Kuala Lumpur - Henghua Flavours from Million Restaurant (美聯酒家), Ipoh Road
Dinner at the 39-year-old Million Restaurant this evening. This casual, family-run eatery specializes in cuisine from the Henghua region of Fujian province.
What we had:
- Fried oyster omelette, served on a bed of lettuce and sprinkled with grated carrots & fresh coriander leaves. The version here is wetter and heavier than the crisp street-food-style oyster omelette I'm more used to. The oysters seemed to have been coated with tapioca flour before being fried with beaten eggs. Not to my taste here.
- Tofu-minced pork soup, with seaweed, shitake mushrooms, chopped scallions and fresh coriander leaves. Addition of tofu to the minced pork gave it a lighter texture. The soup was tasty but nothing outstanding.
- Crabmeat and minced pork balls, wrapped in thin beansheet wrappers and deep-fried. Hardly detected any crabmeat in the minced meat filling actually, but quite okay with a squeeze of lime. The chilli sauce dip was tepid and watery.
- Stir-fried baby corn, hard tofu, capsicums, shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, carrots, pork strips and leeks. Standard Chinese stir-fry - the vegetables were fresh, but hardly tasty compared to those served by Cantonese "dai chow" spots in KL.
- Stir-fried "mee suah" (rice vermicelli), fish cakes, cuttlefish, chives, beansprouts and pork. Very fine Henghua-style vermicelli here. Tastewise, it wasn't outstanding, but I *loved* the texture of Henghua vermicelli here, tinged a light-brown from the addition of soysauce during the frying process.
- Braised Henghua-style rice noodles with roasted groundnuts, "choy sum" vegetables, fishcakes, cuttlefish, eggs, pork and Napa cabbage. I'd say this was my fave dish for the evening, and the most recognizable Henghua dish I had here. The braised noodles were soft and on the verge of glugginess. The flavours from the pork, cuttlefish and cabbage gave the gravy a sweet flavour. Nice.
One of the stalwarts of the Ipoh dining scene, this eatery stands out for offering the hard-to-find Henghua cuisine. But it's beginning to show its age, as the younger generation of diners seek out lighter, cleaner flavours, compared to the traditional, lard-laced cooking here.
Million Restaurant (美聯酒家).
517, Jalan Tiong
3rd Mile, Off Ipoh Road
51100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-4041 3245
I find Henghua food generally lighter, but blander than other Southern Chinese regional cuisines. But their forte is generally the terrific texture of their rice noodles, which has a suppleness even when boiled longer than other types of noodles produced by the Hokkiens, Teochews or Cantonese. The flavours of Henghua soup stocks, which includes dried oysters and seaweed, may be familiar to other Chinese, but can come across as odd sometimes.
In Singapore, Putien Restaurant (original outlet on Kitchener Road) does a terrific job delivering on Henghua cuisine, especially the fried noodles with groundnuts & pork.