Kuala Lumpur - Ultra-Sinful KL Black Noodles at Reunion (团圆)
Reunion Restaurant at Bangsar Village is, IMO, one of the top 3 Chinese restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, a city replete with good Chinese restaurants in almost every corner and every other street within the city's suburbs.
Reunion's atmospheric dark-lit restaurant was more "western" than Chinese though. Classy sumptious furniture, strategically placed antique sculptures, and billowy curtains separating the various parts of the dining halls create an exotic, mysterious aura - reminded me somewhat of London's Hakkasan.
What you MUST not miss if you dine here - an order of the famous dark-hued KL-style Hokkien fried noodles (popularly known as "black noodles" among some KL-lites). The version here was definitely the best I'd ever tasted in Kuala Lumpur - generous sinful handfuls of crisp-fried pork lardons, ultra-fresh crunchy shrimps, large rolls of squid-meat, slivers of fragrant pork, all fried with yellow Hokkien noodles with a richly "wok hei" aroma. Good quality dark and light soy sauce accentuated the noodle dish. Our condiment of sambal belachan went untouched as we savored the rich, deliciousness oozing from every mouthful of the noodles. My dining companion (a KL-lite foodie) said that the only other place which can match Reunion's KL Hokkien noodles was perhaps the Dynasty Chinese restaurant at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur.
Other dishes we had were good but were relegated to being side-dishes:
- Crunchy, sweet, pickled Japanese cucumbers topped with dried fish crisps;
- Sichuanese hot-and-sour soup, filled with crunchy black fungus, milky-soft tofu, astrigent chopped scallions, and chewy julienned shitake mushrooms. It was spicy - Malaysians have a taste for chillies - but not overly so as in Sichuan, China, where the soup can be a bit too peppery and tongue-numbing;
- Roast pork (siu-yoke) which had beautifully-crackly golden-crisp skin, but was not as tasty or well-marinated as the version one gets at the Ming Room (Bangsar Shopping Centre), Oversea Restaurant (Jalan Imbi) or the Oriental Pavilion (Jaya 33). I'd give this dish a miss the next time I'm here;
- Stir-fried lettuce with fermented beancurd or "fu yue" (腐乳) which was light and delicately tasty, but (unfotunately) did not go well with the robust assertiveness of the KL Hokkien fried noodles. A bowl of steamed white rice would have gone well with this lettuce dish.
Reservations are highly recommended at this popular restaurant, especially for lunch.
Reunion (团圆) Restaurant
Lot 2F, 17-18, 2nd Floor
Bangsar Village 2, Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2287 3770
You wicked, wicked man to post that picture and description of the KL Hokkien Mee!!
(From here the other stuff also didn't look too shabby)
So I guess the KL Hokkien mee at that place on Petaling Street (Kim Lian Kee) that you reported liking very much now falls by the wayside by comparison?
With regards to siu yook - where does that other place you reported on a while back compare with this one, or the others you mentioned? Just did a search for it - Wong Kee in Pudu (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754791) ...
LOL! Well, huiray, you'll need to make a trip here to KL for your Hokkien noodles fix.
Well, I have now come to the conclusion that the *best* KL-style fried Hokkien noodles are to be had at upscale restaurants such as Reunion and (if my friend is to be believed, and which I would think so) posh restaurants like Dynasty in the Renaissance Hotel, rather than street stalls and old Chinatown eateries. Simple reason being that - good & talented Chinese chefs in KL now prefer to work in swish restaurants, donning their chefs' toques & white chefs' uniforms and get much higher pay, rather than slog in hot, uncomfortable streetside eateries. Plus, the ingredients used in upmarket restaurants are much better - large prawns, choicier & more expensive cuts of pork, etc. - resulting in superior quality end-result.
Unfortunately, Reunion's roast pork was not that good, considering the restaurant's pedigree. On a scale of 1-10 where Wong Kee @ Pudu would be a 9, Reunion would be a 5. Ming Room or Oriental Pavilion's versions would both score an 8.
Nah, not true. The Hokkien Mee that seems to be ubiquitous at the more upscale Chinese restaurants lack "wok hei". Noble House (affiliated to Ming Room) also does Hokkien Mee well but "wok hei" is missing. What you do get at these places, as you have noted, are better ingredients as the hawker places skimp on prawns, pork, squid, etc.
Kim Lian Kee - the original in Petaling Street (not the Hutong at Lot 10 branch) beats the hell out of them. As does a non descript stall in Pudu where the wait is an hour long. Ditto for a place near Miramar Hotel. These are done with a charcoal fire which gives the dish a more earthy taste.
It's very cholesterol laden but the ultimate KL comfort food teamed with the "bak kau" pork & vegetable soup that is not easily found anywhere else.
I did have the same opinion as you, too, mikey - until I tried Reunion's version. Their Hokkien noodles did have "wok hei" in spades :-D It really was better than Kim Lian Kee's - no kidding.
BTW, I want to try Dynasty at the Renaissance next (my friend gave me a 20% discount voucher to boot). Why don't we go there together? I'm going back to Singapore for the Christmas break, then off to London for most of January, but will drop you a line when am back in KL.
One more thing I realised, huiray - the cooks at Reunion and even Dynasty are usually Chinese-Malaysians, so I guess the locals have "upgraded" their requirements on work conditions. In street-side Hokkien noodle stalls like Kim Lian Kee or Ahwa in PJ Section 14, you often see Myanmarese cooks rather than Chinese-Malaysian ones!
re: Charles Yu
LOL! Still waiting you to come this way, Charles. KL may not be HK, but it's got its own culinary treasure trove to explore. In terms of local Chinese cuisine, it's more interesting than Singapore.
KL and Singaporean street /local foods share a lot of similarities (and names), but also sometimes not-so-subtle differences which can throw even an experienced foodie off-kilter.
After staying here in KL for the past 8 months, I thought I'd give a comparison of the street foods, and which city does it better. STRICTLY MY PERSONAL TASTE HERE - don't want to start a food fight! :-D
Things Singapore does better (IMHO)
- chilli crabs (bigger crabs - especially Sri Lankan variety)
- fish-head curry (it just tastes better in S'pore)
- fried carrot cake (lighter, and we add shrimps, etc)
- Hainanese chicken rice (better quality and tastier rice)
- kaya toast (better Nyonya-style kaya, thicker slabs of butter, superior quality toasted bread)
- regional Indian cuisine, e.g. Gujerati, Andhra, Keralan, Mangalorean, etc. whilst KL is strictly Tamil/South Indian, or else "Northern Indian" which has a mish-mash of tandoori and other "Mughlai" dishes. And I can never find a decent tasting Sri Lankan kottu parota in KL, whereas in Singapore, it's readily found.
Things KL does better:
- EVERY other type of street food I can possibly think of (Ha-ha). My list can run into pages!
I think KL fared better in retaining the authenticity of native cooking (like in HK) whereas Singapore street hawkers sometimes opted for a "short-cut" version, doing away with fresh ingredients like coconut milk, pandan leaves, etc. and used frozen/pre-processed products instead. A defrosted piece of chicken or shrimp is just very, very inferior in terms of taste and texture to a fresh one, especially in Chinese stir-fries where subtlety and delicacy of the ingredients are highlighted.
Thanks for the summary. Very useful to keep in mind, with your caveats noted.
As for Hainanese chicken rice, I gather you are referring more to the rice rather than the chicken? I seem to remember your commenting about the *chickens* used in KL as having more texture/yellower skin ("kampong" chickens) than the ones used in Singapore, which are mushier. Do you prefer the taste or texture of the chickens in Singapore too?
p.s. Bon Voyage (yet again).
I actually preferred the "mushier" sort of chicken, huiray - and so do some people I know, including some old dining buddies in HK. But I know many serious foodies, like my fellow Chowhound mate Charles Yu, prefer the organic chicken variety, with chewier texture and more intense chicken flavors. KL's chickens fall into the latter category - "kampung" or free-range chickens.
Thanks for your wishes - I'll be updating the CH boards with my S'pore and London dining experiences the next few weeks. Merry X'mas & Happy New Year!
Here's one dish I'm making for today & tomorrow - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8246... . Hmm, I just added in skinny bamboo shoots as well.
It's interesting - the bias on CH. Eurocentric or Americentric cuisine is the predominant focus, no surprise there I imagine. "Asian" cuisines occupy a somewhat "rarefied" domain by and large, with a few exceptional responses or threads here and there. :-)