Kuala Lumpur – Chinese-Malaysian Favorites at Dragon Star, Kampung Tunku
Sometimes, you find some of the best-tasting food in the most unlikeliest of places. I was brought here by 3 of my KL foodie friends – old hands in the KL dining scene as their ages spanned from 56 to 68. I was *actually* reluctantly brought here as I originally suggested that we visit Sang Kee – that old Cantonese “dai chow” spot on Jln Hang Jebat which was mentioned in one of my previous threads (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875254) . But all my 3 friends didn’t want to go there as they were disappointed by the food at Sang Kee ever since, according to them, it changed hands a few years ago. Apparently, the original family who ran it had sold the restaurant to a third-party who now runs the place. The standard of the food at Sang Kee had deteriorated since – no more portions of rice steamed & served in individual metal bowls, and no more caramelized king prawns (Sang Kee’s famed house specialty).
So, I was brought to Dragon Star Seafood Restaurant in Kampung Tunku instead. It’s a rather non-descript-looking restaurant at first glance, but looking at their clientele, mainly groups of middle-aged to older Cantonese-speaking diners, indicated that I may have been brought to one of those places which "in-the-know" locals dined at.
The food, when I finally got to taste them, bore this out – they were old-school Malaysian-Cantonese cuisine at its best: every dish had intense flavors, each emitting delicious aromas as they are brought to the table.
What we had:
- Fish-head “assam pedas” curry, brought to the table bubbling in the claypot it was cooked in. This very popular Malaysian dish has an intoxicating sweet-sour-spicy blend of flavors. Snapper fish-head was used here, and long beans, tomatoes, aubergines & cabbage were added. Fabulous! I was sipping the gravy like a soup towards the end.
- Their specialty stir-fried vegetable dish which consisted of lotus root, water-chestnuts, snow-peas & celery, topped with a generous helping of toasted, slivered almonds. Light, non-oily & utterly delicious!
- Another house specialty recommended by the knowledgeable waitress who took out order: she called it “kum chin tofu”, but what came bore *no* resemblance to the dish I had in mind. Instead, Dragon Star’s version was a large brick of extremely delicate tofu which was deep-fried till all its surface was golden-brown crisp & pock-marked. It’s then topped with minced pork sautéed with pickled radish, and finely-chopped green scallions. Nice!
- Red-cooked pork – almost ”char-siu”-like melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, served with crisp-fried dough sticks. I’d *never* had this dish before – similar, yet distinct from other types of caramelized pork I’d ever encountered.
- Dessert was a smooth, not-too-sweet peanut cream soup (“fa sung woo”), achingly delicious here.
Well, thanks to my friends here – another off-the-beaten-track food find for me this evening.
Dragon Star Seafood Restaurant
54a & 54b, Jln SS1/22 (near Esso).
47300 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603-7877 6673
Oh my. OH MY. What a fabulous-sounding (and lovely-looking) meal. Methinks this place will be in your regular rotation from now on. :-)
I have a lotus root sitting in my fridge...what to do with it...what to do...
That "kum chin tofu" does sound somewhat like what I remember it as at places like Sang Kee (a.k.a. my mistaken "kum pou tofu", heh) *except* it was formed from balls of tofu (it really did seem like a finely mushed up mix, or it was just simply very soft tofu) rather than a block of it. That deep-fried crispy pock-marked surface also sounds familiar. The minced meat and scallions on it with the corresponding sauce also seems familiar, except that egg white was also put in it so that it had that silky texture with those streaks of just cooked white in it, if you know what I mean. IIRC, it also wasn't always available - and looking back it was, I suppose, an indication of whether the kitchen had made a batch of it that day, or that they had "run out" of it.
What I relate here about "kum chin tofu" is based on memories from long ago but I think it is useful (to me, anyway) to get a grasp in current times on what "kum chin tofu" is and the variants of it that are found. What would be a "typical" or an "unusual" version of it that you would get in Singapore and how would the tofu have been made?
Singapore's "kum chin to fu" is *exactly* like the one you described, i.e. little orbs of tofu minced/mashed with egg & other stuff, then deep-fried till you obtain that loose pock-marked skin. The "kum chin tofu" balls are then cooked in an eggy sauce of minced pork, sometimes crabmeat. The best "kum chin to fu" in Singapore was at the Hil Street Food Centre which has since been pulled down (around 1992/93) - I didn't know where the hawker went as I was working in HK for a large part of the mid-to-late-90s.
My immediate thought of what to do with lotus root is to boil it with pork-ribs & dates :-D
Aha. Thanks for the tid-bits about KCTF in S'pore.
Heh, that was what I was thinking too about the lotus root, but your description of that veggie dish with the lotus root gave me pause. Could you tell if the lotus root was already cooked/pre-cooked before being used in that stir-fry?
The lotus root still maintained a nice crunch, so it was certainly *not* parboiled beforehand.
But I'm sure you know how traditional Cantonese cooks operate - before they even deign to stir-fry the vegetables together, I suspect they quickly plunge each ingredient into hot boiling oil to "flash-fry" them, then quickly remove & drain. That's before all the ingredients are then combined together in a hot wok with the sauteed garlic, onions, other condiments and stock.