Wednesday, May 31, 2006

FEAST ON UNIQUE SEAFOOD


South African Abalone with deep-fried shredded ginger
and oyster sauce

Wong Keong Fook's self-made success in the seafood business is testimony to his two decades long of sheer hard work and determination. From his humble beginnings in freshwater fish farming, Wong has emerged as possibly Malaysia’s biggest seafood importer, wholesaler and owner of the popular Unique Seafood restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Wong started his seafood importing business started when the restaurant and hotel industry customers asked him for more variety in his seafood supply besides freshwater fish. Using his experience and aquaculture expertise, Wong began procuring fresh, live and unusual seafood from overseas to fulfill the industry demands. Today Unique Seafood is the most notable supplier in town that offers the widest, freshest and most distinctive variety of imported seafood – not only to industry players but also to ordinary seafood lovers.

With three restaurants in Malaysia, one in Singapore and another in Jakarta, Indonesia, Unique sells prized catches of fish, crustaceans and shellfish at reasonable prices.

The Unique Seafood Restaurant itself is quite a draw in itself – diners are presented with a cornucopia of fish, clams, crabs, lobsters, molluscs and other exotic edible underwater denizens to choose from, kept in ascending rows of huge glass display tanks. The ambience is akin to that of a bustling seafood market where customers can watch their preferred catch being weighed, cleaned and cooked to order as part of the restaurant’s open concept.

Lest you think dining at Unique Seafood is only for the rich, Wong is savvy enough to dispel this misconception by offering something to everyone, whether they are young or old, rich or middle class, corporate or family, seafood lovers or not. Consequently, the outlet offers pocket-friendly value lunches (RM48.80++ onwards) and set dinners (RM398++ onwards) for the budget-conscious. You can even enjoy their daily dim sum at 50 percent discount.

In view of rising prices and everyone feeling the pinch on their pockets, it can still be viable to dine at Unique Seafood. Just opt for one or two indulgent seafood specialities and supplement your meal with other more affordably priced dishes.

For those where money is of no object when it comes to savouring King Neptune’s treasures, the Fried Boston Lobster with Garlic and Cheese (RM138 per kg with RM30 cooking charge) is highly recommended. Apparently this price is unrivalled anywhere else in the Klang Valley. The king of shellfish certainly lived up to expectations – the flavourful cheese sauce, subtly imbued with minced garlic is light enough for us to discern the lobster’s freshness and naturally sweet flavour.



Unique’s signature preparation of braising seafood with golden superior stock is equally outstanding. A concoction of carrot juice, dried scallop and superior chicken stock, the splendid sauce certainly emphasizes the Alaskan King Crabs’ inherently clear, sweet taste. At the current promotion price of RM178 per kg (normal price at RM208/kg), it is by no means cheap but if you want a seafood dish out of the ordinary, this crab is worth its weight in gold. The one we had weighed a hefty 2.2kg so whilst one half was Braised in Golden Superior Stock, the other half was Baked with Salted Egg. Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this delectable dish – from the rich, gritty salted egg yolk coating on the carapace to the chunks of stringy yet succulent flesh of this gigantic crab.

Personally I found the Deep-fried Shredded Ginger and Oyster Sauce topping for the South African Abalone (RM24.80 per pc) a tad overwhelming. I presume the combination was intended to temper the abalone’s overly fishy flavour but in this instance, the ginger, oyster sauce and shredded spring onion were too overpowering for this delicate gastropod.

The humongous Baked Canadian Oysters with Cheese (RM7.50 per pc) were sinfully indulgent and impossible to devour in a single mouthful. Fortunately, the molluscs remained sweet and succulent on the palate in spite of the melted cheese on top.

Our only non-seafood dish for the evening was Fried Kailan in Two Styles – the leafy part was finely shredded and deep-fried, rendering them crisp and crunchy. Topped with some tiny silver anchovies, they provided good textural contrast with the tender, stir-fried kai lan (Chinese kale) stalks.

Non-seafood dishes are just as extensive and varied in the menu. Honey lamb chops, ostrich in black pepper sauce, venison in Unique sauce, noodles and rice dishes are tasty options to consider and will appease those who want some balance and variety to their meal. The restaurant also has a selection of fine wines available but should you decide to bring your own wine, there is no corkage charge.

Wong assures us that diners will always have the option of more affordable seafood such as Red Tilapia, blood cockles and kepah (local clams) besides more exotic and luxurious items of Scottish razor clams, Australian rock lobsters, French turbot, rainbow grouper and Canadian geoduck clams. Cooking styles vary with prices hovering around RM30 and above.

With such careful considerations for customers, is it any surprise that Unique Seafood Restaurant was recently voted by readers of a Klang Valley-based magazine as their ‘Favourite Seafood Restaurant’?

UNIQUE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (pork-free)
Lot 9B-3 Jalan Kemajuan
Section 13
46200 Petaling Jaya Selangor
Tel: 7960 2088, 7960 2066

Thursday, May 25, 2006

BLIGHTY'S BEST


Grilled Pork Chops anyone?


Yumlicious Pork Knuckles - try it or you'll regret it!


What's more British than good ol' Fish & Chips?


Bangers & Mash to kick-start your meal


Not many outlets can survive the cut-throat F&B business in Bangsar but the Ronnie Q pub has been through it all. A popular hangout for expatriates and local pub-goers who are also great cricket, football and rugby fans, Ronnie Q’s has succeeded where many other pretenders to the F&B scene here has failed.

Not one to rest on its laurels, the Ronnie Q’s management is canny enough to evolve with the times and figured they might was well have their regulars stay on for dinner instead of losing them to other eateries. Hence, the transformation of one section of its pub into small, intimate dining area to serve up typical British pub specialities.

Scotsman Sandy Alan Rowe is in charge of dishing out Bangers and Mash, Pork Chops, Fish and Chips, Pork Knuckle and Steaks amongst others for lunch and dinner. With 23 years of experience, the Glasglow-born chef likes nothing more than dishing up those good ol' Blighty nosh.

Precursors include the famous Colonial delight, Mulligatawny (English-style spicy and sour ‘rasam’ soup) and Cream of Mushroom (RM12++), a blend of button and oyster mushroom, thickened with potato to achieve the soup’s light, creamy texture and delicate flavour.

If you're batty about Bangers and Mash (RM22++), then you'd polish off the one here in a twinkling. Made in the typical Cumberland-style with finely minced pork and mixed herbs, the long, spiral sausage is grilled and served with mashed potato and sautéed fresh vegetables. The onion gravy is so good I was tempted to lick the plate clean.

If you're a Porky Pig fan, then the Pork Knuckle (RM28++) will be right down your lane. Perfectly grilled, the thick slices of meaty, tender knuckles come drenched in brown roast gravy. Even though the kitchen team mistakenly served ours with a balsamic demi-glace, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We found the sauce's slightly caramelized, tangy nuances lent an unusual, well-rounded edge to the dish so all was forgiven.

Aah...even the traditional Fish and Chips (RM18.50++) turns out to be a winning bet - chunky Dory fillets enveloped in ultra-crisp beer batter accompanied by thickly cut chips, coleslaw and crisp garden greens. Other house delicacies to sink your teeth into include Grilled Pork Chops, juicy Ribeye and Tenderloin Steaks, Rack of Lamb, Beef and Ale Stew with Dumplings, Ronnie Q’s BLT Sandwich and Spaghetti with Meatballs.

Pudding options are rather limited unless you settle for the Apple and Cinnamon Crumble or any of its three Gateaus (cakes) of the Day.

Sunday brunch is served from 10.30 am onwards featuring Brunch in a Skillet – back bacon, pork banger, grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, fried potatoes and a three-egg omelette, cooked and served in a skillet. For those who prefer a Scottish twist, there is the Ploughman’s Brunch of Scotch eggs, aged cheddar, crusty bread and Braston pickles.

Service is casual and friendly as befitting the pub setting. Sports enthusiasts will have a field day admiring the personal collection of cricket, football and rugby memorabilia belonging to the pub owner himself, Ronnie Quay. But even if you’re not, it’s still worthwhile to toddle along to Ronnie Q’s for a nosh-up of good ol’ Blighty grub.

RONNIE Q’s PUB AND RESTAURANT (non-halal)
32 Jalan Telawi Dua
Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur

Reservations: 22820722

Monday, May 15, 2006

A WHOLE LOAD OF CRABS


Crabs in Hot & Pungent Garlic Chilli Sauce

Zingy Black Pepper Crabs

Beyond expectations - Crabs in Thai Milk Sauce

Tantalising Sweet & Sour Crabs

Let's face it - Malaysian seafood lovers are just crazy over crabs.

But where to go to satisfy that crab cravings without burning a hole in your pocket? Hotel Equatorial KL-lah!
For a mere RM35++ per person you can have your fill of local mud crabs, Sri Lankan crabs, Australian king crabs or Dungeness crabs at the hotel's Nipah CoffeeShop. For RM45++, you can dig in at the Golden Phoenix restaurant. Now I bet any seafood lover worth his salt can tell that these are unbeatable deals as under ordinary circumstances, one would probably end up with just a kilo of crabs at any reputable reataurants within the Klang Valley.

From now until June 15, 2006, the enticing Crabs Galore promotion at Nipah CoffeeShop offers irresistible appetizers, starters and main dishes using crabmeat, crabstick and live crabs. If you wish to have the whole hog, it's RM75++ per person for the entire buffet.

Start off with light palate teasers such as Crab Tartar and Carrot Mousse, Crab Samosa, Spicy Crab Cakes with Red Curry Paste, Warm Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce and Crabstick Salad with Melon. Then get the chefs to cook soft shell crabs, King Crabs, mud crabs and even imported Dungeness crabs according to your liking and choice of sauces at the live cooking station .

Our top picks include Sweet and Sour Sri Lankan crabs with a fabulously piquant sauce that emphasizes the natural sweetness of the cooked crabs. Another favourite that hits the spot was the Stir-fried Mud Crabs with Black Pepper Sauce – the full-bodied, peppery hot sauce went a long way in perking up the fresh, meaty crabmeat extracted from their shells.

We found the soft shell crabs made for easy eating but choose the accompanying sauce carefully as their delicate taste can be easily drowned out by more robust sauces.

Over at the Golden Phoenix Chinese restaurant, Chef Lai Ah Ngan's saucy concoctions include Thai Milk Sauce, Black Bean, Butter Sauce, Thai Chilli, Assam Sauce, X.O. Sauce, Chilli Garlic, Dried Prawn ‘Sambal’ or even Salt-Baked. Enjoy unlimited servings of these scrumptious crabs for dinner from May 8 to 21.

Thanks to the fleshy Australian Mud Crabs, the crustaceans tasted heavenly in the creamy and spicy Thai Milk Sauce. Redolent with curry leaves and aromatic Thai spices, the light yet flavourful sauce was so scrumptious we mopped it up with steamed flower rolls and crusty slices of French baguette.

My favourite dish out of the whole lot was local Mud Crabs in Butter Sauce. We had a field day munching on the fine, crispy deep-fried strands of egg, deliciously enhanced with fragrant curry leaves.

The Black Bean Sauce was a little more unusual and distinctively Oriental but great nonetheless. Personally I found the ones fried with Sambal Dried Shrimps overly salty but those who prefer spicier, bolder taste will have no complaints.

So go on and indulge; you'd probably enjoy dealing with this load of crabs - not crap - for once ;-))

Nipah CoffeeShop (pork-free)
Golden Phoenix Chinese Restaurant (pork-free)
Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Reservations: 2161 7777