I think I’ve just found my favorite restaurant at Kota Kinabalu for dinner, and yes, it does have seafood like any other “tai chao” places in Sabah, but no, it’s not one of your typical big seafood restaurants in North Borneo.
Of course, we’re talking about Tung Fong Seafood at Inanam.
steamed garupa, fish lips, paku pakis with sambal
For those who aren’t familiar with this area, Inanam is located about 10 km away from KK city center, and you’ll be right to say that this area is mostly frequented by only by locals, Chinese or Korean tourists can’t be found here.
The restaurant is pork free, and they have their menu hooked up on the wall ala billboard style for your convenience (see below). While carrying a variety of typical Chinese taichao dishes, the claim of fame for Tung Fong is their fish dishes.
You basically pick the type of fish/seafood you want – from garupa, green wrasse, giant garupa, sea carp, to fish lips, innards, and sea cucumber; then pair it with the preparation method of your choice – braised, onion ginger, scallion oil, rice wine, or black bean.
braised, steamed, or lips?
I’ve already been to this place three times on the past three trips to the city.
Had two different types of garupa as well as the rather interesting fish lips. The fish here are so, so, so good! Fresh, flavorful, and prepared with seasoning that doesn’t take away the natural flavor of these seafood. They’re simply addictive.
the other accompanying dishes were good too
The vegetable dish here are typical of Sabah standard, sweet, crunchy, and fresh. They also serve a side of tomato soup as standard, and these tasted pretty much like Fatt Kee’s fish noodle soup.
If you’re at Sabah, do yourself a favor and check this place out. Expect to spend some RM 30-40 per pax for some good seafood.
When it comes to Chinese tai chao restaurants, you often find very conventional names that usually involves someone’s surname or places of origin. XFrens Cafe & Restaurant though, likes to be a bit different, so I was looking at a map and this name came up, I’d have thought that they probably serve good pastry and maybe some warm pies…
Restaurant Xfrens, Subang Jaya SS18
Well, I have no idea what went through the owners’ thought process when they came up with the name, but we’re here for the food, and in this regard they definitely put in more thoughts than the naming exercise.
XFrens is located at Subang Jaya SS18, with few busy shops around the same short row of shop houses in the evening, parking your car is usually a relatively painless process. However, do plan to get there early as the place usually gets rather busy and fetch quite a long queue on weekend busy dinner hours. I’d say anytime before 6:30 or 6:45 pm and you should have a table immediately.
The menu at Xfrens is pretty comprehensive, with different sections offering dishes involving poultry, seafood, vegetable, tofu, and such.
For the group of 6 of us over dinner, we ordered five dishes to share.
“siong thong” lala, pumpkin tofu, paku with chili padi
Siong Thong Lala was a pretty decent dish that provides some spicy soup to open up the appetite, the shellfish was of decent size and freshness. Pumpkin tofu was one of their signature dishes, and one that provides a nice contrast in texture and taste, crispy on the outside with stronger tasting sauce, while soft and mild within.
I was also very glad that we ordered paku with chili padi, one of my favorite type of vegetable that should be more popular here (as they are in Borneo). This is one vege that I’ll order again.
garlic pork, teow chew style steamed red snapper
Garlic pork is another must-order at Xfrens, and it is what we’re here for. The dish was basically a dish of deep fried pork with many, many cloves of garlic. It was as simple as it was tasty, the combination was an assault to the senses in the best ways.
The last dish we shared was steamed red snapper teow chew style. This dish was executed rather well, with ingredients you’d expect from a typical toew chew steamed fish – tomato, tofu, salted vegetable, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and chili. I enjoyed this quite a lot too.
The dinner came to be around RM 40 per pax including drinks, a fair price considering the fact that we ordered quality fish as well as lala. Would definitely come here again.
New Boston is arguably the most popular “tai chao” restaurants in Klang, and one with a reputation to boot. It is this reputation that took me more than a year after moving to Shah Alam to finally give it a try.
What’s the reputation you may ask? They are two, first – the lala is awesome, and second, the queue is super long. As we found out, both of these claims are true.
New Boston Restaurant at Klang, wait and you shall be rewarded
It was a planned dinner with a bunch of relatives, so to avoid disappointment Haze went there just before 6pm (opening hours at 7pm) to start queuing, and within minutes there were already a couple other people joining the line.
We got our seats by 6:55 pm and made our orders about 5 minutes past 7 pm. To be fair, it took less than 20 minutes for our first dish to be served, which wasn’t too bad considering it was already fully packed by then.
If you arrived after 7 pm, chances are you may have to wait quite a bit before getting a table, and it’ll certainly be an exercise of patience to get your food. However, New Boston operates till about 2 am so if you come here for supper, it’ll probably be a more pleasant experience.
order your lala in abundance
The claim of fame for this place is the lala in superior soup (RM 24), and if you’ve already invested all those time in waiting, I’d definitely recommend ordering enough to go around. For the 10 of us, we asked for 6 plates, and that turned out to be just right. Some even suggest to order one big portion per person.
The lala did meet the almost impossible expectations, it was really fresh, juicy, and had just the right kick & slight spiciness from ginger, garlic, and chili padi to make any lala fan yearn for more.
The lala used here is what Hokkien refered to as “kap par”, which has a thicker shell but also more substantial & juicer meat, which I really enjoyed. For the “normal” lala in prepared in kam heong method, I recommend the version at Alisan street hawker at PJ SS4, available at night..
lala, claypot seafood tofu & vegetable dishes
We had a full dinner with rice at New Boston, and thankfully most of the dishes here were also right up there in terms of quality.
Claypot seafood tofu came packed with a generous portion of goodness, while the greens had good wok hei and generous amount of garlic, which I really liked.
Fried Hokkien mee is another one of the more popular dishes here. It is very rich, dark, and came with enough lard to satisfy any Hokkien mee fans. One word of caution though, this should be consumed piping hot, a cold version of super rich Hokkien mee is usually not entirely too appetizing.
hokkien mee, steamed red snapper, ginger chicken, mantis prawn with oat
Another stand-out dish we really enjoyed from New Boston was their soya fried ginger chicken, it was absolutely spot on and went really well with steamed rice. I think perhaps their secret is the ginger, both lala & chicken utilizes a lot of ginger, and they were some of the best redetions of these dishes I’ve tried.
Mantis prawn with oats & steamed fish were decent dishes as well, but not up to the expectations set up by the wait time at this place.
Anyway, if you’re a lala lover, you owe yourself to try this place at least once. I will probably head back to this place again one of these day,s but most likely not for the busy dinner session.
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.
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.