When I first got the invitation from foodstreet for a food review session from Peony Garden at Kota Damansara, I did some searches on the internet and but was not able to find any blog entries. So I went to the restaurant with Eiling (who is going to give me some golden tickets) having little to expect.
note: tragically, this place is no longer in operation, it was one of my favorites! (20/9/2010)
seven dishes to sample, with original ingredients
As it turns out, Peony Garden serves Northern Nyonya food, which means they are actually from Penang, my hometown. The relatively new restaurant is run by a pair of siblings, Karen and Eugene Chew, whom despite knowing little about blogs and the way of cyber world, were very friendly (especially when we arrived at our common mother tongue, Penang Hokkien).
We were served the unique “green leaves drink” that is made of seven different types of grass and leaves. It tasted pretty refreshing though slightly on the sweeter side. The owners explained to us that many of the ingredients used are sourced from Penang and other states, and Karen cooks everything from scratch, the traditional way, even the sambal is made by pounding fresh chili and shrimp paste by hand.
Penang otak-otak, asam prawn, curry black pomphret, salted vegetable duck soup
We were then served seven dishes, and I recognized what they were instantly without having to be explained! Tau eu bak (soya sauce pork), asam prawn, curry bawal hitam (black pomphret), salted vegetable duck soup, Penang otak-otak, jui hu char (fried sengkuang with dried cuttle fish), and fried spring roll. These are the dishes I grew up with, the memory of mom working in her kitchen flashes back like a tsunami wave, the familiar smell, the sound of sengkuang sizzling in the wok, and how she always peel the asam shrimps for us. I wish mom was here to have this session with me.
In the taste department, the food actually measured up very well. The asam prawn, cooked with asam and dark soya sauce carries a strong and fragrant asam taste that is slightly salty and sourish, complementing the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly. The fish curry is done the traditional way as well, with black pomphret and a generous portion of laksa flower that adds to the taste. There is no substitute with another type of fish as “lemak” (fatty) taste of the black pomphret suits the asam curry best.
soya sauce pork, jui hu char, spring roll
I personally always prefer the Penang style otak-otak, and the version at Peony, though not the best I’ve had, was not bad either. As for salted vegetable duck soup, it might take a little used to if you are not accustomed to it, sourish and slightly spicy, I liked it.
Jui hu char is a dish that is cooked by many Penang family whenever they worship ancestors (don’t ask me why). It is best eaten with some sambal and wrapped with fresh lettuce, much like the way you’d have Korean BBQ meat. The deep fried spring rolls actually shares the main ingredient (sengkuang) with jiu hu char, but served with a unique blend of dark soya source and chili that gives it a pretty interesting taste, in a good way.
If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you know that I am a pork lover. The tau eu bak here was absolutely fantastic, cooked for hours to the very soft and tender texture, the soya sauce is imported from Nothern state to get the taste just right. Coupled with the original sambal, I had to fight with Eiling till the last piece, it was as good as it is sinful.
green leaf drinks, and eiling with the Peony plate
Dishes are priced from RM 8 to RM 20+, pretty decent even though the portions aren’t big. Authentic foods are hard to come by these days, and I don’t think you can get them any more authentic than here. A family run restaurant that prepares everything painstakingly the traditional way. I am sure I will return.
Poeny Garden is just 5 minutes away from IKEA/Ikano/Curve
The restaurant also host private events and birthday parties. If you like it the old school way with nasi kunyit, curry chicken, and hard boiled egg for your baby’s full moon, they do it too.
Lunch: Tue to Fri 11am – 2pm
Dinner: Tue to Sun 6 – 10pm
16-1, Jalan PJU 5/10,
Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara,
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.150886, 101.593237
Tel: 03-6141 8323