Sometimes, restaurants have to be versatile and offer different items on the menu to entice customers – like Ying Jia Restaurant in Happy Garden KL, which serves dimsum by day and dai chow fare by night.
The Moo and I had originally wanted to eat dimsum at Phang Kee, a popular stall just a few shops away, but since it was packed, we ended up here instead. The restaurant is very spacious, and even though it isn’t air conditioned, it does not feel hot thanks to the high ceilings and large fans. Orders are made on a chit.
We got the usual favourites: har gao, chee cheong fun and minced pork meat with fish maw.
The restaurant has a novel way of keeping their dishes ‘protected’ – by using a plastic bottle with the top half cut open to act as a ‘shield’.
Shanghai siew loong bao are conveniently served on spoons for easy eating. The dumplings are steamed together with cabbage, which imparts the skin with the natural sweetness of vegetables. The broth is flavourful and the skin’s thickness is just right.
Salted egg custard buns. The colour is lighter than the ones I’m used to from my favourite dimsum place, but they’re nice and fluffy. I think the inside could have used more custard, though. Tasty nonetheless.
And last but not least, ‘salad prawns’ – essentially deep fried shrimp dumplings. These are my favourite and a must-order whenever I go to any dimsum shop. The version here is done well; crispy and flaky shell, juicy, bouncy shrimps enveloped within. Best eaten with mayonnaise and washed down with lots of hot tea.
Overall, I found the dimsum at Ying Jia pretty good and value for money. The owners themselves are out and about serving customers, and service is fast and friendly.
YING JIA DIMSUM & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
1, Jalan Lazat 1, Taman Bukit Indah, 58200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 7.30AM – 2PM, 5PM – 9PM (closed for dinner on Tuesdays)
*Opinions here are my own. Feel free to agree/disagree with my taste buds.
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Happy Chinese New Year!
This year’s festivities are much more subdued due to the pandemic, but I still had an enjoyable time bonding (and eating!) with the family over the weekend. To save on the hassle of preparing an elaborate meal for our reunion dinner night, we decided to have hotpot/barbecue out on the porch. We bought most of the ingredients in advance so we wouldn’t have to rush to the market on the few days leading up to CNY.
Aside from the quintessential pork belly slices (you can get these from the local butcher nicely packed), our hotpot ‘buffet’ also had all the other essentials: chicken and fish slices, pork balls and fish balls, needle mushrooms, squid, seafood cheese tofu, fried beancurd sheets, and for carbs, udon noodles. Moomins opened a celebratory can of mini abalones – they’re especially cheap this year due to a dip in demand.
We bought a 2-in-1 BBQ/hotpot stove from Lazada, just for this.
The soup base we used was from Hai Di Lao. We bought the shrimp flavour thinking it would be mild, but it was actually quite spicy. It also had preserved vegetables, which gave it a sour tang. Personally, I prefer something milkier and sweeter, so I will probably go for another flavour the next time around.
I know processed foods aren’t the healthiest, but seafood cheese tofu and bursting pork balls (above) are my favourites whenever I have hotpot. Seafood cheese tofu is usually made from surimi, so the texture is bouncy, and it has bits of creamy cheese within; while bursting pork balls are so called because there is hot soup in the centre, so caution should be taken whenever you bite into them so the juices within don’t spill everywhere and burn your tongue.
My parents weren’t keen on the pork belly slices, so my brother and I ate most of them. I can safely say that I ate my fill lol. I prefer mine cooked in the hotpot, because they tend to get crispy and hard on the grill (I like mine to be soft so you can taste the texture of the fat and lean meat). Dip them in some soy sauce and chilli, and voila! Magic. We rarely have hotpot at home, so this was a very satisfying experience.
By the time we finished dinner and the washing up it was nearly 10pm. We had initially planned to have our yee sang right after, but everyone was too full, so we watched Bad Genius on Netflix and waited for midnight.
Instead of the usual salmon yee sang, we got a fruits version this year. My cousin and his girlfriend are doing it as a part-time business, so it was our way of showing support (I also sent two sets to friends). It was basically a fruit salad consisting of green and red grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, carrots, pomegranates and dragonfruit (we didn’t add this in because it was too soft and watery), plus toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds. In place of plum sauce was honey.
All in all, good, albeit on the sour side despite the addition of honey.
After all that feasting on reunion dinner night, our first day of CNY was tamer affair. Traditionally, many families will observe a vegetarian meal after the extravagance of the previous night – we had a simple meal of udon and mock meat with fried egg for lunch. Also spent the afternoon playing mahjong. Everyone was rusty, because we only do this once a year lol.
I received a nice surprise on the morning of Day 2: my friend H sent me a CNY package!
Went out in the afternoon with Pops to Moon Palace Restaurant, to pick up our order of poon choi. For my non-Chinese readers, it’s basically a Cantonese dish comprised of a pot filled with luxurious seafood and meat items, which are then poured over with a rich sauce. Due to the large portions, it is meant to be shared, and you’ll often see it at festive occasions like Chinese New Year and weddings. I’ve only had poon choi once or twice during food reviews, never with the fam, so it was a first for all of us.
Our poon choi came with abalone, dried oysters stuffed with fat choi (a type of cyanobacteria with the appearance of human hair – it sounds gross lol but tastes like seaweed), roast duck, poached chicken, brocolli, huge shiitake mushrooms, abalone mushrooms, prawns, yam, scallops and roast pork. The oyster sauce that was to be poured over coagulated slightly from the cold, but otherwise everything was excellent. I especially liked the abalone mushrooms: they were thick and juicy. It’s no wonder people use them in making imitation meat – the texture is very similar.
And finally, to round up our 2nd day, another round of yee sang; this time vegetarian.
While this CNY lacks the cheer and pomp of yesteryears, I think I actually enjoyed it more. The weekend was spent bonding with the fam, playing Divinity 2: Original Sin, embroidering (new hobby!), and just eating. Like a lot. I think between Pops, the brother and I, we finished five cans of snacks and a dozen canned drinks. Also, I got no exercise in at all, so it’s not surprising that I gained 2kg.
It’s back to the grind tomorrow, and I’ll be getting back into my workout routine as well.
Hope you all had a good celebration!
**Writing this at 11PM on a Sunday – it’s going to be a busy week ahead and I doubt I’ll have time to blog, so I’m squeezing this in to post later 😛
Hey guys! And to my fellow Chinese friends, a Happy Lunar New Year! The LNY celebrations last for 15 days, but many of us in Malaysia have already returned to work after a week-long break. Mine lasted just five days because the office didn’t take additional days off, but it was well spent in my parents hometown of Ipoh, Perak.
Set off from KL at 5AM and arrived just shy of 8AM. Time for some food huntin’.
One of the most popular breakfast joints in Ipoh is Kedai Kopi Keng Nam, famed for their glutinous rice (lor mai farn) that is served with curry chicken or kaya (coconut jam). We were surprised to find that the place was open, even on Lin 30 Man (literally ‘night of the 30th’ – the day before the Lunar New Year), as some businesses will be closed in preparation for reunion dinner. As expected, place was packed to the brim but we managed to secure seats inside.
Typical kopitiam setting; seats tightly packed together, extremely noisy, heat and smoke wafting from the stalls.
The chee cheong fun (glutinous rice rolls) in Ipoh is notably different from anywhere else in Malaysia. In KL you get the version with sweet sauce, served with assorted fried goodies, while in Penang it is served with dark sauce and shrimp paste. Ipoh’s spin features either curry (above), served with pig skin, or a mild, savoury mushroom sauce.
Personally, I feel that Ipoh chee cheong fun is the best! The one at Keng Nam did not disappoint – the rolls were smooth with a slight springiness to the texture, complemented well by the mild curry sauce and bouncy pig skin.
Moo had a simple chicken noodle soup from one of the stalls that also serves curry noodles.
Keng Nam is perhaps best known for its glutinous rice (pulut/lor mai farn). You can choose to have it savoury, with chicken curry, or with kaya. I like the one with kaya, but the curry isn’t bad too: rich, creamy and very filling. The rice has a wonderful stickiness to it.
Another famous Ipoh dish: yong liew or assorted fried/stuffed goodies. I don’t think there is a proper English description for it, but they encompass items like beancurd and vegetables that are stuffed with fish paste and then boiled/deep fried, as well as fishballs and meatballs. My dad’s favourite is the sar kot (jicama), mixed with fish paste, wrapped in bean curd skin and then deep fried.
The ones served here were good, although I wish the auntie hadn’t put the fried items in the soup coz it made them all soggy.
To wash it all down, one cannot miss the famous Ipoh white coffee. Icy cold, sweet and refreshing.
Kedai Kopi Keng Nam
127, Jalan Raja Ekram,
30300 Ipoh, Perak
Business hours: 6 – 11AM (daily)
Phone:+605 255 7328