It does have a number of makan places of which, perhaps the most successful and well patronized is the Chyniis. The Chyniis is located right at the front entrance of the shopping mall. The external frontage is impressive and the internal decor even more so.
It is really quite a swanky place. The restaurant, like the mall, is pretty new. The furnishing is tastefully contemporary. They do not have red table clothes or gaudy lanterns and draperies. The decor is bright and comfortable, and a very refreshing departure from the traditional Chinese restaurant set-up.
The proprietors of the place are apparently related to the Green View in Section 19, PJ. We know Ah Lian from Green View. She is perhaps one of the proprietors of this new place. She was there to help us on the menu selection.
Our first dish was the claypot mutton. It was kind of a stew, with some deep fried fu chuk (腐竹) over it. The meat was very nice and gamey. It was just at the right texture - not too soft. The sauce was thick and rich. For us, meat lovers, it was spot on.
Next was the "home-made" tofu with a pumpkin sauce. Pumpkin is getting popular in Chinese restaurants. I love its flavor and smooth texture. The tofu was lightly fried. Over it was some braised pumpkin and some deep fried rice noodles. The tofu was soft and the pumpkin creamy. Very nice indeed.
The deep fried chicken was served in a sweet and gingery sauce. Over the meat were some crispy deep fried ginger slices. The meat was delicious. It maintained its crispiness in spite of the sauce.
I found the smoked duck far too smokey. This was the first time I tasted anything smoked in a Chinese restaurant. Smoking food is not a normal Chinese preparation. I have eaten smoked fish and meat done the western way. Their smoked flavor is more subtle and I prefer it that way. The smoked duck here was rather overdone. And I think it overwhelmed the flavor of the meat.
The vege dish was pak choy (白菜) with yam. The first time I had this combination was in Richwell. And I thought it tasted better there. Perhaps it was because Richwell cooked it in a claypot. Or perhaps that was my very first experience of this dish.
Last was the crab. It was steamed with a generous amount of shredded ginger and thick egg white. The crab was very fresh. The meat was firm and delicious. They were good sized - just 2 crabs for the six of us and they were more than enough. I particularly like the top shell. They kept the "I-don't-want-to-know-what" inside the shell. After it was steamed, the "I-don't-want-to-know-what" was very nice and creamy. I didn't know that normally thrown away part of the crab can taste so good.
We had a pumpkin and yam paste for dessert. We already had the two in our meal. But heck, it tasted good when combined into a sweet brew.
Ah Lian served us each a small container of additional dessert. It was compliment of the house. It tasted very much like the normal jelly with a lime flavor. It was not fantastic - sweet and sourish. But it wasn't bad at all. She later asked us how we liked it and told us that it was made from fish scales. She said they were experimenting with the stuff and may offer it as a dessert in the restaurant. What an innovation.
Our meal at the Chyniis was very satisfying. It was a bit expensive but worthwhile. We enjoyed the innovation and refreshing cooking style. It was not to be our last visit there. Hardly a month later, we were back to celebrate a birthday.
Again, Ah Lian was there to help us on the selection. We decided not to order the same food and went for different dishes to sample the variety.
Our opening dish at this second meal was the salted egg deep fried pumpkin. The pumpkin was cut into strips like french fries. They were then covered with salted egg and deep fried with lots of curry leaves. The outcome was fabulous. Top marks for innovation.
It was followed by another innovative preparation. It was a combination of fish meat and fish skin cooked "hoong siew" (红烧) style in a clay pot. The fish skin was fresh and very unique. I had not eaten fresh fish skin like that before. It was thick and almost like sea cucumber (海参), only a little tougher. I liked the texture. But the fish meat was not entirely fresh. In the pot were some tofu, roast pork and different types of vegetables.
The green plate was a simple choy sum with garlic.
Then the supposedly braised pork ribs. But there were no ribs. Instead it was pork belly meat, with considerable amount of sinful fats. The meat was tenderly braised in soy and oyster sauces, with some blanched lettuce. I didn't mind not having the ribs for the belly meat was really very nice. The dish was served with some fried bread rolls. The bread rolls were hot and delicious. They broke up in layers, much like croissants.
I found the deep fried salted chicken marvelous. It was a mid-size ayam kampong (菜园鸡 or free range chicken), salted and then fried to a crisp. The meat was deliciously salty. It was a bit dry, but I didn't mind it at all. It was aromatic and flavorful. I really would like to learn to make this.
Finally it was the wine crab in a clay pot. The crab was cooked in Chinese rice wine with plenty of straw mushrooms, mok yee (木耳) and ginger. The crab was good size. The meat was fresh and firm. The wine soup was delicious and kept hot for a long time in the clay pot.
Dessert was simple - a refreshing plate of assorted fruits.
Our 2 experiences in Chyniis were refreshing. The dishes were not the normal Chinese stereo-types. The chefs were very innovative and had apparently put in a lot of thoughts into their cookings. The Chinese food business is so very competitive. It is for this reason that they constantly evolve. They cannot afford to stagnate. They need to innovate (like the smoked ducked, salted egg pumpkin fries and fish scale jelly) to stay ahead. I believe the Chyniis is a part of this competitive evolution.