"Frisky prawns attack diner in steamboat incident"
Sometimes happiness is as simple as a simmering pot of broth filled to brim with bobbing seafood. Having recently discovered kindred spirits in appreciating the fine art of hot potting, we quickly drove to Kepong to Happy City. One of them remarked, “after we started going here, we pretty much didn’t go anywhere else. What’s the point?” Let me tell you why this place gets repeat customers.
Firstly the seafood is FRESH. Crabs are still twitching and prawns have to be covered with another plate because they will make a last ditch effort to escape. Last time we came here, they literally leapt off the plate they were so fresh and we had to quickly scrape them into the pot. The fish flesh here like snapper and golden pomfret are sweet from being alive 10 minutes ago and there’s also giant clams and mussels, mostly succulent and plump.
"They serve 800 bowls of noodles daily!"
With a base broth made up of ikan bilis, fish bones and turnip simmered for up to 8 hours then cooked with tomatoes, salted vegetables, ginger, Chinese 'Shao Xing' wine and served with chunks of fish head and beehoon, it's no wonder that Woo Pin have a legion of fans. With a selection of fried fish head noodles, fresh fish head noodles or fish paste ( a combination of minced fish and pork ) noodles, if fishy noodles are your thing, this is definitely the place for you.
For simple and fuss-free noodles, opt for the clear broth. If like us, you like it a bit more decadent, order the milky broth. Evaporated milk makes the broth sweeter and creamier. It is better to have the fresh fish with the milky broth and fried fish with the clear broth. The clear broth has a stronger fishy taste but just be careful when you eat the fried fish because 'kerapu' has plenty of tiny bones.
The fried fish is crispy on the outside, soft and fleshy on the inside. 'Kerapu' fish is used here because it has a lot of fat and stays firm when it is fried or added into the broth. Occasionally, they also have 'Song Yu' fish ( has a similar taste and texture as carp ) which is slightly more pricier than 'kerapu' because of its smoother and tastier flesh. They buy their fish fresh from the market every day because they believe that freshness is key in maintaining the quality of their dishes. For chilliholics, don't forget to add a dash of sambal belacan to your noodles. The sambal is super spicy and gives a nice heaty kick to the dish.
They serve the fish head with thin beehoon noodles that absorbs the tasty broth well. The noodles are not overcooked which leaves them with a little bit of bite. More »
"Chef marinates duck 7 times to maintain quality!"
As soon as my plate of duck rice came, I spooned up a piece of roasted duck with a bit of chilli-garlic infused rice and took a bite. The duck was moist and tender with a layer of succulent skin - a mixture of savoury, salty and sweet tastes. They use quite lean ducks here that there's almost no fat under the skin. To spice things up, I mixed in some of Roast Kitchen's signature sambal chilli sauce. Made from a combo of dried shrimp, cili padi and dried chillies, the sambal gives plenty of heat to the dish. Be warned, the sambal is SPICY so if your tolerance to heat is low, use it sparingly. The sambal is so popular that they now sell it in jars for you to take home.
A lot of effort goes into the marination process. If he's not satisfied with the colour of the duck, the chef would actually adjust the ingredients ( adding more vinegar, less soy sauce..etc ) until he is happy with the result. Sometimes he even has to marinate the duck 7 times! That is how they maintain the quality of their dishes at Roast Kitchen, Even the cutting technique is very precise so the pieces of duck stays intact and doesn't fall apart when they're placed on your plate.
At Roast Kitchen, Muslim patrons get a chance to enjoy a selection of Chinese-styled dishes without any qualms because everything they serve here is halal. Incredibly, the chef has modified the recipe so well that you can hardly tell the difference, his halal version tastes as good as the real thing.
Next were the crispy duck noodles. They use Ipoh duck egg wantan noodles. Duck egg is less runny compared to chicken eggs so these noodles have more bite and a stickier texture. This allows the gravy to cling better to the noodles. The gravy is a mixture of oyster sauce, soy sauce, rock sugar, shallots and garlic oil. The chef dunks the noodles in hot water for a few seconds then he immerses it in cold water to stop the cooking process. This gives the noodles a wonderful 'al-dente' quality.
"A smoking plate of CKT..."
Damansara Uptown Hawker Centre has been the go-to place for PJ-ians looking to grab some grub in the middle of the night for years. There's a few famous CKT stalls in the hawker centre so there are plenty of choices if you're hankering for a plate of CKT. One of the more popular CKT stall is tucked behind a well-known Chinese Muslim joint and in front of another well-known ‘power’ fish and rice stall, this discreetly located hawker is Gerai Makanan Swee Foong. Although it is hidden, the stall still manages to garner many fans who frequent it regularly to get their CKT fix.
They have a fish counter in front, and a simple menu of fried stuffs and the usual ikan bakar. But I was here for the char kway teow, so I placed an order for a plate (RM4.50/plate of char kway teow). I noticed the stall wasn’t that crowded, perhaps due to it being relatively ‘hidden’. With the roar of the burner, the cook at Swee Foong started away with the frying. His movements were quick and measured, and you see him deftly chucking in cockles, prawns, chives and taugeh into the smoking hot wok, followed by the flat noodles and seasonings.
Minutes later, I was served a simple looking plate of char kway teow, with a dish of chili potong on the side. But like so many good dishes, simplicity belied all the good things.
It was all about an excellent play of textures in this plate. Yummy. The noodles were perfectly cooked, soft but still firm with a bite to it. It picked up the seasonings well, although I suspect the cook was being cautious with the amounts of soy sauce and salt. But not a deal breaker, as the chili potong and kicap boosted the flavors up. The cockles and prawns used were small, but made their flavours prominent. The chives and taugeh gave the char kway teow a satisfying crispiness. And as befitting a wok and a high-pressure burner, the ‘wok hei’ was great. It was a smoky and satisfying plate, a textbook example of a char kway teow done right. More »
"Eyes and cheeks are the best bit..."
Artfully tucked into an alley, Big Tree Lin Kee is not the easiest place to find. Right after you drive past the turn-off into Jalan Waras 3, you’ll see a big yellow sign written in Chinese with a big arrow pointing right into the alley. Follow it up the road and pray hard for an empty parking spot. Then grab a seat and get ready for one of the best steamed fish you’ll ever have in the Klang Valley. Big Tree Lin Kee have been around for about 7 years. Named after the matriarch of the family, Lin, their steamed haruan fish heads are the major star attraction here. Haruan has wonderfully smooth and soft flesh characteristic of river fish. It’s also relatively cheap and good for you, as it’s a popular pantang and post-op meal option.
The most popular ways to have it here are either with the brown fermented bean sauce (cheong cheng) or with minced ginger. We ordered both, along with a whole host of other dishes.
The soup arrived first, a deliciously herby watercress soup. Red dates or jujube fruit gave it textural interest, while the chunks of pork give the soup its body. The stir-fried kangkung belacan here is one of the best we’ve had – fresh, crunchy, with just the right amount of kick from the belacan and the chillies. The stir-fried sweet potato leaves were also fresh, if not a touch bland. The tofu was a quick favourite as its crunchy-on-the-outside-smooth-on-the-inside texture won us over with subtle hints of seafood and vegetables studded into the tofu.
"Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Sesame Chook..."
Steamed or roasted are usually the two options you get when you order chicken rice. Game for something different? Get out of your comfort zone and try the fried sesame chicken sold at Gerai Ah Kow. Hailing from Perak, Uncle Ah Kow ventured into the food business by selling noodles from his bicycle around the streets of KL in 1971. It was only in 1983 that he came up with the ingenious sesame chicken recipe and decided to open up a stall at Medan Selera Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz. And the rest suffice to say is history. Now, he runs the stall with the help of his son, Eric and son in law, Kenny. Tables fill fast as soon as he starts selling his scrumptious sesame chicken at 11.45 am. He goes through 20 to 30 chickens per day so if you want a chance to sample them do come here by noon.
Sesame seeds add a wonderful nutty taste to the chicken and goes incredibly well with the kick-ass garlic chilli combo (spicier than most of the other chicken rice places I've tried). They also add more crunchiness to the golden fried skin. The rice and soup are quite decent but they act more like a supporting backdrop to the chicken that is obviously the star of the dish. The chicken slices are served on a bed of sliced cucumbers bathed in light soya sauce. I wonder how he gets the sesame seeds to stick to the skin? I suspect that he uses a thick liquid batter similar to the ones used for goreng pisang. Probably deep-fries in hot oil and drains it quickly so the skin stays grease free. It's all guess work because try as I might to pry it from him, Uncle Ah Kow will not divulged his recipe nor his cooking technique to me.
He also serves the regular roasted and steamed variety here, but it's the sesame chicken that draws the crowd. More »
"Sweet, Spicy and Briny!"
If you find yourself hungry after a fun night out with friends in Penang, you might want to head over to Old Green House on Burma Road. This is where you’ll find an array of tasty treats with one famous stall in particular selling hokkien mee.
Penang Hokkien Mee has always been a favourite of mine. I adore slurping up the spicy red broth with briny prawns and slippery noodles. This could be because it was what my mom ate quite frequently when she was pregnant with me. It was one of her ‘can’t say no to’ cravings!
When I first ordered Hokkien Mee in KL I got a shock when a plate of black sauced noodles appeared. I soon learnt that Penang Hokkien Mee is referred to as Prawn Mee outside of the island. Which is why it is a treat to return to my hometown and simply ask for Hokkien Mee without having to specify which kind I meant. More »