Review: Ho Kee Seafood Steamboat Restaurant, Bandar Puchong Jaya

It’s been raining a lot lately – and what better way to warm up than with a nice. bubbling hotpot dinner? Braving the downpour, we drove to Ho Kee Seafood Steamboat Restaurant in Bandar Puchong Jaya, on the recommendation of a friend of Moo’s. The place is pretty popular, judging from the Saturday night crowd. The ground level is air conditioned, but we didn’t want to wait so we opted for a table upstairs.

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Pretty stuffy, but at least the windows were open.

Unlike many modern hotpot restos which use portable gas stoves / canisters, Ho Kee has old school stoves hooked up to gas cylinders; one at each table. The resto seemed quite understaffed during our visit, with only one or two staff attending to the entire floor. It took awhile (and several attempts calling the waiters over) before they brought the menu.

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We ordered a set for three pax, which was more than enough for the four of us. It had the usual suspects: tofu pok, bean curd sheets,  sui gao (pork dumplings), pork balls, fish balls and fish slices on a bed of vegetables. There was also yee mee, bihun and eggs.

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Waiting for the soup to boil. You can choose to get the clear soup base, or the tomyum one at an additional cost.

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Some extras that weren’t included in the set: squid and seafood cheese tofu. You can order other items ala carte.

PS: I do not recommend getting the squid. It costs RM13 per plate and they shrivel up after cooking. Was literally combing the bottom of the pot trying to look for the tiny pieces. 

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The ingredients were fresh. The seafood cheese tofu was my favourite, and the fish items like the fishballs were good too; had a nice bouncy bite to them. Soup base was decent – I think they taste pretty standard at most hotpot places.

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A nice add-on to get is the fried chicken wings (RM2.90 per piece). Marinated well with a robust flavour, crispy skin and tender juicy insides.

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I like century egg with porridge, so I ordered a plate. It was quite pricey at RM8 (you can get one for about RM2 at the market). They were served cold so it felt a little geli, but tasted way better after dunking them in the soup.

For those of you who have never tried century egg, they’re basically duck eggs that have been preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quick lime and rice hulls for several weeks to months, until the egg develops a jelly-like consistency with a creamy black center. It has a strong flavour of ammonia, which those unused to it might find unpleasant. Been eating this since I was a kid though, and I love it – I guess it’s one of those love or hate things, like durian. lol

Our total bill with drinks (2 glasses of carrot milk, one pot of Chinese tea and a 100 Plus) came up to about RM120++.

The set is pretty value for money at RM20++ per pax, but it can rack up when you order side dishes. Service is slow; our drinks were sitting on the counter for the longest time – in the end we got up and got it ourselves. If you’re coming on a weekend, expect a wait.

HO KEE SEAFOOD STEAMBOAT RESTAURANT 

 01-01, Jalan Kenari 18b, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Business hours: 5PM – 12AM (Daily)

 

 

 

Review: Big Fish, Small Fish @ 1Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama

My current workplace is close to 1Utama Shopping Centre, so I thought of stopping by for lunch. The mall was packed even though it was a weekday, and there were long queues snaking out of several restos – so I decided to do takeaway and just enjoy my meal at the office. Came across a fish and chips place called Big Fish, Small Fish, which didn’t have a line – so I gave it a try. The place touts itself as “Singapore’s 1st Fish and Crisps”.

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The resto is open for dine-in, and has a nautical-themed design and colour scheme (yellows, blues, lots of wood) – which is not unlike many seafood-centric chains, but gives off a fun and engaging feeling. Service is warm and friendly. For the Classic Fish and Chips meal, you get to choose from several different types of fish, such as Pollock, Dory, Salmon, Halibut and Seabass, served with two sides of either mushy mint peas, BBQ mixed beans, buttered coleslaw, mashed potato and garlic toast.

The Fish and Crisps set comes with crisps rather than the usual chips, and you can also substitute it with pilaf rice or salad. For a healthier option, go for the grilled rather than fried fish. If you feel like having something else rather than seafood, they offer fried chicken as well.

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Waiting for my takeaway order. If you dine-in, you get to enjoy free flow of sauces – Cheese, Salted Egg and Curry Mayo. 

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Wanted to try a wider variety of items, so I got the Seafood Sampler (RM28+) to share with my colleague. The portion is sizable and contains a generous amount of squid rings, large and juicy whole-fried prawns and fish cutlets. I liked the shrimp and the squid, but not the fish. Ironic, since that is what they’re supposed to specialise in. I wasn’t expecting the fish cutlets to have bones – and it had an overwhelmingly ‘fishy’ smell that indicated to me it wasn’t fresh. Which was a shame, as the seasoning and batter were actually quite nice.

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The staff gave me tiny little containers to fill up with sauces, so I got all three. The cheese was the best – mild and slightly sweet, while the salted egg and curry mayo were both decent.

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While I won’t necessarily write off visiting Big Fish, Small Fish in the future, I think I’ll stick to ordering the sides like the fried squid for now. Prices are mid-tier, averaging about RM20++ for their fish and chips sets.

BIG FISH, SMALL FISH 

 LG 221C, One Utama, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 9.30PM (Daily)

Affordable Crabs: Restoran Hiing Fatt, Batu 14 Puchong

The last time I had crab was three years ago. 

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.

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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.

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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!

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The salted egg yolk fried squid came in a sizable portion. Flavour was decent but the squid was chewy/rubbery.

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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!

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“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.

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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

Opening hours: 10.30 am – 12 am (daily)

Phone: 03-5882 8710

 

Toyosu, Tokyo : An Inside Look Into The World’s Largest Seafood Market

When I initially received the assignment to check out what goes on behind-the-scenes at Toyosu (aka the world’s largest seafood market) – I wasn’t looking forward to it. The itinerary looked crazy (waking up at 2AM, tuna cutting at 3AM, tuna auction at 4!?) … and it wasn’t exactly the Maldives. But I also knew it wasn’t a privilege afforded to many, so what was a couple of sleepless nights?

It turned out to be one of the best and most interesting experiences I’ve ever had; proving that some things are worth waking up early for. 

Image courtesy of Xavier Mah Consultancy

If you haven’t yet heard of Toyosu, it’s the modern, new successor of the historic Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, which moved its wholesale operations there in October 2018. The old market was popular with tourists (especially for its tuna auctions) and was deeply entrenched in Japanese culture, so much so that it was called ‘Japan’s Kitchen’. But it was also old and susceptible to the elements. Toyosu, located some two kilometres away by the Bay of Tokyo, would have better, upgraded facilities, streamlined processes, more hygienic conditions, temperature control – all the works. And spanning 40 hectares, 1.7 times larger than Tsukiji, it would be one of the world’s largest seafood markets. Close to 400 wholesalers and businesses made the move.

DAY 1 

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6AM: Arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to Toyosu, we were led by Ken-san (our guide and contact for the trip) into the Intermediate Wholesale Fish Market. A typical day at Toyosu starts as early as 8 or 9 PM the night before, when trucks bearing seafood from all over Japan arrive to offload their goods, which are then sent to various parts of the market for auctions, packing, export, etc. The place was still a hive of activity during our visit, the floor slick with moisture and ice. There were piles of Styrofoam boxes everywhere we turned, and we literally had to dodge the electric turret trucks as they zoomed past bearing cargo. Tourists are not allowed within the premises, so wayward journalists would do well to get out of the way lest they become pancakes.

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We were taken to the packing facilities, where seafood is packed for export. In order to keep everything fresh, temperatures are kept at between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius, and the workers operating forklifts could be seen bundled in thick jackets, beanies and gloves. The temperature was so cold the camera crew that came with us had a hard time getting their equipment to work properly. I was expecting seafood to be everywhere, but everything was neat and orderly – most of the  items had already been packed inside the boxes.

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My knowledge of fish extends to salmon, tuna, mackerel and dory.

The seafood business at Toyosu is a massive machinery, and the process can get pretty complicated. The gist of it is that there are three ‘first wholesalers’, who are responsible for getting seafood from various suppliers and fishermen from all over Japan. A portion of these is for direct export, but the bulk will be sold / auctioned off to intermediate wholesalers, who make up most of the businesses at Toyosu. These intermediate wholesalers then liaise with sushi shops, hypermarkets, hotels, restaurants, etc, or work with distributors, for domestic consumption or export. What’s stopping them from ‘jumping the queue’, so to say? ie why doesn’t an intermediate wholesaler get his supply straight from the fishermen? Well, the Japanese have very traditional work ethics, and violating these business practices, oftentimes built over generations, is a big no-no.

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We were scheduled to interview Yasuhiro Yamazaki-san, the company president of Yamaharu Co., Ltd ie the largest intermediate wholesaler in Toyosu. The main shop, which consisted of several lots, was packed with boxes, leaving a small walkway for customers to squeeze through. The variety was astounding, with loads of seafood I didn’t even have a name for. There was an area where staff members could perform ikijime on live fish. Ikijime is the traditional way of slaughtering fish to maintain the quality of its meat, as it is killed instantly without a struggle, preventing the release of lactic acid and ammonia from muscle movement.

I had always imagined Japanese company presidents to be stern corporate culture-types, but Yamazaki-san was nothing of the sort. Dressed in a hamaguchi (a traditional headband) and rubber boots, his demeanour was friendly. Even so,  he had an obvious leader vibe: one whom employees would respect and follow through thick and thin because he’s hands-on with the work, not just telling people what to do from a cozy office chair. Having been in the business for close to three decades, he was obviously very knowledgeable about seafood, sharing with us many pearls of wisdom, from what season certain fish was best consumed, to how to determine if a fish was fresh or not. The Pacific Saury, for example, would develop a yellow tip on its beak once it has been out in the open for awhile. Another thing that fascinated me about the entire setup at Toyosu is how businesses and their customers have relationships dating back years and years. Many of the patrons that come to shop at Yamazaki-san’s shop had obviously been with him for a long time, and they bantered with him (as well as other staff members) like old friends.

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A giant oyster the size of someone’s head.

Yamazaki-san shared that the most expensive seafood he’s ever auctioned for (in relation to its portion) was … drum roll sea urchin. 750,000 yen (about RM28,000 / 7,000 USD) for one kilogramme, to be exact. Does he even make a profit? “When buying these things I only think about supply good quality items to my customers, so I always instruct my people to not think about profit when doing the auctions. Think about supplying customers good quality.” was the answer.

All isn’t hunky dory, however. The seafood catch has been going down year-on-year, with Yamazaki-san sharing that the catch for sanma (ie Pacific saury) was only 1/30th the previous year – one of the worst he has ever seen. Still, he isn’t too pessimistic, as he believes that the seasons have changed and that good seafood is still available – it’s all a matter of catching them at the right season.

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We ventured up to the fourth floor of the building, which houses Uogashi Yokocho. Here you can find a bunch of shops catering to restaurant chefs and culinary professionals, with items such as kitchen utensils, high-grade chef knives and more – but they also have stalls selling souvenirs, snacks and spices for general visitors. There weren’t many visitors during our visit, because there was a typhoon the night before and some public transportation was still grounded.

DAY 2 

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3AM: Chugging coffee from Family Mart and trying to keep our eyes open, we returned to Toyosu – this time to watch the tuna cutting. When you talk about prized seafood in Japan, tuna always comes to mind. The specimens we saw – wheeled in on trolleys and hauled onto the cutting table – were gigantic, clocking in at 80+ kilos. I later learned that these were actually farmed tuna, ie they were smaller than wild-caught tuna that average between 200 to 300 kilos wtf. There are several types of tuna; the most expensive being the bluefin, followed by yellowfin, skipjack and albacore.

Slicing the tuna up is no mean feat, and it was fascinating to watch. Larger tuna had to be managed by two workers. The knives they used were long like machetes, but less curved. We chatted up the boss and he mentioned that it might take an apprentice up to two years to master the art of cutting up a whole tuna. More impressive was the fact that the carcasses were sliced clean with very little meat left on the bone – the thin layer covering it was almost translucent.

Photo courtesy of Xavier Mah Consultancy

What’s your favourite cut of tuna? Mine is otoro (tuna belly). It has this melt-in-the-mouth texture that’s indescribably umami. It’s also the most expensive.

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Killing time while waiting for the tuna auction.

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Making our way to the tuna auction observation deck, we passed through an information centre for tourists, which had a replica of the largest tuna ever caught and sold at Tsukiji – a beast weighing half a tonne – captured back in the 1980s. Bluefin tuna can live up to 40 years, so imagine how long it must have taken for the fish to get to this size!

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At Tsukiji, a select number of visitors each day were allowed to enter the auction floor. This is no longer the case at Toyosu. Instead, you watch the process from a second-floor deck, separated by foggy glass. To be frank, it doesn’t make much of a viewing experience. If you book in advance through the Toyosu website, you can get a little closer (the first floor), which was where we were. You’re still separated by a glass, but the top is not covered and you can at least hear what’s going on.

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4.30 AM: The tuna auction begins around 4, and lasts for about an hour. There is a section for frozen tuna, and a section for fresh tuna. Toting torchlights, buyers inspected the fish, checking the colour and fattiness. When the floor opened, signaled by the ringing of a bell, buyers raised their hands using teyari, or digit gestures, to indicate their bids and the quantity of products they want to purchase. It was like this magical sign language that only they knew; I could barely keep up with the raised hands before the auctioneer called out who had won.

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5.30AM: Auction over and the sun rising, we made our way to the third floor where there are restaurants. More coffee!

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Tsukiji’s most famous sushi joint – Sushi Dai – moved with it when the wholesale operations relocated to Toyosu. The queue is insane, and you’ll often have to wait for several hours just to get a seat, but some people swear by it. Photo above is of another (less crowded) shop. Of course, all of the seafood served at the restos come directly from the market itself.

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There’s a nicely landscaped garden at the rooftop of the building, which gives visitors beautiful views of the Tokyo metropolitan area from across the Bay.

10 AM: Our next interview was with the president of the largest first wholesaler at Toyosu,  Hiroyuki Taguchi-san of Daiichi Suisan Co., Ltd.

Like Yamazaki-san, Taguchi-san has been in the business for many years, half a decade, to be exact. Prior to the interview, I had heard that he was good friends with many notable businessmen, politicians and people in high places, as befitting the president of a large company – but again, was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth he seemed to be. This man has over a hundred employees under his wing, but was insisting we eat the cakes like an elderly grandpa spoiling his visiting grandchildren. Speaking of grandpas, Taguchi-san’s grandfather was a pioneer at Tsukiji, so this was very much an old family business. He patiently answered all our questions even though we went way past the allocated time.

We popped over to the fruits and vegetable market in another building, then came back to get the equipment we left behind. There was some sort of exhibition / event going on so we stuck our nose there as well. It turned out to be some sort of food expo where distributors and wholesalers were exhibiting the best of their products, from fresh seafood to processed goods. Of course we couldn’t say no to free samples…

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We finally wrapped up around 1PM, having spent the last 12 hours filming and interviewing. It was tiring af, but I was glad for the experience, and to understand better the process of how the seafood that we enjoy gets served from farm to fork, or ocean to chopsticks (?? lame). I was also touched by the passion and dedication that many of the people – Taguchi-san, Yamazaki-san, as well as all the staffers – have for their work. It’s not just about money, but also delivering the best, and there’s a strong sense of pride in what they do.

IS TOYOSU FISH MARKET WORTH VISITING FOR TOURISTS? 

Tsukiji had that traditional charm which attracted tourists from all over the world, but it was also bad for business because it’s difficult to sell stuff when you have hordes of tourists and their cameras getting in the way of your actual customers, crowding the store and messing up items. Toyosu was built primarily for business, with all the comforts of modern technology: being indoors, it has temperature control according to product, and the loading bays are designed for trucks rather than trains as they were with Tsukiji.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t visit, because they do have facilities for tourists, ie the observation deck, the restaurants, the rooftop garden and the shops. Plans are also in the works for a recreational area with its own onsen and shops where visitors can buy fresh vegetables and fish. If you want an insight into the seafood industry in Japan, Toyosu is a worthwhile stop.

GETTING THERE 

Getting to Toyosu can be tricky since it’s a bit out of the way. If you’re taking the JR Yamanote Line from Tokyo Station, travel to Yurakucho and switch to the Yurakucho Subway Line, headed to Toyosu. There, take the Yurikamome to Shijo-mae Station, where you’ll alight and see signs directing you to the buildings (accessible via pedestrian walkways). Else, take a taxi from nearby Odaiba.

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Review: Pontoon @ St Kilda Beach, Melbourne – Best Eggplant Fries Ever!?

Melbourne is widely touted to be one of the world’s most livable cities – and for good reason. Not only does the city play home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, it also has gorgeous nature and sandy beaches just a stone’s throw away from the city centre.

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One of these beautiful spots – also Melbourne’s most popular beach – is St Kilda. A short tram ride away from the CBD, the beach’s deep blue waters are popular with surfers and swimmers, and the beachfront is lined with trendy eateries and chic restaurants. There is, of course, the beach’s iconic pier, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some of the local wildlife like penguins wading around the water at sunset.

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It was late afternoon by the time my friend Stephen and I got to the beach, and many of the shops were closed after lunch service. We ended up at Pontoon, which has an all-day kitchen. Like its namesake (pontoon is a type of small boat), the restaurant boasts a chill ambience with a nautical theme – wooden tables that look like the decks on a boat, hues of blue and yellow, and an outdoor patio where diners can enjoy their food and drink in the sun. Apparently the building where Pontoon is located, which also includes fine dining resto Stokehouse and casual kiosk Paperfish out front, was razed in a fire in 2014 – so the version we’re seeing today is a refreshed design.

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If you’re into drinks, Pontoon offers a wide selection of wines, beers and cocktails. I believe this was a Negroni of some sort – not a big fan of alcohol tbh gasp.

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Stephen’s order of Lamb sausage with fennel compote, charred capsicum sauce and herb salad. Huge and juicy, with a slight char on the outside – what more can one ask for?

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We were there on Steak Wednesday, so I got the 300gm Porterhouse with Chimichurri sauce (20AUD). Good, affordable steak is hard to find in Malaysia, and its even harder to find a place that does it rare just right (they’re either raw or overcooked), so I was glad to be able to enjoy this in Melbourne!

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Perfect degree of doneness, and the chimichurri’s salty, garlicky flavours really helped to accentuate the taste of the meat.

 

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The highlight of the meal was the Chips De Berenjena – eggplant chips and pomegranate molasses served with aioli dip – which Stephen ordered as a snack. I ended up filching most of it. Eggplant chips are easy to make but notoriously difficult to perfect, as they absorb oil and get soggy, but the ones served here were top notch. Crisp on the outside thanks to the light batter, whilst still being moist and soft on the inside. Possibly the best eggplant chips that I’ve ever tasted anywhere!

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Pontoon is located next to Paper Fish, facing the beach front at St Kilda’s Beach.

PONTOON 

30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia

Opening hours: 12 PM – 11PM (Mons – Thurs), 12 PM – 12AM (Fri – Sun)

Reservations can be made on pontoonstkildabeach.com.au

Review: Fish & Co @ Main Place USJ

Went grocery shopping at Main Place USJ over the weekend, and because it has been awhile since I last had fish and chips – Fish & Co it was for lunch! The seafood restaurant specialises in fish and chips, but they also offer a variety of other Western dishes as well, such as pasta, salads and pizzas.

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Nautical themed decor featuring lots of blue, wood and items like fish-shaped coasters and counters made to look like shipping containers.

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Fish N Co offers several different options under their Fish & Chips From Around the World section, including New York (stuffed with Parmesan cheese and topped with lemon butter sauce), Swiss (mozza-oregano with garlicky lemon butter sauce), Danish, salted egg, Malaysia (fiery sambal sauce), and more. Went with the basic “Best Fish & Chips in Town” and it did not disappoint. Generous portion, nicely battered, soft, flaky fish meat within and not too oily. The tartare sauce it was served with helped to cut through the grease as well. Chips were average.

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Also got a Mediterranean Garden pizza to share. with onion, garlic, oregano and mozzarella cheese. If you like garlic and onions, this would be great, and I liked the thin crust as well.

Prices average from RM20+ onwards for each dish.

FISH N CO (MAIN PLACE) 

LG-13, Lower Ground Floor, Main Place, Jalan USJ 21/10, USJ 21, 47630 Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Phone: +6 03-8011 4583

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM

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FoTD: Nasi + Sotong Goreng Kunyit (Turmeric-Fried Squid with Rice)

Hey guys and welcome to another edition of FoTD – where I attempt to introduce dishes that are commonly found in Malaysia! Today’s dish will be Sotong Goreng Kunyit; ie turmeric-fried squid – one of my regular lunch meals. 😀

What Is Turmeric? 

For those not familiar with Asian spices, turmeric is a flowering plant commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. It has an earthy, slightly bitter aftertaste, but when done well, is very aromatic, adding fragrance and flavour to dishes such as curries and stews. The spice is also purported to have medicinal benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, and being rich in antioxidants.

Goreng Kunyit 

While it’s origins are unclear, Goreng Kunyit (literally ‘fried in turmeric’) has been gaining popularity in recent years, and you may find different varieties of meat and seafood prepared in this style, such as chicken (ayam goreng kunyit), beef (daging) and squid (sotong). They are typically sold at roadside stalls or food bazaars by Malay traders. The protein is first marinated in turmeric, curry powder and some cornflour ,then deep fried together with long beans, sliced carrots and onions. The dish is then served atop a bed of fluffy white rice with a side of sambal. Some places drizzle it over with sweet soy sauce (kicap manis) and chilli sauce. The sweet and salty combo makes it a great pairing with rice, and there are plenty of different textures to satisfy the palate – from the crunchiness of the vegetables to the springiness of the squid.

Where To Get It 

My personal favourite is from a food truck called Ayam Goreng Kunyit Power in Seksyen 51A Petaling Jaya, just in front of Menara Axis and across the road from the Asia Jaya LRT station. The line starts as early as 11.30AM, as soon as they open for business, and the squid – one of their bestsellers – runs out really fast! As far as I know, they are only open during weekdays to cater to the lunch crowd in the area, but may move around to different spots on weekends.

 

Giant Fried Scallops – Tonkatsu Anzu @The Table, ISETAN The Japan Store KL

Surrounded on three sides by sea, the Aomori prefecture in Japan is famed for its abundance of fresh seafood – in particular, giant scallops, some of which are as large as a human fist. Being the blessed KL-ites that we are, one will not have to fly far for a taste, as they can be found breaded and deep fried to juicy perfection at Tonkatsu Anzu @ The Table, ISETAN The Japan Store. 

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For those who have never been to The Table, it’s located within ISETAN The Japan Store in Lot 10 Kuala Lumpur and is home to six restaurants serving Japanese cuisine. Tonkatsu Anzu, as the name suggests, specialises in tonkatsu (pork coated in bread crumbs and deep fried).

My maiden visit was in late 2017 as part of a media tasting – and it was the first time I had their seasonal specialty, the scallop tonkatsu. Back then it was available for a limited time only, but it seems like you can sample it now as part of the regular menu! And so it was that I braved horrendous KL traffic on my last day of work in 2018 to treat myself to a spot of these sweet ocean treasures. 😀

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For RM79, you get three pieces of juicy scallop katsus, with a side of rice, miso soup and salad. Pricey, but these are imported scallops after all. And after months of dealing with sht, I felt I deserved to end the year on a positive note.

You can also opt for cheaper sets with a scallop katsu + ebi (shrimp) and pork mix, or a scallop + pork fillet set.

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Pickled ginger for cleansing the palate.

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The scallops arrived plump and piping hot, the tender white flesh encased in a thin, crisp breaded shell. The ‘skin’ peeled off rather easily so the scallop kept popping out – would have been great if I could have gotten the batter and scallop together in one bite for a nice blend of textures. They were served with a side of Japanese mayo and the subtle sweetness went great with rice. Could have easily polished off half a dozen but sadly you only get three lol.

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All in all, a satisfying meal that was well worth the price. Not sure if these are seasonal offerings because you can’t get scallops all year round – so get them while they last!

TONKATSU ANZU 

Level 4, Lot 10 50, Shopping Centre, Bukit Bintang Street, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM

Phone: +603 2119 2625