Monday, December 29, 2014

Fish Steamboat in Butterworth

My year end review is on a steamboat restaurant located on Raja Uda in Butterworth. It was my first time in this part of the town and I was surprised by the number of eateries along this long road. There were restaurants, food courts, hawkers centres and food stalls. They all looked very tantalising. But our objective that evening was some nice steamboat.

Zi Wei Yuan is quite a mouthful in name, but wait till you get a mouthful of their steamboat. It was a big spacious place. The shop was extended outwards to provide the space. It was adorned with typical Chinese red - red steel structures, red lanterns, red curtains, red blinds. Thankfully the tables and chairs were spared.

Despite the gaud, it was really a very pleasant place. There were lots of empty tables when we arrived there but as we progressed through our meal, the place gradually filled to capacity.

The highlight of their steamboats is fish. The other goodies in the menu are add-ons. There was a choice of fried fish or grouper. We opted for the former.

They used the traditional charcoal pots.

Strictly charcoal. No gas, no electrical stoves.

The only "modern" appliance was this battery operated fan to stoke the flame.

This was the soup in its original form. In it was the fried fish that we had opted. There also was abundant vegetables.

More interestingly, there were pieces of fried yam. They certainly added flavour to the soup, which was sweet and tasty even without the array of food that we were going to put in.

The pieces of fried fish in the soup were fresh and delicious.

Besides the fried fish, we also ordered a plate of grouper. They were super fresh.

These were pork belly strips. I made sure they were not overcooked.

Good size prawns that were also very fresh.

Fish and meat balls.

Sotong. One of my favourites, especially the "janggut" (tentacles).

Pork tripe. I love them for the texture. Particularly delicious in steamboats.

This was fried fu chuk (腐竹- bean curd skin).


This was listed in the menu as abalone slices. It certainly tasted like abalone. Very nice indeed. But I seriously doubt if it was genuine abalone. The slices were big. A dish of such a big abalone would had costed a fortune. It definitely was a seafood. I just wonder what kind of abalone wannabe this was.

Quail eggs. These are supposedly very high in cholesterol. But recently readings told me that eggs are good for us and should not be a cholesterol concern. So I had them without any guilt.

Another of my favourite - fish maw.

Tong ho (唐蒿- grand chrysanthemum) is a popular vegetable for steamboat. But they shrink in the soup. They are not expensive. I wonder why they could not serve a bigger portion.

The steamboat in this place is apparently very popular amongst the folks in Butterworth, Prai, Penang and as far as Sungei Petani. I can see the reason why. It was very good. The soup, although looking murky was very tasty. The ingredients were very fresh and of good quality. I enjoyed the meal totally.

Happy New Year 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Oriental Pavilion Revisited

The last time I dined at the Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33, was at a wedding more than 3 years ago. Since then the couple have probably become parents and I had not returned. Until about a couple of months back - for a birthday celebration.

I looked forward to going there again. I knew we were in for a sumptuous meal. And we was not disappointed.

The place had not changed very much. The decor and furnishings were the same. It was still a very nice up-market Chinese restaurant. We were a party of about 20 people and had 2 tables booked into a private room. It was very conducive for pre dinner chats and socialising.

The tables were set for fine dining. It was very elegant.

Most Chinese restaurants offer peanuts for pre-meal munch. This place provided sambal long beans. They were delicious.

The appetisers were individually served and gracefully presented. The first of the hors d'oeuvre was a braised scallop in a mayo sauce with trims of salad and fried lotus root. In the middle was a succulent shrimp in a mango dip. On the right was half a soft shell crab deep fried in a batter. All three were exquisitely delicious. I took my time to savour them.

The soup was also individually served. It was uniquely and ingeniously presented in teapots. It was a chicken soup with fish maw, conpoy (dried scallop - 乾瑤柱) and other goodies. We had the soup in teacups. It suited me well because I prefer slurping soup from a bowl (or cup in this case) instead of a spoon. It was piping hot and so very tasty.

I do not know what they call this dish. It was a deep fried chicken topped with a mixture of deep fried minced crisps. I cannot tell what was in the mixture, but it tasted very nice with the chicken.

The grilled pork rib was succulent and tender, done with a caramelised soya sauce. It was marvellously prepared.

The cod fish was very fresh. It was pan fried with teriyaki sauce with an orange flavour, accompanied with some diced fresh shallots. The generous portion of the fish was presented in a large bamboo leave inside an orange dug-out. It was superb. I have never tasted a fish prepared in this manner. Such innovation.

The highlight of the meal was this abalone plate. Each diner was served with a mid size abalone. In the dish were also broccoli and mushroom, and soya skin wraps. In the wraps was a mixture of lotus seed, water chestnut, carrot, herbs and other goodies. The whole dish was a treat. Without doubt, it was the abalone I relished most.

In the Chinese tradition, noodles signify longevity and is normally served during birthday meals. This noodle was very nice but in the midst of so many wonderful dishes, it was quite ordinary.

This cheese sponge cake was made by our cousin Fong. I had always enjoyed her fluffy cheese cake. I particularly like the semi burnt cheese at the top of it.

I believe she also made this delicious cendol jelly - complete with gula melaka and santan.

Together with bowls of red bean broth, dessert was complete.

Oriental Pavilion - nice place, awesome food and prices to match.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Onde Onde

The onde onde is a popular Malaysian kueh that takes the form of bite-size pandan balls with brown sugar (gula melaka) inside and shredded coconut on the outside. It is a delightful snack. A bite on one produces a sweet squirt of gula melaka into the mouth and the coconut makes it a really delicious treat indeed.

This makan place in the Citta Mall adopts it as its name to reflect its Malaysian flavours.

Located on the ground floor of the mall in Ara Damansara, P.J. it is essentially an open restaurant serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

We first patronised the place several months ago when it had just started business. It was quite small and quiet then. 

And then its popularity picked up. They added more tables and their dining area expanded. But it apparently was not quite enough. We wanted to have dinner there after a movie at the mall one evening. We had to turn away because of a long queue waiting for vacant tables.

Now, let's have a look at some of their fares. First, the nasi lemak. I guess this all time favourite is a must in any Malaysian restaurant worth its salt. The nasi lemak here was delicious and complete - coconut flavoured rice, sambal, peanuts and ikan bilis, rembah deep fried chicken thigh, hard boiled egg, some salad and some crispy keropok.

Mee siam is another popular Malaysian dish. The fried mee-hoon was deliciously done and was served with a nice curry chicken.

This was another version of mee siam, with a variety of condiments - shredded chicken, omelet strips, peanuts, shredded cucumber, carrot, onion, pineapple and a couple of shrimps. When the condiments were mixed and tossed with the mee-hoon, it turned out to be a credible meal.

The mee curry was somewhat lacking. The curry just did not have the oomph.

This rather confused looking dish was char koay teow with duck egg. It certainly did not look very appetising. But the flavour was not bad at all. Not quite the Penang standard but better than a lot of char okay teows that I have had in the Klang valley.

The fruit rojak was not bad too. The sauce was good. The ground peanut sprinkling was adequate. I particularly like the keropok they had included. It made the rojak a lot more interesting.

This is a different kind of rojak - the pasembur. I had wanted to try it on our first 2 visits to the restaurant. But we were apparently too early. They only start preparing the pasembur around lunch time. When I finally got to eat it, I was disappointed. The all important deep fried stuffs in the pasembur were not up to standard. They were soft and soggy - not at all crunchy that they should be. Also they shredded the cucumber and sengkuang (jicama) too thinly. The sauce was okay, in fact quite good. It was the main ingredients that were disappointing.

They serve a variety of kuih muih. Their onde onde pictured above definitely lived up to the name of the restaurant.

And yes, roti kaya too. Prepared in the traditional coffee shop way.

They have a lot of other Malaysian favourites - laksa, Ipoh sar hor fun, hokkein prawn noodles, fish ball noodles, satay, ice kacang and so on and so on.

Onde onde is not the place for Malaysian holy grails. Some of the dishes we tasted were good. Some were mediocre. And some like the pasembur were disappointing. But their variety was impressive. It certainly is worth a visit.