It was the Raya festive long weekend, and time to balik kampung. Not my kampung for there is nary a reason to balik there; but to my wife's where an extended family of in-laws made up a happy but noisy mob.
In the evening of our arrival, the whole battalion drove out in a convoy for food. The restaurant selected was a new place in Sungei Petani know as the Zhong Ma Shi Seafood Restaurant (中馬式). It occupied a large plot of land on Jalan Legenda 6 in Sungei Petani. Outside the restaurant was an even bigger plot, used as a car park. They sure have a lot of land in this part of town.
Inside, there were several dining areas including private rooms, The tables were spaciously arranged. Except for the rooms, the place was not air conditioned. Fortunately it as a cool evening. The advantage of such an environment was that the noise was not contained and we did not feel stifled in spite of the crowd.
In the middle was a large court yard with a water fountain, colourful lightings and a large projection screen. There were several tables for alfresco dining. Our crowd was split into 2 tables - basically kids in one and the old folks in another.
Two cold beverages were served. There was the nutmeg juice, and the haw (山楂 - fruit of hawthorn) juice. I didn't like both. They were far too sweet. This was the first time I had seen haw juice. Naturally I was curious. It like a concentrated blackcurrant (Ribena). It was too strong in flavour and far too sweet.
I stuck with my favourite Chinese tea.
Rice was served in a large pot. We helped ourselves to hearts content.
First on the table was the green. It was a lightly stir fried green sprouts. Nothing to write about.
The fish curry in a clay pot was very good. The curry was rich and the flavour was very pleasant with an unique flavour. There were the usual accompanying veges - long bean, brinjal, okra, cabbage, etc. The fish was chunky and fresh. I enjoyed this pot of curry. I think they really got the recipe right.
The mantis prawn was deep fried in a batter. It was too well done. We could not savour the mantis. I would preferred a steamed mantis dish any time. Still the flavour was not too bad. The curry leaves added to the good taste.
This pork ribs was apparently ordered for the benefit of the kids. It was deep fried and doused in a thick soya sauce. It wasn't bad at all.
The other vege dish was this plate of cauliflower and broccoli stir fried with mushroom and baby corn. It was a good respite from the meaty dishes.
This was a chicken dish. It was also deep fried and then stirred in a sauce with onion and chilli. I honestly have no recollection how this chicken recipe tasted like.
The final dish was this deep fried siakap (barramundi) in a spicy soya sauce. When the plate was put on the table, my first reaction was "still got some more?". I hardly touch it. I was already filled by then and there was one too many deep fried dishes that evening.
It was a big meal. Over all, the dishes were good. I had no complaint.
And the prices were reasonable too. There were more than 20 diners - young and old, big and small. The total damage for double servings of all the dishes amounted to just over 300 bucks.