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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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, & 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
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
7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.116306, 101.612408
Tel: 03-7887 6999
The 20th day of November, 2009 marked two significant events – it was my buddy Horng’s birthday, and at the same day, Kim collected her new ride SuzyGanas. Since the birthday boy was coming back from his assignment in Manila, Jac, Eric, Kerol, and I decided to catch him from the airport (we went to the wrong one initially).
Kim and Gareth later joined us for dinner at Dengkil Seafood Restaurant, the one place you should definitely check out if you love fresh water fish and tong po pork. It helps if you’re close to Putrajaya or KLIA for the drive from PJ won’t exactly be a short one.
fish menu on the wall, horng holding a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt whisky
The “fish menu” displayed on the wall were at least a couple dozen of both fresh and saltwater fish you can order. The prices of each fish is displayed prominently for your budgetary convenience. Of course, the ability to read Chinese is utmost important in this case.
For example (per 100 gram):
- Patin – RM 7
- Giant Grouper – RM 12
- Haruan – RM 5
- Parrot fish – RM 15
- Cod – RM 12
- Empurau – RM 80
Yes, you heard it right, Empurau really does cost that much, which is quite apt for it’s Chinese name 忘不了, literally means Never Forget (especially for the one who pays).
tong po pork, vegetable, steamed patin fish
We ordered five dishes for the seven of us, fish, pork, vegetable, prawn, and chicken to go with rice and a bottle of Glendfiddich single malt whisky the birthday boy obtained from the airport duty free shop.
First to come was the tong po pork (RM 18). Now I’ve had this dish several times but I must say that this is the absolute best that I’ve had so far. The pork so succulent, soft, and so flavorful almost to a point of disbelieve. The combination of the steamy hot mantao (RM 1 each) and fatty pork was a match made in heaven. It was so good we ordered an encore straight away. This is definitely a must-order dish here.
The steamed patin fish (RM 63 – 900g) too was quite excellent. It was sweet, fresh, and steamed just enough to leave the soft texture intact. Fried ginger and coriander provided some contrast and the soy sauce used were of good quality too.
The vegetable dish (RM 12) was just to fulfill our supposed vitamin C quota, nothing spectacular to be frank.
Vietnamese prawn, patin fish with rice, salted chicken
The big ticket item turned out to be the giant fresh water prawn cooked in Vietnamese style (RM 120 for 7 big prawns). The huge prawns deep fried before mixing with the very strong tasting sauce that is spicy but yet unlike curry. It was quite tasty and went well with rice, but didn’t leave an impression nearly as strong as the fish and especially the pork.
Salted chicken (RM 20) was our fifth order and the unsuspecting looking dish actually turned out to be rather nice. The chicken skin was crunchy yet the meat still juicy. Sometimes it is toughest to create a good tasting dish with simple ingredients. We liked this dish quite a lot too.
Kim, Gareth, Horng, KY, Kerol, Jac, and Eric
The two order of pork, four other dishes, rice, and drinks for seven of us came to RM 277. That worked out to be slightly less than RM 40 per person, a pretty reasonable amount for what we ordered. The group went there again after one of the go-kart sessions not long ago, and of course, we ordered a bigger portion of tong po pork that time.
By the way, this place is dog friendly too, and operates for lunch and dinner till rather late (past 11pm)
Dengkil Seafood Restaurant
Lot 20, Tingkat 1, Jalan Kajang-Dengkil,
43800 Dengkil, Selangor
Tel: 03-8768 7868, 012-218 2919
A few weeks ago the three of us: Rachel, Kelvin, and myself were doing some shopping around the city that somehow brought us to Bangsar Village Shopping Centre. It was almost dinner time, so we were starting to look into potential places for dinner. After the unpleasant experience at Kim Gary, I would normally not look at another HK style restaurant, but the picture of the DongPo Pork (東坡肉) dish proved too difficult to resist…
glorious DongPo pork
Background on this dish:
DongPo Pork is said to be created by accident when the famous poet Su DongPo (蘇東坡) started to cook pork out of boredom, his friend came and challenged him a game of chess which took his mind away from the cooking until the fragrance of pork came out from the kitchen. Viola! the famous dish is created. According to one recipe, the dish takes about 4 hours to cook.
nice ambiance at an up-class shopping mall
The DongPo pork did not disappoint, it was truly a mouth watering dish especially for a pork lover. The texture is very soft and tender, you can easily pry the meat apart with your spoon or even just chopsticks. Broccoli offsets the texture and tastes of the pork fat and everything goes very well with rice. However, the 3 pieces of giant pork belly proved too much for my stomach, and I will recommend anyone to share the dish instead. I would have finished it if I had a bigger stomach.
the other dishes, including noodle and pork patties with salted fish
The other two noobs had some sort of noodle and pork patties with salted fish rice. They rated the dishes favorably, and we also had a plate of vegetable to share. I remember that the DongPo pork was RM 18 while the other dishes are comparable to any other HK style restaurants, usually priced at around RM 8-12. If you are a pork belly lover, don’t miss out this good stuff.
Bangsar Village Shopping Centre is located at Bangsar’s famous Telawi Road, just a stone’s throw away from the Laksa Sarawak stall that I blogged about last year.
Lot F9, 1st Floor,
No 1, Jalan Telawi
Bangsar Village Shopping Centre
Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL
GPS: 3.130435, 101.670088
Tel: 03-2287 8833