Saturday, 22 January 2011

Min Kee Restaurant, Revisited 2011 (CLOSED)

Chef Loo has decided to call it quits. It was good while it lasted. Will live in our memories. Yum.
It's been more than a year since we first posted about Min Kee and we are glad to report after a recent visit thatChef Loo is still producing top class food. A testament to the quality of their food is the popularity of this establishment with many local market traders. Most market traders are particular about freshness of produce and 'clean' taste of the food. Min Kee scores pretty high on both counts. On most visits here, we've seen various market traders having their dinner here and also celebrating special occasions. During our last visit, we met a family of traders from the Kajang wet market who had brought their own terrapin to be cooked by Chef Loo. The wafting aroma of the terrapin cooked in a claypot with ginger (and some rice wine?) was enticing enough for us to enquire with the operator about the dish. A pity that terrapin is not easily available in Broga these days.

In our last post, we did not include their signature dish (which requires prior booking). The braised eight treasure duck alone is worth the 20 odd kilometer drive from Kajang to Broga. The duck is cooked until tender and almost melts in the mouth.
 Stuffed with nuts (lotus and gingko), mushrooms, carrots and some other nutritious goodies, the stuffings add more depth of flavor to the dish. I ended up literally licking off all the goodness from the bones! Highly recommended and still a steal at RM48 for a bird.

Another must have that we did write about previously is the crispy butter fried tilapia. The fish is filleted, sliced and deep fried with butter. Lip smacking and finger lickingly good to the last bone.

The braised pork dishes here tend to be good. We had the char yoke the last time and this time we had the pork and yam. The pork was melt in your mouth tender and had well absorbed the five spice flavored sauce. Thumbs up.

Green vegetables are grown around Broga so you can be assured of fresh and crunchy vegetables here. The yau mak was cooked with fermented bean curd (and some intensely hot chilli padi). Thumbs up, but be warned about the chilli padi!

The fern shoots (pakis) cooked with sambal belacan packed a punch too. I guess they like their vegetables with a kick here ? I found it very good actually.

It was a very satisfying visit to Min Kee and we can confirm that this is a place that will remain on our Top 10 list for some time to come. Do give it a try, but make sure you call in advance and book the braised duck.

Location : Lot 2788, Kg Baru Broga, Pekan Broga, 71750 Lenggeng, Negri Sembilan (it's a few kilometers after the Nottingham University campus)
Contact : 016-381 8038

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Chinese New Year in Kajang Town

Ok, this is not a food posting. I just wanted to post some photos of the nice CNY decorations that have come up around Kajang town. Jalan Besar and Mendaling Street especially look great.
This shot is just outside the Temple Restaurant along Jalan Mendaling.
There are paper effigies with the horoscope animals.
And the Rabbit takes center stage this year. It's a little early but Happy New Year everyone !

Chop Tong Sing, Kedai Kopi & Makanan

Kedai Kopi Tong Sing is an old school kopitiam (coffee shop) that we have been frequenting for ages. Situated along Jalan Mendaling in a rather quiet part of the old town in a pretty run-down shoplot, it is the only surviving authentic kopitiam in Kajang town.

There used to be two kopitiams along Jalan Sulaiman and one on Jalan Besar, but they have long disappeared. Tong Sing managed to survive due in part to the popularity of a stall within the shop which serves a pretty good curry noodles and a decent pork porridge. Very popular on weekends and public holidays, it also has it's faithful daily regulars.

The coffee comes thick and is served in old kopitiam cups.

The roti bakar pairs a sweet kaya with thick slices of butter.

Half-boiled eggs are a energy boost in the morning! They use free range chicken eggs here.

The yam cake was so-so only.

The curry noodles were thick and not very spicy – you have to add your own sambal chilli for added heat. I usually add two spoonfuls. Slices of chicken and fried pork with some crunchy bean-sprouts make this a great meal.

Location : Along Jalan Mendaling, Kajang Town


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Kedai Kopi Kok Beng, Taiping

Kok Beng in Taiping is a place I have written about briefly in the past. Voted one of the Top 10 Chicken Rice restaurants in Malaysia, there was a lot of anticipation as I took my family here for lunch over the Christmas weekend recently. Gd, the resident chicken expert is especially picky about chicken texture. Would this meet his high standards ?
 First up was a side order of nyonya style acar awak (mixed pickled vegetables). Piquant, spicy and a little sweet, this got the thumbs up from everyone.
Next up was the char siew (sweet roasted pork). Sweet and juicy on the outside with enough caramalised bits to make it interesting, the char siew was top quality. Excellent.
Finally the steamed and roasted chicken arrived. It was good and everyone agreed it was pretty tasty. Succulent and tasty would be a good description. Gd however found that it lacked the 'bite' of a free range chicken and was rather soft in texture. The roasted chicken on the other hand was cripsy on the outside - it fared somewhat better than the steamed chicken. 

Special mention must be made of the accompaniments. The soup was made from chicken stock and had a strong pepper taste which was pretty hot on the tongue. Top class and suitable for the cold rainy Taiping weather. The ginger and chilli sauce was excellent - packing enough punch to cause a hiccup if you pile on too much.

Located along the main thoroughfare in Taiping town, this is a good spot for an above average Chicken Rice. We would highly recommend the char siew here though.

Location : No 38, Jalan Kota, 38000 Taiping, Perak

Friday, 7 January 2011

Serdang Lama Steamed Fish Head

Yet another nameless restaurant, nicknamed Serdang Lama Steamed Fish Head restaurant. Now this place has been dishing out something 'special' for some time now - judging from the amount of cars parked here during lunch time. Recently I had the opportunity to try it with an associate. Within 2 weeks, I've been there 4 times! This is good food, reasonably priced.
Nameless fish head restaurant in Serdang Lama, in front of Chinese school
Serdang Lama is a town bypassed by the North-South PLUS and the fairly new Besraya highways. Nobody goes in there anymore unless you are going to school or to feast on this fish head! If you are coming from the MINES along the Besraya highway, after you pass the railway line underneath the highway at the bend, look out for "Serdang Lama" turning to the left . As you turn into Serdang Lama, this restaurant is located right there. (There is a Pan Mee stall next to it - I was told, this is good too!) The steamers in front of the restaurant is a sure sign of the roaring business they have here during lunch time.

Signature dish - Steamed Fish Head - Superb!
The famed signature dish here is the sea fish head (Ikan Merah) steamed with salted vegetables and topped with ginger paste. The gravy that the dish comes with has a sweetish taste and is just lovely - I just love it!
Closeup of Steamed Ikan Merah with Ginger topping
As you can see here, the ginger topping somewhat looks like Japanese 'wasabe', but does not have that kick or taste but rather a nice gingery taste. This is one of the best steamed fish heads that I have ever come across.
Pork trotters in black vinegar
Next up, we had pork trotters cooked in black vinegar. This was a well executed dish, a tinge of young gingery taste too. To note here, they have only 2 options for pork dishes, the other being steamed minced pork with salted fish - I did try that one too, not too bad. Somehow, between both, I prefer this.
Bitter Gourd stir fried with egg - simple dish
We kept the vegetable simple - Bitter Gourd with Egg and this was simple and nice. This restaurant has a limited menu but all well executed and served in the right portions. The stir fried brinjal/egg plant with dried prawns (kam heong) is also highly recommended.

Watching the kitchen............
From where I sat, I could not help noticing the kitchen - the production line for the steamed fish head - it all looked so simple, chop up the head, put it on a dish, steam it for about 1 1/2 minutes, drain out the 'water', add own steamed fish sauce, add house special topping on fish and serve. Fast and close to perfect!

Food here is very reasonably priced. 2 persons, 3 dishes (including steamed fish head, 'ikan merah') - less then RM40. For 3 persons, it came up to about RM50 ish. This must account for its popularity - good tasty and fresh food for a reasonable price. How to go wrong? This was certainly a good find - highly recommended.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Warong Afgan, Paksitani Food!

Blue Roof - Afgan's Warong, glamour-less Pakistani food
Thanks to Thomas and his heads-up from The Star some months ago, I was introduced to this nameless warong by the roadside leading to Batu 9, Cheras (Suntex/Masterskills University). The writer of that Star newspaper article on this warong wrote about the authenticity of the food served here, and I have to agree - I have not seen or tasted anything like that here in Malaysia, right down to the dressing of the men who cook and serve you these food!
The freshly baked bread, long beans and teh tarik
Perhaps, this is the most authentic Pakistani simpleton food available here in Malaysia. There is not much to select from, the bread (more like naan) is just perfect. There is an art in making good bread. From the mixing and the roughing up of the dough, to the time it is left to set in and the final preparation of the dough before it is baked (I noted the use of the fingers to make that holes on the bread that makes the bread a little crisp when baked), its all part and parcel of perfect bread - this is what Afgan's (Afgan is his name, but he is from Pakistan) warong has to offer. Each perfectly crafted bread is priced at RM1.50 and to me, its a full meal for an adult.

Before you run out to Afgan's warong, let me warn you - the food choice here is limited and its aimed at the working class, nothing fancy. On the menu, bread (freshly baked in his clay oven), 'kebab' and 2-3 types of gravy - I was lucky to have long beans dry curry today, it complemented the bread - very nice. Kebab is kinda different - its made of minced beef and vegetables, made to a burger like patty, then fried in a shallow wok.
Closeup of the kebab - it is like beef burger patty, with some egg tossed on it before serving
Towards the end of the preperation, Afgan breaks an egg and gently pours it over the cooked patty, flips it over and the rest of the egg goes on it - its was interesting to watch him doing this. The final 'kebab' was black in colour, kind of burnt-out but tasted kinda nice - there was no burnt-out taste at all. Thus, don't judge a book by its cover - taste it first! The kebab is normally served with mint sauce and the bread - a full meal. My long beans curry was extra. All in - RM8.50 - including 'teh tarik' to wash it down. I must say, the tea was very nice too.
The Kebab (lime to taste) served with mint sauce
If you are looking for 'authentic simpleton Pakistani food', this is the place to be. Don't expect spicy southern Indian or mamak type of food, it is different. I recommend the 'kebab', the freshly baked bread and a side dish - check his displayed pre-cooked offerings for the day, could be interesting. Don't forget the teh tarik to wash it down.

Located along the road leading to Bt.9, from Taman Murni/Grand Saga Cheras Highway interchange
How to get there? Exit off the Cheras Highway at the Taman Murni Interchange and head back towards Bt.9 town, i.e. go left as you exit the Cheras highway. It is about 200 meter from the highway, can't miss it. Look out for that blue roof warong.

Xin Kuala Sepetang Seafood Restaurant

I'm still writing about our Taiping Christmas outing last December. Another memorable place we tried was Xin Seafood located in Port Weld or Kuala Sepetang as it is now known. Kuala Sepetang is a 30 minute drive from Taiping and the journey will take you through various old kampongs (some dating back to the days of Long Jaafar) and a verdant mangrove forest. A visit to the mangrove education centre and a charcoal factory would make a good day trip, but we did not do it this time. Our sole intention this time was the seafood ! The original plan was to go to Restoran Tepi Sungai (a.k.a. RT Port Weld). It was however the Christmas weekend and the place was full and we had not made any prior reservation. They were kind enough to point us in the direction of Xin which they said belonged to their 'saudara' (relative).

So that's how we ended up at Xin. The restaurant is located just beside the river. There were actually boats docked next to the restaurant. Quite a scenic view at sunset I must say. The restaurant itself was very basic and functional as most restaurants tend to be in small villages. Lots of seafood were on display in various tanks and baskets and we were told to take our pick. The choices of preparation were mainly either steamed or fried with a few choices of gravy.
We picked 2 medium sized ikan kerapu (RM36 each) and these were plain steamed with some ginger slices. In any other place, a simple preparation like this would have been disappointing but the freshness of the fish here prevented any unsatisfactory verdict. 
We were recommended to try the prawns and squid in a tom yam soup (RM48) and we had no regrets with this dish. The tom yum was thick without the heaviness of santan (coconut cream). Sour, spicy and a little sweet – very well balanced and definitely a 'must have' here.

We picked several types of seafood which were just plain fried including:-

Small sardine-like fish. These were fried until nice and crispy and you could almost eat the entire fish - with the exception of the spinal bone. This was pretty good.

Small baby crabs. You can often see these tiny crabs on the beach but we never thought these could be eaten. Deep fried in oil, these became a very nice snack. It would Would have been great with some cold beer.
Small prawns. Like the baby crabs, these would have been great with beer.
Boiled shellfish (kerang). The accompanying chilli sambal was not pungent enough so this dish was not very exciting.
Flower crabs. There were no mud crabs available so we had to make do with flower crabs which tend to be less meaty and tasty. However the freshness of the crabs saved it from being mediocre.
There were no green vegetables available so we had to make do with binjals. These were stir fried with a dried prawn sauce which was very crispy and tasty. Very good and recommended.
Other popular dishes here are boiled octopus (we saw it on many tables) and mud crabs (when available). Overall it was a pretty good experience. The total bill was RM245 for 13 of us which is about RM20 a head – not too bad for the amount of food we had.

Location : Lot 155B, Tepi Sungai, 34650 Kuala Sepetang, Taiping, Perak
Contact : 017-5619384

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Restoran 8383, Pokok Assam, Taiping

For the first post for 2011, I'm writing about a small unassuming restaurant off the beaten path in Taiping. The Pokok Assam area is not exactly a popular destination for tourists in Taiping. Other than being voted the Neatest (or was it Cleanest ?) kampong in Malaysia, it really does not have any claim to fame. Locals however will vouch for good food found here. I have Taiping native Stephen to thank for taking me to this restaurant in 2007.

On the strength of what I tasted, I decided to take my family here for our Christmas Day dinner recently. If you know the foodies in my family, that's the gastronomic equivalent of putting my neck on the chopping block lah !

First up was a steamed kerapu fish with ginger slices. Very simple and just highlighting the freshness of the fish. Thumbs up.

The fried prawns were crunchy outside but nice and moist inside. Done just right. Thumbs up.

I can't recall what style of chicken this was but it was fried and came in a sweetish sauce. Excellent.

Sotong sambal (squids in spicy sauce) came in a very tasty sauce which was quickly mopped up. Thumbs up.
The kangkong (water convolvulus) belacan (shrimp paste) was OK but could have been more spicy and with more sambal belacan. OK only.

The brinjal came in a tasty sauce with dried shrimp. Excellent.
Black pepper pork had lots of pepper in it which was quite good for the cold rainy Taiping weather. Thumbs up.
What was shocking for us Klang Valley folks was the bill - RM121 for all the above - mind you there were 12 of us ! Taiping is still THE place for great value for money!

Location: Situated behind the Pokok Assam Police Station, this restaurant is actually situated within the compound of a corner lot single storey house.
Address : No256, Jalan Councillor, Pokok Assam, 34000 Taiping, Perak
Contact : 013-5238383 / 013-524 8383 (nice numbers – very appropriate for the restaurant!)