When it comes to weddings, events, and special get-togethers, jao lao (banquet halls) are still a popular choice among the Malaysian Chinese community. We had a special occasion recently, so the fam and I went to one such place, Hee Lai Ton Restaurant Puchong, for dinner.
Hee Lai Ton is a group of banquet restaurants, and they have branches in KL (went there once, for a friend’s wedding), Petaling Jaya, Seri Kembangan and Seremban. I’ve been to the Puchong branch a couple of times and their food is always decent.
Typical of Chinese jao laos, the restaurant is divided into two floors, and has large tables that seat up to 10 people. Each of these is equipped with a lazy Susan, so it’s convenient to reach for dishes. There is a stage at the corner of the room, complete with audio visual equipment and screen (they usually play photo slides/videos on it for weddings).
Hee Lai Ton offers sets of course meals comprising several dishes, good for six to ten people. Since we were only four, we went for ala carte. There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from, including seafood, meat, vegetables and tofu.
Our first order was Deep fried Oatmeal squid. This is a fairly common item in local Chinese restaurants, and involves deep frying seafood (usually squid or shrimp, or sometimes fried fish fillets), and tossing them in a butter and oatmeal mix together with bird’s eye chilli for an extra kick. The version here did not disappoint. It was nicely seasoned, not greasy, and the buttermilk-like sweetness paired well with the squid’s natural flavour.
Next came the Tofu with Crab meat. The tofu is made in-house, fried, and then cooked in an eggy, starchy sauce with brocolli, carrots and mushrooms. It had a nice silky texture, but there was very little crab meat in the dish. Miniscule, even. Can’t really blame the resto though – crab is expensive these days.
This was the Moomins’ pick: steamed “snow cod”. This is a misnomer, as this deepsea fish is not actually cod (it’s proper name is Patagonian toothfish), but that’s just how we call it here. Snow cod is very expensive – and since we didn’t want a siakap incident on our hands, we made sure to ask the resto manager how much it would cost. Our fish was about 300grammes, so it cost around RM80.
Despite the hefty price tag, I felt that it was worth it. Snow cod has a very distinctive taste: it’s sweet and buttery, with a fatty layer that melts in your mouth. Having it steamed and paired with soy sauce is the best way to showcase the natural flavours of this fish.
Tanjung Tualang is a small fishing village in Perak, renowned for its udang galah (freshwater prawns). The restaurant sells these large prawns, but they’re pricey – so to fit our budget, the waitress recommended regular prawns done “Tualang style” – that is, cooked in garlic and a savoury sauce. The prawns were still sizeable and juicy, with lots of roe in the head.
Last but not least was another one of Moo’s picks: pork ribs cooked in pumpkin. The ribs were served in a carved out pumpkin, so it absorbed the pumpkin’s natural sweetness, and the meat was also fall-off-the-bone tender.
All in all, our meal of five dishes came up to RM300+, which was actually more expensive than the set for six 😛 So if you do want to dine in, I suggest coming as a large group to get more bang for your buck. But given the quality of the food, the efficient service and comfortable setting, I think what we paid was worth the price.
HEE LAI TON (PUCHONG)
21, 22, 23, Jalan Kenari 1, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Phone: 03-5882 3333