Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunrise Duck

Roast duck... next to chicken rice, this is probably Malaysia's second most popular Chinese food. I totally share this liking. There is a restaurant dedicated solely to this delicious meat. Sunrise Restaurant is located in the busy PJ Sea Park town centre along Jalan 21/1, opposite and not far from the Sea Park KFC.

This makan joint is immensely popular. They are open only for lunch - Tuesdays to Sundays, from 11.30am until sold out.

We arrived about 11.15am on a public holiday and the place packed. The restaurant was already doing a roaring business. We joined a queue. Fortunately we were not very far from the front. As we waited, the queue grew longer. One family attempted to jump the line. They were gently shooed back to the end by the shop proprietors.

The shop is very basic. It is more like a coffee shop than a restaurant. Malaysian shopkeepers use the term "Restoran" too liberally. A lot of them do not qualify to be one. 

At the front of the shop was the food counter. Therein hung several roast ducks. And a lady was chopping them up like crazy.

We ordered half a bird. I thought it was too much for 2 of us. But it really wasn't. Perhaps it was because it was the only substantial dish of the meal. The duck was delicious. I could see why it was so popular. The skin was super crispy and the meat retained the delicious duck flavor. The roast was done excellently. 

There is only one other place that I can think of that serves roast duck of this quality - Bayswater at the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya. I think these 2 places are neck-to-neck for first place.

We ordered a dish of blanched glass lettuce. This was the only other dish they serve in this "restaurant". And I was sure glad they do. There had to be some greens for a meal this meaty.

Rice was served with complimentary bowls of soup. The soup that day was hum choy duck (咸菜鸭 - salt vegetable and duck). I was not the least surprised at the choice of soup. The soup was way too salty and sour - hardly drinkable. 

The meal was simple but good and delicious. I recommend this to meat lovers. But I do not have good memories of the meal. For as we drove away from the restaurant, I got horribly sick.

No, no... don't get me wrong. It had nothing to do with the meal. Certainly not because of anything I ate.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Da Feng Sho

This is another neighborhood restaurant that is very worthwhile. It is a Chinese restaurant unlike any I have been to. Da Feng Sho (大丰收 - translated to mean Big Harvest) is located in Dataran Ara Damansara on Jalan PJU 1A/20C. But it is rather inconspicuous, tucked in a corner of this increasingly popular commercial area of our Ara Damansara township.

The restaurant itself is rather small. It has room for less than 10 tables. But it extends itself out to the corner five foot way to accommodate another about 10 more tables.

The menu came in 2 thick volumes. Inside were big colorful pictures of the food that all looked very unique, appetizing and spicy.

The plates, cups and bowls were hygienically packed in plastic - the washing apparently out-sourced like the steamboat place Xiao Fei Yang. But unlike Xiao Fei Yang, this restaurant does not charge additionally for the use of the crockeries.

This makan place is not an off-the-mill Chinese restaurant that we normally find in Malaysia. The food here is not so typical. I could not make out what food type they serve even after our first 2 visits. Later the shop people told me that they serve a mixture of Szechuan and Funan food - which use a lot of chili, pepper and spices.

The pictures of the dishes were taken over 2 visits. I start with a simple dish of cabbage. It was served in a mini wok. In the vegetable were thin slices of pork belly meat and dried shrimps. It was spicy and delightful. The cabbage was lightly cooked and crunchy to the bite. 

This was a dish of pork knuckle. It was served in a tiny barrel. The pork was deep fried. The skin was crispy. It was then cooked in dried chili, peppercorn, dried shrimps and some other spices. There were some ground nuts. The taste was very good. It was rather dry and meant to be that way. A great dish.

I had never heard of tea tree mushroom (茶树菇). So, it was a first time for me. The mushrooms were long and string-like and a little crunchy. They were cooked with the same thin slices of pork belly meat and some leeks; and served in a mini-wok like the cabbage. The taste was unique but not extraordinary.

The menu calls this plate "Homely Tofu". I guess they meant home-made tofu. It was cooked in a spicy sauce, also with some pork slices. Home-made or not, the tofu did not excel. It was just OK.

This lamb dish was excellent. Like the pork knuckle, it was dry cooked. The meat was fried, then cooked in chili, pepper and spices. The meat looked tough, but it really was very tender. The meat retained it's gamey flavor, which I liked. For meat (especially lamb) lovers, this is a must try.

Likewise this crab and prawn dish. Again, the dish is rather dry, but the blending of spices in the dish made it so very delicious. The crab and prawn were deep fried before being cooked in the spices. The sea (blue) crabs were absolutely fresh. You have a choice to have just crab or prawn. We opted for a mix of both. 

The restaurant has a good selection of fish dishes. We tried 2 of them. The first was this steamed fish head. It was a fresh water fish steamed with chopped hum choy (咸菜 - pickled mustard vegetable) and lots of garlic. The fish was very fresh and I enjoyed digging into the soft tissues. However, I did not quite like the manner they steam the fish. The ingredients were a little too strong. I would prefer a milder flavor.

I liked this other fish dish better. This is apparently a signature dish of the restaurant. You have a choice of fish - grouper, snapper, tilapia, etc. They cook slices of the fish with lots and lots of big dried chilis. The dried chilis were not what we find in our local market. They were big and flavorful. I have not seen dried chilis like these sold in our shops. I think they were imported from China. In the dish were also peppercorns, spring onions, etc. It was a delightful dish. The flavor of the fish was mainly from the dried chilis. So it was rather spicy. I enjoyed the dish tremendous. Too many must-try in this restaurant; but this is definitely one not to miss.

The mustard rice in this place is very popular. In our visits here, I noticed it on almost every table. It was actually a fried rice - served in a mini barrel. The rice was very nicely done. It was fluffy. The taste was mild. It complemented the other spicy dishes very well.

Da Feng Sho is a great place to have an out-of-the-ordinary meal. They serve very unique dishes. The taste here is strong and spicy - and very delicious. But be prepared to wait. The food service here is very slow. On 2 of our visits, we had to wait more than an hour before we were finally served. One family brought along playing cards to make their wait more bearable. I suggest weekdays. Weekends are normally crowded. But if you are patient, I assure you a most unique and satisfying meal.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Siu Siu 小小饭店

An old friend Nee and his wife Linda was back from Melbourne. Benson organized a dinner for them and invited me along. The place he picked was Siu Siu Restaurant (小小饭店 - literally translated as Small Small) in Robson Heights, KL. 

Siu Siu's exact location is 15-11, Lorong Syed Putra Kiri. It is in the vicinity of Taman Seputeh. That part of KL is totally alien to me. If you have a GPS, you will have no problem getting there. My Garmin guided me without missing a turn.

That stretch of road was rather dark, probably because it was raining. The restaurant is just beside the road - perhaps too near it. But parking is not a problem. Opposite the road is a big vacant lot where you park for free.

The restaurant is a make-shift semi-permanent structure - more like a squatter set-up. It covers a big area with many tables generously spaced apart. It has basic washroom facilities, a hidden kitchen and an elevated cashier counter.

The char siew () here is apparently renown. Benson had to order and reserve it in advance. It apparently is normally sold out by lunch time. For our dinner, they kept a plate for us. It certainly was good. It was rather sinful, with considerable amount of fat. The meat was very well roasted. It was tender and succulent and the taste was superb. Positively one of the better char siews I have tasted. I can see why it is so very popular.

Benson ordered an avalanche of crab dishes. The first was cooked kam heong (金香) style. The crabs were of good size. They were fresh and firm. The kam heong ingredients were aromatic. The taste was very pleasant.

Next was a claypot crab rice. This was very unique. The crabs were cooked in a pot of rice - much like the claypot chicken rice. This was my first time. The rice was delicious, although a little soggy. It would be better if it was not so wet and a little more fluffy. In any case, the rice was very popular around the table and everybody enjoyed it.

The 3rd crab dish was this peppered crab. By the time this dish appeared at the table, I was a little over-stuffed with crabs, and I did not touch it. So I am not able to say how it tasted. However, like the other 2 crab dishes, I believe the crab was very fresh.

The tofu was "home-made". It was fried and covered with a sauce of minced pork and long beans. Another unique dish and another first for me. However, the taste was not exceptional. 

Kai lan (芥蘭) was the choice of green.

The finale was this steamed patin. The fish was super fresh. I was very full at this stage of the dinner. Still I could not help digging into this beautiful fish. The belly was the best part. It was so very smooth and soft. With a fish this fresh, it was simply heavenly. 

In spite of its name, there is nothing small about this restaurant - not in size, not in menu selection and certainly not in taste. Perhaps Benson got a little carried away with the crabs. But we enjoyed the meal just the same. And he introduced me to one more makan place that I will definitely revisit.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Choong Kee Kampar Claypot Chicken Rice

Today's blog posting is a simple meal in a simple restaurant. We were at a loss on what to have for dinner one day, when we were too lazy to cook. A blank idea-less mind surprisingly resulted in a meal that we actually enjoyed.

Choong Kee Kampar Claypot Chicken Rice is located on Jalan SS22/25 in Damansara Jaya, PJ. We had been to this place a couple of occasions but that was a long long time ago. When the idea of claypot chicken rice crept into our empty brains, we immediately decided on Choong Kee.

Like I mentioned, it is a simple and basic makan place. It is apparently very popular. We arrived there early and there was already quite a crowd. After a short while, the horde started to pack in. Some resorted to sharing tables.

A few Indonesian ladies moved around the tables serving food, clearing tables and taking orders for drinks. But they would not take orders for the food. For that, I had to go to the back, to a boss lady who sat unmovingly at the food serving counter.

The menu selection was very limited. It was chicken rice, chicken rice or chicken rice. No pork, no beef, no anything else. However, we could have add-ins to our rice - sausage or salted fish or both. I ordered a large pot with salted fish.The kitchen was very efficient. Our food arrived in a jiffy. 

The pot of rice looked very good. The portions of chicken and salted fish were quite generous. We did not ask for the "extras". For a few more ringgits, they would add in more chicken and salted fish (or sausage). As we stirred the rice, the aroma rose from the pot. The sauces were more than adequate to permeate the whole pot of rice. The rice was fluffy and was not at all soggy. It was really quite delicious.

Their steamed soup selection was many. There were 8 different soups to choose from. We ordered 2 bowls - a watercress soup and a peanut soup. The watercress was just so so. It was boiled/steamed with some pork bones. I expected better and was somewhat disappointed. To started with, the soup was not even hot - just warm. I like my soup piping hot. The flavor was also not fantastic. 

The peanut was better. Like the watercress, it was not hot. In it was some delightfully soft peanuts and pork ribs. The taste was much better than the watercress. 

We also had a plate of Hongkong kai-lan. It was lightly boiled, stirred in an oyster sauce with a generous sprinkling of fried shallots.

And a nice warm glass of pak chi cho (北紫草 - a cooling Chinese herbal drink).

The meal was as simple as it could get. Claypot chicken rice is not one of our favorites. But the one we got here was good enough to make it a very satisfying meal.