was also very reasonable. That meal for 10 people with all the goodies we had came to just over RM160. The place is apparently very popular in spite its remoteness. And I could well see the reason why.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Food Foundry

The Food Foundry is an unpretentious restaurant in Section 17, PJ that serves very acceptable western meals at affordable prices. It does not boast being a gourmet haven, just priding itself as the neighbourhood's food provider.

It is located at the bottom of a block of flats at BG-8, Happy Mansion on Jalan 17/13, PJ - not far from Choon Yien char siew place and My Elephant Thai restaurant. The restaurant has 2 dinning areas. It is very basic with a random assortment of tables and chairs. It is not air conditioned and is almost without any dining ambiance. Yet it is comfortable and relaxing and a nice place to have a meal.

The menu was a clip board with pages that had seen better days. It could not be more unpretentious than this. But what's more important was the food therein. And we were not disappointed.

My lamb chop was delicious. It was well done; yet the meat was tender and juicy with a nice gravy. It was to be served with baked potatoes, but I opted for fries instead. I asked for some mint sauce, but they did not have any. What a shame. Lamb has to be eaten with some mint. The other regret was that the dish was devoid of any greens. Some vege or salad would had made it more complete.

This was pan fried dory. It was served with some very nice looking veges - cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots. I am not sure what the white gravy was. I did not have a taste of it. Whatever it was, it did look good.

The Moroccan lamb shank looked awesome. And tasted likewise too. Crystal opted for this dish and she enjoyed it thoroughly. It was served with the same veges as the dory fish. It sat on a serving of mashed potato and the gravy flowing down onto it made it look very appetizing indeed.

This was the chicken chop. Or was it the Chicken Maryland? I really cannot remember. This is as interesting as fried chicken can be. It looked rather dry, served with fries, slaw and a white sauce. I apologize for the poor description. I did not have a taste of it.

The Foundry offers a variety of pastas. SP had this marinara. I had a taste of it. It was good. The spaghetti was soft and springy. The gravy was rich and it was served with generous portions of seafood. I think I will go for pasta on my next visit there.

We ordered this Caesars Salad to share. It was superb and was gone in no time. It wasn't a small serving; just that it was so very good. I particularly like the generous sprinkling of nice crunchy croutons that felt so good with the greens.

This place is apparently famous for its mille crepe. I wasn't even aware of it until Crystal ordered it for dessert. They looked like ordinary pieces of cakes but they were actually layers of thin crepes with cream-like flavorings in between. The taste was heavenly. They offer mille crepes in different favors - mango, vanilla, chocolate, etc. Crystal tar pau (打包 or took away) a couple more pieces and the pleasure continued at home. When you are at the Foundry, do not forget their mille crepes.

Coffee was the finale of a satisfying evening of western dining.

The Food Foundry was simple, yet very nice. Places like this can be easily overlooked. The humble Happy Mansions of Section 17 have provided quite a few good and worthwhile makan places. There is another place that seemed quite popular and apparently good. I think you will hear more from these Section 17 flats in this blog.

Friday, June 10, 2011

La La Chong

This meal at the La La Chong Seafood Restaurant was a total disaster.

SP and family decided to have a meal out with us one weekend. We made arrangements to meet, only as usual, we could not decide where dinner was to be. We were all ready to drive out to meet them at their place when we got a call to say that they had decided to eat at La La Chong. This restaurant is very near our house at Ara Damansara, PJ. So we stayed put and waited for them instead.

La La Chong was a very popular restaurant at the Subang Airport, near Terminal 3 - the present Skypark terminal. Now they no longer operate there. Instead they have 2 outlets - one in Ara Damansara and the other Kayu Ara, PJ. The Ara Damansara outlet is located on Jalan PJU 1A/5A, tucked in a remote corner of our neighbourhood.

The Ara Damansara La La Chong is at the end of a roll of almost deserted shops. It has an indoor and an outdoor dining area. Upstairs, there is also an air-conditioned dining hall. Combined, they make quite a big restaurant. My family comes here every now and again, when we were too lazy to cook. We normally just have simple meals. On this occasion, our orders were a little more elaborate.

We arrived at the restaurant just before 8.00pm. It was a nice evening and we opted for open air dining and had a table outdoor. We bumped into SP's brother-in-law and family. They had just finished their meal and were about to leave. We chatted while ordering our food. And as they left, we were shocked when they told us that our bill had been settled. They bought us dinner. What a very nice gesture. But that was the only nice thing that happened to us that evening. Things then began to turn disastrous. It started with the food.

Our meal started with the tau fu kan (豆腐). La La Chong used to be famous for this thick tofu soup when they were at Subang Airport. I used to enjoy this sweet and tasty broth. The tofu was so soft and smooth and made the texture of the broth so delightful. However the soup we had that evening was not that. It was a little bland and did not taste so savory. Somehow, I thought it lacked something. I didn't know what it was. If I did, I probably would be able to cook up the same.

The lor hon chai (罗汉素) - a vegetable dish, was not like one at all. It was like a dish of Chinese cabbage. Lor hon chai is supposed to be non-leafy. There were some pieces of mushrooms, cauliflower, tau kan (腐根), etc. Normal lor hor chai does not include Chinese cabbage. But in this dish, the leafy vegetable ruled.

The hoi mei kai (海味鸡) is a chicken and seafood soup. I have always enjoyed this soup in La La Chong. It is normally half a chicken (supposedly free range chicken - 菜园鸡) boiled with conpoy (dried scallops - 乾瑤柱), fish maw (魚鰾), clams with some Chinese herbs to make a very sweet and delicious soup. It was served in a claypot. The soup did not disappoint. It was one only dish I enjoyed that night.

The next dish was a steamed prawns. They were definitely over done. Prawns should never be over-cooked, especially when steamed. When cooked right, the prawns are soft, juicy and succulent. They become hard when over done. The prawns we had that night was just that. I did not enjoyed them at all.

The la la (clams) we had was prepared "kum-heong" (金香) style. Just going by its name, I guess this restaurant should prepare their la la well. I really cannot complain about their la la. The shells were half-removed which was very considerate. The flavor was adequate. It was not bad. But it was not outstanding. It did not cause me to want more of it. The dish was only so-so. 

The crabs, cooked in chili sauce, was a failure - but not because of the flavor. The sauce was really quite good. The crabs were not. They were quite hollow and were not totally fresh. The meat in the body was soft and mushy. The claws had meager meat in them. Crab meat should be firm and sweet. What we got was soft and crabby. (Apologies for the pun)

Even the fried rice with salt fish was not good. It was actually quite tasteless. We had to eat it with the crab sauce for flavor. What could go wrong with fried rice in a restaurant like this. But that night, La La Chong did not get it right.

Half way into the meal, we felt a couple of drops of rain. We initially dismissed them. It was after all such a calm and lovely evening. Then there were more drops. Eventually we realized we had to relocate. But the restaurant was full. There was no where to relocate to. The restaurant people extended a canopy which was not all encompassing. We moved our whole table to the edge of it.

And then pandemonium reigned. The few drops turned into a storm. It rained cats and dogs. The deluge soon flooded the place. Water blew into our table. Not long after, we were knee deep in water.

We totally lost our mood to eat. Whatever lousy food served to us tasted even lousier. We had to abandon ship. Only my nephew KG continued to eat nonchalantly. 

It was a catastrophic night out. SP and wife vowed never to return. It was not just the rain. It was an AOG (act of god). It was more because of the awful food. That definitely was man-made.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Waterlily Balineses

We did not expect this to be a Balinese restaurant at all. I mean - the name 'Waterlily' - it did not remotely suggest any thing related to the exotic Indonesian island. We had passed by this place many times, and had harbored the impression that it was a pub, perhaps cum restaurant or bistro.

Thus when we walked into the place, we were most pleasantly surprised. This was also the first Balinese restaurant we have ever been to - in Malaysia and in any other part of the world.

The restaurant is located on Jalan Mutiara Tropicana 3 (off Persiaran Tropicana) in Mutiara Damansara, PJ. It may be a wee bit tricky to find if you can not familiar with the place. It is not too far from the Tropicana Golf Club.

The place was very pleasantly and tastefully furnished with unmistakable Balinese wooden furniture, paneling, soft lighting, and various Balinese artifacts and paintings. They used oil lamps to create a real soft cozy dining atmosphere.

We were ushered to a table on the ground floor, which was very well patronized that night.

After making our menu selection, I wandered upstairs and discovered an even more cozy and conducive dining hall. The up-stair dining area had a more Balinese ambiance, with wooden benches and throw-pillows.

I have never been to Bali and had no idea what Balinese food was all about. The menu was both familiar and new. I could recognize quite a number of the selections that were common with Malay cuisines. Others were totally alien.

The soto ayam was one familiar name. But the way it was served was anything but. It was presented as a soup, without any noodles or nasi impit (rice cake). Instead, a piece was garlic bread was offered. The soup was ok, not particularly great. It was a bit starchy - kind of a strange texture. I have tasted better soto ayam.

We selected the Balinese Trio - a combo of 3 types of food. We thought it would be a good way to taste a bit of the various Balinese cuisines. The three were barbecued chicken wings, 'cumi cumi goreng' which was deep fried squids, and 'sate lilit' which was a grilled fish and meat paste wrapped around a lemon grass (serai). They were served with 2 different types of sauces. All 3 servings were delicious. However, I did find them rather dry. Considering that the dish was meant as snacks for beer drinkers, I guess my complaint is unjustified.

The Kambing Bumbu was delightful. It was stir-fried lamb served with nasi kunyit (turmeric rice) and various accompaniments including kangkong, a small plate of tempe (fermented soy beans) and long beans and a piece of crispy fried cracker. I particularly enjoyed the nasi kunyit. It was fluffy and aromatic.

We shared a serving of pisang bakar for dessert. It was grilled banana served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, dessicated coconut strips, a sprinkling of peanut candy and a generous amount of rich caramel. My family found it too sweet, but I enjoyed it. It was great dessert after the spicy Balinese meal.

My meal was made complete with a mug of nice cold beer.

It was a very satisfying meal. As we walked out, I noticed they installed a wash basin at the entrance of the restaurant. What a considerate convenience. You could use it after your meal, or as mum had always insisted, wash your hands before you eat.

After the heavy meal, we took a walk and explored the nearby Jaya Grocers to burn off. Then we headed for home. We got into the car, inserted the key but nothing happened. The car was dead. The battery went flat. What an end to a lovely evening. The conked battery - that is a separate story....