In all our collective previous life that was without Covid-19, I used to travel quite a fair bit to Kota Kinabalu for work, and of course, food hunting was one of the only things to do after work.
After trying out quite a number of different restaurants at this land beneath the wind, I must say that my absolute favorite restaurant has got to be Tung Fong Seafood Restaurant at Inanam, located about 15 minutes away from KK city center.
garupa fillet, spring onion, cilipadi, garlic, ginger
Whenever at Tung Fong, we always end up ordering their signature steamed jewel garupa with spring onion and ginger dish. It’s a deceptively simple dish that uses simple few ingredients to enhance the natural taste of the fish filet.
Since we can’t be traveling at this time, I thought I’d try to recreate this dish when I got my hands on some red snapper fillet. The result was pretty satisfying, perhaps 80% similar to what the restaurant in KK offers. So here’s the recipe I’d like to document and share with everyone who’s interested.
3-400 gram fish fillet (garupa or red snapper are best), sliced into bite sizes
a couple inches of ginger, julienne
3-4 bulbs of garlic, chopped
2 stalks of spring onion, cut into 2-3 inches length, split the white part
3-4 cilipadi, chopped
1 cap of shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon dark soya sauce
pepper to taste
put ginger & fish fillet in a steamer and steamed for 8 minutes in high heat
on a small frying pan, heat up some oil and put in garlic, spring onion, and cilipadi
add a few spoons of soup stock or water
when boiling, add 1 cap of shaoxing wine, soya sauce, dark soya sauce, and pepper
once fish is cooked, transfer to another serving plate
pour the sauce with onion/garlic onto the fish
serve while hot!
A slightly different way of preparing steamed fish, adds to the sweetness of the fish. Not quite as good as the restaurant but it was still very satisfying indeed.
The days of cooking at home continues, and for someone like me who grew up on an island, fish is always a very familiar ingredient on the table, and when you have fresh seafood, the best way to prepare them is almost always by steaming.
Today’s recipe involves a block of fresh garupa fish filet from one of the local grocery stores, and instead of just normal steaming, I’m adding a bit of a twist – with BRAND’S Essence of Chicken.
I actually got the inspiration from this dish slightly more than ten years ago at Yap Yin & BKT restaurant in Seri Kembangan with their steamed haruan fish dish. The recreation for today is slightly different and simplified. Without further ado, here we go
1 block fresh garupa fish filet
1 bottle BRAND’S Essence of Chicken
1 inch ginger, sliced
1/2 glove garlic, diced
1 tablespoon soya sauce
salt to taste
clean and dry fish, salt it lightly
placed ginger both above and under fish in steaming bowl
pour BRAND’S Essence of Chicken + soya sauce
steamed for 10-12 minutes (depending of fish thickness)
separately fry garlic till golden brown
use garlic & spring onion as garnish, serve while hot
The result is a dish that’s also full of nutrient and also yummy to eat. Try it!
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.