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.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Campbell Road Ban Kee - awesome crabs!

September 4th 2016

Yet another venture into the gastronomic unknown. This time it would be the Campbell Road Ban Kee now located in Gombak with the so named Ho Chiak group (Lord I seem to have a lot of food groupings…). Like the other group, this seems to focus on mostly Chinese cuisine and pretty much similar tasting food. And sucking down lots of wine. So the benefit of doing both is that we all compare notes with each other and pick out the best and take the other group there when the occasion arises. With more wine. Sheeeeee….  

Ban Kee from the outside
This dinner was at the suggestion of El Manica and spouse Uncle Lim. El Manica is so named because notwithstanding a great and generous heart and steady friendship, she gets a bit… manic in the thought process on occasion. She is also a total control freak and the combination can sometimes kick into overdrive and send you mental. But he is wonderfully laid back and they know their food and bring lots of decent wine and they seem to like our company and we like theirs so never mind and just enjoy the non control freak time. 

Looking in to the Ban Kee
The Campbell Road Ban Kee is so named because they were apparently legend on the road of that name in the centre of KL but moved out presumably due to rental concerns. It is a family business with the third generation now controlling operations and still attracts the elite of the Chinese community - pride of place goes to a photo on the wall of ex-MCA President Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Toh Puan Ena with the owners and friends sat at a table. The place is a long narrow space which can take about fifty people at a stretch. Very workmanlike, not much in frills, but the bathroom was clean and the place was cool enough. They also gave us a table to locate the booze and were generous with ice and buckets for cooling. I had had the foresight to have brought glasses this time which was well received - the older Chinese establishments rarely have reasonable glassware though they are improving. 

The Baked Crabs. Awesome.
Getting there was relatively painless, though being a passenger with El Manica can be fretful and fraught - as said the mind can get like a butterfly on methedrine, with thoughts flying in and out before deciding on one thinking line and taking it to the absolute limit. Example - both he and her decide to use the Waze direction (neither is driving). Then at the first Waze spoken direction, decide to ignore it and advise to go the way that he knows. Then at second direction decide to maybe go along with the Waze which he switches on at her request. Then third turning decide to switch on the Waze on another device, whilst all the while arguing about which is the best way to get there. Then driver Kevin snaps "too many voices, shut up!" which upsets El Manica. But one of the Waze devices does get shut off and an awkward silence reigns for two minutes. Then more directions and suggestions get put out along with a running commentary about how Waze is useless. Before she asks the car and herself should she switch it back on. Which she does. ARGHHHH!!! Can drive you to Mandrax. The fricking food better be good. 

Which it indeed would turn out to be. Uncle Lim had pre-ordered the Crabs which were big and juicy and sweet and baked in nothing but salt and pepper. Unspeakably excellent and absolutely one of the naturally sweetest crabs I have eaten. The second one had been basted and baked in salted egg style and was very tasty but the massive salt whacked the tongue into numb submission and I kind of lost the taste. The first was a stunner - less was absolutely more. We also had Clams in what felt like wine and chili jus, some seriously fresh and full of iron greens, a couple of plates of different style and well tasty noodles (hats off to the Kuey Teow, an order of which got set aside for the housebound Lenglui who was trying to kick some nasty cough that refused to clear) and lots of cold crisp Sauvignon Blanc. We started off with 2015 St Clair SB and pretty much stayed there - perfect with the crab and clams and soothing the chili and garlic salt heat. Someone also brought a Chilean SB (an older 2013 Luis Filipe Edwards Reserva) which gave more of a mellow mouth compared to the racy zing of the Clair). The reds were a 2000 Montana Shiraz and a 2012 Heartland Shiraz - the former was a bit past its best but no one seemed to complain whilst the latter was firm and full as only a young Shiraz can be. Think of a young buckaroo kangaroo hunter riding down the Snowy River and you get a sense.

Various dishes - steamed la la, various noodle dishes, Popeye iron greens - total yum
Absolute Brahma of an evening for the food. Full of taste and fulfilling in a way that only homestyle Chinese cuisine can be - sticks in the craw and feeds the soul. Coupled with a bottle or five of crispy white wine in a decent glass and all was definitely well with the world. Got a great sense of pride from the owners that they can still churn out this food and get this kind of praise night after night. Would absolutely go back there in a second for the Crab and La La (Clams) and noodles. Though perhaps the presence of Uncle Lim helped - he and the owner clearly went back a long time and perhaps we got the rock star treatment as a result. Almost a transcendent experience - even El Manica seemed calmed by the experience given that the ride home saw her quite serene. Probably just the wine. 

Campbell Road Ban Kee
@A Jalan Suria Setapak
Gombak Batu 4
53000 Kuala Lumpur
012 6984532
016 6577 492
Daily 5pm to 12.30am

Ban Kee menu page 1

Ban Kee menu page 2

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