Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tong Juan Kemaman

We were driving back from Kuala Terengganu in a convoy of 3 cars after a 4-days retreat at Pulau Redang. We did not stop for lunch. Eddy remembered a makan shop in Kemaman that we all wanted to revisit. By the time we reached this small coastal town, it was nearly 5 pm. Fourteen hungry stomachs growled for food. But to our utter dismay, we found the shop closed.

We lingered around in the opposite car park. There were a couple of other people apparently also wanting to eat in the shop. They told us the shop would open for business at 6 pm. We knew Kemaman is a little laid-back. I didn't know the pace was this slow.

So we had an hour to kill. We wandered to the nearby fruit stalls. The mak-cik had the makan shop to thank; for almost all us had something to carry back from her stall.

And the durians were too difficult for Alan, Jonathan, Benson and Eddy to resist.

At 6 sharp and not a minute earlier, the doors to heaven opened.

Restoran Tong Juan is located on the main trunk road, Jalan Suleiman in Kemaman. If you are heading north, it is on the left hand side. Opposite as mentioned, is a large car park and the fruit stalls are slightly ahead of the car park.

We were their first customers that evening. But soon the people began to pack in.

There was no table big enough for the 14 of us. So we combined 2 tables, and double-ordered our dishes.

This shop is apparently famous for their stuffed crabs. They had a URL on a display board. I checked it out but there was no such site. Anyway, the dish was not fantastic. They were shells of sea crabs stuffed with crab meat and other goodies; and then deep fried with a light batter. The dish was rather dry. But being the first dish after a day-long starvation, we enjoyed it nevertheless. Then someone wondered aloud if they re-cycle the crab shells....

This was followed by a large bowl of fish ball soup. I liked that very much. They were very generous with the fish balls. I thought the fish balls tasted better than the stuff crabs. They were very fresh, springy to the bite and tasted delicious. The soup had some Chinese cabbage and was most refreshing.

The tiger prawns were fabulous. They were skewed in satay sticks, and baked in butter and garlic. The prawns were of good size. They were very fresh and the meat were succulent - not the least overdone. They baked the prawns perfectly. Absolutely delicious.

So were these deep fried squid rings. The squids were soft and tender - not rubbery overdone. The batter was crispy. They were immensely popular and did not last very long on the table.

I honestly cannot remember what this dish was. It definitely was not pork as this shop is pork free. I think it was mantis prawn, deep fried and cooked kung-pao (宫保) style.

This steam fish was half the fillet of a red snapper. Must had been a really big fish. It was really fresh and broke off in flakes. The simple clear steaming brought out the essence of the fish. It tasted very good.

We had 2 vege dishes.

It was a big meal. All these dishes - times 2 - for the 14 of us. Plus unlimited supply of rice.

The day ended well. We left heaven as it turned dark. And it was another 4 hours to home.

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