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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

A couple weeks ago I was invited to Mr. Wolf at Taman SEA to sample what they have to offer. Now first things first, Taman SEA is not SEAPARK. The former is right between Taman Megah and Damasara Jaya, while the latter is closer to Taman Paramount in PJ.

Slight difference, but getting from one side of LDP to the other can be quite an exercise in patience during rush hour, you don’t want that.

Getting to Mr. Wolf can be slightly tricky, as where you can see the restaurant isn’t where you can navigate to it. Follow the GPS and throw your logic aside, you will get there.

Update 30/6/2017: This place is closed

Mr Wolf at Taman SEA (not SEAPARK!)
Mr Wolf at Taman SEA (not SEAPARK!)

To understand the type of cuisine served at Mr. Wolf is to understand the main man behind this restaurant – Chef Bryan Tan.

Chef Bryan served at the kitchen of Cilantro, crafted the menu at The Point KL, and had quite an extensive experience cooking in Australia prior embarking on his own restaurant at Mr. Wolf. The background certainly shows up in his cuisine, a play of modern cooking without the constraint of the taboo in using ingredients as well as cooking methods from both East & West. The dirty word for this is “fusion”, but Chef Bryan calls it modern cuisine.

I think the word fusion has an unfair and unfortunate reputation, without those who push the boundary of what is acceptable, culinary art will always look at the past and not the future. I applaud the courage of those who brave the new frontier.

While those chefs may not get everything 100% right, when they do, you stand a chance to taste something like never before.

jamon serrano benedict, big breakfast, streaky bacon benedict
jamon serrano benedict, big breakfast, streaky bacon benedict

Mr. Wolf has a cozy bar upstairs and a restaurant on the ground level, today we’re going to talk about the restaurant, which started serving brunch on Friday thru Sunday, so let’s start with a few brunch dishes.

There’s a few egg benedict dishes, and boy do they make it right. We tried two – Jamon serrano benedict (RM 28), came with cured Spanish ham (white pig), English muffins, poached eggs and mentaiko hollandaise, while the streaky bacon benedict (RM 22) basically has the same ingredients but substituting ham with bacon. The poached eggs were done right, and the mentaiko hollandaise sauce definitely works, either would make excellent breakfast with some coffee.

Mr. Wolf’s Pibig breakfast (RM 32) – with tonkatsu pull pork on toast, poached eggs, pork sausage, streaky bacon, roasted potatoes, grilled tomato and salad, hollandaise sauce is quite a meal and perfect for those with a bigger appetite. Here again, a touch of Japanese influence is found on the tonkatsu style pull pork, which gives it that bit of extra sophistication.

deep fried baby crabs & school prawns, tiger beer battered soft shell crab buns
deep fried baby crabs & school prawns, tiger beer battered soft shell crab buns

Having a bar upstairs obviously means they have bar food that goes really well with cold beer.

The deep fried baby crabs, school prawns with chili lime dressing (RM 15) was something I wish comes in a bag like you’d get chips. The batter is light (ala tempura style), and the seafood crunchy and delicious. Sorta reminds me of those Thai baby crab snacks, but better.

Tiger Beer battered soft shell crab buns with kimchi mayo and caramelized onion (RM 12 per bun) was something of a surprise. The dish didn’t look particularly exciting, but it was like a mini burger that’s unlike any other. It’s basically just some really soft buns with really crispy and perfectly seasoned soft shell crab, I can’t come up with fancy descriptions, everyone loved it.

crispy skin salmon somen with mentaiko sauce, pan fried Hokkaido scallops
crispy skin salmon somen with mentaiko sauce, pan fried Hokkaido scallops

For seafood dishes, we tried the crispy skin salmon, edamame, somen and mentaiko sauce, seaweed and salmon roe (RM 34). Another dish taken from the inspiration across the continents and one laden with one of my favorite ingredients – mentaiko. It is rather rich and would suit those who loves strong tasting dishes.

Pan fried Hokkaido scallops (RM 42) came with cauliflower pureer, avruga puree, aojiso truffle dressing, French bean and quinoa. A combination that would satisfy any scallop lovers, and the truffle dressing does give it an additional edge.

sous vide pork loin, slow roasted chicken
sous vide pork loin, slow roasted chicken

Going slightly more conservatively, there’s the slow roasted chicken (RM 34), with tomato jam, black fungi and beanshoot salad, fried quinoa, grilled baby corn, curry leaf infused buttermilk sauce. The chicken (I suspect sous vide) was tender, and overall it felt like a really healthy dish. Other dish for your gym rat friends.

The sous vide pork loin (RM 32) with sautee mushroom, kimchi vegetable, soft boiled eggs, corriander jus, on the other hand, is almost but not entirely like a dry version of tau eu bak. I was looking for those fat layers, but I suppose it too is more fitting for those who likes to be a bit on the “healthier” side.

braised char siew pork belly, donuts
braised char siew pork belly, donuts

Our final main dish was the braised char siew pork belly (RM 34), with crispy pork hock, nahm prik, pickled papaya and cucumber salad. This was something that I found myself enjoying quite a bit, it tasted abit like a cross between dry bak kut teh & char siu, with a nice layer of glistering fat to boot. I found msyelf wanting to have some rice with these actually, it was good!

We concluded the night by having the nutella & salted caramel donut. I don’t see this in the menu but do ask about it from the good chef.

Over all Mr. Wolf easily beat my expectations on what they came up with. You don’t need to go to the likes of Bangsar, KL, or Mont Kiara for fancy modern food, Mr. Wolf has them right here in PJ, and for very reasonable prices as well.

map to Mr. Wolf at Taman SEA

Address:
Mr. Wolf
5, Jalan ss23/11, Taman Sea,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS3.116975, 101.614549
Tel03-7886 1098
Hours: Brunch on Fridays & Weekends, Dinner daily

Due to the proximity of where I stay, Mingtien food court is my most frequented food court especially when it comes to late dinners.

This huge food court has at least 30-40 hawker stalls at any one time and operates 24 hours a day, which is rather convenient if you’re hungry at the wee hours and don’t feel like going to yet another mamak eatery.

new kuih teow soup and laksa stall at Mingtien food court
new kuih teow soup and laksa stall at Mingtien food court

When I was first introduced to Mingtien some 10 years ago, most of the stalls were, for the lack of a better word, rubbish. But like many food court that manage to stand the test of time, the bad stalls were eventually replaced with better ones ala Darwinian evolution, and today, most of the hawker stalls actually provide more than decent dishes.

As a fan of Penang kuih teow soup, I was delighted to discover this new stall that offers this dish (in addition to Penang laksa which we haven’t tried). Naturally I had to give it a try.

kuih teow th'ng with coagulated blood and lard
kuih teow th’ng with coagulated blood and lard

What came was a version that is pretty true to the origin – with shredded steamed chicken, fishball, garlic oil, lard, and even coagulated blood, the rarest of all ingredient to be found in Klang Valley for this dish. The soup was subtle yet supple, and I bet it’ll satisfy any kuih teow soup fan.

I can’t say that the fish ball is top notch, but everything else hits the spot. For RM 5, this is more than just a “tahan gian” dish.

map to ming tien food court

Address:
Ming Tien Hawker Center
Jalan SS24/8, Taman Megah,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.114334, 101.611658
Hours; this stall operates from evening till late

The pasar malam at Taman Megah operates every Sunday evening from about 6pm to almost midnight and conveniently located only about one kilometer away from where I stay, hence eliminating the pesky problem of having to find a parking spot when one goes to pasar malam.

Even then, it is not a pasar malam I often go due to the relatively lack of good food.. or so I thought.

Evidently, things have changed for the better, and here are the three stalls we found from the visit last Sunday that I thought worth a try for any foodie.

char kuih kak at Taman Megah Pasar Malam - legit!
char kuih kak at Taman Megah Pasar Malam – legit!

First and foremost, there’s char kuih kak!

Char Kuih Kak is one of the Penang dishes that aren’t easily found in Klang Valley. There isn’t many stalls out there, and prior to this, my only go-to char kuih kak stall would be the one at Jalan Sayur in Pudu. So when I saw the stall here, I had to give it a try.

finally I found a good version of char kuih kak outside Penang
finally I found a good version of char kuih kak outside Penang

The RM 3.50 worth of char kuih kak turned out to be rather good, perhaps the best version I’ve tried in Klang Valley. The radish cake is chopped to tiny pieces with the two metal spatulas so that it’s well coated with oil and dark soya sauce. There’s also plenty of “choi pou” and chili, I love it.

The fact that the operator spoke perfect Penang Hokkien definitely help too, I think. 😀

BBQ oysters and seahum? yeap!
BBQ oysters and seahum? yeap!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there’s oysters at pasar malam, so obviously we had to give it a try.

A set of 3 oysters go for RM 10 here, and you can choose from any combination of three flavors – spicy, cheese, and garlic. The oysters took some 10-15 minutes before they were ready, and tasted more than decent.

RM 10 for three oysters, RM 6 for those juicy cockles
RM 10 for three oysters, RM 6 for those juicy cockles

Of the three, I prefer the garlic version, and will probably avoid the cheese next time around unless I bring my own cheese.

The BBQ cockles go for RM 6 per portion. They were rather juicy and certainly went well with the accompanying homemade chilli sauce.

steamed chicken with chrysanthemum, pretty satisfying
steamed chicken with chrysanthemum, pretty satisfying

Last but not least, there’s the steamed chicken with chrysanthemum. Since it was something I’ve never even heard about before, we gave it a try.

The steamed quarter chicken (RM 8) came with plenty of mashed garlic, ginger, and chrysanthemum flower. The skin smooth and chicken meat was well salted. The flower certainly gave it a unique taste but not something that is overpowering, worth a try, and certainly fills the stomach.

map to Taman Megah pasar malam

Address:
Taman Megah Pasar Malam
Jalan SS 24/8
Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.113745, 101.611061
Hours: 6-11pm every Sunday

A month or two back I was a man possessed looking for curry mee, and a friend on twitter mentioned New Grand View kopitiam at Taman Megah. Despite only about 5 minutes from this place, I’ve never even really noticed the existence of this neighborhood eatery, so naturally we went to check it out after one of my weekend wet market shopping spree of pork, chicken, and vegetable.

New Grand View kopitiam at Taman Megah
New Grand View kopitiam at Taman Megah

One of the better versions for Wantan mee with hakka fried pork. New Grand View kopitiam at Taman Megah #kyeats #breakfast #kopitiam #pork #nonhalal

A post shared by KY (@kyspeaks) on

As this is a quieter side of Taman Megah with only one kopitiam at the whole shop lot island, parking is a relatively breezy affair if you don’t mind walking more than 10 meters.

The kopitiam itself though, is fairly busy, and you might have to wait a few minutes or share table with others during peak hours.

dry and normal soup version of curry mee, KL style
dry and normal soup version of curry mee, KL style

As it turned out, the curry mee was decent, but not quite what I normally would crave for (no pork blood or prawns). It is of the KL variety with cockles, chicken, tofupok, and long beans. If you love this style, you will probably enjoy it more than I do.

The unexpected food find here turned out to be the wantan mee stall that offers quiet a different varieties of wantan mee derivatives.

the "char yok" option with dry wantan noodle
the “char yok” option with dry wantan noodle

I’ve had the normal version with wantan and chasiu, chicken feet and mushroom, and char yok (fried pork with namyu) with fungus so far. Though the chasiu is decent and wantan is pretty good, I love the other two versions quite a lot more. The phoenix’s claws were fat, juicy, and full of flavor, char yok with fungus absolutely tantalizing and definitely “original”. Reminds me of the nasi lemak with char yok at Segambut (non halal).

If you haven’t stopped by this kopitiam, perhaps it is time to do so. 😀

map to New Grand View, Taman Megah

map to New Grand View, Taman Megah

Address:
New Grand View restaurant
Jalan SS 23/11
Taman Megah, 
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.118003, 101.612908

Kedai Makanan dan Minuman New Grand View