A long time ago before I adopted my current comical self, I visited the quiet Kampung Bukit Tinggi (also known to the people of Ah Pa’s generation as “Little Hamlet” along the Karak Highway) for work. It was then that I stumbled upon Restaurant BBQ Bukit Tinggi. I remember going there with my colleagues that afternoon expecting roasted meat on a bonfire but only to be disappointed that they served Chinese food. But our disappointment didn’t last too long as the food served here was so amazing that I’ve yet to come across another restaurant quite like it. Two years on, and I’ve been back to dine here a few times only despite my penchant of eating around the area.
When Sister Banana suggested that we do a Deepavali weekend brunch, the thought of making a trip to Bukit Tinggi came to mind. Cut to yesterday morning, we met at Fatboybakes‘ place and he drove the 3 of us munkeys up (there would have been more munkeys on our little excursion, but unfortunately Lyrical Lemongrass was too busy putting on her sari and painting her face purple, while Hairyberry was rushing back to Singapore with his belly filled with pork knuckles from the previous day). I did prompt them of the infamous long wait for food at the restaurant. The last I was there I had to wait for over an hour despite being the only table there. This time, we were more than prepared to wait.
I’ve also previously blogged about the owner’s eccentric etiquette (he can be a little OCD at times), so I was glad that he was no where to be seen time round. In his place was a new restaurant manager who sat us down in a darker corner of the restaurant. Since Ciki and I are point-and-shoot camera users (for now!), we told him that we preferred a table with better lighting. No such luck, he gave us a stern look and asked us to take our given seats even though the restaurant has all but one other table occupied. Cis! indeed. Guess having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder comes with the job of running the place.
The responsibility of ordering was placed on yours truly. I dutifully complied and ordered a bunch of their signature items (if you’re going there for your first time, take note of the following dishes):
1. Fresh Steamed Seafood Pot (Hoi Sin Bo) RM80 – Served in a towering double boiler where the sweetest & crunchiest prawn, plump (thanks Ah Pa!) & juicy clams and firm fresh crab are steamed above a boiling stock on the bottom layer. As the seafood is steamed, all its sweet essence is collected and mixed into the stock at the bottom layer. For an extra RM8, they’ll cook a mixed selection of locally farmed vegetables and oyster mushrooms into the soup once you’re done with the seafood.
2. Mixed-Up Vegetable Rice (Wu Li Dan Tou Fahn) RM12 – If you’re on a budget, just order this and you’ll go home happy. Fluffy white rice flooded with vegetable stock and topped with some roasted pork bits. This may not sound like a very exciting dish, but believe you me that vegetable soup has never been this heavenly. Imagine pumpkins, onions, Chinese cabbage, carrots and multi-coloured peppers all infused in perfect harmony, producing the sweetest of stocks. Will have you licking the last drop off the casserole dish.
3. Grilled Salt-Crusted Tilapia (Syuet Shan Fei Wu) RM30 – The fish was served looking like it was still swimming when the chef cooked it. We found out the kitchen’s secret to this, but I won’t be revealing it here. Don’t think they’ll be too happy with that. Anyway, back to the dish, I know many avoid eating Tilapia as the fish often carries a muddy taste. But, that’s not the case here. While the fish was encrusted in a shell of salt, once peeled off, the firm flesh of the fish inside tastes sweet (like any fresh seafood would) while retaining it’s natural taste. The cavity of the fish’s stomach was stuffed with ginger, shallot, garlic & chili padi. Cut it open and you’ll get a chunk of nicely flavoured lumpy meat from the belly. Guess this is their version on a Christmas stuffed turkey.
4. Grilled Rack of Lamb (medium portion) RM80 – You must be wondering by now, where are the BBQ stuff? Apart from their famous BBQ Chicken, this is the ultimate dish to have here. Chunky, juicy and super tender rib cuts perfectly marinated with what I think is soy sauce, honey and lemon (don’t quote me on this) and grilled to perfection. There were hardly any fats under the skin. Speaking of the skin, the dreamy smokey-tasting skin just melts into liquid butter instantly when you put it into your mouth. *Exhaling with a smile* So good Ah Pa screamed “I approve!” on top of his lungs. Oh wait, there’s still that darn good homemade mint-sauce for you to go with the lamb! It’s not everyday you come across a place that knows how to make a good lamb.
You would have noticed it by now that this place doesn’t carry the regular out-of-town price tags like the other restaurants around here and they are easily even more expensive than many restaurants here in KL. But having said that, I wouldn’t mind treating myself here once in a while. Food’s unique and definitely good. And this time I’m so glad to have shared it with some of my foodie friends. I’m already thinking of coming back here for another weekend brunch with the other two munkeys who missed out (we can order the Special Egg & Tofu, Bamboo Crab and Steamed Frog with Ginger).
Oh, and that whole ‘infamous’ long wait was no more than 10-minutes this time. What a pleasant surprised that was. Guess they managed to hire more people to work for them. Also, the eccentric owner was just chilling in the back room watching his Wah Lai Toi series. No wonder he wasn’t in the front to entertain us with his bizarre ways.
Restaurant BBQ Bukit Tinggi
# 15792 & 15793, Jalan Bukit Tinggi
28750 Bentong, Pahang
Tel: +609-233 0330
Directions: If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, get on the Karak Highway and go through the Genting tunnel until you see Selesa Hill Homes on your left. Take the first left exit and immediately turn right after that. Follow the small road and go through the tunnel. You’ll come to a T-junction where you’ll see a BHP station diagonally to your left. The restaurant is just right behind the station.
For more pictures from our brunch, click on my Flickr gallery HERE.