Thursday, November 29, 2012

Damansara Hokkein Mee

I don't know why they call it Hokkein mee. This fat noodle is unique to Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding Klang Valley. And KL is predominantly Cantonese. It is an immensely popular noodle. A lot of my friends from Penang, Ipoh and Singapore come to KL asking for Hokkein fat mee. 

It is for this reason that I keep a lookout for good Hokkein fat noodle - to bring my friends to. I don't think I have found the holy grail yet. But this shop sells an awesome noodle. The place is Restoran Damansara Hokkein Mee. It is located in PJ Uptown, on Jalan SS21/37, just a few shops away from the Sentul Hokkein Mee - the place that I had blogged on over 2 years ago. 

This Damansara place is much more popular than Sentul. It's popularity spills to the five-foot walkway of the surrounding shops and to the road. The tables outside were 3 rows deep. May be a little of a nuisance, but people like to makan alfresco - in the open. The inside of the shop was largely empty.

The kitchen of shop is outside on the five-foot way. Perhaps another irritant to the neighbouring shops. A "chef" with a baseball was busily frying away. 

On his kitchen table were plates of chu yaw char (猪油渣). Looked so tempting and appetising - and sinful. They were the extras. If you want the additional chu yaw char, you pay a little more. But for the sake of our hearts, we abstained.

We ordered a large plate of Hokkein meehoon-mee, a mix of the fat noodle and meehoon. It was fabulous. The flavour was delicious. It was dark with thick soya sauce. The goodness was obviously from the generous amount of pig lard used to fry the noodles. Even though we did not ask for the extra chu yaw char (猪油渣) they sprinkled a small amount over the plate. And fried into the noodles were ample chu yaw char that made the dish so very good. It was without a doubt very sinful, but absolutely a great tasting plate of Hokkein fat mee.

Next was a small plate of wat tan hor fun (形蛋河粉 - koay teow Cantonese style). It was not as spectacular as the Hokkein noodles. The koay teow was nicely browned and the gravy was smooth and tasty. No complaints.

We had a plate of la-la (clams) kam heong (金香) style. Compared to the noodles, the la-la was hopeless. I found the flavour similar to the fat noodles. I mean, I have no problem with the noodles flavour. In fact, I love it. But not on la-la. The la-la was supposed to be kam heong, and I didn't find any kam heong flavour in it. Also the la-la were small and hardly any meat in them.

And a plate of kai lan . It was blanched, with oyster sauce and deep fried shallots. Not bad at all.

I was still yearning for more Hokkein noodles. We added on a plate of koay teow Hokkein style. The preparation was similar to the fat noodles, with lots of lard and chu yaw char (猪油渣). It was just as dark and just as tasty. Their signature Hokkein style was distinct. 

It was a great, simple and inexpensive meal. To all my friends in Penang, Ipoh, Singapore, or wherever you are - come on over. If you have a craving for some Hokkein fat mee, I know the exact place to take you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jojo Italian Restaurant at the Tropicana

It was SP's birthday, so naturally he had the choice of restaurants. And he sure got taste, for he picked this classy and exclusive Italian place.

The Jojo Italian Restaurant is located in the Tropicana golf club in Petaling Jaya.

It is a nice sassy restaurant. I was a little awed when I stepped into the place. It was very elaborately adorned with tasteful furnitures, furnishings and ornaments, and very skilful arrangements of lightings. The atmosphere was one of cozy sophistication.

They have a terrace dining area - kind of semi-alfresco. But the view outside was not great - looking at the main clubhouse entrance and car park. I don't think I like dining in the midst of car noise and exhaust.

I prefer the main dining hall - quiet and comfortable, and totally conducive for a nice meal. 

They have some nice isolated tables for private functions. We were allocated one.

Dinner started with some appetisers. We shared some Bruschetta Con Pomodori. It was toasted bread with cherry tomato mixed in rock salt, fresh basil, garlic, parmigiano (parmesan) cheese and olive oil. The baguette was crustily fresh and tomato was delicious. It was a most pleasant starter. 

We also shared a Pizza Biana. It had eggplants, olive, tomato, plenty of salad rocket - seasoned with balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and grated parmigiano cheese. Because of the vinaigrette, most of the family found it too sour. But I liked it. It was in fact a pretty good pizza. Their loss was my delightful gain. I had more than my fair share of the pizza.

After the starters, we had some soup. This was the seafood soup - a rich and spicy combination of fresh seafood with tomato. In it was squid, shrimps, clams and a good flavour of various spices.

The Crema Di Funghi was the mushroom soup. It was a combination fresh mushroom and herbs. As the name suggested, it was creamy, smooth and very delicious.

After the soups, our entrees started to arrive. The wait was efficiently minimal. My selection was this Spaghetti Con Frutti Di Mare. It was a pasta marinara with seafood - squid, shrimps, clamps and mussels - in a traditional tomato based sauce. It was not spectacular. In such a classy Italian place, I guess I made a rather mundane choice. But the seafood was fresh and the pasta texture was perfect. 

The birthday boy had the Salmon Alla Griglia. The fish was lightly grilled; served with a tomato and lemon sauce with some potato and salad.

This was the Spaghetti Pesto with Scallops. The pesto sauce is a combination of crushed basil leaves, pine nut, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil.

The T-bone Steak looked sad, but according to Crystal, it was very good. There were not much frills, just some potato below the steak, served with black pepper sauce. But the meat was tender and  the sauce complemented it nicely.

The Salmon Fettuccini had smoked salmon in a rich tomato sauce, sprinkled with some fresh basil leaves.

My wife's choice was this grilled cod in a saffron clam sauce. It was a good size fish served with some potato and salad. The cod was very fresh and absolutely delicious. 

As if the above were not enough, we also shared this large Jojo's (house) Pizza. It was a great pizza, with mushrooms, eggplant, olive, chicken and mozzarella cheese. I particularly liked the crust - crispy and yummy.

Dessert was SP's cake. It was a fruit and jelly cake - very appropriate after such a heavy meal. The waiters provided the plates and forks, and helped with the picture taking.

Jojo is great place - good food and fantastic ambiance. And it was not that horribly expensive. The starters and soups were about twenty-over bucks each, the entrees were thirty plus each and the large Jojo's Pizza was only RM38. The most expensive dish of the evening was the cod (understandably as it is a most expensive fish) at RM65. Certainly it is a place to return to.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock

The Oasis is spanking new commercial centre in Ara Damansara, PJ. It is located at the flyover junction at the Saujana exit along the Subang Airport Road. As you enter Ara Damansara from the airport road, it is on your left - you won't miss it. When it was first launched by Sime Darby, it generated a lot of interests and fanfare; many touting it as great investments which would flourish with the Ara Damansara township. Sadly, it has yet to turn out to be so. The shops and commercial lots are still largely empty and deserted. 

The whole area is beautifully constructed. The buildings are modern. The roads are wide and nicely paved, The atmosphere is very conducive. They even have an area with pools and fountains - ideal for restaurants and alfresco dining. Yet it has not caught on commercially. It reminds me very much of Plaza Kelana Jaya - well planned and beautifully built - but largely still remaining as white elephants. 

Perhaps they need more makan places to stimulate interests and attract the crowd - like the nearby Citta Mall, which is beginning to look good with the many food outlets that have established themselves there. Perhaps it is starting for a small number of eateries have started businesses here. One such early bird is a quaint makan place called Ali, Muthu and Ah Hock.

This is the Chinese version. I feel Ah Hock should be 阿福 (Hokkein) instead of 阿學 (Cantonese).

It apparently is the Malaysian equivalence to Tom, Dick & Harry. In fact I was told that the owners of this place also own the Tom, Dick & Harry pubs in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and at The Pavilion in KL. 

The set up in Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock (AMAH) is simple, rustic and charming.

On one wall hang the portraits of 3 balding guys - apparently the owners.

Living up to its name, AMAH projects itself as typically Malaysian. There are framed old pictures of 3 different families - one Malay, one Indian and one Chinese. Very muhibbah. 

However its menu is not so cosmopolitan. The servings are almost totally Malay. And the selections are very limited. The visuals I post here were taken over a few visits.

Perhaps the most popular in the house is the nasi lemak with fried chicken. And it was good. The rice was rich in santan flavour. The sambal was great. And the chicken, though a little dark and over-fried, was very tasty and well marinated. Highly recommended.

We also had the nasi lemak with kerang (cockles) sambal. The kerang was over-cooked. But the flavour was very good.

The mee rebus was very very good. The gravy was rich and thick. It was served with the usual mee rebus stuff - egg, sotong, fried tofu, potato, etc. May not be the holy grail, but certainly another must try.

The curry mee was comparatively lacking. The curry did not have that oomph. Still I enjoyed it.

The lontong was simply great. I dare say it was one of the best lontong I ever had. The soup was rich and very flavourful. The sambal complemented the lontong perfectly. The taste was yum yum. On subsequent visits, I asked them for lontong without the nasi empit - just the soup and vegetable. They served me small bowls each time and did not charge me for them. 

The Nasi Goreng Ali or nasi goreng kampung was another delicious dish. The rice was very nicely done. It came with an egg. In the rice were pieces of chicken and crunchy ikan bilis. 

The Mee Goreng Muthu or mee goreng mamak was the only non-Malay dish I saw in the menu. It was also very nicely done, with a lot of vegetables. Delicious.

Besides these limited selections in the menu, AMAH also serves various Malay dishes as well as kuih-muih during lunch time. They have a typical food counter. Unfortunately I do not have any visual of the dishes.

The next time you come to Ara Damansara or if you are in Subang Airport, make a visit to The Oasis. Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock is certainly worth your while.