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One day while trying to find something new to eat, we chanced upon Chu Cha Dan Fan (粗茶淡饭) at Seksyen 14, a restaurant that I’ve noticed for quite a while but somehow never manage to try. Looking at the menu posted at the stairway leading up to the restaurant, my buddy Horng immediately agreed to give it a try.

Chu Cha Dan Fan is one of the very few restaurants in Klang Valley that offers Hunan dishes, and since Horng spent a few years working in China, he was keen to relive the taste of some of those dishes.

Chu Cha Dan Fan at PJ Seksyen 14, or in English, humble food
Chu Cha Dan Fan at PJ Seksyen 14, or in English, humble food

粗茶淡饭 literally translate to “rough tea and bland rice”, or humble food.

So prior to looking at the menu, I initially thought that this is perhaps a place offering comfort food like porridge or tongsui. As it turned out, they have quite an extensive Hunan dishes instead. I think they can really use a line of description on their signboard outside.

The look of the restaurant though, really exudes that “humble food” name, there isn’t any decoration to speak of, but it was pretty clean and air conditioned.

all three dishes turned out to be spicy, in a good way
all three dishes turned out to be spicy, in a good way

Since there were only 3 of us, we ordered 3 classic Hunan dishes for dinner – Mala chicken (辣子雞 RM 16), Hunan skewered prawns (串烧虾 RM 28), and dry fried green beans (乾煸四季豆 RM 10).

All three dishes turned out to be more than decent. While Horng commented that the mala chicken was not as aromatic as he’d like them to be, I found them to be delicious with the right amount of mild spicy numbing feel.

Our favorite was the shrimp on skewer, spicy, crunchy, and full of flavor, you can actually eat the whole thing with shells and all. The green beans weren’t bad either.

love the prawn, even though Yuki was trying to avoid spicy food that night
love the prawn, even though Yuki was trying to avoid spicy food that night

Overall it was a pretty pleasant dinner, we should go back there again with a few more people so that we can order more. I’ve heard that they also offer simple set lunches for the office crowd as well, so do give it a try.

map to Chu Cha Dan Fan at Seksyen 14

Address:
Chu Cha Dan Fan
No. 6A-2, Jalan 14/20
Seksyen 14, 46100 Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS: 3.109763, 101.635860
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner

 

For those who loves classic Hokkien dishes, Hua Xing would be a  place you shouldn’t miss. For reasons unknown, I didn’t know the existence of this place until very recently, despite staying rather close to the area and actually visited the police station just across this restaurant for “official business“, furthermore, Sing Kee is also one of the restaurants we frequent.

Restaurant Hua Xing at Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya
Restaurant Hua Xing at Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya

Most of it though, has to do with the location of this place. Situated on the first floor of a fantastically planned shopping strip that is Plaza Seri Setia (conveniently situated behind a row of shop houses), it is but 50 meters from Federal Highway, but well hidden enough that you’d never find Carmen Sandiego if he take up residence in this building.

Anyway, the restaurant has a pretty clean, air conditioned interior, with photos of various dishes plastered on the wall, which was helpful. Food arrived in less than 10 minutes after we ordered, definitely a good thing.

Hokkien braised pork with "alkaline" kuih
Hokkien braised pork with “alkaline” kuih, or Hong Bak in Hokkien

I’m ashamed to be a Hokkien for not having heard about Hong Bak before, and how insanely awesome this dish is. Really fat cuts of pork braised in thick, sinful gravy accompanied with soft “alkaline” kuih. The kuih is like a softer version of char kuih kak’s kuih, and really goes well with the gravy. Of course, those fatty pork doesn’t hurt at all. I love it.

bitter gourd Hokkien mee, potato flour noodle, fried eggplant, rice wine chicken
bitter gourd Hokkien mee, potato flour noodle, fried eggplant, rice wine chicken

Another notable dish here is the fried eggplant. It reminds me of the version at Serai which I loved, both are deep fried, one with sugar (Serai), and another with plenty of garlic. Very delicious and positively addictive, I will order this every time I’m here.

The bitter gourd Hokkien mee is a nice change from the ordinary version which can be a tad “jelak” after having the 2nd bowl. The slight bitterness from the vege neutralize the dark sauce in a positive way, I like it.

Potato flour noodle was a bit of a disappointment for us, a bit too dry for my liking, and doesn’t offer any advantage in taste either.

The rice wine (or actually red yeast) chicken was another old school dish that we tried, it could do better with heavier dose of red wine/yeast thingy but the dish held its own nonetheless. It’d be better with rice, we had noodle, so a bit of mismatched there.

Yuki, Horng, Suan, and KY
Yuki, Horng, Suan, and KY at Hua Xiang, Sungei Way

Over all, the dinner at Hua Xing was a positive one. I believe we’ll definitely head back there again. I only wish that the parking situation is a bit more favourable though.

map to Hua Xing at Sungai Way

Address:
Hua Xiang Restaurant
Lot1-12, 1st Floor, 
Plaza Seri Setia, 
Jalan SS9/2, Seri Setia, 
Sungei Way,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.085874, 101.62023
Tel03-7876 3288
Hours: lunch and dinner, closed on alternate Wednesdays

One of the quintessential Malaysian breakfast is of course, nasi lemak, and sometimes nothing beats a good plate of nasi lemak with goreng ayam on a lazy weekend morning. I recently went to Ali, Muthu, and Ah Hock (AMAH) at Ara Damansara Oasis Square to try their version while having a chat with Colin, one of the co-owners of the restaurant.

Ali, Muthu, and Ah Hock (AMAH)
Ali, Muthu, and Ah Hock (AMAH)

The restaurant is located within Oasis Square, a place that starts to look like a very nice commercial area with ample parking, good pedestrian walking space, and many restaurant choices. AMAH is one of the more unique restaurants that serves local delights such as nasi lemak, mee rebus, roti jala, Hainanese chicken rice, and so forth.

None of the item on the menu exceeds RM 10.

nasi lemak ayam at AMAH
nasi lemak ayam at AMAH

The nasi lemak ayam (RM 9.50) comes with sambal, ikan bilis, kacang, a few slices of cucumber, fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, and a full 1/4 fried chicken.

The rice was proper, and I was surprisingly impressed by the sambal and chicken as well, which was properly seasoned with a hint of tumeric and has a crispy skin while being juicy inside. A few asked how is this compared to the famous Village Park nasi lemak, and I’d say that they are on par, with AMAH offering a much more pleasant dining experience.

map to Oasis, Ara Damansara

Address:
Ali, Muthu and Ah Hock
Lot B-G-01, Oasis Square Ara Damansara, 
2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.11352, 101.574612
Tel03-7832 3138

One of the men behind AMAH is as mentioned earlier, Colin Soh, born 1978, who is one of the prime examples of a Malaysian success story. An entrepreneur with a good vision, strong passion, and who are willing to work hard and get their hands dirty to build up their business.

Colin is co-owners the co-owner of several F&B businesses, including TDH, Hoofed, Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock Kopitiam (AMAH), and The Royal Flush.

Born and grew up in KL, Colin finished school locally before obtaining a degree in Marketing and Management with Middlesex University, UK. He then spent 3 months working at Leo Bernard before deciding to be an entrepreneur.

The first business started by Colin was actually a laundry back in 2002, with a lot of late nights, early mornings, detergent, and washing machine. It grew from a small shop to a commercial laundry factory, and by 2008, the business was sold and not long after that, TDH was born with a few other friends.

Like any other business, the F&B industry has its challenges. There are always new concepts and innovating ideas on the market. Colin and partner always try to be versatile by staying relevant with current environment and receptive to new ideas.

Other than the above mentioned restaurants, there’s also Crazy Crabs, a new restaurant that is currently being built as of writing, and a TDH flagship outlet in the pipeline.

Colin & KY
Colin & KY at Ali, Muthu, and Ah Hock

All these hard work and dedication has brought Colin and partners awards and recognitions as well. TDH has recently been named Winner of Best Pub Grub 2013 by the Time Out Food Awards. Apart from that, The Royal Flush was also nominated for both the Best New Restaurant and Best Chinese Restaurant, respectively.

In his free time, Colin likes going to gym, biking, running, and fishing.

You can find more inspiring stories like these at malaysiaresume.com, a site for contemporary Malaysian success stories.

The story of my experience on the Seksyen 14 Hai Keng restaurant chee cheong fun started out on a Monday morning when I posted a photo of chee cheong fun at Petaling Street on instagram and facebook.

With the motorcycle as my primary transport to work, I often have the luxury of stopping by for breakfast at different places in the morning prior to office hours. A source of daily envy for many other rat racers, but I digress…

Hai Keng kopitiam, located near Digital Mall at PJ Seksyen 14
Hai Keng kopitiam, located near Digital Mall at PJ Seksyen 14

It was from there that Elie left this comment “You made me want to eat chee cheong fun.  Have you tried the Section 14 one?

A couple replies later I got the location right, and 2 days later I found myself at Hai Keng kopitiam ordering my chee cheong fun at 7:20 am in the morning.

the chee cheong fun with yong tau foo was pretty good actually
the chee cheong fun with yong tau foo was pretty good actually

Since the stall also offers yong tau foo, I added a piece of okra and red chili to go with the small plate of chee cheong fun (total RM 3). Truth be told, it was quite delicious, the chee cheong fun was smooth, and the yong tau foo pretty decent as well. The combination did make a good breakfast and I liked it.

I posted the photo on the same social networks and immediately found out that I had actually ordered from the wrong stall! Who would have thought that there are two different chee cheong fun stalls in the same kopitiam?

this is the "correct" old school chee cheong fun at Hai Keng
this is the “correct” old school chee cheong fun at Hai Keng

So I went there again the very next day to try out the “correct” chee cheong fun stall.

Hidden at the very back of the restaurant sits this unassuming stall that is manned by an old man and his son (I assume) serving old school Ipoh style chee cheong fun. I ordered a plate that comes with the sweet sauce, chili, and a side of pickled green chili too.

The chee cheong fun wasn’t warm, and the portion cost RM 3, same as the one with yong tau foo.

But it was a totally different experience. The chee cheong fun itself just somehow got it right. There are places where you have it just a bit too blant, or too sticky, or too thick, too sweet, too something. This stall just gets it right. It was delicious, and it was worth it.

If you’re a fan of chee cheong fun, this is a stall not to miss.

That being said, I didn’t regret the one with yong tau foo either. I guess two chee cheong fun stalls can indeed coexist in the same premise.

Hai Keng is located opposite Dae Jang Gum, a pretty good Korean restaurant especially if you’re a fan of Kimchi Jiggae.

map to Hai Keng kopitiam, PJ Seksyen 14

Address:
Hai Keng Restaurant
24, Jalan 14/20,
Seksyen 14 Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS: 3.110338, 101.635315

 

While most bak kut teh connoisseurs will tell you that the best bak kut teh dishes are from Klang, I believe that there exists many good quality stalls and restaurants offering the same dish outside of its place of origin. Not too long ago, we went to Kg. Chempaka in PJ to try out one of the newer places in town by the name of Hou Siang.

Hau Siang bak kut teh at Kg. Chempaka
Hau Siang bak kut teh at Kg. Chempaka

There is Klang and Teochew style bak kut teh, the former being stronger tasting, and the latter slightly sweeter and less herbal. Hou Siang bak kut teh advertised to be of 100% Klang.

The bak kut teh stall is located within the kopitiam that shares the same name. There’s no air conditioning or table cloth, and thankfully, the food was as unpretentious as the restaurant.

a no nonsense clay pot of bak kut teh
a no nonsense clay pot of bak kut teh

A big clay pot of bak kut teh here is good enough to share among 5-6 people. There’s the signature “big bone” with plenty of collagen & tendon, fatty meat, intestine, ribs, and pork knuckle too. It is really a no nonsense serving of bak kut teh,  other than pork, bone, and soup (essentially the definition of bak kut teh,) there’s no other ingredients.

While the soup isn’t the most fragrant of strongest I’ve tasted, it is actually still very good, probably one of the better versions outside Klang.

extra tofu and innards to complete the meal
extra tofu and innards to complete the meal

Tofu, yau char kuai, extra innards, and other ingredients can be ordered as sides, and I really like the way they serve extra soup on separate bowls for everyone and refills them constantly. I hate it when bak kut teh places are stingy with their soup, this place definitely do it right.

Shiang demonstrate exactly how big the clay pot is
Shiang demonstrate exactly how big the clay pot is

Our lunch came up to be around RM 20 per person, which includes Chinese tea and plenty of pork for the day. If you’re looking for a very decent bak kut teh place around PJ, this is one place to check out.

Address:
Hau Siang Bak Kut Teh
No 496, Jalan PJU 1/6,
Kampung Cempaka
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.117291, 101.599030
Tel016-928 7691