Bitter gourd, or bitter melon, is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, often stir-fried with meat or eggs, or served in a soup. It has many purported health benefits, including reducing blood sugar levels, as well as aiding in weight loss. I think the latter is because it’s so bitter, you wouldn’t be able to finish the dish anyway. Eat less = lose weight = profit. (You can probably tell I don’t like bitter gourd very much, lol).
Jokes aside, there are people who enjoy the vegetable’s distinct flavour – so if you’re craving a nutritious and tasty(?) bitter gourd dish, head to Fu Gua Thong Restaurant in Bandar Puteri Puchong. Their signature bitter gourd soup, cooked with tender slices of pork, is a crowd puller, and while I won’t order this on my own volition, I’ve had it before with the fam and can attest that they cook it in a way that doesn’t make the bitterness pronounced.
Wait. So this isn’t a review about their bittergourd dish?
Well, for fellow bittergourd haters like me, a trip to Fu Gua Thong is still worth it for their Hakka cuisine, with dishes such as Deep Fried Hakka Style Pork (zha yuk), Yam and pork belly, stuffed tau fu pok, and stir-fried yam and abacus seed. The Hubs and I were here for dinner over the weekend, and even though we only ordered two dishes to share, they were both excellent and reasonably priced.
The stir-fried fish slices in ginger and onion came in a generous portion, swimming in a rich, and savoury sauce. The fish slices were fresh, thick, and firm,and the sauce made it an excellent accompaniment to rice. The ginger and onion not only gave it a nice flavour, but also masked any fishy odours the seafood might have had.
This is my favourite at Fu Gua Thong – Hakka fried pork! Thick slices of pork belly are marinated in nam yue (a fermented beancurd sauce – my dad hates the stuff, so we don’t have this often at family dinners), then deep fried to give it a crispy, crunchy exterior. The meat inside was fatty but not greasy. It was served with a side of chilli sauce, which accentuated the salty flavour.
So yeah. While Fu Gua Thong’s bittergourd dishes are sure to satisfy fans, they have many other dishes that are decent as well. Service wise, waiters appear harried and are not exactly welcoming, with curt/bordering on rude responses, but if you have zero expectations for service, this is a good place for the food.
FU GUA THONG (PUCHONG)
32, Jalan Puteri 2/4, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
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
Singaporean F&B brand Putien is perhaps the epitome of a ‘success story’. From humble beginnings as a no-frills coffeeshop along Singapore’s Kitchener Road (the outlet now has a Michelin star), the brand has grown into an international chain renowned for its high quality Fujianese cuisine, which draws inspiration from the coastal town of Putian in China, of which the brand is named after. As such, diners can expect many seafood dishes on the menu, as well as specialties such as stir-fried yam and deep fried pork trotters.
Putien has been in Malaysia for some time now, but I never got the chance to try their food until recently (part of the reason is because the prices are above average. For me, at least :P). But since it was a special occasion, I decided to splurge on a takeaway meal for the fam from their IOI Mall Puchong outlet. PS: The government is allowing dine-in for vaccinated people, so you can choose to do so. On our side, we’re trying to avoid pubilc places as much as possible.
My order was processed very quickly, and they even gave me a nice reusable bag for the takeaway. Food was still warm when I got home!
I ordered four dishes. The servings were rather small, but since we’re small eaters it was enough for the four of us. The total came up to about RM80++.
One of their signatures is the Putien Crispy Oyster, and it delivered with aplomb. There was a generous amount of oyster within the fluffy egg and flour batter, and the starch gave the dish a slight chewiness. So what you get is a medley of textures – crispy, fluffy, chewy, juicy. Even eaten without the accompanying chilli sauce, it was good on its own and came packed with flavour.
I was craving for something chewy, so I ordered the braised pig’s intestine, which are cooked in a 12-spices house sauce for at least 45 minutes. They prepare limited quantities per day. It was decent, but not the best I have ever tasted; the intestines were slightly bitter. Offal is notoriously difficult to get right, though, so I think they still did a good job.
Braised tofu. This was decent as well, but I wouldn’t say it was special.
Another signature I ordered was thebian rou (wonton)soup, a Fujianese specialty originating from the Chinese Qin dynasty. Regular wontons are made from wheat flour wrappers, but bian rou’s are made from pork meat. To achieve their delicate, transclucent quality, the meat is continously pounded and rolled for three hours until they become as thin as paper. This gives the wontons a silky quality: think a delicate shawl wrapped around juicy pork meat, immersed in a gentle seaweed soup.
I really enjoyed the dishes from Putien, and wouldn’t mind ordering again since there are many different items I’ve yet to try on the menu. Some interesting ones include Putien Lor Mee (braised noodles), Deep Fried Pork Trotters with Salt & Pepper, Ca Fen (meesua, noodles and bihoon mix), and Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychees.
Putien has nine outlets in Malaysia; 8 are in the Klang Valley with 1 in Penang.
PUTIEN (IOI MALL PUCHONG)
G18A, Ground Floor, IOI Mall, Jalan Puchong, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47170 Puchong,Selangor. Tel: +603 8080 3348
Growing up, my favourite part about weekend mornings was when my parents brought me out for a dimsum breakfast. I loved the hustle and bustle of the dining floor, filled with the chatter of patrons and the clink of plates and chopsticks. I loved the towering baskets of bamboo steamers piled up high on carts that were wheeled to each table, where diners got to pick out their favourite items. But most of all, I loved savouring the dimsum itself: delicious bite-sized morsels that are either steamed, fried or baked. It’s no wonder the literal translation for dimsum is ‘touch the heart’!
As an adult, I still love dimsum, and even though the pandemic has changed the way we dine, I still find myself getting dimsum for takeaway every now and then to satisfy my cravings.
For those unfamiliar with Cantonese cuisine, ordering dim sum can feel like a daunting task, what with the bewildering array of choices available. But fret not: here’s a handy dimsum guide that will help you to tell your siew mai apart from your siew loong bao (and perhaps impress your Cantonese friends while you’re at!)
**Spellings may differ slightly depending on which country you’re from; I’m using the versions most common to where I live. Also, I’ve only listed 12 types; otherwise this would turn into a compendium lol.
You can’t go to a dimsum resto and not order a basket of har gao. These shrimp dumplings are distinguished by their slightly translucent wrapper and delicate pleats. The wrapper is made from rice flour, which gives it a slightly chewy texture that contrasts perfectly with the juicy, crunchy shrimps enveloped within. A good har gao should not stick to the bottom of the steamer, and the skin should be thin enough to see-through, but thick enough that it doesn’t break when you lift it with your chopsticks.
Next to har gao, siew mai is another must-have at every table. Like the har gao, the siew mai is also a ‘dumpling’, but a different kind altogether. The filling typically contains ground pork and whole or chopped shrimp, sometimes paired with ingredients such as mushrooms, chives, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (for that added crunch). The wrapper is made from lye dough and is either yellow or white; sometimes it has a slightly sweet taste. To garnish, crab roe or diced carrot is used to form a dot at the top of the dumpling.
Char Siew Bao
These barbecued pork buns are my husband’s favourite. In the Philippines, where the hubs is from, they are known as siopao, and the pork filling is usually red in colour. Here in Malaysia, a dark filling is more common; although tastewise, I think they are quite similar. The filling is savoury with a hint of sweetness, thanks to the marinade of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and roasted sesame seed oil.
Although char siew bao looks similar to baozi (traditional Chinese steamed buns), the texture of the former is different, as the dough uses yeast and baking powder as leavening, making it dense but fluffy.
Siew Loong Bao
While the name means ‘mini basket buns’, siew loong bao (or xiaolongbao) are actually soup dumplings. Traditionally a dish from Jiangsu, it is often associated with Shanghainese cuisine. The dumplings are also very popular in Taiwan, thanks to brands like Din Tai Fung, who have also popularised it in the West, so much so that they are sometimes called Taiwanese soup dumplings.
So, how does one fill a dumpling with soup? Chefs use a solid meat aspic (sort of like a gelatin cube), which they stuff together with ground pork into the thin wrapper before steaming. The heat from the cooking process then melts the aspic, creating a savoury soup. There’s supposed to be a ‘proper’ way to eat siew loong bao; ie you poke a hole in the skin, slurp up the soup, put a couple of ginger slices on then dip it into vinegar before consuming whole – but I say food is to be enjoyed, so eat it as you like. Just don’t burn your tongue on hot soup!
Fung Jao (Phoenix Talons)
A lofty name for chicken feet braised with black bean sauce. Some consider it a delicacy, and if you’re not used to eating parts like feet, this dish might be a tad … adventurous. The black bean sauce is savoury and sweet, masking any unpleasant odours. There’s not much meat on the feet, but plenty of skin, cartilage and tendons, so if you enjoy gelatinous textures, then dig in. If you’re really skilled, take a big bite – then elegantly spit out the small bones.
Since Canton (Guangdong) is close to the sea, a lot of dishes in Cantonese cuisine use seafood. Har Guen, or fried shrimp rolls, is one of them. Shrimps are wrapped with dried beancurd sheets (fu pei) into rolls, then deep fried to crispy perfection. To suit modern tastes, dimsum shops often serve them with dips like mayonnaise and garlic chilli sauce.
Chee Cheong Fun
Many dimsum items are bite-sized, so if you’re looking for something more substantial, there’s chee cheong fun, ie steamed rice noodle rolls. The name actually means ‘pig intestine noodles’, since they look like pig intestines. Chee cheong fun starts off as a ‘sheet’: a mixture of rice flour, tapioca or glutinous rice flour plus water is poured over a special flat pan. The heat causes it to solidify; it is then rolled into its signature long shape and sliced. The noodles are very versatile, and different places serve different versions, but the ones you find at dimsum shops are usually served plain and drizzled over with soy sauce, or stuffed with shrimp (no surprise) or barbecued pork. Here in Malaysia, dimsum restos often add sambal or chilli on top.
Lo Mai Gai
My dad and brother are typical Asians. Rice is a must have at every meal, which is why they always order this glutinous rice dish whenever we have dimsum. Traditionally, the rice, together with ingredients like mushroom, Chinese sausage and pork is wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed, giving it a fragrant aroma – but modern versions use an aluminium foil bowl so that it’s easier to remove (sourcing for lotus leaves is probably an expensive endeavour too). The rice has a chewy texture with a sticky ‘glaze’ to it.
Lo Bak Go
“Lo bak” refers to carrots, but these savoury ‘cakes’ are actually made from Chinese radish. Water, rice flour and starch is added to mashed radish roots to form squares, which are then deep fried. Sometimes ingredients like dried shrimp, dried mushrooms, Chinese sausage and jinhua ham are added to give it more flavour. The starch/flour gives the cakes a crisp, brown coating, whilst retaining a soft but solid consistency throughout. Chao lo bak go is essentially the same, but stir fried with vegetables like bean sprouts and chilli instead of deep fried.
Lao Sar Bao
My personal favourite, lao sar bao (molten lava bun) is a relatively new creation to grace the menus of dim sum restaurants. Popularised in recent years due to the salted egg yolk custard craze, these steamed buns are soft and fluffy with a sweet and creamy filling of mashed salted egg yolks. The filling is a wonderful balance between sweet and salty, and although it has a sandy texture on the tongue (due to the egg yolk mash), it still slides down your throat effortlessly. There’s almost a sensual quality when you tear the buns apart and watch as the filling oozes out. Hmmh.
Deep fried yam puffs? Comfort food at its best. The pastry has a croquette-like texture, in that it’s flaky and crumbly rather than firm like other types of deep fried dumplings. At first bite, you get a light and crispy texture on the outside, before moving on to the smooth, paste-like consistency of the yam. Finally, there’s the juicy centre of moist pork and vegetables.
Of course, we can’t round off the meal without dessert. Dan taat, or Cantonese egg tarts are inspired by English tarts and the Portuguese pastel de nata; a vestige of British colonial influence in Canton / Hong Kong, as well as Portuguese influence in Macao. While dan taat isn’t traditional dimsum per se (it was only sold beginning the early 20th century), it is a staple on many dimsum restaurant menus today, as well as in Hong Kong-style char chaan tengs (coffeeshops). Making the pastry is tedious process, as it requires multiple folding to get that flaky texture, and a careful baking process to ensure the custard is perfect. I can’t imagine a more fitting dessert to end a dim sum feast.
And there you have it! This is by no means a comprehensive guide: there are literally dozens if not over a hundred different types of dimsum, some of which even I have not tasted before. But hopefully, if you haven’t been to a dimsum resto before, this will give you a better idea of some dishes to order and make the experience less intimidating.
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Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown has a storied history. Like many Malaysian cities with a rich tin mining heritage, it started off as a pioneer town, with a large Chinese migrant population. Although Malaya was then under British rule, the colonists often appointed overseers from within the respective communities – and in KL, a “Kapitan Cina” administered over the Chinese.
One of these Kapitans, Yap Ah Loy, is attributed to the founding of KL’s Chinatown. After devastating fires, floods and civil war between the Chinese (from the Hakka and Cantonese clans) for control of the tin mining trade, many of the miners and coolies were keen on skipping town. Yap persuaded them to remain in KL and ply another trade: growing rice and crops. He opened a tapioca mill in Petaling Street, which allowed trade to recover. In Cantonese, Petaling Street is called ‘Chee Cheong Kai’ (starch factory street), a tribute to its beginnings.
Over the years, Chinatown’s flavour changed (I wrote about this in a previous post, which you can check out here). It became less of a hub for Chinese culture and more of a cheap market for counterfeit goods, managed by foreign workers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and India. This loss of authenticity is the reason why I have not returned to Chinatown for many years – until recently. Times are hard, and the pandemic means that many foreign workers, whether legal or illegal, have been sent home. The street is much quieter now, and most of the stalls are manned by local Chinese again.
Thankfully, one thing that has remained unchanged through the years is food – and Petaling Street is home to many well-established, decades-old institutions, such as a 40-year-old muachi stall, a 2nd generation roast duck kiosk, wantan mee, and of course, Kim Lian Kee.
Widely touted as the ‘birthplace’ of Hokkien Mee in Kuala Lumpur, Kim Lian Kee was founded by a Fujianese migrant, Wong Kim Lian in 1927. That makes it close to a 100 years old! The brand has since expanded all over Malaysia, with proper restaurants in malls and commercial areas. At Petaling Street, the ‘original’ hawker stall, which has outdoor seating, sits just across the road from a slightly more upscale-looking resto with air-conditioning.
The style of cooking and noodles may have Hokkien roots, but Hokkien Mee was created by the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora – and as such, you will not find it in China. Three places are known for their Hokkien Mee, and they are all slightly different: Penang’s version features thick noodles in a spicy broth made from prawn shells, prawn heads, prawn and pork ribs, served with pork slices, hard boiled eggs, kangkung, bean sprouts, fried shallots, sambal and lard. Singapore’s Hokkien Mee is stir-fried, lighter in colour and comes in a fragrant sauce made from stewing prawn heads, meat, clams and dried fish.
KL’s version, which is what Kim Lian Kee serves, is known as Hokkien char by Penangite Hokkiens, to differentiate it from the soupy one. It is stir-fried in a dark soy sauce together with ingredients such as pork, squid, fish cake, cabbage and lard. A good Hokkien Mee should be cooked over a charcoal fire, and the intense heat (wok hei) helps to seal in all of the flavours.
I had high hopes for KLK’s Hokkien Mee. Unfortunately, while it was decent, I would not say it is the BEST that I’ve ever tasted. The noodles were nice and had bite, but they also had a strong bitter taste, likely from kan sui (lye, used in making yellow noodles). The yuet kong hor (moonlight kueyteow – raw egg on stir fried kuey teow noodles) was also just… okay. A tad disappointed, as I was expecting more from a place touting itself as the ‘birthplace’ of Hokkien Noodles. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Aside from noodles, Kim Lian Kee has an extensive menu offering dai chow dishes like fried rice, fish and meat items, vegetables, tofu, etc. We got a fried rice with shrimp. Again, not bad but nothing wow either. The rice was a little hard. Uncle Roger would have a couple of things to say,
The best item that we ordered (the bro agrees) was the fried chicken wings. They came in a set of three pieces, freshly fried and still piping hot. The chicken was marinated well and had great flavour, the insides were juicy, and the skin was crispy.
Our meal along with drinks came up to RM68, Considering that we were in a tourist area, I think it is still a fairly reasonable price.
KIM LIAN KEE (PETALING STREET)
92, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.
Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (closed Wednesdays)
*The original hawker stall is at No.42, across the road, and is only open at night from 5PM.
**If you’re looking for awesome Hokkien Mee, I have two other suggestions. One is the Kim Lian Kee branch at Aeon Cheras Selatan, although I haven’t been back in 5 years so the quality may be different now), the other is Aik Yuen Hokkien Mee in Setapak, behind the Tawakal Hospital. The latter is literally a shack and looks dodgy af, but you know those are the kind of places that serve the best food lol.
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Crabs are delicious, but they’re also pricey, which is why we only have them once in a blue moon. The Moomin’s birthday warranted a special occasion, so off we went to get takeaway from Restoran Hiing Fatt in Batu 14 Puchong, which was recommended by a family friend for its affordably priced (yet tasty) crab dishes. They also have typical ‘dai chow’ fare, with veggie, pork, seafood, tofu and other offerings.
We got there pretty early so there were no diners. The restaurant is already open for dine-in, with social distancing measures in place. Our orders were ready within 20 minutes, and the staff brought it to our car parked outside.
Our family friend gave a good recommendation, as the crabs were indeed very value for money at RM65 for three pieces. These were mud crabs, so they were fairly sizable and meaty. You can opt for a bigger type of crab as well, although it will be pricier. We had ours sweet and sour style, but you can also get it cooked in black pepper, buttermilk, kam heong, etc. The crab meat tasted fresh. The sauce was a little too salty for me but it had good flavour, and there was a lot of it to go with rice + a side order of fried mantou (buns).
The only downside about getting crabs for takeaway is that they don’t give you the tools to eat them with, so we had to use our teeth to crack some parts open, and a toothpick to dig out the flesh from the joints. Eating crabs is an exercise in patience, which is why you should savour it slowly!
The salted egg yolk fried squid came in a sizable portion. Flavour was decent but the squid was chewy/rubbery.
Dong Po Yuk (braised pork belly). The dish is said to have been the brainchild of one Su Dongpo, an ancient Chinese scholar, poet, writer, artist and philosopher who lived during the Song dynasty. The story goes that Su was braising pork on the stove when an old friend came to visit and they started playing chess. So absorbed was he in the game that he forgot all about the pork, which became overcooked and gave off a fragrance as it started to burn – hence, a new dish was born lol. Another version says that Su, who was overseeing renovations at a lake, gave his workers cubes of braised pork tied with rope – which is how you see Dongpo Yuk served today: a big slab of pork belly tied up with strings.
The version at Hiing Fatt was a little too fatty for my liking, but if you like fatty pork, this might be a good dish to order!
“Claypot” tofu with assorted vegetables. Normally if you dined in, they would serve this in a claypot which retains the heat and fragrance. It was still pretty tasty and was chock full of brocolli, tofu, cauliflower, slices of pork belly and mushrooms.
Our meal for four with four dishes + 2 loaves of fried mantou came up to RM131.60, which was very reasonable for the amount and quality.
The restaurant is open for both dine-in and takeaway.
RESTORAN HIING FATT
2, Jalan Bpu 4, Bandar Puchong Utama, 47100 Puchong, Selangor
Originally from the eastern province of Chaozhou in China, the Teochew people are now spread across the world – including Malaysia where there is a significant diaspora. Its cuisine has influences from the southern Fujian province as well as Canton (Guangdong), with an emphasis on seafood and vegetables as well as a more delicate taste as compared to cuisine from other Chinese regions. Some popular Teochew dishes include congee, hotpot, braised poultry and rice noodle soup.
There are many places in the Klang Valley selling Teochew food, among them Teow Chew Meng in SS2 which has been around for decades. I have zero recollection, but apparently the fam and I came here years ago when I was still in grade school.
Typical of Chinese restaurants, the interior is no-frills, with simple round wooden tables, plastic chairs and red cloth thrown over the ‘reserved’ tables. Plus point for air conditioning.
Teow Chew Meng’s specialty is Seafood Mee Sua Tow, which comprises thin, rice vermicelli noodles (misua) in a starchy seafood broth of crab meat sticks, shrimp, squid, fish slices, egg and mushroom. As the broth itself is rather light, you can add a dash of vinegar, soy sauce and pepper for extra flavour. I wouldn’t say this was the BOMB or anything, but it was tasty and came in generous portions. Portions are counted by pax (RM13 per pax).
Seafood fried rice (RM12 – one portion). Good portion, generous amount of seafood (shrimps, crab meat sticks), nice wokhei.
Stir fried oyster noodles. The noodles used are lai fun, which are made from rice flour and tapioca starch, so it has a chewy, al dente texture. The noodles were slightly bitter – not sure if it was from the kan sui (lye water, because lai fun tends to have a high concentration of lye water) or from burnt garlic? It wasn’t too bad though and I liked that they had big pieces of scallop in them.
3-flavoured oyster (RM20) incorporates three flavours: sweet, spicy and salty. The oysters are fresh but they only give you 10 measly pieces so it’s literally RM2 per pop.
Service is fast and efficient. Seating is limited so come early if you don’t want to wait.
TEOW CHEW MENG (SS2)
33, Jalan SS 2/30, SS 2, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
When Restoran Kong Sai first opened in Bandar Puteri Puchong, it quickly gained a reputation for its delicious poached chicken; attracting hordes of hungry diners who would queue to get in over dinnertime. While the resto has since expanded to include the adjacent shop lot, the crowds remain – so it’s best to come early to grab a seat, especially on weekends.
The air-conditioned area was packed so we sat outside. Service was fast and efficient. They don’t have an extensive menu, but the few items that they have are all excellent.
The star of the establishment is the poached chicken, which can be ordered in half and whole portions. There are two types available – Kampung (jau dei gai) which is smaller and has leaner meat, and dai san keuk gai (commercially reared) which is fatter and larger in size. Some people prefer kampung chicken because it’s healthier, while others prefer the fattier commercial chickens. Whichever you order, expect smooth, flavourful pieces of chicken that soak up the soy/sesame sauce really well. Getting poached chicken right without drying it out is difficult, but Kong Sai delivers with aplomb. Each piece is juicy and tender. I usually don’t eat the chicken skin when it’s poached, but it’s nice and chewy here. 😀
I would also recommend the stuffed tofu (minimum order five pieces), which consist of minced meat and vegetables stuffed into beancurd and served in a soup. The tofu balls are sizable and the meat is seasoned just right, with a delicate bite to it.
Veggies are veggies.
Another house speciality is the curried pork ribs. These are prepared in a limited amount each day. I think not everyone will like this as the curry is very mild and barely has any kick to it, but the curry has good flavour and the ribs are done well. Personally, I would prefer more ribs. You get a couple of huge potatoes and a few ribs, but they don’t have much meat on them.
Kong Sai also offers various soups; such as peanut with lotus root and black pepper pork stomach soup. The latter is one of my favourites and they are generous with portions; even throwing in some pork belly slices. The pepper is not overwhelming either, and the offal tastes clean with no gaminess.
Our meal for four came up to RM94 for 2 soups, 4 dishes, 4 portions of rice as well as drinks, which is quite reasonable. The star is surely the chicken, but everything else is pretty good as well.
RESTORAN KONG SAI (PUCHONG BRANCH)
44G, Jalan Puteri 5/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor