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Meal for One: Wong Kok Char Chan Teng, IOI Mall Puchong

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In Hong Kong, char chan tengs are a part of everyday life – the equivalent of a Malaysian kopitiam – where you can get fast, tummy-filling, affordable meals. The menu is often an eclectic mix of local favourites like rice and noodle dishes, and Western-style fusion cuisine the likes of cheese-baked rice, grilled chicken wings and toast.

Thanks to the popularity of Hong Kong culture which peaked in the 90s to 00’s among the Chinese diaspora here, there are several very popular Hong Kong char chan teng chains in Malaysia, such as Kim Gary, Chatterbox HK and Wong Kok Char Chan Teng.

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Among these brands, Wong Kok is my favourite whenever I’m craving char chan teng food. Named after the Wong Kok (literally, ‘golden/bustling corner/street) district in HK, the resto has been operating here since 2003 and serves up an enormous variety of dishes. There’s one at IOI Mall Puchong, which was where I dropped by for lunch after running some errands.

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No meal would be complete without ordering the iconic HK beverage – HK Milk Tea, also known as xi mut nai cha – so called because the tea leaf filter resembles a silk stocking. HK was once under British rule, and it was during that time that tea drinking became popular on the island. The tea is made from black tea leaves and condensed milk, so it is rich, sweet and has a silky texture. You can have it either hot or iced.

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One thing I always order whenever I come here: Cheese-Baked Seafood Rice with Portuguese sauce. This is another char chan teng staple and reflects Hong Kong’s diverse influences. Rice and seafood like crab meat sticks, deep fried fish and shrimp is covered with a layer of oozy, melty cheese on top, and baked together with Portuguese sauce.

Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and the cheese, is, of course, a very Western ingredient. The Portuguese sauce, which is a thick creamy sauce with curry powder and coconut cream, is from Macanese cuisine. Despite all the seemingly different ingredients/styles, they blend together surprisingly well to create a harmonious dish that is hearty and delicious. The cheese gives it a gooey texture, while the sauce ensures that the dish is not dry.

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I mean, you can’t go wrong with cheese to be honest.

With over 200 items on the menu, it’s impossible to do a complete review of Wong Kok Char Chan Teng – but it also means you’ll never run out of things to try (if you try one dish every day, hypothetically it will still take you close to a year to order everything). But if you’re looking for good Hong Kong-style dishes at an affordable price, then this is a place to consider.

WONG KOK CHAR CHAN TENG (IOI MALL PUCHONG)

G.00B3A, Ground Floor, IOI Mall, Batu 9, Jalan Puchong, Puchong Jaya, 47170, Puchong, Selangor.

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Phone: 03-2141 8407

wongkok.com.my

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Hong Kong-style Desserts @ Lou Gai Fong, Bandar Puchong Jaya

Hey guys! I hope you’re all keeping safe. After a lull of sorts, coronavirus cases have spiked again in Malaysia to over 400 cases at the time of this writing. Most of them are from the election which was held in Sabah recently. For some unfortunate reason, our government did not impose a mandatory quarantine for returnees to West Malaysia, and since people can’t be trusted to home quarantine themselves, it resulted in several clusters. It doesn’t help that we have reckless and irresponsible politicians abusing their privileges and power, getting slaps on the wrist for breaking the rules. If you can’t lead by example, how can you expect the rakyat to follow?

I think another quarantine is unlikely. The country’s economy is simply unable to bear the cost of such a move. That being said, I’m going to be staying at home more and eating out less: so that’s a plus for my pocket, I guess?

But I digress.

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A couple of weeks ago, the fam and I went to Chinatown (cases were still in the double digits then so we felt it was okay to go out), and on the way back home we stopped for a tea time break at Lou Gai Fong in Bandar Puchong Jaya. The Cantonese name literally translates to ‘old timer’ or ‘those who have lived in a neighbourhood /community for a long time. The shop specialises in Hong Kong-style char chaan teng (kinda like HK version of kopitiams) items as well as traditional Chinese desserts (tong shui).

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The exterior has an open kitchen, designed to look like street stalls. Air- conditioned seating is available on the inside.

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The interior is inspired by Hong Kong-themed deco, and features a scene of the island’s famous Cheung Po Chai (a traditional Chinese junk), amidst a backdrop of the Victoria Harbour and its towering skyscrapers. The other wall boasts an almost floor-to-ceiling scene of HK’s night scene and iconic neon signages. Bird cages hang from the ceiling – a tribute to HK’s bird gardens, where elderly folk often bring their songbirds out to the park for display / contests (although sadly, this culture is slowly disappearing).

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Thirst quenchers
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In HK, Char chaan tengs are the common man’s go-to, offering reasonably priced food in a casual setting. As such, they dish out fast, tasty and affordable meals for office workers, labourers and everyday salarymen, where they can pop in quickly for a filling lunch. At Lou Gai Fong, they serve typical char chaan teng dishes like tomato egg fried rice, luncheon meat and egg rice, stewed pork rice, noodles, waxed meat with rice, and more

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Since it was tea time, we decided to order some traditional desserts instead. Moo had the white fungus dessert with longan. It came with three boiled quail eggs.

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Pop’s had the curry fishballs. Curry fishballs are a staple of food culture in Hong Kong, originally sold from wooden pushcarts as an inexpensive street snack. They are first boiled, then deep fried, giving them a golden brown coating and extra crispness. Although the portion at Lou Gai Fong is small, the flavour is great, especially the curry which has been tweaked to suit local tastebuds (more spice).

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It’s rare for us to see places selling tong yuen outside of the Winters Solstice Festival, so the Bro and I both had tong yuen. They came in a spicy ginger soup that warmed the belly immediately. I enjoyed the chewy texture of the glutinous rice balls too.

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Bro had a slightly different version; ie bigger balls lol.
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Verdict: The tong shui is decent. Prices are average for a resto of this setting. Service is quite slow. It took awhile for our orders to come to the table, despite the shop being empty.

LOU GAI FONG

25, Jalan Kenari 4, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 7AM – 1AM (daily)

Review: Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun @ Restaurant New Seaview, Paramount Garden PJ

Confession: Even though I’ve been working in PJ for the last few years, I barely know the neighbourhood lol. Mostly because the routine is usually home – office – home, and I’ve never explored it in my free time coz I’m a homeslug on weekends (if you don’t know what a home slug is, that’s coz I made it up lol. Home all weekend + lazing around like a slug = homeslug.)

The officemates and I don’t drive out for lunch often, since we just walk to the eateries nearby. The few times that we do, I can always count on them to bring me to good spots, which was just what we did recently. AD was raving about an excellent Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls) which he dubbed ‘better than those from expensive dimsum restaurants!). My curiousity was piqued.

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Enter New Seaview Restaurant at Paramount Garden, a kopitiam-style establishment that is obviously very popular with the locals and office crowd. Place was packed even though we got there quite late-ish at 1PM. There are several stalls to choose from, but I was told that the most popular ones are the pork noodle stall and the much touted about HK Chee Cheong Fun stall.

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So I went for a large plate of shrimp chee cheong fun (RM7). The dish did not disappoint, as the slightly translucent rolls had a nice, chewy texture to them, and the sambal had a definite kick. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever tasted coz the sauce was a little too oily + the shrimps were small, but it was tasty nonetheless. I’d rate it an 8/10!

RESTAURANT NEW SEAVIEW

81-129, Jalan 20/7, Paramount Garden, Selangor, 46300 Petaling Jaya

Opening hours: 7AM – 4PM