Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Storming Chili Crab at the Hai Peng!
October 21st 2015
Been a bit lax with the food blog of late. Fact is, I was five songs shy of breaking the fifty mark for my Rock and Blues singing uploads to the Youtube channel and the urge to crack that particular milestone proved compelling. Gives one something to brag about on the Facebook, yes? So. That milestone has been cracked and duly bragged about and now I can carry on with a farily large backlog of foodie tales to tell. Those keen to hear what I sound like can check out the tunes and vids at www.youtube.com/user/gwailoah and hope you enjoy them!
To the food - it has to be said that the crab has never been a massive favourite of mine. Whilst my Malaysian friends attack the things with greedy gusto, I always find myself left somewhat non plussed by the whole experience. Fiddly things they are, hiding their meat deep within thin legs and sharp outer armour and needing some dedicated digging and hammering that leaves me thinking "why bother?"
The Hai Peng Seafood Restaurant has shown me the light. Jalan Taman Desa to Jalan Klang Lama has proved to be my road to Damascus. Well, at least in crustacean terms.
The Hai Peng has been lurking at the fringes of eating destinations for a while now. Parked on a strip of shophouses near the Taman Desa turning, its bright colourful and well lit shingle display stands it out in the otherwise pretty dark and somewhat scary and lonely looking surroundings. Pretty unassuming inside, the tables and chairs are totally functional and clearly geared to the serious connoisseur of the Crab - you don't need frills getting soiled by flying crabshell. If you are making the U-turn to go back to KL or turning right from the Taman Desa side, you have to cut across the 3 lane Klang Lama racing strip to make the turning into the restaurant road, which can be a bit hairy. Lenglui had been there on a couple of previous occasions with her Pang Yau, and it was also one of Dr Gan's destinations when the sap for the Crabmeat was on the rise. So it came to pass that Lenglui needed some Cantonese pronunciation training with her Pang Yau and standing a Crab dinner at one of her favourite restaurants seemed like perfect reciprocity.
And o, it was. Starting with some tasty prawn and vegetable noodles, the crabs came out two styles - steamed and chili - and they were magical. The steamed was hot and the meat was sweet whilst the chili was tongue spicy but not mouth or lips burning. The Chili came with a well tasty sauce that was tomato based but laced with crabmeat and given a light dose of chili. It was sweet and sourish brilliant with the roti bakar (toast dry bread) to mop it up from the plate. Part of me thinks it might have been plain ketchup mixed with boiled crab bits, but no matter - an amazing taste on this one.
But the crabs were the total stars. Hot sweet meat with that hint of crab flavour and textural heaven on the tongue - simple and perfect. I also learned to cover the crab with a tissue when giving it the tenderising hammer so as not to pepper Lenglui and everyone with exploding crab shell shrapnel.
We had brought the remains of a Gruner Veltliner from the previous evening's Iberico Ribs and Collar party we had at home along with a 2013 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The SB totally shone with the crab, its grapefruit zing giving way to a tongue soothing melon on contact with the crabmeat. Tamed the chili a treat as well. Around RM130 in the supermarkets and very nice indeed. The Gruner was tasty, through its leaner fruit got rendered a shade flat by the crab. Was belter with the ribs and collar the previous night, though.
In sum, excellent crab that was a wonderful match with a young SB, and paired with a superb chili sauce to get mopped up by dry toast bread. So darn good that I forgot to take photos - totally absorbed in sucking down this magnificent crab and sauce and wine. For three crabs and the noodles with a vegetable we paid RM200. Free ice and no corkage, though better to take your own glassware if you're a bit anal about drinking wine from a whiskey glass. We also take a portable plastic PVC Ice Bucket bag on our food adventures - you can always get ice but not always a big enough bucket to take a wine bottle. Been a life saver on numerous occasions.
The Hai Peng feels like it has been turning out these crabs for decades and remaining totally consistent in the quality and taste of the daily results. We were there on a Wednesday night and it was pretty full (NB not much seating space in the main area, but there is a back area out in the open). Definitely worth driving the the distance to get there, though the restaurant does advise not to leave valuables in the car. It is a bit dark and does look a bit forbidding parking-wise. Notwithstanding, give this one a double Arnie - I'll be back!
Hai Peng Seafood Restaurant
Lot KS-5 Taman Evergreen
4th Mile Jalan Klang Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel +603 7982 5072
HP +6012 2393649
GPS: 3.082926, 101.669972
Daily 6pm to midnight, closed on alternate Tuesdays