A couple weeks ago we were invited to a food review session that promises a good dosage of “Dong Po” (東坡肉) pork belly, and since that is one of my favorite dishes of all time, it was an easy decision to not miss this one.
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant, PJ
The restaurant is Secret Garden at Taman Megah nearby Wolf Modern Dining and almost a walking distance from our previous home in PJ, but alas, this time around it was a bit of a drive, which was fine for some a porking promise.
The restaurant is stunning, with vertical garden, beautiful wooden long table, and tastefully use of empty space. I’m going to go on a limb here to say that it is most likely attributed to the fact that the founders include an interior designer, a fine art illustrator, and a mural artist.
When the surrounding is awesome, appetite also increases, kan?
crispy fried prawn cracker
Anyway, let’s get on the food.
For the review session, we got to sample quite a few dishes from the menu, starting with the appetizer – crispy fried prawn crackers. This is not your typical prawn cracker, but rather thin layer of pastry stuffed with plenty of prawn meat in between, best enjoyed with a dip of Thai chili sauce. I had white wine to go with this, but beer would make for excellent liquid to wash this down.
home style Taiwanese chicken soup w pickled pineapple & bitter melon
Any Chinese restaurant worth it’s salt should serve up a decent bowl of hot soup.
At Secret Garden, the choice was a simple and comforting home style Taiwanese chicken soup with pickled pineapple and bitter melon. I love myself a good bowl of soup, and this version checked the box as well as any with simple everyday ingredients done right.
steamed free range duckweed fed chicken w homemade sauce
Up next was steamed free range duckweed fed chicken with homemade sauce. You can taste the difference in duckweed fed chicken meat compared to the normal wet market/hypermarket variety, the meat is firmer and the skin springier. With the condiments it makes for a good meal by itself with a bowl of rice.
If you love pork, you gotta try this dish named after the famous Chinese poet Su DongPo (蘇東坡) . The interpretation of this dish at Secret Garden is very, very good, and only made better when you have it with their super soft steamed bun. Can I get this combination for breakfast, please?
grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk
Perhaps to demonstrate the range of dishes this kitchen is able to come up with, we had grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk next.
If really spicy and rich Indian or even Nyonya style curry is your cup of tea, this may disappoint, but if you enjoy milder curry with all the necessary ingredients with a much gentler assault on your taste buds, then this yellow curry may fit the bill. I’m a Penang boy who loves me some really spicy curry fish head, so it was just a tad underwhelming for me.
pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce
Pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce was my favorite seafood dish of the day. Instead of the usual tiger prawns or “meng har”, this version uses fresh water king prawns, which has big and juicy prawn head to suckle on (human cholestorel isn’t from what you eat, right?). I liked it, and wished I had some rice to go with this.
(btw I’ve published a recipe to my version here, if you care to cook your own)
homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy, & the hungry bunch
The last dish I got to try before we had to leave due to another appointment was the homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy. I was told the tofu is made in-house, and it certainly tastes fresh as can be with the texture that’s almost like tofufar, it was nice, and pumpkin gravy certainly served as a good contrast to the salty and savory bits on top of the tofu.
our menu, and some live seafood for your picking too
Overall it was a more than satisfying dinner, and certainly an experience that is made unforgettable thanks to the beautiful dining area and excellent companions we had.
Secret Garden is current modelling the upper level and will be offering Private Dining. You give them a budget and number of pax, and the chef will come up with a menu from carefully chosen ingredients available. There’s currently no set price for Private Dining, I suppose the more you are willing to pay, the more exotic the dishes get.
Thank you Jessica for the invitation and for hosting us!
Address: Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant 家園私房菜 7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15, Taman Sea, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor GPS: 3.116306, 101.612408 Tel: 03-7887 6999 Site: secretgarden.my
After getting down from the Mt. Kinabalu climb, we decided that the best course of rehab from all that physical exertion was spending a few nights at Kundasang. The area is close to 2000 meters above sea level with temperature that’s about 10-20 celsius, and a scenery worthy of postcards, so why not?
The only thing left to do then is, where do we go for dinner?
best non-halal meal to have near Kinabalu Park or Kundasang
So we consulted our mountain guide and they came up with the suggestion for 89 Station, which is conveniently located only about a kilometer from Kinabalu Park entrance, and coincidentally, also pretty close to our hotel – Nik Gold (which was an “ok” place to stay.)
89 Station is one of the few places that offers “tai chao” style dishes that features quite a variety of dishes, including wild boar, deer, ostrich, and more.
black pepper ostrich, clay pot beancurd, fish maw soup
The menu came in the form of a giant blackboard on the wall, and the server is pretty well-versed in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and probably several other languages.
We went there twice for dinner, tried 5 dishes in total, including black pepper ostrich, clay pot beancurd, fish maw soup, wild boar with salted egg yolk, and yau mak vegetable. Prices are pretty reasonable at RM 10-15 per dish and portion is rather big as well (which is why we ordered only two dishes 2nd time around)
wild boar with salted egg, yau mak
Most importantly though, the quality of food is well above average. One thing though, if you haven’t had vegetables from Kundasang, you absolutely have to, they are crunchy, sweet, and really come close to those fancy imported Japanese produce you’d find in up class restaurants in KL.
The restaurant opens from about 9 or 10 am till 8pm (it gets dark much earlier in Sabah), so give it a try if you’re around the area.
Address: 89 Station Restaurant AH 150 Highway (1 km from Kinabalu Park Entrance) Kundasang, 89308 Sabah GPS: 5.999966, 116.546559 Tel: 08-888 1300
Da Tuan Yuan at Bukit Raja is actually one of the first restaurants we visited when collecting keys to our new home at Shah Alam, way before renovation and moving in more than half a year ago. Since then, we’ve been back again quite a number of times, and even manage to bring mom & family there for dinner during their visit over CNY.
Mom approved of the food there, so should you!
Restaurant Da Tuan Yuan at Bukit Raja, Klang
The restaurant is located at the commercial area right across from Bukit Raja AEON shopping mall. For those who aren’t familiar with Klang, dinner time is usually about a full hour earlier than PJ/KL folks, so by 6:30 or 7 pm, the place is usually packed, especially if it’s a weekends.
Parking can be a bit of a pain but if you’re willing to walk more than 45 seconds, it’s usually not an issue. The inside is air conditioned, while there’s also a pretty big al fresco area for when it gets packed and weather permits.
roast pork, bbq pork, and seafood tofu
Just like many restaurants in Klang, roast pork and bbq pork, or siu yok and charsiu, is done quite well here. I particularly love the roast pork here, they’re soft, succulent, and with the crunchy skin, is absolutely fantastic. Do order a plate for sharing if you’re here.
The signature tofu at Da Tuan Yuan is their seafood tofu, with bits of seafood and some greens, they offer an adventure in texture but to be honest, I find it tastes a bit … out of the ordinary. Perhaps a dish that takes quite a bit of getting used to.
Japanese tofu, mantis shrimp, 四大天王, kangkung belacan
Japanese tofu has the consistency of egg drop soup, and makes for good comfort food, but if you want something with a kick, order the mantis shrimp with salted egg yolk. Slightly spicy, crunchy, and strong tasting, it should satisfy any seafood lover who loves their dishes deep fried.
“Four kingdom” and kangkung belacan are some of the vegetable dishes that should provides greens that may resemble sort of a balanced meal, order them so your mom won’t complain.
steamed fish with ginger, lala, steamed fish teow chew, mantis prawn butter style
The actual signature dish here though, has got to be their steamed fish with minced ginger. You can order fish head or tail end, go for tail as they provide more meat, but the real fish eating connoisseur will always insist of fish head. This dish is very spicy from the huge amount of ginger, and we love it.
Other notable dishes include kam heong lala, steamed fish teow chew style, and butter mantis prawn. To be honest, we haven’t really find any disappointing dish, and that is the reason we’ve been back to Da Tuan Yuan so many times.
If you’re looking for a sumptuous non-BKT meal in Klang, this is a place worthy of visit.
It was my supreme ignorance that one of my favorite no frill Chinese restaurant chain now has a branch in KLCC – Kiki Taiwanese Cuisine, by the same people that brought us Fong Lye at Gardens.
Kiki Taiwanese Restaurant, 4th floor KLCC
Like the other 4th floor restaurants on Suria Mall, Kiki has a modern interior decoration with table arrangement centered towards packing as many people as possible without it being a fire hazard. That’s fine and dandy for quick afternoon lunches for the most part, but not exactly a place you’d want to bring your Valentine’s date for a quiet & private dating session over lunch.
3 cup chicken set (RM 23.80)
Most dishes come in the form of set menus with rice/noodle, soup, vegetable, and some tidbits in addition to the main ingredient. They are generally priced at around RM 20+ to RM 30+ and served quickly, which is great for office lunch crowds.
mixed seafood & bitter gourd set (RM 35.80)
The three dishes we had – 3 cup chicken set (RM 23.80), mixed seafood & bitter gourd set (RM 35.80), and steamed fish with pineapples & Taiwan marinated sweet bean (RM 23.80) were pretty much within expectations when it comes with taste, and definitely a little over the top in terms of portion. While you don’t get any premium ingredients (example: fish would be tilapia), the quality is more than justifiable for the price stated on the menu.
steamed fish with pineapples & Taiwan marinated sweet bean (RM 23.80)
Overall, despite the crowd, Kiki delivers pretty much as well as their sister branches at Gardens and other locations. Would definitely not mind going again.
my lunch partners at Kiki Taiwanese Restaurant, KLCC
I usually love meat in pretty much every meal, but every now and then, it’s good to get in tune with our slightly more spiritual side and slow down this whole butchery of living beings for our gastronomic pleasure.
That… or you do it with colleagues/friends because of the company.
Vegetarian Food at Kun Yam Thong Temple
In either case, if you’re a fan of Chinese religious style vegetarian (no ginger & some other restrictions), the Kun Yam Thong Temple at Jalan Ampang is one of the best places to be when it comes to value and selection.
The temple is located between Citibank and KLCC, just a stone’s throw away from the MCA building. There’s no exterior clue as to it being anything other than a temple, but head in, and walk towards the rear of the building will reveal an entirely different identity the façade suggests.
very big selection of vegetarian food, including fruits & drinks
Here you find a very good selection of vegetarian dishes. Head to the “chap fan” area and there are at least 3-4 dozen dishes to pick from to go along with steamed rice, “red rice”, or even meehun.
Other than that, there’s also vegetarian pan mee, wantan mee, curry mee, pumpkin spaghetti, tomyam meehun, and other noodle dishes according to day of week. On every 1st & 15th of Chinese lunar calendar, they also offer vegetarian bak kut teh.
this plate of meehun with quite a lot of vegetable was RM 5
The taste of food here is generally pretty good, and best of all, prices are more than decent. My plate of meehun with two pieces of vegetarian “roast goose”, radish with mushroom, and pumpkin only cost RM 5, and I don’t think there’s GST!
To keep the price low, everything here is self served, and do make sure that you bring your plates & empty glasses to the cleaning area when done.
Address: Kun Yam Thong Temple Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.159702, 101.715831 Hours: Lunch on weekdays