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Tag / lala

It’s going to be the year of Horse in a few more days, and like so many Chinese families, reunion dinner is on the menu. So are you going to just watch your mom prepare everything? or are you going to be contributing at the kitchen and come up with at least a dish like a good filial son or daughter should?

Well, if you’re the latter and lacks in the finer skills in front of the stove, here’s a simple lala recipe you can follow that just might make your mom proud.

ingredients are lala, garlic, ginger, chili padi
ingredients are lala, garlic, ginger, chili padi

This is a lala (or any clams) dish with garlic, ginger, and chili padi. Takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and is also one of the cheapest seafood dishes you can come up with especially during CNY season.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 big bowl of lala/clams
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, stripes
  • 6-10 chili padi, chopped
  • 5 tablespoon cooking oil

fry till the shells are opened, wise to steam it a bit too
fry till the shells are opened, wise to steam it a bit too

cooking instructions:

  • soak lala/clam in salt water for 30 minutes, rinse
  • heat up cooking oil and fry ginger & garlic till fragrant
  • add in lala/clam
  • add chili padi
  • fry till all shellfish are opened, you can use a lid to cover the pot for steaming effect
  • ready to serve

lala with chili padi and garlic
lala with chili padi and garlic

This is a rather simple and fail proof dish, you can also spice it up by adding some Chinese cooking wine or soup stock to give it a more fragrant flavor.

Click for simple recipes from yours truly, and Happy CNY.

Several weeks ago I managed to convince the girls to try a new place, and we ventured out to the land of gangsters that is Kepong. We past by the glamorous Desa Park City and turned into the older part of Kepong where steamboat restaurants are aplenty and finally arrived at where we were going to have dinner – Jan Jan Thai Restaurant.

Jan Jan Thai restaurant at Kepong
Jan Jan Thai restaurant at Kepong

There are in fact, two Thai restaurants within 50 yards from each other here. Directly opposite Jan Jan is the older and almost equally as busy Thai restaurant by the name Janwa. According to the locals, the head chef from Janwa left to open Jan Jan as a competitor (similar to Rakuzen and Jyu Raku at Subang Jaya)

There’s an on-going healthy debate as to if Jan Jan or Janwa offers better Thai dishes, but for the purpose of this trip we’re not going to worry too much about that.

excellent tomyam and steamed barramundi
excellent tomyam and steamed barramundi

Once we found an empty table and made our order, which took a while on a weekend, food did not take very long to be served.

Seafood tomyam soup (RM 16-29) comes in either clear or red, and we opted for the latter, more chili laden variety. It was hot, spicy, and filled prawns, squid, fish, tomato, and more. Perfect dish for us since it was raining so heavily.

The Thai style steamed barramundi (market price) turned out to be pretty good dish too. The fish was fresh and the soup positively sour and flavorful. This dish is not quite De Chiengmai‘s standard, but it holds its own.

the lala was great, green curry not so much. Yuki, Haze, KY, Kerol
the lala was great, green curry not so much. Yuki, Haze, KY, Kerol

Thai golden lala (RM 17) was my favorite dish of the night. The shellfish were big and juicy, and I particularly love the unique Thai style sauce that the dish came with. It was a combination of sweet, spicy, with a hint of sourness. Very different any Chinese or Malay style preparation.

The disappointing dish turned out to be the Thai green curry (RM 12). I love my green curry thick and flavorful, but this one was just watery and very sweet. We took a few spoonful but otherwise left the dish almost untouched.

There are definitely more dishes at Jan Jan Thai that I want to try on other visits – petai prawns, deep fried brinjal, paku with belacan, mango chicken, bbq crab and Thai curry crab all sounds very enticing. I’ll just have to remember not to order their green curry again.

map to Jan Jan Thai restaurant, Kepong

Address:
Jan Jan Thai Restaurant
No.33, Jalan 5/62A,
Bandar Menajalra, 52000
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.193859, 101.631517
Tel: 03-6277 7598

New Yew Sang might not have a name that sound like an authentic Thai Food place, but this little coffee shop that is famous for steamed rice (and soup) and lui cha for the breakfast and lunch crowds is a hidden gem for tomyam lovers.

New Yew Sang Thai Food with Yuki, Horng, Ring, Kerol
New Yew Sang Thai Food with Yuki, Horng, Cheesie, Kerol

I was first introduced to this place by Kerol, who is a fellow Penangite and one of the harshest food critic especially when it comes to tomyam. If she said it’s good, she’s usually right.

I went there for a scouting expedition by ordering the tomyam meehun prior to the following two visits (where these pictures are sourced), and the experience was a really positive one. I think I overhead the owners speaking Thai to the kitchen staff as well, that’s always a positive sign.

paku, Thai steamed siakap, seafood tomyam
paku, Thai steamed siakap, seafood tomyam

To be fair, this is a tai chau place with heavy influence of Thai food instead of a typical Thai restaurant, like Ghee Seng Thai food in Penang. The ambiance is nothing to shout about, the place is relatively clean, and there’re fans under the root in an otherwise semi alfresco dining area. Parking is relatively easy to get at night though.

The menu is quite extensive, but lets start with the most important item – tomyam. The tomyam here is thick, extremely flavorful and positively spicy. Use the ladle and dig at the bottom of the bowl will reveal the ingredients that made up the soup, ie: no short cuts, no powder/paste nonsense. If you like your tomyam hot & spicy, this is a place to go.

lala, steamed fish, butter squid
lala, steamed fish, butter squid

The butter squid here is laden with plenty of those very addictive deep fried egg on top. A dish that I’d recommend ordering, but according to Yuki & Horng, they have a “wet” version of butter squid that is even better. I imagine it to be similar to those from Thim Kee at Pudu.

The lala here is commendable, but not something that is really special. If you’re going for a pure lala trip, look no further than the lala stall at Alisan SS4 just down the road. Steamed saikap that we tried was of pretty good standard, the soup base definitely carries a heavy Thai influence – sour, strong, and slightly spicy.

prawn with petai, some tofu dish, vege (vitamin c, hey!)
prawn with petai, some tofu dish, vege (vitamin c, hey!)

In another visit we tried prawn with petai, another spicy dish that never disappoint. The petai was halved and cleaned (some place tends to leave the center bitter part intact), and prawns were fresh prepared just right, delicious.

For those who likes a bit of balance and enjoys eating tofu, I wish I could tell you what the dish in the picture was called, but for the life of me that escaped my mind. Ask the server to recite the tofu dishes they have and stop her at the most bizarre sounding one and you’d have the winner. It was very rich, smooth, and provides a great contrasting taste to the other dishes that were usually spicy, sour, or a combination of both. I enjoyed it a lot.

Prices at New Yew Sang is reasonable. We paid something between RM 15-20+ per person when we eat there. If you like your dishes rich and spicy, check out this place, or you can check out other Thai food posts here.

Address:
New Yee Sang kopitiam
Jalan SS 6/8
Kelana Jaya

GPS: 3.106717, 101.598178

New Yee Sang kopitiam

My siblings and me share the same passion when it comes to food – we want to eat everything and anything that is delicious, and usually would travel to illogical distances just for this purpose.

Over the last CNY holidays, we paid a visit to my younger brother who works at Sungai Petani as a houseman and he brought us to this little hidden gem that is Mae Salong Thai Restaurant for dinner. Most of us are tomyam fanatics, so the destination suits us very well.

Mae Salong at Sungai Petani
Mae Salong at Sungai Petani, crazy decoration

Mae Salong resides in an unimpressive part of Sungai Petani, which is a pretty unimpressive town in a state that isn’t known to be impressive. The restaurant however, is anything but.

Nestle in the kampung is a structure that could easily confuse diners as a set for fantasy movie. There’s hanging bridge, a huge koi pond with a two level dining area that is half submerged, and even a massive water wheel and fountain and the center. Oh, it is also some sort of a mini zoo as well.

All these fancy decoration proved to be useful when we had to kill time waiting for table on the Saturday evening when we were there. (booking highly advisable)

the drinks come in a big bottle, red ruby's nice!
the drinks come in a big bottle, red ruby’s nice!

After securing a seat, we were given some Thai tidbits as some sort of appetizer, and they come in the form of dried anchovies with curry leaves, peanuts, and dried chili padi. That thing was quite awesome, and you could actually buy them at Thailand in packets, beats potato chips anytime. :D

We made our orders with the friendly Thai lady, and asked for desserts to be served first since we knew it was gonna take a while before food is ready. The red ruby (RM 2.50) was delicious, with the right amount of santan, fresh nangka, and that chestnut in tapioca.  Yummy.

We ordered  honey dates with sugar cane drinks (RM 12 for all) to quench our thirst, and was happy that they come in big bottles instead of individual cups.

thai style lala, mantis prawn, otak otak
thai style lala, mantis prawn, otak otak

Our first dish that came was the the Thai style lala (RM 15), though the shellfish wasn’t exactly big in size, the taste more than make up for it. There’s chili, green onion and garlic all mixed up with the lala soaked in spicy sourish broth that’s kept warm with a small fire under. The soup itself was very very delicious.

Mantis prawn (RM 15) is deep fried with salted egg yolk, another dish that never disappoint. Again you find chili padi in the mix, spicy, savory, with the hint of saltiness, love it.

Thai otak-otak (RM 15) was perhaps the only thing that was a bit disappointed. It was packed with seafood, but somehow the otak otak paste wasn’t exactly up to the level of standard I was expecting. Not a bad dish per se, but nothing special.

steamed siakap, omelete, and of course, tomyam
steamed siakap, omelete, and of course, tomyam

Of course, no Thai meal is complete without an order of tomyam (RM 20). The seafood tomyam is hot, flavoful, and absolutely packed with ingredients – prawns, fish, squid, and more lala in addition to tomato, chili, and other ingredients that make up a proper bowl of tomyam soup. We enjoyed this a lot.

We also had a fish to go with all the other seafood dishes, the steamed siakap (RM RM 27) was the most expensive dish we ordered. It was fresh and does taste very good, the soup made me suspect that it is a cross between the lala and tomyam, and hence didn’t make a very good combination to the other dishes we oredered. It was however, a quality dish nonetheless.

Last but not least, there’s omelete (RM 8) that again, has a hint of seafood in it – very tiny baby prawns, the same size that you find in cincalok. It brought back some childhood memories when we’d catch them in the sea, good times. The omelete was pretty decent as well.

mom, sister, brother, haze, niece - happies!
mom, sister, brother, haze, niece – happies!

By the time we are done and headed back to Penang, it was already some 11pm, but that was after a very good dinner that only cost less than RM 140 for the 6 of us. If you find yourself anywhere within 50 or even 100 km from Sungai Petani, give this place a try, but do call and book your table if it’s on weekends.

direction map to Mae Salong

Address:
Mae Salong Restaurant
199-E, Kampung Bakar Bata,
08000 Sungai Petani, Kedah
GPS: 5.62594863, 100.46545
Tel: 016-424 6842

Thai Garden Village is about 2/3 correct, it is a Thai food place that has a pretty neat looking garden, but at the same time it isn’t exactly a village. Situated at the less glamourous part of KL that is Kepong, I was first introduced to this restaurant by Kim, who is as big a fan of Thai food as Haze and myself.

Thai Garden Village at Kepong
Thai Garden Village at Kepong

Getting to Thai Garden Village is actually pretty simple, drive along Jalan Kepong either from MRR2 or Jalan Kuching (if you’re from KL) until you see a smallish Shell station, turn into West Road right next to it, and viola, Thai Garden Village is right there, almost disguised as a light industrial factory.

Parking is a pretty simple affair as they do provide ample space, the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor (garden) dining area, and can probably accomodate more than 2-300 diners.

smoked salmon salad, fish cake, tomyam, raw prawn salad
smoked salmon salad, fish cake, tomyam, raw prawn salad

The menu at Thai Garden Village is pretty extensive even though it is a pork free outlet.

For starters, you should never miss the raw prawn salad. This is the only place that I know of serving this in KL, and it doesn’t get any more genuine than this. Over a dozen prawns “cooked” by the acid from lime and served with plenty of cabbage and equal amount of bitter gourd and raw garlic, not for the faint hearted, but it is as rewarding as it is interesting.

They also serve a version of raw papaya salad with smoked salmon, which makes for good “yee sang” substitute if you were to have it over CNY period. Delicious even at non festive season.

The fish cake is another richly flavored affair, and goes well with the familiar Thai chili sauce.

Thai style lala, clear soup tomyam, kai lan ikan masin
Thai style lala, clear soup tomyam, kai lan ikan masin

The tomyam here comes in two versions – clear soup, and the more familiar reddish version. The “normal” version is basically just the clear type with added chili oil. Both are top notch, but ordering them at the same time was an overkill we should have expected.

Another personal favorite of mine here is the Thai style steamed lala that is usually served on an elevated metal plate with fire still burning below. The seafood is succulent, and the spicy, sourish soup was really addictive.

My only experience with vegetables here was limited to kailan ikan masin, which fared pretty well.

KY, Haze, Pearl, David
KY, Haze, Pearl, David

One other interesting dishes here is the flaming chicken, which is literally served burning (fueled by some alcohol, I suspect). While plenty fancy, I found the taste average.

Dessert choices include the standard red ruby and mango with sticky rice. The former gives a proper sweet ending, while the sticky rice could prove to be a little bit overkill on an already stuffed stomach.

Prices at Thai Garden Village is fair, an average meal should cost between RM 20 – RM 30 per person.

Good eats!

map to Thai Garden Village, Kepong

Address:
Thai Garden Village
Lot 32713, 6 1/2 Mile (West Road),
Jalan Kepong,
52000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.2091, 101.6542
Tel: 03-6250 5519

Thai Garden Village Seafood BBQ

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