Restoran LYJ @ Sungai Buloh

On 4/28/2011 03:45:00 AM
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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

View Eat Lah Food Map in a larger map

50 Response to 'Restoran LYJ @ Sungai Buloh'

  1. Food Dreams Said,'> April 28, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    It certainly was fun to meet you! My first experience of Poon Choi also..

    Fear not, your issue to eat the same place several times before you can review it are over... wink wink!! join us for makan makan...


  2. russel Said,'> April 28, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Hehe yeah can't wait for the next one again ;)


  3.'> May 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    Poon Choi is the first for "Table for Eight", u might have second, third.....more n more, Cheerssssss!!


  4.'> May 12, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Hehe I almost thought yesterday at Kepong was Table for Eight :P


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