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.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Been a bit lax on reporting on the food and wine adventures of late. Fact is I've been on a creative blitz over the last six months in lyric writing and recording. There's this amazing site called Wikiloops which allows musicians from all over the world to upload their music and let other download and "jam" along. As said, it has sparked a tsunami of lyric writing and to date I have completed 20 vocal jams which are pretty complete in song terms. They are all up on the Wikiloops website - log on to www.wikiloops.com and check out my profile gwailoah. Or copy paste/follow this link
and please feel free to share any of them with friends.
Sorry, shameless self plug while the iron is hot - I also sing a lot of cover versions of songs from my early days of rock, attach them to photo slideshows and post them on Youtube. Again, profile is gwailoah, link is https://www.youtube.com/user/gwailoah
Again, do please feel to share them with friends and if anyone knows anyone keen to throw money at me for any of this, please feel equally free to point me in their direction. Yes. And thank you.
Chinese New Year in Malaysia has come and gone and with it the usual round of lunches and dinners with friends in the two week auspicious period after the date to cement and maintain contacts and friendships. It's a great way of maintaining contact with people whom otherwise you would rarely see. These mostly take place in Chinese Cuisine restaurants, and often revolve around something called teh "Yee Sang". This is a colourful mix of vegetable bits (turnip, radish, ginger) and fruit (apple, chinese pear) and raw fish to which some oil, plum sauce, pepper and gold in the form of crispy crackers is added and then tossed by all in attendance around the table with chopsticks to the sound of good wishes and auspicious pronouncements by the assembled. It's great fun and, if prepared right, can be tremendously tasty. The trick is getting the balance between crispy vegetables and crackers with wonderfully fresh fish (many use jellyfish though I prefer salmon based) and a crisp acidity provided by something like pomelo to offset the sweet plum sauce. Best we had was at the Pik Wah, though honourable mention goes to the Marco Polo and the Overseas. The ceremony provided by the staff of the Grand Kingdom was charming, though the Yee Sang was a bit meh. So it goes.
Our Dr Gan used to maintain that CNY is probably the worst time to visit a Chinese restaurant. His reasoning was that a) the chefs are on holiday, b) the food delivery people are also on holiday, c) kitchen quality goes down because i) too many patrons demanding food and ii) staff on holiday all of which means the restaurants cannot cope as well as they would at other times of the year. Not entirely wrong, but what to do? He would cook at home and go to his local place where he could whack and ensure he got the good fish and chicken. Remembering this brings a smile to the face. Still missing him.
Which made our first return visit of the year to Dengkil Seafood Restaurant last night that bit more poignant. He was the one who first raved about it and dragged us there to enlighten us as to the delights of the wild Sarawak river fish compared to the farm versions. And we in turn introduced the place to friends and friends and so the viral cycle keeps on going. Life's true meaning is indeed best measured in how many other lives we touch through ours. He certainly scored here - lot of lives got touched by him. He was close to Dengkil Seafood and Manageress of DSF Connie was indeed shocked to hear about Dr Gan's passing. Buddhist tradition holds to set a small place for him at the table and add tidbits of the dishes to the plate. Though we forgot to give him some wine. Next time.
I have blogged on Dengkil Seafood prevously in March 2013 and raved about it then. It has become my most popular posting at this time. That group was various food and wine types. This time we were a group of Lenglui's Mah Johng kaki who also like their food and wine and some of whom we had previously brought. We had all gathered together at the Grand Kingdom Restaurant in the Tropicana City Mall the previous week and had decided that it was way overdue for a return visit to Dengkil. Lenglui made the phone call and it was fixed. The route is pretty fixed in the brain now, so much so that notwithstanding an easy laid back drive we got there in under forty minutes from Bangsar. MEX Highway, follow signs to Dengkil, though watch out for some sneaky last minute turnings off the big roads. Parking can be a bit distant but Malaysians have a hugely creative way of finding space anywhere. Very good time can be made on a Sunday evening. Slightly early, I broke out the wine glasses I had brought while Lenglui settled back with a whiskey. I was still feeling a bit delicate from the previous night at Osteria Realblue so settled for Chinese Tea.
Lenglui ordered as the others arrived and we were off and running. Wines for the night were simple and easygoing - a Rose from the South of France (2 for RM50 at the Boardroom) and our standby Hardy's Chardonnay 2012 (now about RM45 in the supermarket). Tuck Onn said he hadn't had a Rose for a while so we started with that. Very light and simple and refreshing with a hint of fruit and good balance of acidity and fresh finish. Just the thing to get in the mood. The food was as stunning and awesome as ever. We started with something I was told was called "Urinating Prawns" which were deep fried and salted and sprinkled with some kind of salted floss and were totally delightful as a starter. Actually Connie could have just planted a large place of these and we would have been set for the night.
We then had the Tung Po Yoke which was a little slice of food heaven come to earth - pork broiled to the point where the fat melted in with the meat and steeped in a sweet sour sauce and served with that white bland bread which had been dipped in hot oil to give a bit of texture. Absolute brahma as my old guitar mate Stuart might have said. Om. Indeed. Next up was the clam noodle with the deep fried lard bits which helped the cheapo and then the Two Kilo Sarawak River Soon Hock fish steamed to absolute perfection. Some of the sweetest fish you will ever taste, with its soft soy sauce cilantro bite melding with the fish juice to produce something beyond sublime. Which ended up a bit over the head of the Hardy's which came across as a bit ordinary. Still pleasant, crisply balanced workmanlike Chard and a great food friendly wine, was just that a fish like this would have gained a huge amount from being paired with something more…. sophisticated. Didn't think about this when deciding what to bring. Have to definitely bring a higher calibre white next time. Someone got lucky in getting both the Soon Hock head AND tail AND bone - totally happy bunny for which we happily sucked down one of the four half bottles of Moet she had brought. We are saving the rest for the next gathering of the troops. And the whiskey. And a bottle of red that went undrunk.
Digression - we are noticing of late a movement away from drinking reds at our dinners. At the Grand Kingdom, people had brought reds which went unopened and the same happened tonight. It was also noticeable at the Marco Polo visits we had made over the previous few weeks - less red and more white getting supped by Chinese friends. Looks like the message is getting through that heavy reds and Chinese cuisine are not good matches but anything white and lighter red will work. By the way, the Marco Polo is also still equally the business, and the exception proving the Doc's rule about not going to Chinese Restaurants during CNY. We had some great food there.
We were all pretty full by this time, but we still had to make space for the Kampong Chicken, the potato shoots and the deep fried pork intestine bits. And the fruit cake soused in Brandy that Lenglui had brought for dessert. Phoooooo. Not a chance - all got taken home for finishing off at some future time.
In all, Dengkil Seafood is still the total business for excellent food and well worth the trip to find the place. It was one of those nights where the food and great company company are so good that you forget to take photos of the food. Some people did, though, so will try to snag a couple and post them at a future time. Ah, what the heck, you don't need photos, just go lah - the food is wonderful, all of it. The assembled who had not been before were well impressed and everyone said we should all do it more often. Works for me. Just kind of wished the Doc had been around to join us, though part of me feels he was. Hope he enjoyed it too.
Dengkil Seafood Restaurant
20, Jalan Puchong Dengkil, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor