Shisen Hanten – 2 Michelin star Japanese style Szechuan Business Set Lunch that fails to deliver

Shisen-Hanten

I was chuffed to try Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro. It’s a 2 Michelin star Japanese-Szechuan restaurant right in the middle of Orchard Road, Singapore. This sounds like the kind of food I’ll enjoy so I was looking forward to eating here with my dad. I had very high hopes as I was impressed by my dining experience in Waku Ghin, another 2 Michelin star restaurant I visited a few days prior. Unfortunately, I was due for a massive disappointment.

Shisen-Hanten-Singapore

The interior of Shisen Hanten looked beautiful. There are lots of nice chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling, which gives the dining room a look of opulence. Service was a bit harried coz it was a full house with several large tables. We were sat behind two Japanese women who’re also having the business lunch set so our timings were synchronized. We went for the two mains option for SGD 50++ and selected a different one each so we managed to try all 2 appetizers, 4 mains, 2 starches, and 2 desserts.

Shisen-Hanten-Dim-Sum

Lunch started with an option of either dim sum or appetizers of the day. I went for the latter while my dad had the dim sum. His came in a basket containing har gao and two types of siu mai. “Not as good as Summer Palace,” he declared. We just had an excellent weekend brunch the afternoon before at 1 Michelin star Summer Palace. I tasted his dim sum and they’re competently done, but nothing special.

Shisen-Hanten-Appetizers

My trio of appetizers consisted of prawn, cha siu and jellyfish. The prawn was mildly flavored, the cha siu was decent but the jellyfish was too acidic and off-balance. I also couldn’t help comparing it to Summer Palace since they had similar dishes, except better in every single way. That’s not the best start to lunch. You don’t want your patrons to compare you negatively to a restaurant with one less star.

Shisen-Hanten-Soup

Soup of the Day was pork with old cucumber. It was sweet but uninspiring. I’m going to sound like a broken record but this didn’t wow me like Summer Palace’s soup. It didn’t even evoke any emotion. It tastes exactly like what it looks like – tepid and boring. Having had excellent double boiled soup elsewhere, I know this can’t be the benchmark.

Stir-Fried-Prawns-Chilli-Sauce

Thankfully, Shisen Hanten picked up the pace with Stir-fried Prawns with Chilli Sauce. This main is one of their signature dishes and it tastes wonderful. It reminds me of the sauce in Singapore chilli crab. They even have deep fried mantou for you to wipe up the gravy. It’s eggy and delicious. There’s a generous amount of prawns in this dish too.

Steamed-Fish-Spicy-Sauce

The Steamed Fish with Spicy Sauce was also quite good. It’s cooked well and there are chillies at the bottom to add a spicy kick to the bland fish. I enjoyed the soy sauce and chilli mixture at the bottom. It’s delicate, yet flavorful.

Szechuan-Beef-XO-Sauce

Unfortunately, that’s the extent of bright spots in the meal. Shisen Hanten reverted to mediocre dishes like a lazy boy who tries to buck up after being reprimanded by the teacher, but ultimately the weight of his tardiness drove him back to old habits. Szechuan-style Stir-fried Beef with XO Sauce was dry and unappetizing. The beef has been severely overcooked or left under a heating lamp for way too long. This is very surprising during a busy lunch. Inedible.

Stir-Fried-Pork-Mushrooms

Stir-fried Pork and Mushroom with Oyster Sauce endured the same treatment. The pork was stringy and dry, with all the moisture sucked out of it like an old Bedouin in the Sahara desert. It was tougher than an African-American LA county jail inmate doing life without parole for double homicide during a botched robbery. If this piece of porcine meat ever got incarcerated, I want to join his prison gang. It took me several minutes to chew and I hesitated before swallowing like a virgin schoolgirl coz I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to digest it.

Shisen-Hanten-Mapo-Tofu

The mains are paired with a choice of two of their famous starch dishes. Stir-fried Tofu in Hot Szechwan Pepper Flavoured Meat Sauce served with Hokkaido Rice is the flagship dish or Shisen Hanten. It’s nice. The numbing and spicy mala tofu pairs very well with the soft, fluffy Hokkaido rice. It was too salty for our tastes though but that aside, the flavor was spot on.

Chens-Original-Spicy-Noodle-Soup

Chen’s Original Spicy Noodle Soup was decent as well. It’s a very rich and oily style ramen. The flavors are tweaked to Japanese palates so this is not classic Szechuan cuisine. Shisen Hanten is like Chinese-American food – Szechuan cuisine that’s been modified to suit Japanese preferences.

Almond-Pudding

Cold Almond Pudding was edible but ultimately nothing special. It seemed like an afterthought to add perceived value instead of a genuine attempt to make a nice dessert. I’ve had better almond pudding from a random ramen shop in Sapporo.

Mango-Pudding

Mango Pudding was better than the Almond Tofu, with a piece of mango inside the pudding. Good, but it’s hard to get excited about something as simple and plain as this.

Shisen-Hanten-Us

I’m very surprised Shisen Hanten has 2 Michelin stars. The food wasn’t consistently good and ½ of the mains we ordered were overcooked and dry. Service was lacking too – more suited to a busy, cheap Chinese restaurant than a Michelin starred establishment. Our waitress kept asking me to fill in a feedback form and mention her name in it. I thought that was crass. It reminded me of the desperate waiter at The Song of India. Lunch for 2 pax came up to SGD 117 (RM 355). The price is reasonable but this is a far cry from Waku Ghin (another 2 Michelin star restaurant in Singapore) – the food can’t even compare to 1 Michelin star restaurants. Avoid.

Saturday brunch @ Foo Hing Dim Sum, Puchong

Foo-Hing-Puchong

The last time I went to Foo Hing was over 6 months ago. I was writing an article for Malay Mail about dim sum and they were one of the places I covered. You can’t sample a lot of different items when you’re eating alone, so when May organized a casual dim sum brunch, I thought I’ll take this opportunity to find out more about what’s good here. I know they’re famous for their Portuguese egg tarts, and justifiable so, but I’m less familiar with their savory offerings.

Foo-Hing-Dim-Sum

I tend to order the same thing every time since I know what I like. These will inevitably be some variation of har gao (prawn dumplings) coz I love the stuff. But after watching an episode of Samurai Gourmet, I realized that I’ve been too safe and adventurous while ordering food. Their chai tow kueh (fried carrot cake) with chai bo (pickled turnip) is decent. I was tasked with finishing this and I didn’t mind at all.

Fried-Egg-CCF

I also discovered a very beautiful thing – this is chee cheong fun with egg. It doesn’t sound like much and it looks quite pedestrian but it’s delicious! They fry an egg with lots of oil so it bubbles up Chinese-style, and roll it in the CCF. You get the familiar comfort of a fried egg with the slippery texture of the thin rice wraps. It’s surprisingly good. This came highly recommended from May and I’m glad I had it. It’s something I wouldn’t have discovered by myself. Simple, yet delectable.

Dim-Sum-Foo-Hing

This was Ah Bok’s selection. It’s Chinese short pastry filled with BBQ pork and topped with pork floss. I also enjoyed this tremendously. I like sweet notes in my meat and this has it in spades. The texture of the pastry is also quite pleasant.

Deep-Fried-Prawn

I went with a few variations of deep fried prawn dim sum. There’s a tubular version with thin wonton wrap and a thicker, doughier one. They both taste similar, but the textures are different. Mouth feel is very important in dim sum.

Soy-Skin-Dim-Sum

This soggy mess of pork with soy bean curd wrap is also quite good. Again, something I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I’m glad I tried.

Portuguese-Egg-Tarts

Naturally, we finished with their yummy Portuguese egg tarts. I really like them but as I mentioned in the Malay Mail article, my favorite Portuguese egg tarts are the ones KFC had circa 2010. Haha. You won’t believe me but they’re the fucking bomb! Perfect pastry crust. Please don’t lynch me. 😄

Guilinggao

Foo Hing also have a range of tong sui desserts. I went with gui ling gao. I haven’t had this in a long time and I enjoy the bittersweet flavours. Pretty good. I read that most gui ling gao is not actually made with turtle due to the high cost of said ingredient.

Foo-Hing-Us

Dim sum at Foo Hing for the 5 of us worked out to around RM 30 each. I usually run up a similar bill by myself and I get to eat less variety. Dim sum is best enjoyed with other people so you can eat a range of different types. I also tapau 2 egg tarts home and tried their bakery style bun with BBQ pork filling (decent). We went for milk tea after and all the food and drink managed to fuel quite an intense workout session later. All in all, a nice Saturday morning.

Top 5 delicious lunch options around KL Sentral

June-Tee

I want to preface this controversial listing by saying these are my personal favorites. I work in Menara 1 Sentrum beside nu sentral mall in Brickfields. I’ve been to most of the popular lunch options around here like Peter Pork, Money Corner, Sin Kee Restaurant. None of those made my top 5 list. I like the Western food stall at Money Corner and Peter Pork’s pork noodle are decent but I usually prefer eating rice during lunch.

#1 Husen Cafe

Husen-Cafe

I’ll eat here at least once a week. The dish I always order is onion chicken – a tomato sambal chicken with intense onion sauce. Husen Cafe serves chicken quarters, so you can either have a breast (white meat) portion or a thigh (dark meat) portion. I usually go for the breast as it’s easier to eat and the portions are a lot bigger. This is ¼ chicken and the chickens they use are huge! It’s more than enough for even the biggest eaters.

Onion-Chicken

It’s reasonably priced compared to other similar places. This whole shebang just cost me RM 10.

Husen-Chicken

Best paired with okra (ladies fingers) or onion raita (raw onions with yoghurt). Don’t forget their papadom! The owner will waive the RM 0.30 for iced water too if you’re a regular.

#2 Pu Xian Wei Restaurant

Pu-Xian-Wei

This is my go to lunch spot. We call it “China chap fan” coz it’s run by Mainland China Chinese. The food they serve are tweaked to PRC palates, so it has different flavors from what local Chinese are used to. It’s delicious! Google’s SEM (paid search) team is in the same building as my office and they have teams from all over the world based in Malaysia. I met a Vietnamese girl taking the LRT who’s on a 1 year contract and found out they have a free cafeteria inside their office. You always see people from Korea, Japan, Russia, and all other nations in the lifts.

China-Chap-Fan

The reason I shared that anecdote is coz you’ll often see the teams from Singapore, China and Taiwan wearing their distinctive Google plain blue/red lanyard in the China chap fan. They’ll come and eat here despite having free food at their workplace. That’s the best endorsement this chap fan place can hope for. It passes the taste test of Mainland Chinese people. It’s so good they’re willing to pay good money when they could have a free lunch.

Chap-Fan-China

I find them a little expensive at first but the Mainland Chinese lady calculating how much your plate costs will give you steep discounts once you’re a regular. Or maybe she just likes my face. Haha.

#3 Royale Nasi Lemak

Nasi-Lemak-Royale

My guilty pleasure. I’ve stopped going after getting explosive diarrhea twice in a row but you should be fine if you stick to the popular meats like their freshly fried chicken. The ayam masak hitam and ayam masak merah can be a bit dodgy at times. Those are made with fried chicken so it’s often cooked with the previous day’s fried chicken that’s been sitting unsold during off peak hours under a heat lamp in ideal bacteria breeding temperatures.

Royale-Nasi

Nasi lemak in the Northern states mean nasi kandar, so don’t be surprised when you don’t get santan flavored rice. The rice at Royale is scented with pandan though. It’s exactly like nasi kandar where you choose the dishes you want and finish it off with kuah campur. Their curries are delicious!

Royale-Pile

I always get their fish egg curry and sotong egg curry too. My dish usually comes up to RM 14-18 so it’s not a cheap place.

#4 Gu Zao Seafood Restaurant

Gu-Zao

This is the best fish restaurant I’ve been to. Their forte is seafood, although they also serve other proteins like chicken and pork. Most people go here for their Deep Fried Threadfin (RM 18) which is a whole ma yao served with delicious soy sauce. Their lunch sets come with rice and a side of vegetables for free. They’ve also recently started giving away free soup with sizable chunks of daikon radish inside. It’s noisy due to the acoustics but there’s air conditioning and the lady who owns the shop is very nice.

Fried-Threadfin

I also recommend their Asam Tilapia and Taucu Tilapia (both RM 17). They’re both equally good, though the edge goes to the fermented soy beancurd one. I usually order tilapia instead of the threadfin coz there’s a lot more meat and its RM 1 cheaper. The tilapia here is more delicious than dedicated seafood restaurants who charge twice this price!

Fish-Shop

Their 3-egg steamed Chinese omelet with salted egg, century egg and normal egg is delicious too. The prices are higher than the surrounding F&B outlets but it’s air conditioned and the fish is amazing.

#5 Singh Chapati House

Singh-Chapati-House

I said I usually prefer rice but I also enjoy a good meal of chapati. The chapatis at Singh are freshly made and hot from the plate. It’s quite packed during lunch and the huge number of Indians eating here is a testament to their authenticity and taste. You serve yourself from the bain maries outside and tell your waiter how many chapatis you want. It’s kinda like a chap fan stall where you pick the curries you like and it’s calculated when you sit down.

Chapati

It’s quite expensive – each small piece of chicken is RM 3, but the taste is spot on. They use a lot of spices in their curries so there are wonderfully complex layers of flavors. Expect to pay around RM 16-18 per pax here for lunch.

Singh-Chapati

Did I miss out on your favorite? Let me know in the comments! I’ll try it if it’s within a 10 minute walk of KL Sentral.

Michelin Bib Gourmand zi char: Ka Soh (Outram Park)

Ka-Soh

Ka Soh has two outlets in Singapore and even a Malaysian outpost but only the one at Outram Park has received the Bib Gourmand award. They specialize in traditional fish head noodles – no dairy byproducts are added to achieve the color as a shortcut, the milky color comes from boiling the fresh snakehead fish and fish bones for 4 hours. They’re also known for their fried shrimp paste chicken (har cheong kai).

Kok-Sen-Us

I was in Singapore to celebrate my dad’s birthday and this was one of the places we ate at. Unfortunately, we were all exceedingly full due to a late heavy lunch after church, so we could only manage a few dishes. Ka Soh in Outram Park is in a hospital compound – the building belongs to an alumnus of medical professionals.

Prawn-Paste-Chicken

I was told I had to try their Prawn Paste Chicken (SGD 15.50). This is a very Singaporean dish where they fry chicken wings dipped in fermented prawn paste batter. The ones at Ka Soh was exceedingly crunchy with a nice prawn flavor. I love the crispy batter that coats the piping hot chicken.

Signature-Fish-Soup-Noodles

Signature Fish Soup Noodles (SGD 8.50) is what they’re known for so we got a bowl to share. It’s decent but it’s not my favorite thing. I can appreciate the creamy mouthfeel but I’m not a huge fan of the insipid soup. It’s not my favorite thing but I’m glad I tried it.

Signature-Pork-Ribs

Signature Pork Ribs (SGD 18.50) was recommended by the waitress and this turned out to be my favorite dish. It doesn’t look like much but it tastes delicious! The pork chop is marinated in a blend of spices and deep fried. It’s then cut into juicy strips and served with a sweet soy sauce dip. Excellent execution. I was forcibly kidnapped and taken to Flavor Town!

Sliced-Thick-Fish-Vermicelli-Noodles

Sliced Thick Fish Vermicelli Noodles (SGD 8) is the dry version of the above. I did enjoy this more than the soup ones. I may have a slight bias against soup noodles since I prefer stronger flavors to subdued ones. I’m what they call 重口味. 😄

Kangkung-with-Prawn-Paste

Kangkung with Prawn Paste (SGD 12) is the obligatory vegetable. It tastes exactly like what you’ll expect it to taste like. Stir fried well, but nothing exceptional. To be fair it’s hard to wow with a vegetable dish unless you have extraordinary ingredients or unusual cooking techniques.

Fried-Yam

We ended with Fried Yam (SGD 8), which is their signature dessert. It’s nicely done with a crispy exterior and a smooth, warm and creamy yam interior. We all enjoyed this dish but it’s a very rich and cloying Chinese style dessert. It’ll be hard to eat more than a few pieces.

Ka-Soh-Outram-Park

The bill came up to SGD 109.20 (around RM 332) which is quite a standard price for Singapore zi char. I honestly didn’t find Ka Soh exceptional. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but there are many similar quality zi char places in Singapore offering equal, if not better quality cooking. I find the Bib Gourmand listings in the Michelin Guide to be less accurate than the star listings. It’s great as a guide, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive listing.

Impiana KLCC Hotel’s Chinese New Year Buffet Dinner 2018

Yee Sang

I had the opportunity to check out Impiana KLCC Hotel’s Chinese New Year Buffet Dinner and Yee Sang last night. I’ve been in calorie restriction mode for 2 weeks now and I thought a buffet dinner would make the perfect cheat meal. I can eat all I want without worrying about gaining weight. That’s what Chinese New Year is about anyway, right? I might as well start early.

Seafood

I love how they have a wide range of different types of foods. Desserts took up one whole row! There’s also a selection of seafood on ice which I tackled first. There’s scallops, mussels, prawns and also tuna and salmon sashimi to the side (with sushi and maki rolls). I love seafood so this was the ideal appetizer to whet my appetite. Yum.

Lamb

There’s also a lot of cooked foods so I’ll just go over some of my favorites. I liked their roasted lamb, which came with a variety of sauces to choose from. There’s also a station where you can get cooked to order meats and seafoods.

Peking Duck

There was a chef there making sure the Peking Duck has been sliced and wrapped with the thin pancakes (complete with spring onion and sauce) so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Tempoyak Patin

I’m also a huge fan of tempoyak ikan patin, which is a type of fish that’s been stewed in fermented durian. I used to eat a lot of this when I lived in Kota Damansara coz there was an outlet opposite my condo which brought in ikan patin tempoyak from Temerloh. The gravy is super appetizing, spicy, with mild sour notes. This version reminded me of that.

Fried Chilli Crab

The fried chilli crab was awesome too. It’s a different take on chilli crab, which usually comes with a sticky gravy. This is the dry version which keeps the taste but not the mess.

Marmite Prawns

The Marmite Prawns was a huge hit too. It goes very well with the nasi briyani ayam gam they had. Awesome flavor combination. That’s the best part about buffets, you can to create different flavors in your mouth. I love it.

Ulam

In case you were worried about the rich flavors, they also have an ulam (raw vegetable) station to the side. I thought this was a nice touch.

Baskin-Robbins

I was finishing my food when someone told me they also have Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Lo! They have not only one, but two of those ice cream carts filled with various BR flavors. I really love ice cream, especially good ice cream and since this was a buffet, I thought I’ll eat a whole plate of ice cream. Not a small bowl. A stacked dinner plate. I’m just greedy like that. Apparently, this was a lot of ice cream coz my table mates all oohed and aahed and some even took my plate to pose for a photo. I didn’t even think it was a lot! I finished everything you see here AND went back for seconds. Pistachio. Two scoops to finish things off.

Chocolate Fondue

And I still had room after that for dessert. The chocolate fondue had a selection of fruits (including unusual ones like jackfruit) and sweets for you to dip inside the milky chocolate. I liked coating the macarons on a stick and eating several of those.

Kueh

There was also an array of kueh which they’ve created for Chinese New Year.

Pralines

And pralines. You shouldn’t miss these. It’s delicious! The one with the Chinese character is a hazelnut chocolate type praline which I would rate as #1. Coming in a close second is the praline flanking the right, with a beautiful white-red edible cover. It’s a chocolate praline with crunchy bits inside and a hint of orange. Very moorish! I was tempted to tapao a few back.

Chef

We were also treated to a live food preparation by Chef Bustami Osman, the senior sous chef of Impiana KLCC Hotel. He cooked Fried Boneless Chicken with Black Pepper Soy Sauce, one of the signature dishes on the special menu for the CNY buffet in Impiana KLCC Hotel.

Cooking

Impiana KLCC Hotel’s Chinese New Year Reunion Buffet is located at its all-day dining restaurant, Tonka Bean Cafe & Deli featuring special delicacies like Jelly Fish with Szechuan Paste and Sesame Seed, Braised Seafood Soup with Crab Roe, Fried Tiger Prawn with Special Soy Sauce, Fried Chilli Crabs, Deep Fried Lotus Paste Pancake. The buffet dinner will start from 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm on the 15th February 2018 and is priced at RM 148 nett per person.

Macaron Fondue

Their signature Prosperity Yee Sang is also available from Tonka Bean Cafe & Deli starting from 28th January – 11 February. There are a few selections of yee sang such as Jelly Fish, Soft Shell Crab, Salmon, Abalone and Lobster for 5-10 pax. The yee sang is also available for take away from 12 pm – 10 pm daily.

God of Prosperity

If you’re still craving for Chinese New Year food, Yee Sang Hi-Tea is available on the 16th February 2018 from 12:30 pm – 4 pm. Priced at RM 98 nett per person (adult) and RM 48 nett per person (children), the high tea is inclusive of Jelly Fish Yee Sang and Roasted Duck.

The Six Hunan Ramen, M Mall Penang

Seafood Ramen

The Japanese actually consider ramen a Chinese dish. Udon and soba are the two most popular Japanese noodles while ramen was imported from China. However, since Japan has done it a lot better since the Meiji era, ramen is nowadays thought of as Japanese. Thus, it was a bit of a surprise to see a ramen restaurant that actively advertises their proud Chinese roots.

The Six Hunan Ramen

The Six Hunan Ramen is located in M Mall. It specializes in ramen from Hunan and the spicy food from the region. One of their bestsellers is Ramen with Braised Pork Rib (RM 16.80) which comes with a generous side of glistening pork rib. I originally wanted to order two different bowls of ramen but my better half was quite full so she had something light instead.

The Six Penang

I believe this is a relatively new restaurant since I couldn’t find any reviews online. The interior décor is also very pristine. I love how atmospheric the entire place is, from the wooden menu boards handing from the ceiling in string to the warm ambient lighting. We decided to pop in for dinner. This was the only non-hawker food place we went to in Penang.

The Six Ramen

Our waitress was a friendly girl dressed in traditional Chinese garb. All of the staff is dressed the same way, male and female. It’s a nice touch to complement the flavor and look of the place. Everything from the hanging green plants to the giant paper fan on the wall makes this feel like an oasis of calm. I like the way the sun comes in from the shuttered wooden blinds too.

Premium Ramen

I had the Premium Ramen with Fresh Abalone (RM 26.80). It looks quite impressive on the menu and I’m happy to report that it looks exactly the same when served to us. There are two large scallops, a couple of prawns, shark’s fin analog (pretty sure it’s not the real thing at this price), Shiitake mushroom and beautiful tiny dried abalone. The in-house made ramen is very toothsome and the clear broth was good.

Shanghai Steamed Pork Dumplings

My dear had the Shanghai Steamed Pork Dumplings (RM 12). The Six Hunan Ramen also serves various smaller dishes, appetizers as well as rice meals. We both ordered fruit juices since it’s priced so affordably. The watermelon and honeydew juice was just RM 5 each. The bill came up to RM 59.25 for the two of us, which is very reasonable.

Hunan-Ramen

The Six Hunan Ramen is an interesting place to have a different take on ramen. It’s not the usual Japanese franchise or local halal attempt at replicating ramen. This is a Chinese lamien (拉麺) establishment that specializes in the spicy cuisine from Hunan. I tried the house blend chilli and it was quite spicy (in a dry and salty way). I’ll come back again next time we’re in Penang to try the other ramen offerings.

Sungkai Choy Kee Restaurant

Sungkai Pork Trotters

This is probably the most famous restaurant in Sungkai, Perak. It has a whole range of freshwater fish and prawns but they’re also well known for their righteous braised pig trotters. It’s about 1 1/2 hours from Kuala Lumpur itself and we popped in for a meal while coming back from Penang just now. My better half wanted to eat durians so I drove to Balik Pulau so she can feast on the King of Fruits to her heart’s content.

Sungkai Choy Kee

I haven’t even heard of Sungkai before today. I thought my dear had misremebered the name of sungai (river in Malay) when she told me about Choy Kee. I was surprised to find out that she’s been here before, with her parents, and they loved the pig’s trotters here. I had an idea in my mind of what pig trotters are – they’re basically the feet, right? Well, not here. The portion of pig trotters they serve include the hock so it’s basically a pork knuckle with trotters attached.

Choy Kee

The waitress also came out with a dish of ikan terubok. Apparently, the owner mistakenly thought I had ordered it, as did my dear. I basically nodded and said “Okay” (as in, I understand) when he explained how they prepare their terubok fish – how it was fried and then braised for a very long time so all the bones are soft. I was very full so I sent it back. I would normally have eaten it out of curiosity. I do like toli shad. But no means no and silence does not mean consent. smirk

Braised Pork Trotters

My better half had rice with the Braised Pork Trotters (RM 38) and she said it was very good. She finished her rice anyway. I also had a few pieces but I was not impressed. There’s nothing wrong with the pig trotters. I guess they’re quite good if you like this style of preparation. However, the thinness of the gravy put me off. It’s similar to bak kut teh in terms of taste and viscosity. The skin is wrinkled too, like it’s been fried before braising.

Restaurant Choy Kee

Don’t get me wrong, this is purely personal preference. I suspect being stuffed from our gastronomic adventures in Penang had a thing or two to do with it too. Maybe I would like it more if I had been hungrier. I don’t know. I usually like pig trotters. I got a portion to go for my dear’s parents too, since they like the braised pork trotters here. Choy Kee will even provide you with a frozen one upon request, ready for takeaway.

Sungkai

The bill came up to RM 80.30 but the bulk of that is from the two portions of braised pork trotters (RM 38 each). Naturally, we couldn’t finish our dish. Each portion is good for 2 pax. We passed the frozen pork trotters to my dear’s parents as well as some souvenirs we got from Penang and took our half-eaten one home. I’ll probably eat it for dinner again tomorrow. I won’t drive down to Restaurant Sungkai Choy Kee just to eat pork trotters but I’ll not hesitate to come back to check out their seafood offerings next time we go to Ipoh or Penang.

Bak Kut Teh Klang Yip Yong @ Kota Damansara

Bak Kut Teh Klang Yip Yong

Yip Yong is the nearest bak kut teh to my condo and I’ve eaten here quite often. The parking in this particular area of Sunway Giza can be a bit of a nightmare but there’s a multi-storey carpark for around RM 1/hour behind this. You can exit from the lifts right to the back of this BKT restaurant so it’s very convenient. I hear they’re originally from Klang.

Yip Yong

There aren’t a lot of people who come here for lunch, mostly due to the fact that it’s flanked by two chap fan places, both of which are cheaper options. Interestingly, the chap fan places are *packed* from 12 pm – 1 pm. However, if you’re in the mood for a little more protein in your diet, you’ll do no wrong in popping in here for some nourishing herbal pork soup.

Bak Kut Teh

This is the regular bak kut teh. It’s RM 12 for a single portion and you can opt for a variety of meats of a single type. I choose a bit of everything, including innards. There is usually a large pork bone, a few slices of prime pork belly and miscellaneous organ meat like intestines and stomach.

BKT

There is also generous amounts of different soy byproducts like fu chuk, tofu etc. You can also add yau char kueh/youtiao (Chinese crullers) for RM 2. It comes in a bowl and you’ll be charged according to whether you eat it or not. I usually do if I’m hungry. The soup here is quite nice and refills are free.

Dry Bak Kut Teh

The dry bak kut teh here is actually A LOT better than the regular one. The caramelized sauce is fortified with dried sotong and okra and other delicious bits. It’s RM 13 for one portion, slightly more expensive than the soup version. You also get a tiny bowl of BKT soup on the side for you to wash down the meal with. I’m not sure if you can refill this normally but since I’m a regular they don’t charge me.

Yip Yong Sunway Giza

A meal here usually sets me back RM 18.50 inclusive of drinks. They only have different kinds of herbal tea , there are no brewed drinks. I like the dry bak kut teh more than the soup bak kut teh. The dry BKT here is phenomenal while the soup version is kinda meh compared to Klang. Restaurant Yip Yong Klang Bak Kut Teh is the best BKT in Sunway Giza, but only coz there’s not much competition. :)

Dinner @ (the new) Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi moved during the Chinese New Year and we haven’t been to the new location yet. It’s one of our family favorites. The restaurant consistently puts out good food and I go at least once every time I come back to Sibu. My sister and her family was back and we decided to come here to eat before she flew back. The new Ming Mei Shi is just located two blocks away from the old site.

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant

It’s now a standalone building (!!!) by itself. Ming Mei Shi has been very successful, there’s no doubt about it. Even my brother in law was impressed by their food. However, despite having over 3 times the capacity of their old lot, the restaurant was still packed. We managed to get a table on the second floor, beside a group of (loud) MLM/insurance dinners.

Dong Po Pork

Dong Po Pork
This is their signature dish and it comes with fluffy man tou (steamed buns).

Man Tou

The server will slice up the stewed pork for you and you stuff it inside the warm buns to eat. The kids loved this!

Foochow Tofu Soup

Foochow Tofu Soup
We don’t usually order soup but we were looking for something different to eat and the waitress suggested this classic. It’s tofu soup done in the classic Foochow way, with a tin of razor clams thrown in for flavor. I liked it very much, it was just like how my maternal grandma used to make it.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken
This proved to be a hit when my better half came with the kids last time. We ordered the exact same thing and they liked it. However, the bright yellow color of the lemon chicken doesn’t come from food coloring, it comes from turmeric. Unfortunately, my niece and nephew didn’t like the taste of turmeric (we got this for them) so I ended up eating most of it.

Butterscotch Prawns

Butterscotch Prawns
I have always ordered this in Ming Mei Shi and they have always come out with the dry version e.g. it’s deep fried with butter. I wanted the wet version like Ruby Restaurant, which comes with a butterscotch sauce so I made sure to repeat the order several times. It still came out slightly dry with barely a teaspoon of gravy. I still love the huge de-shelled prawns though. I just don’t think they do the wet version here. smirk

Four Beans

Four Beans
This is a dish called “Four Heavenly Kings” and it’s basically a mixture of 4 different types of “beans” – okra, eggplant, green bean and corn. They do a mean and delicious version here, it’s very nice and not oily unlike other places.

Rendang Lamb Shank

Rendang Lamb Shank
This RM 60 lamb shank is made with condensed milk and it imparts a very sweet and creamy aftertaste to the gravy. There are only a couple made every day – last time I was here, they were all sold out and we managed to get one this time. It’s a little expensive for a regular sized lamb shank but you won’t complain when you take your first bite. It’s delicious.

Ming Mei Shi Sibu

The meal cost around RM 200 for all of us. There are five adults since my sister’s maid always flies in with her to take care of the children (she was the one who took this photo) and two kids so it’s quite reasonable for 7 pax. The new location is a lot better – all the tables have tablecloths and a dedicated lazy Susan and the chairs are comfortable. Be prepared for a long wait though, it took over an hour for the first dish to come out for us.

Our RM 890 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy Dinner

Poon Choy

This is a Chinese New Year tradition that I do with my better half and the kids. Her parents usually come along as well so it’s 6 pax for our poon choy dinner. I make it a point to do a lot of research before ordering the year’s poon choy (which is a big bowl feast with lots of stuff inside) and decided on Unique Seafood, Kota Damansara for our 2016 table.

Prosperity Poon Choy

I had to order and pay for the poon choy in advance – it costs RM 411.65 for a 5 pax poon choy with with 8-Head Abalone. It says RM 374.20 nett on the poon choy reservation slip, but that’s for take-out only. You get a 16% surcharge for service and GST if you dine-in, which is what we opted for this year.

Table Reservation

I made reservations for a table of 6 for 6:15 pm.

Seafood Fish Tanks

My dear’s father is a huge fan of fish so that was one of the reasons I had chosen this place for our Chinese New Year dinner. They have a wide range of seafood on offer – everything from lobsters to fish. It’s also super fresh (since they’re still alive and in aquariums) and you simply walk over to choose the specimen that you want and the chef will cook it for you.

King Grouper

He went for the King Grouper (RM 173/kg) and one of the waitresses fished out the 1.3 kg creature and it eventually ended up on our dinner table.

Abalone Salmon Yee Sang

I also wanted to have yee sang with everyone so I asked for their most premium version, which was the Abalone and Salmon with Fuji Apple Yee Sang (RM 160.90 for half portion). It’s good for them to offer 1/2 portions since a full portion would be too much for our table of 4 adults and 2 kids.

Lou Sang

The abalone was very good and sliced well, but the salmon was a little sad looking. We later found out that Japanese restaurants around Klang Valley has started offering fresh salmon and other seafood for yee sang at extremely competitive prices. Nevertheless, it was the symbolic tradition of the lou sang toss that means more than the food itself.

2016 Poon Choy

The 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy (RM 411.65) came next and it was enclosed in a claypot, complete with lid, and a heating source at the bottom. I dare say that this was the best poon choy we’ve had over the years and the hot nature of the ingredients contributed to that. Of course, the awesome selection of goodies was cooked to perfection too.

8-Head Abalone

This year had 8-head abalone, fresh prawns, fresh scallops, black moss, sea cucumber, huge sheets of fish maw, oysters, dried scallops, roasted duck, steamed chicken drumsticks, mussels, mushrooms, abalone slices and plenty of vegetables at the bottom. There was a lot to eat! Unlike last year’s poon choy, our 2016 poon choy was cooked together and all the flavors combined really well.

Grouper

The fish came after the server saw we were done with the poon choy. The King Grouper was cooked two ways – the first as slices of grouper in superior stock. This proved to be a hit as well, the entire grouper cost RM 224.90 (not inclusive of RM 12 cooking charge) and the flesh was soft and tender. I like how the freshness was accentuated by the cooking style too. The slices of grouper rested on soft and silky tofu, a very nice way of presenting it.

King Grouper Soup

The second course for the King Grouper came as a soup. Unique Seafood fried the head and bones and cooked it with some vegetables to produce a flavorful soup. It’s usually taboo to not serve a whole fish for Chinese New Year but since we have kids, it’s a lot easier (and more practical) to have the restaurant slice up the fish so there’s no bones and cook the head separately.

Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice

I also ordered the Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice (RM 44.35) which is a Chinese New Year staple. We barely made a dent in this since we were all full by then. I tapao it and we enjoyed it the next day though and it was delicious!

Seasonal Mixed Fruits

The kids wanted to have dessert so I ordered a platter of Seasonal Mixed Fruits (RM 20). They first had this when they came over to Sibu a few month’s ago. It’s nothing spectacular but maybe that was coz we were almost bursting with food at this point. Haha.

RM890 Bill

The bill came up to RM 890.50 for everything. I had already paid RM 414.50 when I reserved the poon choy earlier in the week (you have to pay up-front nowadays since it costs a lot to prepare the top shelf ingredients) so I just needed to pay RM 476 more after dinner. It’s slightly more than if you had booked a banquet but this way we got to choose what we wanted to eat and we had it centered around poon choy, which you can’t do with the banquet option.

Stuffed Scallops

I particularly enjoyed the fresh scallops stuffed into gourds and the fatt choy (black moss – a type of bacteria). I was quite surprised to see the little one eating a whole 8-head abalone by herself too. It was really yummy and we nearly managed to finish the poon choy despite just having 4 adults.

Unique Seafood

It was a great poon choy dinner and I’ll be looking to try a different restaurant’s poon choy around this time next year. Chinese New Year is coming up in less than a week’s time! Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

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