Friday, November 25, 2011

Lot 10 Hutong

I have heard about this food court at Lot 10 shopping complex in KL. It is known as Lot 10 Hutong (十号胡同). They apparently picked the best street foods in Kuala Lumpur and brought them together in this one place. And apparently they are quite renown. They even have the endorsement of Hongkong celebrity food critic, Chua Lam. With such apparent credentials, who could resist a visit?

Crystal wanted to go to the Sungei Wang Plaza to get something one Saturday. We took this opportunity to go try out the place. Fortunately the drive to KL that morning was smooth. We parked our car at the Sungei Wang, took the pedestrian bridge across to Lot 10. We were inside Isetan. We walked down to the lowest floor (I think it was like the basement) and we were there - Lot 10 Hutong.

In terms of ambiance and environment, this food court was perhaps one of the best I have experienced. It was cozy and comfortable. The lights were soft. The seating was not mess-like rows of tables and chairs. Instead, there were small isolated groupings of tables and chair between food stalls. With this arrangement, we didn't get the crowded feeling.

The food stalls were all bright and cheerful. The food they displayed all looked very good and tempting. I walked around surveying what they had to offer and had a hard time deciding what to eat.

Here are more visuals of the place...

We finally settled down to some food. As starters I got some yew char kueh (油炸鬼). I realized it was hardly the stuff for an appetizer. But heck, who cared. I liked it.

The best Hokkein fat noodles in KL was apparently brought to this place. So we had to try it. It was not bad. I don't know if it was the best. It had sufficient wok-hei (气). It is hard to define wok-hei. It is a Cantonese concept. In simple terms, it means they had used a sufficient strong flame to fry the noodles. There was also ample chu yaw char (猪油渣) in the noodles. This actually is a very important ingredient in Hokkein fat noodles.

The 2 pieces of popiah looked pathetic. But they were really not bad. There were adequate crunchy stuffs in it.

This plate of hor chien (蚵煎 - oyster omelet) was not good. The omelet was rather dry. The egg was actually separate from the flour. Again, the white bulging oysters looked like eggs of some lizards to me. And that really put me off. I have to remember to stop ordering hor chien again.

I wanted some soup. Beef soup sounded like a good idea. So I went around looking for it. I asked the wan tan mee stall. They said "yeah sure, we have beef soup". But it did not turn up to be my expectation. It was not the type of beef soup I was looking for. The soup was very MSG. The beef portion was meagre and did not taste good. And it was very expensive. They charged me about RM9.00 for this silly bowl. Ridiculous.

I also wanted more noodles. And I found the char koay teow (炒粿條) at a remote corner of the food court. It was good but certainly not the best. It was Penang style - with a couple of large prawn, Chinese sausage, and of course see-hum (鲜蚶 - cockles). But the taugeh (bean sprouts) were way over done.

This very sweet bowl was peanut flavored shaved iced. I do not know what exactly was in it. I took a taste. It was very sweet and I didn't go further. There was lots of ground peanuts and I believe there was also some sago. I don't know what else...

Lot 10 Hutong is perhaps a little over rated. The foods there are certainly not the best in KL. The choices are OK. They apparently have 26 stalls. And each stall is unique in what they offer. No two stalls sell the same food. But they are bloody expensive. The Hokkein fat noodles for example, was RM15 and the char koay teow was nearly RM10. With that sort of prices, we could eat in a hotel.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kapar Batu 8 Seafood

I do not know exactly where we went for this seafood dinner. It was a Saturday evening. We drove to Seong's place in Klang and from there, we followed him blindly. Blindly because it was so dark and I didn't know the territory. We drove through some very quiet roads that did not have any distinguishable landmark. We finally arrived at the place which was the brightest spot in a dark quiet stretch of road.

The name of the place was Restoran Batu 8 Kapar Seafood. Going by the name, I believe the place is located on the 8th mile (or is it 8th km?) along Jalan Kapar in Klang. I do not have the exact address and even if I do, I doubt I would be able to go back, without guidance, to this place again. So I whipped out my Garmin and took the reading. The co-ordinates were N03 06.234 E101 21.957.

The place is a big shed that accommodates about 30 tables. It was brightly lighted and had plenty of fans to keep cool. It was clean and was actually very pleasant to be there for a meal.

I believe it is a family business. Beside the restaurant is a house which I believe to be that of the proprietor. A very convenient setup.

I explored the place a little. Behind was a huge kitchen. It seemed reasonably clean. There were also some tanks of live fish, mantis prawns and clams. I was comforted with the assurance of some fresh seafood.

And fresh it was. Our first dish was the hor chien (蚵煎 - fresh oyster omelet). It came in a hot plate. The omelet was thick with plenty of small oysters. It wasn't my favorite food. Still I had a taste of it. I found it to be good. It was actually surprisingly delicious.

The mantis prawn was wonderful. It was steamed in egg white, with some ginger, tomato, spring onion and fried shallot. The prawns were obviously just out of the live tank and they could not be fresher. I peeled off the bottom shell and had a good size slab of sweet mantis meat. The gravy was also sweet and delightful.

So was the steamed fish. It was one huge plate of fish head and meat. The fish was cut into bite-size pieces. It was steamed with lots of ginger and garlic. The gravy was a little oily. But so very delicious to sip on. I believe the fish was a grouper. It was very fresh. Such a delight.

The la-la (clams) was cooked in a "superior soup" (上汤). I felt it was wee bit over-done. The flesh was slightly hard. The soup was indeed superior - very sweet.

This was a plate of baby squid. It was sweet, crunchy and very nice to the bite. It was deep fried and then cooked in a sweet sauce, with a good sprinkling of sesame. Would be great with some beers.

Every meal has to have some greens. Ours that night, was the humble choy sum (菜心).

The crabs took awhile to arrive. Perhaps they were still catching them. In any case, we had crabs in 2 styles. The first was sweet and sour. The crab was very fresh. But they were not very big. I wished they were. And I did not find the sauce good at all. It was starchy and rather bland. 

We ordered some buns to dip in the sauce. The buns were really very nice, with a thin crispy skin. And since the sauce was a failure, I had it (like the Gardenia jingle) on its own.

The other plate of crab was cooked kam heong (金香). It was better. The taste was strong. And it was oily. I was very full by then. I think I would had enjoy it more had it been served earlier.

I so badly wanted some toddy. Klang restaurants (especially seafood places) serve fresh toddy. It is very sweet and refreshing. Klang folks have the peculiar taste of mixing it with Guinness Stout. I prefer as it is. In any case, there was no other drinker in the table. And I could not possibly finish a whole big bottle. So I had to give it a skip. This picture was taken from a nearby table where a few half intoxicated guys welcomed me to take the shots.

The meal at Batu 8 was a very nice experience. The forte in this place was the freshness of the seafood. In spite of the distance, I think it was worth the visit. I am glad I had presence of mind to take down the co-ordinates. I may want to go back again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dae Jang Gum Korean Restaurant

This restaurant is named after a Korean television drama series. Dae Jang Geum (大長今) is a popular Korean TV series based on a true story of a woman physician in the Korean royal court who managed to cure the King of his many ailments with her cooking and medicine. The TV drama was apparently so popular that they have a theme park in Korea dedicated to it. 

Dae Jang Gum Korean BBQ Restaurant (the name is spelled slightly differently but the Chinese characters 大長今 are the same) is located on Jalan USJ 10/1F in the Tai-pan area of Subang Jaya. It is not far from and along the same road as the Public Bank in USJ 10. I googled "Dae Jang Geum Korean Restaurant" and apparently Dae Jang Geum is a very popular name for Korean restaurants throughout the world. They include 2 similarly named restaurants in Section 14, PJ and in Malacca. I have no idea if all these DJGs are related.

We were greeted by a large portrait Lee Young Ae (the Korean actress who played the leading role in the television drama) as we entered the restaurant in USJ 10. She continued to haunt us on the menu before we even ordered our food.

The restaurant is rather small. The shop lots on USJ 10/1F are not that big and wide. Still they managed to squeeze into 2 dining areas - a tatami sit-on-the-floor platform and some normal tables and chairs at the side. The furnishings appeared old and well-used. But the place was pleasant and comfortable.

We settled down, ignored Ms Lee and perused the menu. We ordered 2 meats to barbeque and 2 soup dishes to supplement. Then things began to quickly arrive on our table. They started with our eating utensils and sauces..

And the small appetizer dishes typical of Korean restaurants. I found it delightful picking up the delicious morsels before the main meal. The variety offered here was many.

And of course kimchi. No Korean food is complete without this.

Our first meat was the Sam Gyoub Sal or pork belly slices. They had substantial fat on them. Rather sinful but (what the heck) nice. The grilled outcome was soft, succulent and delicious. Delightful when wrapped in fresh salad and the sambal-like Korean sauce.

The Yang Nyum Gal Bi or marinated beef rib was not so tender. But equally delicious. The flavor was more pronounced because of the marinade. I tackled the rib bone, attempting to get the meat off it. But it was just too tough.

I found the Sam Gye Tang (chicken broth with ginseng) rather bland. It was a milky soup that did not taste very flavorful. I think we have to stop ordering this dish the next time we go to a Korean place. It is getting to be very boring.

In contrast, the Yuk Gye Jang (spicy soup with glass noodles, vegetable and rice) was too strong and spicy. Looked like we had the ying and yang of the soups. I did not particularly like the spiciness. But my wife seemed to enjoy it. 

Dessert was pieces of water melon and a bowl of sikhye. Sikhye is a sweet Korean drink brewed from barley malt powder (yeotkiereum) and rice. It was served cold. I found it very refreshing. Perhaps it is not so suitable as a dessert. On a hot thirsty day, it would be fantastic.

DJG is a typical Korean BBQ restaurant. It did not stand out from its counterparts that we have visited. Neither is it any less. Very honestly, I find most Korean restaurants to be about the same. It is like visit one and you have visited all. Perhaps my Korean taste buds are not yet that discerning.