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Tag / garupa

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

A week ago we bought three garupa fish for something like RM 25 from the Meru Pasar Malam nearby, and since we’re going to have to eat the same fish on three different occasions, it was an opportunity to try out different recipes.

I vaguely remember that we bought some fermented beans (tauchu) over CNY cos my brother had used it as a “secret ingredient” in his version of jiu hu char, so it was time to experiment on a version of garupa with tauchu dish.

raw ingredients - fish, tauchu, onion, garlic, ginger, chili padi
raw ingredients – fish, tauchu, onion, garlic, ginger, chili padi

Thankfully, the version I ended up cooking based on what we had in the pantry and fridge ended up rather delicious, so I’m penning it here for my own future reference. As always, you’re more than welcome to try it out yourself, and if you do, let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients:

  • one medium size garupa fish (siakap/barramundi should work too)
  • a couple of onions (sliced)
  • half a clove garlic (chopped)
  • an inch of ginger (strips)
  • 2 tablespoon of tauchu
  • 2-3 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • half a dozen chili padi, green or red

sautee everything minus the fish
sautee everything minus the fish

Cooking Instructions:

  • heat up cooking oil and then stir fry everything except the fish
  • once fragrant, add 1.5 cups of water
  • bring water to boil, then add fish
  • lower the heat, let simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness of fish)
  • serve while hot

simmer & steam for 10 minutes and you're done
simmer & steam for 10 minutes and you’re done

As fermented bean is already quite a salty product, salt is not needed in this cooking method. The result is a simple fish dish that brings out the natural taste of seafood while having a sauce base that’s flavorful with a bit of a kick. Goes really well with rice. Will not hesitate to use this recipe again.

Quite a few moons ago we went to do one of the more touristy things you can do in Selangor – firefly watching at Kuala Selangor.

To be honest, it was my first time doing that, and I had our Singaporean friends Angus & his girlfriend to thank for this experience. Funnily, the attractions closest to us are some that we often never bother to visit.

Firefly watching at Kuala Selangor
Firefly watching at Kuala Selangor

The tour is fairly simple, you arrive at around sunset, pay some RM 30 or so, put on your life jacket and hop on the boat. D’Tour is just one of the many operations that offers similar services.

The boat then take us along Selangor River to the area where the fireflies gather. It was quite a sight to see, the trees by the river were packed with fireflies that seems to blink in sync, like a single colored x’mas tree. Quite neat, and no, we didn’t get too many mosquito bites.

It was quite fun and anyone should at least try this once. The whole journey lasted around an hour or so.

Address:
D Tours Kuala Selangor
No 1. Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
Pasir Penambang, 45000 Kuala Selangor
GPS: 3.351486, 101.249347
Tel: 019-263 9123/017-639 5017

Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant, Kuala Selangor
Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant, Kuala Selangor

After the tour, it was seafood time, naturally.

This part of Kuala Selangor has quite a few seafood restaurants in operation, and many of them are seemingly packed on every weekends. We hop onto the one right next to D Tour – Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant.

The set up is a carbon copy of many Malaysian seafood outfits – with plastic tables & chairs, and a wall of aquarium and fiber glass containers full with assortment of live seafood for your picking. The prices are also clearly stated.

deep fried mantis prawn, lala with superior soup, drunken live prawn
deep fried mantis prawn, lala with superior soup, drunken live prawn

For the four of us, we started with deep fried mantis shrimp with chili and salt (RM 30). The meat was firm and rather flavorful, a good start.

Then it was lala in superior soup (RM 15). The soup was more spicy than superior, but does tick the checkbox somewhat.

Drunken prawn came in a clay pot (RM 30), and had some mushroom, green onion, and plenty of ginger strips in a soup base that I can’t stop drinking. It was quite awesome, and you can also definitely tell the freshness of the prawns by how sticky the skin is to the meat.

steamed 7-star garoupa, Sg. friends & Haze
steamed 7-star garoupa, Sg. friends & Haze

Our main dish was the steamed seven-star garoupa fish. We chose the simplest of preparation method to enjoy the natural flavor of the seafood, and it proved to be good decision. The meat was smooth and sweet, with the superior soya sauce complimenting the fish meat perfectly.

receipt at Kuang Wah Seafood RestaurantOverall it was a pretty good dinner, our friends from Singapore certainly did not complain. I’d say that Kuang Wah offers very good value for money as well. The dinner came to be only RM 132 to feed four hungry adults, with each of us having a fresh coconut (RM 4.50 each) as well.

If I was at Kuala Selangor again, I’d certainly not minding coming back to this particular restaurant again.

map to Kuang Wah seafood, Kuala Selangor

Address:
Restoran Kuang Wah
No 1A, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
45000, Pasir Penambang,
Kuala Selangor, Malaysia
GPS3.351753, 101.249370
Tel03-3289 6719

In my previous job, I had the opportunity to travel to East Malaysia on quite a few occasions, and one thing that stuck in my memory is that there are whole different sets of restaurants and popular dining areas in Borneo than what I’m used to in Peninsular Malaysia, and one of the more prominent one that I remember till today was the ubiquitous SugarBun.

SugarBun Borneo Asian Food at Menara Hup Seng
SugarBun Borneo Asian Food at Menara Hup Seng

Well, now you can find SugarBun right here in KL at Menara Hup Seng (opposite Shangri-La KL & behind Mercedes) to get a taste of what Borneo’s most successful franchise restaurant has got to offer. They are also opening their second outlet in Klang Valley at Ara Damansara on 15/10/2016. So if you’re into some no-nonsense Borneo cuisine, keep reading.

Sabah Giant Garoupa Mee Hoon Soup
Sabah Giant Garoupa Mee Hoon Soup

While started out as an ice-cream parlour back in 1979, over the years SugarBun has expanded its offering to include many dishes sought after by Sarawakians & Sabahans alike. On the outside it looks a little bit like fast food joint or even a food court, but what they offer is rather different from what you may expect.

I had the opportunity to try some of their dishes a couple weeks ago, and I gotta start with my favorite – Sabah Giant Garoupa Mee Hoon Soup (RM 28). Cooked with generous portion of Sabah giant garoupa slices, the deceptively simple dish carries a broth thick with seafood sweetness that will satisfy anyone who loves seafood. The fish slices too were perfectly cut and came with chunks of those springy garoupa skin that I really enjoy. At RM 28 it is certainly not a “fast food” friendly price, but this is not fast food and you definitely get a more than decent value from the quality of seafood offered.

You can also order this as a soup to go with rice.

Sabah Giant Garoupa Fried Rice
Sabah Giant Garoupa Fried Rice

Another rendition that utilise the same awesome seafood is the Sabah Giant Garoupa Fried Rice (RM 20). Deep fried giant garoupa meat is served on top of pretty fragrant fried rice, very simple and satisfying. I think a few chili padi with soya sauce should come with this, but they do offer sambal, which compliments the dish quite well.

authentic Sarawak Laksa
authentic Sarawak Laksa

Laksa Sarawak (RM 12) is arguable the most famous streetfood from Borneo, and at SugarBun Borneo Asian Food, they have a version that is authentic and true to its origin. You get the shredded chicken, prawns, strips of omelette, bean sprout, and of course, those thick meehun. Haze loves it, and she’s like the no. 1 fan of any type of laksa.

If you’re looking for a certified halal version of authentic laksa Sarawak, this will definitely fit the bill.

Fish Burger
Fish Burger

For those who wants something on the go, SugarBun’s fish burger (RM 9.50) should fit the bill. The patty is made from pollock and together with their blend of sauce and slices of fresh cucumber, made for a pretty satisfying meal you can enjoy while being vertical. I also thought their bun was pretty soft and airy too, which is a plus.

the classic - Borneo Eco Fish Meal (tilapia)
the classic – Borneo Eco Fish Meal (tilapia)

Another notable fish related dish is the classic Borneo Eco Fish Meal (RM 20). Here you get a portion of rice, some acar, and a properly deep fried tilapia fish with some sambal and dark soya sauce on the side. This felt like something  you get from a mom & pop restaurant than an air conditioned chain restaurant, in a good way, of course.

This was actually the first dish I had at SugarBun many years ago when they came to West Malaysia (at PJ SS2 if not mistaken), and I’ve always enjoyed it.

Chicken Mushroom Claypot Meal & Broasted Chicken meal
Chicken Mushroom Claypot Meal & Broasted Chicken meal

If comfort food is what you crave for, the Chicken Mushroom Claypot Meal (RM 14) should be on your short list. You get a side of rice with a clay pot full of chunks of chicken and black fungus in herbal soup, not entirely different from grandma’s kitchen.

To complete their almost-fast-food image, SugarBun offers broasted chicken (RM 12) with or without saucy kano (RM 15). I had to google a bit, but broasting is a cooking process that combines broiling and roasting, which is distinctly different from deep fried. The result is a lighter crust and less oily product. I thought they taste pretty good.

If you want to get a taste of what Borneo has got to offer right here in KL, this is definitely the place to go.

P/S: this post is brought to you by SugarBun

map to Menara Hap Seng

Address:
SugarBun Borneo Asian Food
Level 1, Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P. Ramlee,
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.152761, 101.707296
Tel: 03-2022 0003
HoursMon – Fri 7.30 am – 8 pm, Sat 10 am – 2 pm

The eating culture in Malaysia is so rich that even after some 9 years of writing about it, there are still many famous and well established eateries within Klang Valley I’ve yet to explore.

Kedai Kopi dan Makan Sin Ban Fatt, also known as Ngau Kei
Kedai Kopi dan Makan Sin Ban Fatt, also known as Ngau Kei

A few days ago after another routine invisalign appointment with the good people at My Dentist, I was invited to join them for lunch at a nearby restaurant by the name of Kedai Kopi dan Makan Sin Ban Fatt, or more commonly known as Ngau Kei on Jalan Ipoh.

The proprietor of My Dentist, a massive foodie in his own right, explained that Ngau Kei have been in business for almost 6 decades at the exact same location, and is still a favorite among locals.

salted steamed kampung chicken
salted steamed kampung chicken

Parking situation around this old shop isn’t the most ideal, hence getting there before the peak of lunch time is recommended. Waiting time too can be rather long as it is almost always packed, this is not a place to visit if you’re in a hurry.

For the four of us we ordered only three dishes for sharing.

Our first dish was their signature salted steamed kampung chicken. I’m usually not a fan of kampung chicken due to it’s much tougher texture, but this version at Ngau Kei was absolutely delightful. It was tender while not fatty, and carries that flavor of kampung chicken which I really enjoy.

vegetable, deep fried garupa with sweet and sour sauce
vegetable, deep fried garupa with sweet and sour sauce

For fish, they usually serve it either steamed or deep fried. We tried the deep fried garupa with sweet and sour sauce. The seafood was fresh, and deep fried to perfection with the outer layer and fins crispy but the meat still steamy hot and tender. The sweet and sour sauce pairs well with the fish and was a great with steamed rice.

The simple fried vegetable with garlic dish dish was our last dish, and while not exciting, it certainly did not disappoint.

a plate of fruits is served at the end of meal
a plate of fruits is served at the end of meal

There’s also a plate of fresh fruits at the conclusion of the meal. I’ll certainly be back to try their other famous dishes such as fried fish fillet with salted vegetable, steamed eggs, prawns with dark soya sauce, and fried binjal.

map to Ngau Kei jalan ipoh

Address:
Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan Sin Ban Fatt
647, 4th Miles,
Jalan Ipoh
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.195444, 101.679899
Tel: 03-6258 2839