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A couple weeks ago we found ourselves at Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang during dinner time, the girls decided that we should dine at Serai. A decision I very much supported since Malay restaurants that serves made to order food aren’t exactly the most common type of eateries in the country, and it’s been a while since I went to one. (Alicafe TigaRasa at USJ)

Serai at Empire Shopping Gallery
Serai at Empire Shopping Gallery

According to Horng, the restaurant was pretty quiet the first time they tried a month or two ago, but steadily picked up returning customers over that period of time. By now, you often need to wait for a bit to get a seat during busy weekend dinner hours.

Interior decoration is pretty classy, menu easy to read, and the servers seemed to be quite well trained. It is quite similar in setting to some of the more successful modern restaurants in the country, ie: Madam Kwan, Ben’s, etc. Not a bad thing I must say.

deep fried brinjal with spices
deep fried brinjal with spices, our favorite of the day

The menu weren’t super extensive, but covers most of the popular local dishes you’d expect.

The first dish that was served to us was the deep fried brinjal with spices (RM 15). Thinly sliced brinjal deep fried with sugar, spices, and chili, the combination was superb and instantly became one of the very few culinary surprises that I experienced this year.

I highly recommend this dish.

steamed siakap with lime sauce, tomyam seafood, chicken with dried chili
steamed siakap with lime sauce, tomyam seafood, chicken with dried chili

Tomyam seafood (RM 22) here was not particularly spicy, but did come with plenty of seafood ingredients and carries a pretty good aroma with distinctive good tomyam sourness. This is very good for those who can’t have it too spicy and still want to enjoy tomyam closest to it’s pure form.

We were delighted by the steamed sea bass with lime sauce (RM 54.99), the fish was fresh and tasty, but the real winner here is the soup base – it was very flavorful and very sour, so much so that it actually overlapped the tomyam a little bit, not that we minded. The only problem with this dish is for the budget conscious, for over RM 50 a pop, it’s definitely not cheap.

Chicken with dried chili (RM 15) turned out to be just a kung pao chicken dish basically. It was decent, but lack the kick and spiciness that I usually expect from it.

deep fried salted egg with squid
deep fried salted egg with squid, berry pavlova

The deep fried salted egg with squid (RM 20), another classic Chinese tai chao dish that isn’t always available at Malay restaurants, is perhaps the only dish that disappointed me. It was a bit too wet, sweet, and too chewy for my liking. Your experience might vary.

For dessert lovers, the pavlova (14.8) is something to check out. It was sweet, crunchy, and simply delicious. The experience was like the best of macaroon, strawberry, and cake toppings all in one. I’m not a dessert lover, but this one I don’t mind at all, it was delicious!

serai drinks

While there are some creative and interesting drinks at Serai, they certainly don’t come cheap. Serai iced tea was RM 12 each, and milky bandung will cost you RM 8.5. Even though the iced tea comes with fresh lemongrass and a scoop of lime ice cream, I felt that it is still a bit too pricey for that sort of setting, if you don’t want to burst your budget, there’s always ice water.

Ultimately, while Serai at Empire is not the most budget friendly of restaurants, the quality of food and ambiance make it a place worth visiting, so if you are looking for some modern Malay cuisine, this is certainly a place to check out

Empire Mall map

Address:
Serai
LG  37, Empire Shopping Gallery
47500 Subang Jaya
GPS: 3.082109, 101.582716
URL:: http://www.seraiempire.com.my>
Tel: 03-5611 3200

Hoho steamboat is probably one of the earliest “pulau ketam” type steamboat in town, it has been operating for so long that Kim said her parents actually dated there. It is then safe to say that this place has been in operation for well over two decades.


Hoho steamboat, established since forever

Housed at the same premise as the pretty well known Ipoh Road Yong Tau Foo at Segambut just a stone’s throw away from the intersection of Jalan Kuching and Jalan Duta, the restaurant is converted from a former Bungalow with ample parking space. There are tables inside the building, under the tin roof (with fans and ample lights), as well as under the moon light. The usual ingredients for pulau ketam style steamboat.


steamboat set, deep fried dumplings, bacon strips

Most of the porkgang and two extra guests braced the traffic last Friday evening for a good steamboat meal thanks to the suggestion by Cheesie.

For the eleven of us, we ordered steamboat set for nine pax that includes dumplings, pork balls, fish balls, fish noodle, tofu, prawns, vegetable, tofu skin, eggs, noodles (yee mee), mee hun, quail’s eggs, and fish cubes.


Kim and Cheesie doing the hardwork

We added a couple plates of deep fried dumplings to munch while waiting for the soup to boil, and they are actually rather delicious.

Other extra orders we had were clams (to make the soup sweeter), quail’s eggs (cos Eric has low cholesterol), and of course, extra pork balls and some raw bacon. Hoho is one of the very few steamboat places that offers bacon strips, the concept is a bit new to me as I usually like my bacon fried, but the boiled version is actually pretty nice too.


Haze is a very happy girl. Jac doing the “cooking”

Due to a bit of miscommunication, we ordered both tomyam and clear soup for our pot. While the tomyam soup turned out to be pretty tasty, I usually prefer to have only the clear soup. Having the pot split down the middle with two soup base that has very different tastes is usually not a great idea as they tend to mix up quite a bit when boiling.

The sambal supplied by Hoho steamboat is rather potent and fragrant too. To me a pulau ketam steamboat is never complete without good sambal, and this place does not disappoint when it comes to that.

map to hoho steamboat at segambut

Though not the absolute best out there, the combination of price (less than RM 25/pax with drinks), taste, and experience does make Hoho steamboat a place worth visiting. By the way, they have the best URL too: steamboat.com.my

Address:
Hoho Steamboat
67, Jalan Segambut,
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.180645, 101.677523
Tel: +603-6252 6473