“My family comes back time and again to eat these little chickens because they are like no other ~ tender, succulent and juicy with that smoky savoury taste that no big, fat chicken can ever match”
~ Chopinand, on the deep-fried Sa-Teen chicken at Restoran Fei Jay
This is the ninth blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogposts in this series:
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore
- Teh tarik, Rafee’s Corner, Singapore
- Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore
- The Scarlet, a boutique hotel, Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
- Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, Singapore
- Food Safari, Singapore
- Restoran Soo Kee, Kuala Lumpur
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
Mysaucepan and I have not been back to Singapore or Malaysia for many years during Chinese New Year until this year. So we are looking forward to lots of good food and happy moments with our family, relatives and friends.
I remember CNY to be a joyous occasion with lots of good food, drinking, social gambling and we anticipate this year will be no different from those of yesteryears.
Due to the significant Chinese population in many South East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, the first two days of the Chinese lunar new year are usually government-sanctioned public holidays.
The annual pilgrimage by the Chinese back to their hometowns would normally occur a few days before CNY because the reunion dinner on the eve of CNY with family is regarded as the most important meal of the year . Hence, the streets of Kuala Lumpur that are totally congested during other times of the year would be like a ghost town by the first day of the lunar new year.
Of course, CNY is not only about good food and paying homage and respect to the elders and relatives. It is a time when children would look forward to lighting up fireworks, firecrackers and receiving little hoong pow (or red packet in Cantonese) containing money from relatives and friends as a gesture of goodwill and good fortune.
Today, my brother Brian’s two young sons, James Dillon and Tristan are dressed in their traditional Chinese costume for a family lunch on this first day of CNY.
JD is just 5 years-old but he is already tri-lingual when it comes to conversing with the adults – he learns to speak Mandarin in school and speaks English to all of us at home. Growing up in a multi-racial country like Malaysia, he is also conversant in Bahasa and also speaks Cantonese and Teo Chew as dialects from his parents’ family background.
“Gong Xi Fa Chai, Sin Nien Kwai Lerk“, JD says as he greets Happy New Year in Mandarin to each adult on this first day of CNY, his hands cupped together in the traditional Chinese greeting pose.
His little brother Tristan, who is just 3 years-old is quick to mimic and follow on whatever his elder brother does.
JD is wearing a little gold ornament of a pig around his neck.
“Hey, look at my pig” JD says to me as he shows off his little gold ornament.
“I was born in the year of the pig!” he adds with a little laugh.
On seeing his brother laughing, Tristan breaks into a big smile as he clutches a new toy.
And today, these two youngsters are with all of our family enjoying a lunch on the first day of CNY at Restoran Fei Jay, a Chinese style restaurant that is tucked away within a gated housing community in the suburb of Kepong which is approximately 18km north of Kuala Lumpur CBD.
There are not many businesses that are opened on the first day of CNY but we are lucky to score a reservation at this restaurant which is famous for its interpretations of many local favourites.
Chinese style rojak
Rojak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia although there are many different variations such as Indian rojak while Indonesia has a multitude of variations of its own as well.
If there was ever a more appropriate dish to be called an appetizer, I think this platter of Chinese style rojak will take the nod.
Chunky pieces of turnip, cucumber, pineapple, preserved papaya and green mango are mixed with a thick, black, gooey shrimp paste, sugar, chilli and sprinkled with healthy dose of roasted sesame seeds.
Each mouthful is like an explosion of Chinese firecrackers in the mouth – a combination of sweet, tangy and spicy tastes that really set off the taste buds for more deliciousness to come.
Deep-fried fish cakes
Ever since this restaurant first started operating in the Imbi area of Kuala Lumpur many years ago, it is renown for its deep-fried fish cakes.
And ever since I first tasted these fish cakes many years ago, I have no doubt they are truly in a class of its own because I have not tasted better fish cakes since – world-class if you like.
Deep-fried to a crisp golden brown on the outside, each piece of fish cake is sliced into smaller pieces so they are chopstick-friendly.
To experience a piece of heaven, simply pick up a piece of fish cake with your chopsticks. Then, dip it into the accompanying chilli sauce that comes with a slight tinge of tangy lemon juice and pop it into your mouth ~ another one of many eye-closing moments, as far as this food trail is concerned.
What makes this fish cake world-class is the sprightly and bouncy texture that screams:
“I was freshly prepared about ten minutes ago when you placed your order!!“
Black pepper mud crabs
I have only been a recent fan of black pepper mud crabs. I have always thought chilli mud crabs were the best way to cook these tasty crustaceans until I began trying the black pepper version in Singapore during recent trips there.
Salt and pepper are probably the most basic ingredients and an easy way to bring out that familiar taste sensation in our food. But when salt is added to the bold and spicier flavour of black pepper and then combined with the fresh, sweet flesh of mud crabs, I think you have a winning recipe here.
Throughout Malaysia and Singapore, black pepper mud crabs are now as popular as its close cousin, the chilli mud crabs because it gives your taste buds that unmistakable spicy and salty workout that always make you crave for more.
I am really licking my fingers by now and this meal is really becoming a food blogger’s nightmare!! I so want to eat more of this crab but I can’t pick up my camera unless I want it totally smothered with this delicious crabby sauce.
Chilli mud crabs
I have always had a friendly debate with Mysaucepan, who hails from Singapore that the self-styled “Singapore chilli mud crabs” originated from Port Klang in Malaysia.
Indeed, we have even hosted a chilli mud crabs dinner to iron out this issue.
Nevertheless, we are all too busy eating to argue about this issue of originality that can be quite subjective.
The chilli crabs today are so damn tasty. Bright orange shells light up our entire table when this dish arrives and we all tuck in with our hands and fingers.
Tip: Scoop up this delicious, thick eggy sauce with the big crab shell and use it as your personal dipping plate for the awesome crab meat
Deep-fried Sa-Teen chicken
Another signature dish that is a must-try at Restoran Fei jay is the deep-fried spatchcock or Sa-Teen chicken.
Sa-Teen means padi field in Cantonese and we are told by the proprietor Madam Koo that these very small young chickens are found in the rice fields around Malaysia. This dish is very popular in Hong Kong where small pigeons are used instead of spatchcock.
Each deep-fried bird is cut into half lengthwise and they arrive in a deep golden brown. Again, the only way to eat this delicious little chicken is to pick it up with your fingers and gnaw away.
My family comes back time and again to eat these little chickens because they are like no other ~ tender, succulent and juicy with that smoky savoury taste that no big, fat chicken can ever match.
Curry fish head
Curry fish head is usually found in Indian-Muslim restaurants but this restaurant does a very commendable version where the curry is thick with its fiery red colour from the chillies and curry powder.
The fish head is cut into smaller pieces and swimming around it are soft deep-fried tofu puffs to soak up all the curry sauce. Egg plant and okra and the main vegetables and the dish comes with cooked rice vermicelli and beansprouts for each diner where it becomes somewhat like a curry laksa.
Fei means fat and Jay is elder sister in Cantonese. Together, it simply means fat elder sister which may be the reason that Madam Koo, proprietor of Restoran Fei Jay, found affinity and fondness in this name.
Her husband is the chef in the kitchen while she takes care of front-of-house. She is so friendly and is always on hand to make sure that things are fine throughout our meal.
To Madam Koo, thank you for a beautiful lunch that you prepared for our family. Gong Xi Fa Chai and Sin Nien Kwai Lerk to you and your family too!
I have not even featured the fabulous deep-fried buns for the chilli crab and the awesome fried-rice with crab meat as I was too busy eating today and my hands were so full of that delicious chilli crab sauce to hold up my camera.
What is impressive about this restaurant is the value we get especially when food is this good. This fantastic meal cost RM388 or A$121 for ten adults.
Find me another restaurant in Kuala Lumpur with these credentials and you can be sure I will be there in a flash.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite restaurant that is similar to Fei Jay that you can recommend to us?
Restoran Fei Jay
3, Jalan Rimbunan Mawar 1,
Laman Rimbunan Kepong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 6241 4618
Business hours: 10am – 2.30pm, 4pm – 10pm. Closesd every third Sunday & Monday of the month.
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