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Tag / curry fish head

While curry may be originated from Indian cuisine, here in Malaysia, the local Chinese has since adopted many of the same spices and cooking methods and embraced the dish as their own. Of many curry dishes out there, one of my favorites has got to be fish head curry, one of those dishes that may raise an eyebrow or two if you try to describe it to Westerners.

One of the many restaurants that can cook up a pretty awesome curry fish head is Ah Lye Curry Fish Head at Subang SS19.

Ah Lye Curry Fish Head with the gang
Ah Lye Curry Fish Head with the gang

Nestled within the housing area of SS19 in Subang Jaya, Ah Lye is one of those old school type of “tai chao” restaurant that has embraced the fact that Malaysian weather and dinner is sometimes not the best combination, hence the place is equipped with air conditioning, albeit with otherwise very basic set up.

Parking is quite a straight forward affair as well since it is not a busy commercial area like other shop lots areas in Subang.

curry fish head, asam prawn, fuyung egg
curry fish head, asam prawn, fuyung egg

It was a dinner for 7 pax, and we naturally ordered 6 dishes to share around.

The claypot curry fish head was definitely on point. Loaded with generous amount of okra, brinjal, and fish head, it reminds me of the Nyonya version that mom used to (and still) makes. I love it.

The asam prawn here is quite proper as well, with thick soya sauce covering those pretty decent size prawns. It would have been perfect if they make it slightly more charred.

Fuyong egg provided even more seafood on our third dish with bounty from the sea, if you have a history with gout, this may not be the most healthy diet.

fried tofu skin, namyu pork, vege
fried tofu skin, namyu pork, vege

Stuffed tofu skin and fried namyu pork provided some differing texture to our dinner, they were crunchy as they are savory, goes well with steamed rice.

Of course, we always have a vegetable dish to provide a bit of balance to the whole menu, choy sum served this purpose well in this case.

Expect to spend around RM 20-30 per pax here, and it will be well worth it.

map to Ah Lye curry fish head, Subang Jaya

Address:
Ah Lye Curry Fish Head
No. 28, Jalan SS19/1G,
47500, Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.075912, 101.575388
Tel03-5638 0468

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
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
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
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
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.

signature Taiwanese style "dong po" pork belly
signature Taiwanese style “dong po” pork belly

Then came what I was here for – the signature Taiwanese “dong po” pork belly. I love this dish so much I actually remember where I had it the first two times – first at Chatterbox Bangsar Village, and then at Dengkil Seafood Restaurant.

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
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

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
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
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!

secret garden chinese restaurant, taman megah

Address:
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant
家園私房菜 
7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15,
Taman Sea,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.116306, 101.612408
Tel: 03-7887 6999
Site: secretgarden.my

Horng and I were both from the same “11200” postcode back in Penang, an area that is called Tanjung Bunga (literally cape of flower). So it was a bit of a wonder why it took us so long to step into the Tanjung Bunga nyonya restaurant at SS2 despite having driven by the shop lots on multiple occasions over the years.

well, my very first address was under the Tg. Bungah postcode
well, my very first address was under the Tg. Bungah postcode

As a rule of thumb, if a restaurant has been there for ages and do very little in terms of decoration or renovation, chances are the food is usually at least decent.

In that sense, Tanjung Bunga Penang Nyonya Cuisine is one such places, the interior is rather basic but clean, with air conditioning system that sort of works.

curry fish head, asam prawn, perut ikan
curry fish head, asam prawn, perut ikan

Tanjung Bungah restaurant offers pretty much all the essential Penang  nyonya dishes. For the five of us, we ordered five different dishes for dinner. Serving time was actually pretty fast, with the first dish arriving some 10 minutes after ordering.

Curry fish head with garupa was rich, spicy, and true to Nyonya style, comes with a plenty of vegetable and even mint leaves. Fried asam prawn was prepared the way my mom would, which also reminds me of the version at Kah Soh – retaining the sweetness of tiger prawns while infusing the dish with just the right amount of dark soya sauce and asam.

Perut ikan, or pickled swim bladder curry, could be slightly richer and creamier, but a passable dish nonetheless.

inchi cabin and paku pakis
inchi cabin and paku pakis

Then there’s paku pakis, or the wild fern shoots, a vegetable dish to fill the vitamin C quota, and one with texture that I always love. The preparation method here is more “lemak” than spicy, which suits us just find as there was already curry on the table.

Our favorite dish turned out to be the inchi cabin, or the Nyonya fried chicken. The unique blend of spices and sauce used to marinate this version of fried chicken was just spot on, We wish we ordered more.

Dinner came to be about RM 15-20 per person, which is on par with other similar restaurants, would not hesitate to go back there again.

map to Tanjung Bungah Restaruant, SS2

Address:
Tanjung Bungah Nyonya Cuisine
117, Jalan SS 2/6, Ss 2,
47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.116029, 101.616522
Tel: 03-7877 4531
Hours: lunch and dinner, closed on Thursdays

One of the more popular thing to do for many restaurant owners is to name their restaurant with the place the business is conducted from. After all, it is convenient for anyone to remember, and also make it sounds a lot more legitimate.

That is, until you expand to another location. One of such example is the confusingly named Peel Road Yong Tau Foo located at Sungai Way, our subject of this entry.

Update 21/11/2014: unfortunately this place has already changed to a “tai chao” operation and no longer serve yong tau foo

Restaurant Peel Road Yong Tow Foo at Sungai Way
Restaurant Peel Road Yong Tow Foo at Sungai Way

We actually stumbled upon this place as Sing Kee was closed when we wanted to go for their asam fish a couple weeks ago. Since this shack/restaurant seems to be offering more than just yong tau foo, we thought why not?

As it turns out, the place is more of a tai chau restaurant that happen to offer yong tau foo.

naturally, we had to order some yong tau foo
naturally, we had to order some yong tau foo

Naturally, we ordered a selection of yong tau foo as appetizer.

True to the name, the YTF here were actually rather good, with the fuchuk particularly tasty. The tofu, chili, bitter gourd, brinjal and such did not disappoint either. The stuffing is a little heavy but we liked it nonetheless.

steamed egg, vegetable, curry fish head, bitter gourd chicken
steamed egg, vegetable, curry fish head, bitter gourd chicken

For the six of us, we ordered another four dishes to go with rice for everyone.

The steamed egg was smooth n silky with a hint of sesame oil, reminding me of the version we had at K.T.L. Cheras. The vegetable more than passable, in addition to ticking off the vitamin C requirement in every meal.

The third dish, bitter gourd chicken, was also pretty decent, though not exactly the best version I’ve tried.

the curry fish head was really good
the curry fish head was really good

However, the curry fish head here turned out to be superb. We asked for grouper head which isn’t very commonly available in Klang Valley, but in my opinion, the best candidate for curry fish head. The version here has a thick flavorful gravy and packed with extra vegetables that adds to the overall experience. If I had to order only one dish from here, this would be it.

Over all this branch of Peel Road YTF at Sungai Way makes for  a more than decent dinner option. We ended up paying around RM 15 or so per person.

map to Peel Road yong tow foo at Sungai Way, PJ

Address:
Peel Road Yong Tow Foo
Jalan SS 9a/14 & Jalan SS 9a/19
Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS: 3.086527, 101.622316

Sentul is one of those places in KL that I probably go less than once per year, and both times in the last two years, I went there for dinner at Zhen Liew Siang, courtesy of Haze’s aunt, one of those old school ladies who  loves her good, strong tasting Malaysian Chinese food.

Zhen Liew Siang at Sentul, always packed at weekends
Zhen Liew Siang at Sentul, always packed at weekends

The restaurant is located at Sentul Raya, the part of Sentul that has seen quite a bit of rebuilt over the years, you’d easily mistaken the area with some of the more glamorous parts of KL.

The restaurant occupies two floors of a shop lot, and a big chunk of parking space as make shift alfresco dining area. On weekends, parking is terrible and you almost always have to wait for a table, telephone booking is recommended.

fried mantis prawn with egg yolk, deep fried choi sam, belacan fried chicken wings
fried mantis prawn with egg yolk, deep fried choi sam, belacan fried chicken wings

For this session, we ordered five dishes for the six of us, and had to wait for some 20-25 minutes before the food is served on a Saturday night.

Fried mantis prawn is battered and coated with salted egg yolk, and curry leaves to spice it up a bit. Anyone who likes squid with salted egg would love this.

For greens, we had fried “choi sam”, a cooking method that’s been gaining popularity recently, especially with kailan. The choi sam version is just as good, and I especially  like it that they sprinkle some deep fried imitation crab meat on top for that extra texture and complexity.

The belacan fried chicken is a dish taken from classic Penang Hookien/Nyonya cooking style, and according to Haze’s aunt, the head chef is apparently a Hokkien, which explains the chicken wings and the next dish – curry fish head.

nyonya style curry fish head
nyonya style curry fish head

The curry fish head here is excellent, and pretty much the same as the way my mom cooks it. There’s brinjal, long beans, lady’s fingers, tofu pok, curry leaves, and of course, the fish head itself (I believe it was red snapper). Gravy positively thick and flavorful, with just enough hotness to go with steamed rice. If you want a full flavor Penang Nyonya style curry fish head, this is the place to go.

steamed stingray, irresistibly spicy
steamed stingray, irresistibly spicy 

The last dish we had was the steamed sting ray. Smaller sized string ray is used here as they often have a much smoother texture. The fish is covered with a thick layer of really spicy sambal that is slightly sweet and positively addictive. I struggled a bit to cope with the hotness but find myself unable to stop scooping up more of those spicy sauce. It was really good.

Zhen Liew Siang also offered other signature dishes like their steamed lala, banana leaf prawns/sotong, and even “shark mouth”. Do yourself a favor, make a trip to Sentul and give it a try!

map to Zhen Liew Siang, Sentul

Address:
Restoran Makanan Laut Zhen Liew Siang
No.30, Jalan 14/48A,
Sentul Raya, Off Jalan Sentul,
51000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.18472, 101.69212
Tel: 03-4041 3781