This ninth blog post is part of Food Safari Kuala Lumpur 2014 – a series of ten mouth-watering blog posts of the best eats during my 9-day trip to the city.
In my three years of food blogging, I have been impressed with some restaurants to the extent I blogged them twice to give readers a perspective about the different dishes I tried on both occasions.
But never have I blogged about the same three dishes at one particular restaurant twice.
Malaysian style char siew
Steamed soon hock marbled goby fish
Cantonese style Sang Har Meen (cover image above)
On this Sunday lunch, the restaurant is totally packed out due to a party occupying two large tables at the centre of the dining room.
We are huddled into a cosy corner and that is fine too because we are here to eat. The dining room is nothing spectacular in terms of decor. It’s run of the mill casual style restaurant and most people are here for the food.
It’s the first time I am tasting deep fried fish cakes at this restaurant.
Cut diagonally crosswise, these crispy little strips are fragrant with aroma of five spice powder. Salted bits of egg yolk add another taste dimension which give me the urge to have a cold beer.
However, stomach space is very valuable during a food safari and a beer will do mine no justice. Therefore, I opt for an ice herbal tea instead.
As I sip my tea, my little nephew Tristan is fixated with his toys in the background.
I like this restaurant also because the waiters are foreign workers from either Bangladesh, Myanmar or Indonesia who have been in Malaysia for quite a while. Many are friendly and conversant in both Cantonese and Bahasa.
Fresh red chillies and raw diced garlic are important sides in any tai chow restaurant and Restoran Soo Kee does not disappoint in this department.
A plate of stir-fried Chinese cabbage is very fresh and crunchy, with minced garlic, Shao Xing wine and a fiery wok creating the unmistakable smoky wok hei.
It is well known among char siew lovers in KL that Restoran Soo Kee dishes out one of the very best in the city.
On so many occasions that my family has been here, this char siew is truly in a world class of its own. The owner says it has been roasted in charcoal to impart that slight smoky edge.
Needless to say, the fatty part of this pork belly just melts away in your mouth while the lean meat is succulent with a gentle bite. Every piece of this succulent char siew sets it apart from most other where the lean meat is tough and chewy.
And, every mouthful is yet another defining moment in my food safari.
Soon Hock fish or Marbled Goby is one of the priciest fish in South East Asia.
Connoisseurs of this fish usually prefer it steamed with a special blend of soy sauce and garnished with shallots and coriander. Today, it’s no surprise this dish is right on the mark, yet again.
The texture is what Soon Hock lovers eat this fish for. Chunks of white meat that has a mouth-feel almost like succulent raw scallops are balanced with a savoury sweet soy sauce.
Many love to accompany this dish with steamed white rice because the chef’s skill is also judged by how well he balances the savoury and sweet gravy that goes so well with plain rice.
Tristan has his superheroes lined up before this giant platter of Cantonese style Sang Har Meen or fresh water king prawn noodles.
These prawns have a giant head relative to its body that is packed with flavour when seared with the holy trinity of Chinese cooking – garlic, ginger and shallots. Depending on the size, they cost approximately RM40 / A$13.80 per prawn and we order five prawns today.
The noodles have a crispy texture when they have not soaked up the thick eggy sauce which is the result of precious prawn and pork stock which has been simmered and reduced.
The prawn meat is firm on the bite and the texture is similar to lobster meat. Dipped into fresh red chillies and soy sauce, we have yet another orgasmic taste sensation in the mouth.
Without a visit to Restoran Soo Kee to experience yet again the superiority of these three dishes, my food safari cannot be quite the same.
So dear readers, which is your favourite char siew restaurant in Kuala Lumpur?
Here’s some of my tips when planning a food safari in KL:
- Do some basic research on eat streets, hawkers and restaurants which are known for particular Malaysian style dishes to get some idea about whether the food actually suits your tastes.
- Local weather can be warm and humid, so do wear loose and comfortable clothing.
- Comfortable footwear is important if you are planning to walk the streets of KL.
- Carry bottled water and lots of face tissues for those deliciously greasy noodles.
- Pace yourself and avoid snacking on all sorts of foods as calories do add up quickly.
- Be very certain about what’s in your food if you have food allergies.
- Carry medication for diarrhoea and food-poisoning, especially if you are consuming street food for the first time or have even built up resistance.
- Be vigilant on the streets as some areas of KL are notorious for petty crimes such as snatch thieves and pickpockets. Avoid carrying loose handbags, large amounts of cash, important travel documents, credit cards and elaborate jewellery.
Restoran Soo Kee
373- 1 4th Mile Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 4257 0767 Mobile +612 905 4607
Directions to Restoran Soo Kee:
If you are coming from KL city centre:
- Head down Ampang road until you see a fly-0ver in front of you (The tall Ampang City complex would be visible on your left).
- Bear left of the fly-over and do a U-turn underneath the fly-over (just before the traffic lights).
- Restoran Soo Kee would be approximately 50 metres on your left after the U-turn.
*Note: This restaurant is non-halal.