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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

Steamboat places are aplenty all over Klang Valley, so when it comes to picking one out for dinner during rainy days, it can be a little challenging. The rule of thumb for most people is that the place must be busy, for me, I usually rely on recommendations from friends instead, which was how I got to Dian Huo Xin Wo Steamboat at Kelana Jaya a couple weeks ago.

dian huo xin wo steamboat, Kelana Jaya
dian huo xin wo steamboat, Kelana Jaya

This steamboat restaurant is a little bit different from others when it comes to the interior decoration. At first glance, the place looks like a hipster cafe with old typewriter, TV, charcoal iron, and all those sort of memorabilias from yesteryears. Look closer, and you’ll find the built in stove in every table.

decent selection with good choice of soup base
decent selection with good choice of soup base

Instead of electric stove or steamboat pot utilized at some places such as Bone & Pot, Dian Huo Xin Wo opts for the traditional gas stove, which I prefer as it is a lot more responsive. Their solution is by placing a gas tank right under each table, I’m not entirely sure if this is the safest manner, but it works pretty well.

For a smallish shop, the menu is pretty comprehensive. There’s more than enough different fish balls (even one with quail eggs inside), meatballs, sliced meat, innards, vegetables, and starters (try the salmon skin) to go around. The “balls” are self-made and pretty good in size, which we enjoyed.

there's even black chicken in the soup
there’s even black chicken in the soup

You’re allowed to choose up to two different soup base for a single pot. We tried the herbal black chicken soup and their signature soup, both broth were plenty flavorful in itself, and of course, refillable whenever running low. There’s also tomyam soup if you fancy something spicy, though I usually prefer sticking with traditional soup base for steamboat.

Condiments in this place doesn’t impress much, there’s 3 different types of chili paste, and you can ask for chili padi, but that’s about it, no fancy fermented beancurd or fried shallot oil, but they are, I guess, sufficient.

The meal came to be about RM 40+ per person, which is in line with most quality air conditioned steamboat meals.

map to dian huo xin wo steamboat, kelana jaya

 

Address:
Dian Huo Xin Wo Steamboat
19, Jalan SS4D/2,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.113118, 101.599657
Tel: 03-7887 4557 / 012-296 3886
Hours: 5pm to 11pm daily

Not too many days ago I found myself at Seapark looking to go for some chicken rice at Hoe Fong, and sure enough it wasn’t open, so we headed for 2nd option – Tong Fong kopitiam at around the corner just behind KFC.

"James Bond" char kuih teow at Restaurant Tong Fong, Seapark
“James Bond” char kuih teow at Restaurant Tong Fong, Seapark

The kopitiam serves pretty good curry mee and beef noodle, but the bright yellow banner that says “James Bond Fried Kuey Teow” caught my attention. Another peek revealed that this self-proclaimed James Bond is at about Sean Connery’s age, so I ordered a plate for myself using my trusted Penang Hokkien, which he understood – litmus test passed!

decent prawn, big cockles, good "wok hei", not a bad plate of char kuih teow
decent prawn, big cockles, good “wok hei”, not a bad plate of char kuih teow

The ensuing plate of char kuih teow turned out to be more than decent. Good size prawn, juicy cockles, and kuih teow fried with some decent fire, it was pretty good. I only wished there’s a duck egg option and that maybe I should have ordered it a bit more spicy. But it did satisfy my cravings and more than made my stomach happy.

map to restaurant Tong Fong, Seapark

Address:
Tong Fong restaurant
Jalan 21/17,
Seapark,
46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.110142, 101.621673
Hoursbreakfast and lunch

Pork intestine porridge is also a dish that isn’t nearly as common these days as it used to be. I suspect this has something to do with the idea that pig innards aren’t exactly the healthiest thing out there, and younger generations are usually less familiar with them.

While being from a relatively “young” generation, I on the other hand, absolutely love them. I always believe that you can and should eat everything in moderation, and a little bit of innards now and then never hurt, especially if you have a balance diet and exercise on regular basis (everyone knows about this anyway..)

an unexpected find at restaurant Say Huat
an unexpected find at restaurant Say Huat

Anyway, just the other day I found myself at Seksyen 17 having an hour to kill, so as a Penangite, the natural thing to do was to find a place to sit and eat, and that’s how I ended up at restaurant Say Huat, having Robert’s Char Kuih Teow in my mind.

My attention was drew to the porridge stall when I got there, and a glance on the menu confirmed that they serve pork intestine porridge – it was then I decided I gotta have this.

this porridge is full with "liu", and only RM 4.50
this porridge is full with “liu”, and only RM 4.50

For RM 4.50, this is perhaps the most beautiful bowl of porridge you can get. The surface is completely covered with crispy deep fried pork intestine,  yao char kuai, spring onion, and ginger. It was a work of art.

yau char kuai, pork, crispy intestine, liver
yau char kuai, pork, crispy intestine, liver

Inside there’s also chunks of pork (with soft bone), liver, and of course, the porridge that is topped with some soya sauce, pepper, and sesame oil. The texture of the congee was soft, smooth, and actually perhaps just slightly too thick.

Over all though, it was still a very decent bowl of good old pork intestine porridge, if you like it lighter, try the seapark version, but if you want it heavy, and not to mention excellent value for money, this one won’t disappoint.

map to restaurant say huat, PJ seksyen 17

Address:
Restaurant Say Huat
1083, Jalan 17/29

46400 Selangor
GPS: 3.128818, 101.635305

Restoran Say Huat

Restaurant O&S must be the most popular kopitiam at Taman Paramount/Seapark area (not to be confused with Taman Sea), and for one very simple reason – the place is filled with awesome hawker foods!

I’ve been here for so many occasions I mistakenly thought it was already covered on the blog, but it’s never too late I guess.

Restaurant O&S at Taman Paramount
Restaurant O&S at Taman Paramount

The restaurant is opened for breakfast, lunch, and actually dinner too (with limited stalls operating, a siu chau for example). Breakfast/lunch on weekends is an affair not for the faint hearted, the place is absolutely packed, and you often have to share the same table with strangers ala HK style. It also goes without saying that securing a parking space isn’t a trivial matter around this area.

Then again, if there’s good food, that’s a small price to pay isn’t it?

Prawn Mee at restaurant O&S
Prawn Mee at restaurant O&S

The prawn mee at O&S is arguably the most famous dishes in this kopitiam. The stall here is operated by real Penangites (I always test their Hokkien) and offers both normal prawn mee soup, and loh mee (Penang style) soup. You can also opt for extra ingredients such as bigger prawns, pork ribs, and intestines.

A normal bowl goes for RM 4.50 and the soup really does pack a punch with that sweet prawn taste, on par with Yon Lee, TTDI, one of my favorite prawn mee places, with extra ingredients the price can go up to RM 7.50 or more but ohh soo tasty!

Penang Chee Cheong Fun & Laksa
Penang Chee Cheong Fun & Laksa

Another thing that I always order at O&S is the Penang style chee cheong fun. The difference between this and HK chee cheong fun is that the Penang version comes with just the chee cheong fun, with har kou (prawn paste), dark sauce, chily, sesame seeds, and fried shallots. Less than RM 2 for a small plate, very addictive. There isn’t very many places you can find this.

Then there’s the asam laksa that is sworn by so many. Haze loved it and claimed that it tastes the same as her favorite Cheras pasar malam version. I tasted it a bit and it was actually quite good! Again, plenty of har kou too, and all the proper ingredients you’ll find in a bowl of Penang laksa like banana flower, cucumber, onion, and a big chunk of fish.

Haze and KY at restaurant O&S, Taman Paramount
Haze and KY at restaurant O&S, Taman Paramount

There’re other good stuff at O&S that I shall be covering sometimes later, the Yeong Tau Foo, the steamed chicken rice, and more! Stay tuned 😀

O & S Restaurant, map to Seapark, PJ
this is how you get to O & S restaurant

Address:
Restaurant O&S
Jalan 20/14,
Seapark,
Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.107713, 101.624919