Tag / garupa
The one food that you absolutely must try when in Sabah is of course, their seafood. Situated by South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is blessed with some of the best the ocean has to offer.
And when it comes to KK seafood, the locals definitely have their own list of restaurants they prefer – Welcome Seafood at Penampang is one of those places.
Welcome Seafood, at Penampang, Sabah
The restaurant is situated some 10 KM away from the city at this place called Fu Guan Industrial Centre. Parking can be a bit of a challenge especially on weekends as the place is almost always packed with locals looking for a good meal.
Modus operandi here isn’t too different from many other seafood restaurants – pick your fresh catch or live seafood, weigh them, and get the restaurant to prepare them in the cooking method of your choice.
clams, fresh shrimps, and steamed jewel garupa
Since it was just Ben and myself, we were pretty modest on our visit. We had live clams with leek and onion, steamed live prawns, and a portion of steamed deep sea jewel garupa with soya sauce.
When the seafood is of good quality, you want the preparation method to be as simple as possible to bring out the natural sweetness.
the coconut jelly is a must order too
True to Welcome Seafood and Sabah’s reputation, the meal was absolutely top notch. The seafood was fresh, and the value offered was very very hard to beat, all those for RM 124.00.
If you’re there, be sure to leave some stomach space for their coconut jelly too!
Welcome Seafood Restaurant
652, Jalan Penampang Lama,
Fu Guan Industrial Centre,
88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
GPS: 5.926457, 116.094067
Tel: 016-623 2388
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.
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
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!
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant
7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.116306, 101.612408
Tel: 03-7887 6999
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
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.
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Overall 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.
Restoran Kuang Wah
No 1A, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
45000, Pasir Penambang,
Kuala Selangor, Malaysia
GPS: 3.351753, 101.249370
Tel: 03-3289 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
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
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
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
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.
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)
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
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
SugarBun Borneo Asian Food
Level 1, Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P. Ramlee,
GPS: 3.152761, 101.707296
Tel: 03-2022 0003
Hours: Mon – Fri 7.30 am – 8 pm, Sat 10 am – 2 pm