Kepong Baru is no friend of mine. It is pretty off the grid from my usual hang out spots. I shrugged cluelessly the moment Jack announces to take us there for his birthday dinner. I couldn’t fathom why he chose the place, but I was sold when he said food was good. He could have suggested to go to the end of the world and I would have gladly followed. Thankfully, the jolly fella has gotten himself a spanking new ride and offered to ferry the whole gang over. It was a good decision. I would have been lost in its chaotic streets.
This is one of those places where the air is filled with garlic and soy sauce. Tanks hugged every wall from floor to ceiling, gargantuan fish swimming in frantic circles as they waited to become someone’s dinner. Billows of star anise and five spice announces that the chefs in the kitchen were cooking red-cooked pork while waiters come charging out with more plates in their hands than they could possibly handle. We watched a dozen of these men in white short sleeve shirts swooshed down the aisles quickly to serve them all up. The air conditioned side of the room is just as boisterous with throng of frustrated families waiting to be seated. The hostess looks equally annoyed with the whole situation.
It didn’t help that 8 of the tables were reserved by a mysterious “fat guy” that was no where to be seen, even an hour after his reserved time slot. I would have been pissed too. But this was no ordinary hostess in slim silk dress with a high slit. She looked like she could beat us all up and I wasn’t about to put that to test. Luckily for us, we made prior reservations. It is a typical shack-to-riches story, the restaurant started from a humble little shack nearby and now occupies three shop lots (both upstairs and down) and people still had to wait for tables for over an hour.
The heaving scene (the sound, the smell, the faces) turned all of us into revenous little monsters and we ordered an embarrassing amount of dishes from our Indian waitress who spoke in Cantonese. She impressed us with her perfect sing-song intonations. The first thing she recommended was a Crispy Sek Pan (Garoupa) Curry (am I the only one seeing the irony here?), which was rich with spices yet mild in the spiciness. The deep fried fish pieces were chunky with a crispy coating on the outside and the inside flesh still firm even after soaking in the sauce for a while. What skills the sifu must have. The gravy was thick and a little sour making it a perfect combination with fluffy steamed white rice. Having just one tasty dish with rice was of course not acceptable so we put in an order for Claypot Pork Belly with Salted Fish. A simple dish, yet many could have got it so wrong. I like mine on the dry side with the slivers of pork belly slightly charred and slightly swimming in its own fats. So, this was beautifully executed.
A platter of Stir Fried Pork Intestines came next, a tasty dish laddered with a sauce made from lard, onion, garlic and chilies. I don’t usually like eating intestines, but these flower-looking ones were delicious and chewy. Lotus Roots stir-fried with black ear-fungus, snow peas, carrots, young ginger, dried cuttlefish pieces and tossed in a red fermented tofu sauce was all about texture, making crunchy sounds as we bite into a mouthful of the colourful dish. The dish that surprised me most was the Plain Fried Tapioca Leave with Garlic. The leaves came a little yellow than usual and was overcooked. A big let down considering how this isn’t rocket science. We finished the plate of vegetables anyway.
Lala Siong Tong, or Superior Clam Soup was hands down the superstar of the night. Giant clams with opened shells were singing in joy while swimming in a pool of stock made from ginger, rice wine, and wolfberries or goji berries. At least they died happy for our meal. Remove the plump and sweet clams from the shell and eat it with some coriander and a slice of chili, I’m sure you’ll be happy too.
A meal as such cost only RM130 for the five of us, which is quite reasonable considering that we had the elaborated fish curry and giant clams.
And when you think we should swear off food for the next few days, we stopped at the popular KTZ shack for some Chinese sweet soups (Tong Sui) on the way back to civilization. Green Beans & Sago, 8 Treasures and Mango Sai Mai Lo were a nice way to end the hearty meal.
Now, I must master the way back there for another meal here. Once again, happy birthday Jack!
Restoran Sai Kong
23 Jalan Helang Sewah, Kepong Baru
52100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-6273 2242
66 Jalan 7, Kepong Baru,
52100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-6252 9451
Opening Hours: 4pm – 1am