Sunday, December 25, 2011

Charcoal Steamboat

I remember this place to be a western style restaurant and pub. We frequently passed by the area. It did not interest us then - until recently when I realized that it had changed to a steamboat restaurant.

Charcoal World Steamboat Restaurant is located at the busy junction between Lebuh Bandar Utama and the Sprint Highway in Petaling Jaya. It is actually at the corner of Kampung Sungei Kayu Ara in PJU 6. If you drive from the Centre Point in  Bandar Utama in the direction away from 1Utama, you won't miss it. It is at your left side as you drive down into the Sprint Highway.

It is a big restaurant, occupying a whole big building. Parking was ample. They even have a basement from where we conveniently walked from our car straight up into the restaurant.

There were several dining areas on different levels. And they were all brightly lighted. There were air-conditioned rooms on the main and lower levels. However on the weekend evening that we were there, the rooms were mainly empty. Most people dined in the open terraces which were cool and breezy - ventilated with large air outlets at various locations.

As its name suggested, the place specializes in charcoal steamboat. It was the charcoal that attracted us to this place. Most steamboat places use gas. We wanted to experience charcoal like the good old days - to see if it is any different from gas.

This was the room where they keep their charcoal and light the fires.

The restaurant serves fresh seafood for their steamboats. In fact, most items in their menu were seafood. They even offer live creatures from their aquarium, if you are willing to pay for them.

We had some non-steamboat starters before our meal. First was the cheese fish cake. It was 6 pieces of deep fried fish cakes with cheese in it. It had a pleasant flavor and a good appetizer.

The fresh oysters were absolutely fabulous. They were totally fresh. I don't know how they keep it so fresh because they must had imported them from somewhere. They were good size too - much bigger than most fresh oysters that I have eaten. Taken with squeezed lemon and tabasco, they were simply marvelous. I think these oysters were the highlight of the meal - not the steamboat. But they were expensive - at a whopping 8 bucks per slurp. Crystal said they were worth it. I wasn't too sure because I had to pay the bill.

We had the herbal soup for our steamboat. The soup was good - sweet and aromatic. I detect a strong flavor of dong quai (當歸 - angelica sinensis). I liked it. It made the soup very pleasant.

The various dishes we had for the steamboat were all very fresh. We like the good quality of their food. Like these lamb slices that we took trouble not to over cook. They were delicious.

The sotong (squid) balls were fresh and springy to the bite.

These fresh scallops were somewhat over-rated and expensive. They may look pretty but I didn't find them extra-ordinary for the price (RM15) I paid.

The jellyfish was very nice and crunchy. I liked the texture.

The prawn sui kow (水饺) were ordinary. I didn't think they were well made for they quickly became soggy in the soup.

The tofu puffs were stuffed with prawns and some chicken. Like the sui kow, they were not great.

This plate was labelled "Homemade Chicken" in the menu. I don't how they make chicken in the home. I thought we all buy our chicken in the market. Anyway, they were ordinary.

The fish slices were very very fresh. Again, we did not overcook them. I enjoyed the freshness.

For greens, we had tong ho (唐蒿 - garland chrysanthemum), spinach and needle mushroom.

There was 4 different sauces for our food. Three were chili based while the fourth was a fu yee sauce (腐乳 or fermented tofu paste). All the sauces were good, but I was partial to the fu yee. I liked the flavor especially with the lamb slices.

Now, how does charcoal compare to a gas or electric steamboat? Food taste-wise, I really could not tell the difference. They were the same. However, we found the charcoal fire painfully slow. I am not sure if it was because they did not give us enough charcoal or if our equipment was not good. It took a long time for the steamboat to come to a boil. There simply was not enough heat. Towards the end of the meal, it took a long time (maybe 2 to 3 minutes) just to cook a piece of sliced fish. There was a sign on the table warning against touching the hot pot. I put my fingers on it and did not feel a thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment