Restoran LYJ @ Sungai Buloh

On 4/28/2011 03:45:00 AM 50 comments
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I was recently invited to my first poon choi experience organized by Table for Eight together with a group of foodies. It was a great experience and initiative from Table for Eight whereby like-minded individuals get together for foods that can't be eaten alone - unless you're like me who eats multiple times in the same place before reviewing it.

Restoran LYJ, a restaurant located in Kg. Baru Sungai Buloh which is well renowned for its poon choi. The only problem was finding the place without a GPS. It looked simple in Google Map until you arrived there seeing nameless roads and confusing detours that might take you to Ipoh. Obviously, I was lost spending 30 minutes driving around Sungai Buloh and almost went to Ipoh.

Poon choi (盆菜), pun choi, poon choy or big bowl feast is a traditional dish originated from the southern Hakka villages and often served during religious rituals, festivals, special occasions and wedding banquets in the open area. Over the years, LYJ's poon choi and Paul Lee, the restaurant owner and master chef, have attracted many celebrities such as the famous Hong Kong godfather of Chinese food, Hugo Leong (ToTo), our local Axian (阿贤) and many more.

It was said that poon choi was invented when the locals gathered all their best food in a wooden basin to feed the Song Dynasty's young Emperor and his army who fled from the invading Mongol troops. This royal feast was truly a rich cultural experience representing the sense of togetherness and reunion through sharing even though we're not fleeing from anyone.

Two versions, either the RM 500 or RM 258 for less luxurious package. Of course we had the lavishly extravagant version for all 12 of us. It was served in a rather shallow stainless steel basin heated by a portable gas stove. Each layer has their unique flavors. The bottom layer mainly composed of bland-flavored ingredients that soak up the meaty essence flavors that have trickled down while the top layer was more of presentation of the most luxurious and glorious ingredients.

From the top, there were abalones, scallops, shark fin scrambled egg, fried prawns, steamed kampung chicken, roast duck, dried oysters, nam yue pork ribs and broccolis. In the middle, there were stuffed ma yao fish, braised pork knuckles, pork belly, chicken feet and at the bottom, there were mushrooms, fish maws, chestnuts, bean curd skins and bamboo shoots. You are supposed to attack from the top first to the bottom.

The pork knuckles and pork belly were braised to perfection, it was so tender and fattening juicy at the same time. Most of the ingredients in the middle and bottom layers were all infused with the simmering rich flavored sauce. After several servings, my taste bud was overloaded with meats, the nasty oiliness and the intense flavors from the sauce. With a bowl of steaming white rice, it'll be perfect!

To balance back all the richness from this basin of goodness, you can have the steamed mantou (RM 0.90/pc), pork lard rice (RM 3) or normal white rice. Weirdly, they ran out of pork lard rice on that night. I don't think it matters, drenching a bowl of steaming white rice with the poon choi's glorified sauce made it equally pork-ish and lardy anyway!

Preparing the poon choi is a tedious process from steaming to deep frying, pan grilling, poaching, roasting, braising and then carefully layered to achieve the synergy between the layers. Therefore to avoid wastage, we viciously mopped up all the left overs and sauce with the steamed mantou!

Apart from poon choi, we had the famous standing roast chicken 栋笃鸡 (RM 38). Creatively presented visually and perfectly roasted in a "standing" position. Like everyone else, curious why it was presented this way. The only logical reason that I could think of, maybe it had to do with efficiency? Using this specially designed 2-in-1 roaster hanger and dish, the chef is able to roast the chicken inside the hanging furnace and serving it out instantly once it is cooked without the need to remove and chop the chicken.

With given gloves and scissors, we pretty much DIY-ed the entire chicken by ourselves and in return, we had a perfectly roasted fresh chicken with delicate crispy golden skin and tenderly moist meat.

Pumpkin glutinous rice (RM 38), yet another creative flair from the chef. However, the elegant combination of sweet golden pumpkin with grainy sticky glutinous rice stuffing wasn't as great as it looked.

It was decently okay but not fantastic. Sadly, the glutinous rice couldn't pick up much of the sweetness flavor from the pumpkin.

Blanched kailan, given as part of the poon choi.

Pako/Paku pakis fern salad (RM 18), served cold with refreshing lime dressing and topped with fried crunchy shallots. Absolutely appetizing and highly recommended dish!

Verdict: A memorable and worth-paying for the first experience of having poon choi. There are many more specialty, creative and delicious-looking dishes in LYJ that we have yet to try, definitely will be back!

PT 11, Jalan Perkhidmatan Kampung Baru,
47000 Sungai Buloh,
Tel: 03-61402698 (2 days in advance reservation for poon choy)
Business Hours: Opens Tues - Sun from 11am - 2.30pm and 6pm - 10pm
Pork Free: No
GPS: 3.196972, 101.569087

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When my cousin brother told me about The Humble Chef at Pusat Bandar Damansara, my initial reaction was,...No way!? There's nothing there at night isn't it?! It's an unlikely place for a food stop but the surprising location is undeniably part of The Humble Chef's charm.

Tucked away in the corner of Pusat Bandar Damansara, along the street next to the McDonald's and only opens from Monday to Saturday from 9:30pm till 12:30am. We arrived sharp at 9:30pm and all we saw was an empty street.

Not till about 9:45pm, the humble van pulled over by the road side and out of no-where, swarm of young customers appeared helping them to set up the tables and chairs. It was quite a scene and all six to seven tables were briskly occupied.

Not a kept secret, the Humble Chef is mostly known to the HELP students and expatriates living nearby. Rosman Hussin, one of the two friendly owners operating from the van, is a Western and pastry chef who worked for a few restaurants in Germany before starting up The Humble Chef.

With a simple Italian specialty menu, this is the only place you can get a spaghetti for RM 5 and pita sandwiches for RM 4.

Spaghetti seafood olio (RM 5), with a medley of fresh shrimps, squids and capsicums sauteed together with olive oil, garlic, herbs and black pepper. It tasted very light with prominent flavors of seafood in it. For RM 5, you can't really complain and compare with the ones from a proper Italian restaurant.

Spaghetti lamb olio (RM 5), the minced lamb bits gave a slight meaty texture and a more intense flavor to the pasta. Again, for roadside spaghetti standard at an affordable price, it was decently okay.

Spaghetti carbonara (RM 5), with slices of sausage and bits of capsicum in a creamy carbonara sauce. Personally, I prefer a richer, stronger, creamier and all-soaked-up with sauce type of carbonara.

Lamb pita (RM 4), this was definitely the show stealer here! Warm fluffy pita bread stuffed with cheesy minced lamb and lettuce.

If you like the strong taste of lamb like I do, this is perfect. Generously filled with overflowing tasty minced lamb, one is never enough!

For those that dislike anything related to lamb, there is the chicken pita (RM 4). Stuffed with plenty of shredded chicken and cheese, it was very good too. But between the two pitas, I preferred the lamb.

Lamb omelette (RM 2.50), an interesting variation to the lamb pita. Instead of using pita breads, the same tasty minced lamb all wrapped up within the omelette.

With an incredible roadside and open-air dining experience, you'll get to feast over views of the highway below, towering luxury condominiums around and best of all, it didn't cost a bomb!

Verdict: For spaghetti, it was neither the best nor the worst, it was just decent for the price paid for. Needless to say, the lamb pita is a must!

Pusat Bandar Damansara,
(next to McDonald's by the flyover bridge road),
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 014-229 6854 (Rosman)
Business Hours: Opens Mon - Sat from 9.30pm - 12.30am (best to call to confirm)
Pork Free: Yes
GPS: 3.145026, 101.663371

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While Hong Kong style char chan teng (茶餐厅) and kopitiams have won the hearts of many young patrons, while I, personally not a fan of such sprawling trends. Not because I'm not young anymore, but more of paying a premium price for decent or most of the time, lousy foods. At least, not until I found out about Tsim Tung Restaurant, located at Pandan Indah and established since 2004 as part of the member of Restoran Oversea Group.

Like your typical cafes with simple designs and mediocre service by all the young workers that don't really care much. Surprisingly, instead of having young hippy crowd, the patrons seems to be mainly consist of adults and family people. I was here once many years back and didn't return ever since till I've heard that it has changed for the better. Let's see...

Water cress honey with lemon in a jug (RM 5.20), refreshing drink for the warm weather.

Original bubble milk tea (RM 4.50), rather disappointing. Too much ice and the pearls were like the frozen kind.

The only reason why I'm back at Tsim Tung is for the Japanese style pork rib with soup noodle (RM 9.80), or known as soft bone pork cartilage noodle (猪软骨面). Two pieces of long hours stewed till absolutely tender soft bone pork cartilage that are fully absorbed with flavors - it was divine biting into it!

You can tell it was cooked for long hours when the soft bone literally melts in your mouth like a gel form. Not to mention for the ladies, it is packed with collagen. The soup was clear yet tasteful and complemented well with the noodles and the flavorful pork pieces.

Japanese style pork rib rice (RM 9.20), equally nice with the extra gravy for the rice except only came in one miserable piece?!? The noodles version has two of these though, better value for money!

Hot and spicy pork dices fried rice (RM 9.50), it was seductively kissed with wok hei that it was simply a dream to eat it.

Fish fillet with rice noodle in fresh tomato soup (RM 8.90), a refreshing combination of light flavors that ranges from sweet to tangy sourish, the soup was actually quite addictive.

Pork chop burger in Macau style (RM 6.50), it wasn't great overall but the fries were a different story.

Cheese baked pork chop with fried rice (RM 12.90), a typical HK-style cheese baked dish with lightly fried rice, fried pork chops, tomato-based sauce and cheese.

The portions were actually quite generous and big.

A bowl of fries, I know I know...weird isn't it. But this fries somehow reminded me of the fries I had in the Burger King from UK. Served piping hot and crispy golden brown with a buttery layer on the outside, not bad at all for cheap fries.

Hong Kong polo bun slabbed with kaya and a slice of frozen butter (RM 2), a little small and nothing fancy but at least it was served warm.

XO sauce seafood fried rice (RM 11.90), filled with wok hei and fresh succulent prawns. The "fried department" seems to be a safe choice apart from my favorite soft bone pork cartilage noodle.

Grilled pork chops with jumbo hot dog in red wine sauce (RM 19.80), not one of the best pork chop but hey, I'm not complaining for the price I've paid for and the huge portions enough for a ravenous tummy.

Verdict: By far, this is one the few cafe-like restaurant that I'm willing to return back, especially for the soft bone pork cartilage noodle! Overall, Tsim Tung has improved over the years in offering edible yet tasty HK-style food with a great value for money.

22-28, Jalan Pandan Indah 4/6,
Pandan Indah,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-4295 1896
Business Hours: Opens daily from 11am - 1am
Pork Free: No
GPS: 3.130360, 101.755403

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