Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yishensu Vegetarian

Our first encounter with Yishensu vegetarian restaurant was when we went there to tar pau (打包 or take away) lunch for Crystal's grandma who was on a vegetarian diet during the Chinese 9th Emperor God (九皇爺) festival. We packed the vegetarian claypot chicken rice for her and apparently it was very good. So we went back for a meal.

Yishensu (一心素 - I think it is translated to mean "vegetarian at heart") is located on the ground floor (Lot G207) of the old wing of 1-Utama shopping complex. Besides 1-U, they have outlets in Klang, Ipoh and Kampar. 

The outlet at 1-U is very nicely and tastefully furnished. It appears bright and friendly. There is a very comfortable sitting lounge at the entrance - for patrons waiting for their tables. 

On display were some works or art that were up for sale.

Our lunch started with a nice pot of "tei guanyin" (铁觀音). This is our favorite tea. 

The first dish on our table was the curry mutton. It was very nice. The curry was rich with a full curry flavor. The vege mutton, apparently made from stumps of dried Chinese mushrooms, tasted authentic with the flavor and texture of real mutton. There were potato and some veges in the curry. It complemented our rice very well.

This was the potato salad with mayo sauce. It was not fantastic but I had no complaint.

And this was the clay chicken rice that granny ate. Having heard how good it was, we naturally had to try. And it did not disappoint. Grandma was right. It was delicious. It was the sauce in the piping hot rice that made it so very good. The chicken, being vegetarian, was nothing much to shout about.

I have never tried egg plant (brinjal) fried with salted fish - vegetarian or otherwise. The pseudo salted fish were in big chunks. Had it been the real thing, the whole dish would had been too salty. The so-called salted fish was like any vegetarian fish. It was actually quite pleasant.

Finally we had a plate of black pepper udon. This noodle dish was Crystal's picking. It had some minced meat (vege of course) and mushroom over it. The sauce was light and had a nice black peppery flavor. But I wasn't crazy about it. I found it just so-so.

The prices at Yishensu were rather high. These wannabes are actually more expensive than the real stuffs. Still, the lunch was very pleasant. It was the subsequent shopping and walking that was not.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Park Village, Klang

We were summoned to dinner one Sunday evening. Edwin was buying. I had no idea what the occasion was. I did ask him. He said it was just an ordinary dinner. But the meal turned out to be anything but ordinary.

The restaurant he picked is in Klang. It is known as the Park Village Restaurant. Its Chinese name 百里香 (translated literally as Hundred Inside Fragrant) does not match its English name and does not sense to me either. Anyway, it is located on Jalan Batai Laut at Taman Intan, in the outskirts of Klang. It is not far from Kuala Pulai Bak Kut Teh shop that was featured in an earlier posting.

The restaurant was rather ordinary. It was bright and pleasant, and not horribly crowded. Good place to catch up with the folks. On that night, for most of us, it was particularly nice to meet Eugene's girlfriend for the very first time. Perhaps that was the reason for the dinner.

Dinner started with the tofu soup (豆腐羹). It was a very pleasant thick soup, with crab meat and other good stuffs in it. The tofu made it smooth. And it was sweet and tasted very nice with a dash of black vinegar.

When the next dish was served, I had no idea that it was mantis prawn. It was pieces of mantis meat, deep fried and then stir fried in a thick and sweet soy sauce. I did not particularly find it great. I could not tell that it was mantis prawn even when I bit on it. I think the original flavor and texture of the mantis was killed in the deep frying.

Then it was tofu with minced meat. The tofu was lightly fried and the minced pork that accompanied it was cooked in a nice rich sauce. The combination was very nice and tasty.

The deep fried pork knuckle was most enjoyable but immensely sinful. Nice things are never good - sad but true. It was fried to a delightful crispy skin and the meat below was tender and succulent. It was served with some nice chili sauce. I don't think there was anybody in the table who did not enjoy it.

The chicken was cooked in 2 different ways. One half was steamed with some Chinese herbs. I detected wolfberries (枸杞) and dong quai (當歸 or angelica sinensis) in it. It was simple and pleasant, and a nice departure from the rich and oily stuffs.

The other half was deep fried, which was quite ordinary. It was served with some keropok (crackers) and the same chili sauce that came with the pork knuckle.

The fish was steamed assam style. It was half the head of a good size grouper. The assam sauce was rich and spicy - with some okra (ladies finger), long beans and curiously, slices of lotus root. The fish was, most importantly, fresh.

There were 2 vege dishes. The first was a stir fried mixture of vegetables (celery, carrot, beans, lotus root, fungus, etc) and macadamia nuts. I particularly like the nuts which was crunchy and delicious.

Second and final was a dish of mushrooms and broccoli in a thick oyster sauce. There were 2 types of mushrooms in it - the normal Chinese mushroom and other is beyond me. I don't know what it is called. The dish was simple and good.

Dessert was a fried sesame ball filled with lotus bean paste. Sweet ending to a wonderful "ordinary" dinner.

Thanks Edwin. But what was the celebration?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kuala Selangor

I can think of 2 reasons why city folks would want to go to Kuala Selangor - to taste the very reasonably priced sea food and to buy some real fresh fish. We went there for both. Well, perhaps there is a 3rd reason - the fireflies. But then, I am talking about food....

Kuala Selangor is located near the mouth of the Sungei Selangor (Selangor River). We drove to Shah Alam and there joined the Guthrie Corridor Expressway. Exiting the expressway, we turned right into Jalan Kuala Selangor. We passed Ijok. I heard there are some good eating places in Ijok, so we must make a stop there one day.

Soon we arrived into Kuala Selangor town. We drove pass it and crossed the Sungei Selangor bridge.

Immediately after that, we made a left turn into the fishing village of Pasir Penambang. Just after the Pasir Penambang wet market, we made another left turn into a small country path and that led us to a fishing settlement by the Selangor river that had apparently transformed itself into a makan haven - perhaps to cater for city folks like us. There are many seafood places in this settlement - all built on stilts along the river bank. They are really very pleasant and make great photography too.

The restaurant we picked was the first in this row of eateries. The name of the place is Restaurant Kuan Hwa, along Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu, Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor. You may need satellite assistance to get there. The co-ordinates are N03 21.108, E101 14.956. 

The restaurant is big, spacious and typically Chinese. It had a very relaxing and laid-back aura. 

At one corner, there were tanks of live fish, shells, mantis prawns and other sea creatures that you can select for your meal.

We took a table at the edge overlooking the river. It was most conducive for a Sunday afternoon lunch. The Selangor river is very clean. There was not a trace of trash in the river and its banks. Compliments to the folks in this area. It made our meal a lot more pleasant.

We started our meal with the deep fried sotong (squid). It was done in a batter spiced with a curry flavor. Being the first to be served, it was a hot favorite and was quickly snapped up. The sotong was very fresh. It was very well done and the rapid emptying of the plate was justice to its very good flavor.

I liked the second serving very much. It was a clam soup - ala Chinese style. The clam was kind of like la la - only with a much thicker shell. The locals there call it kapar. It was cooked in a tasty soup (上汤). The soup was delicious, spiced with some chili padi and Chinese wolf berries (枸杞). The clams were, as expected, absolutely fresh - probably live from the tanks.

The mantis prawns were another delight. It was perfectly steamed - not at all over done - and the meat was succulently at the right texture. They were of good sizes too. They were done in a light soy sauce and some ginger strips. I remember when we were small, mantis prawns were not at all popular for apparent lack of meat. But that really is not true for when the belly shells of the mantis prawns were peeled off, thick slabs of juicy meat revealed themselves. Absolutely wonderful especially when they were so very fresh.

Sting ray is one of my favorite fish. But it has to be really fresh. Needless to mention, the ray we were served was exactly that. It was cooked in an assam sauce, which I did not find to be great. It was like an over spiced and over-soured tomato ketchup. But never mind the "small" hitch. The ray was great. Rarely do we find sting ray this fresh. Everything else is forgiven.

The fish we had steamed was a snapper. It was done in the same soy sauce as in the mantis prawns. Again, we enjoyed the freshness of the fish. 

For vege, we had the sei tai theen wong (四大天王). It was a combo of 4 vegetables - okra (ladies' finger), long beans, brinjal and four-angled beans (aka wing beans) - fried in a sambal.

The last dish would perhaps be best taken at the start of the meal. It was a thick tofu soup (豆腐羹). But it did not arrive until we had finished our meal. Perhaps they forgot. So we had to have it as "dessert". And it turned out to be a disaster of sort. This thick soup is usually taken with some black vinegar. And so we did. The soup wasn't bad at all. It was sweet and rich and in it were generous bits of prawns and other seafood. When we were almost done, my sharp eyed nephew noticed some foreign objects in the bottle of vinegar. They were some tiny maggots that were barely visible to the naked eyes. By then it was too late for me. I had already downed my bowl of the soup with a good dose of the vinegar. We summoned the head waitress. She apologized profusely and waved the price of the soup. Fortunately nothing happened to me. I became the living proof that vinegar pickled maggots are ok for human consumption.

This is the cap of the vinegar bottle. If your eye sight is as good as my nephew, you can see a couple of the yucky vermin.

After makan, we headed off to buy some fresh fish. We came prepared with our ice boxes. Just next to the restaurant is a fish monger. 

I found the place very worthwhile. The fish they vend were all fresh from the boats and they were very reasonably priced.

They also sell frozen seafood and various dried stuffs.

They even clean the fish for you.

We filled our ice boxes and headed to the Pasir Penambang wet market to browse further.

There, the choices were more. But the prices were considerably higher and I do not think the fish here were as fresh as the ones we bought earlier. Still we added into our ice boxes and headed contentedly home.

It was a fantastic Sunday outing. There was our second trip to a coastal small town for seafood makan and fresh fish. The previous was to Sekinchan. Of the two, I most definitely prefer Kuala Selangor. To start with, it is nearer. And the choice of restaurants is a lot more. I told myself I would be back. And indeed I was....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dave's Bistro

I have been to this bistro a couple of time and I like it very much. The last visit was for the annual commemoration of my existence - a belated one. I was offered the choice of restaurants and I opted for lunch at the Dave's Bistro Bar & Grill. The place is located on the ground floor of the 1-Utama shopping complex in PJ - at Lot G-209 in the old wing.

I particularly like the sandwiches there. My wife used to tar pau (打包 or take away) their sandwiches back when her office was nearby. They were so very good. On our earlier visit there for dinner, I wanted the sandwich badly but sadly, they only do sandwiches during lunch. So this time around, we returned for the sandwich.

The bistro is divided into 2 different section. The front is a very nice dining area with a glassed-off kitchen where you can see your meal prepared.

Walk pass the diner, at the back is a full blown pub and bar - complete with LCD TVs and dart boards. It is also very nicely adorned.

Our meal that day was simple. We started with the Caesar salad which was very very nice. It was butterhead lettuce generously covered with grated parmesan cheese and lots of crispy fried bacon and crunchy croutons. The Caesar salad is apparently very popular there. I saw it on almost every table.

We also shared a pizza. We selected the Dave's signature honey cured ham with mayonnaise. The pizza was awesome. It had ham, pineapple and of course cheese. The crust was thin and very good. The mayo in the pizza made it particularly tasty. It was big too. The 3 of us could not finish it. But nothing went to waste. It was 打包ed (packed home).

Finally the sandwich we came for. The sandwiches in Dave's are normally served in foccacia loaves. But the waiter apologetically told us that they did not have foccacia that day. I was rather disappointed. Their foccacia make their sandwiches so very good. We had to settle for the normal toasted bread. We opted for the classic BLT (I have no idea what the initials stand for) which had bacon strips, cheese, butterheads, tomato, capers (a pickle) and mustard in it. It was served with some potato chips.  Despite the absence of the foccacia, the sandwich tasted very good. I particularly liked the bacon strips.

I have to mention about the strawberry lassi. I had it on both occasions that I was there. It was rich and satisfying. I believe they use fresh strawberries. It certainly tasted like it. Wonderful drink.

The Dave's is also good for other western fares - roast pork belly, gourmet sausages, roast rack of lamb, German style crispy pork knuckle, and pasta cooked in various manners. Check out their menu...

Dave's merits my return and more. It has western authenticity. For the drinkers, a meal and some beers at the back would be a perfect night out.

Several weeks after our visit to Dave, my wife was in 1-U one day and tar pau this sandwich back for lunch.

Yep. No doubt about it. The sandwich definitely tastes better with the foccacia bread.