Monday, March 19, 2012

Vietnamese Food @ Restaurant Kah Hing, Taman Sri Sinar, Segambut


It sounded a little too good to be true.

A place that served cheap and cheerful Vietnamese food in Kuala Lumpur?

My friend S had searched online and discovered this place tucked within the confines of Segambut.

I'm always game for any food brought in by the immigrants that have landed on our shores since that is truly the best way to enjoy foreign cuisines as good as in their homeland.

While we have had an influx of Burmese, Indonesian and Thai cuisines in the city, the one cuisine that always eluded me was Vietnamese.


I yearned for a good beef pho, the kind that Luke Nguyen was showing on Food Network Asia during his travels to Vietnam. Those visions of him fanning the fire while the beef stock slowly cooked away always made me wish Apple had invented some super smell-vision television or gadget that gave us a 6D effect where we could lick and taste the food on the small screen.

Despite visits to Pho Hoa (the closest to almost the real deal according to my Vietnamese friend) and even that swanky place in Starhill Gallery (what possessed me but I guess I was hopeful wagyu beef would be the answer), I was nowhere near the holy grail of pho.

Unfortunately, at this particular place I was to be dissapointed. No pho in sight either.


It seems there is no aromatic beef broth noodles here as a lot of their customers who were Chinese shunned the red meat. Instead, the modus operandi here was to blend with the locals.

Hence you had kuey teow soup (RM4.50 for small) staring up at you in the menu which the owner tells me is a specialty. Exactly how unique it was, I confess I didn't discover anything within that bowl of clear soup. Maybe it was because they forgot my side dish of herbs. I only discovered it is usually served with those aromatic herbs when I looked online for past reviews on this place. Nevertheless that mistake just exposed their weak point.

Even before I tripped over here on a Saturday, I was having a niggling suspicion that it was the same place I had tried before in Segambut. A quick chat with the owner revealed that they are the one and the same. The place had relocated here about seven years ago. Read the previous review here.

Their trump card is "I serve pork!" This pleases their Chinese clientele who swarm the place to indulge in a little porcine. Hence you find pork steak mingling with the noodles and vegetables (pork steak mee, RM5). It would have worked miracles to the traditional dish but instead it was a cop out. While most of the dried noodles would have been tossed in a tangy spicy clear sauce, this one wasn't aromatic or even noticeable. Big fail, we both waved our score cards.

Dish after dish we ordered was met with dissapointment. None hit our G-spot of yummy food. Instead it was just a "so-so" reaction that had us plodding through the food. Vietnamese pork ribs noodles (RM7 for small, available on weekends) were home tasting with its carrots that brought in the sweetness but it tasted so ordinary. Our Vietnamese rolls (RM4.50 for 5 pieces), wrapped in the white netting and deep fried till crisp had minced pork with chopped vegetables but eaten on its own, it was tasteless. Instead we had to liberally dip each crispy roll with the sourish garlic and chilli dip on the side.


One thing that did get our ears all pricked up...was literally the braised pork ears (RM7). Beautifully tender, we lapped it all up with the pork belly and stomach that came in a slightly sweet sauce.  On the other spectrum is the free range chicken (RM6) version, a braised dish laden with lemongrass to give it aroma. That got a ho-hum impression from us.

Vietnamese coffee (RM3) served cold and hot are also available here. Believe me, you need that strong taste of caffeine as this place uses MSG liberally in their food that had me feeling thirsty the whole afternoon.


Would I return back again, you ask?

I somewhat think not unless I happen to be in the neighbourhood and I am craving for braised pig ears or the trotters with the hard boiled egg that was rather good in my first visit. Sadly, this Vietnamese food has been so diluted that it no longer bears much resemblance to the real deal. I think I better just stick to Pho Hoa for the genuine article in the future. And for those who love Vietnamese food, do throw out your ideas on where I can get good pho as I'm desperately seeking it like Susan in the movie.

Restoran Kah Hing
Jalan 6/38D
Taman Sri Sinar

(Non Halal. Place opens from morning to afternoon. Night time has a tai chow serving fried noodles at the same shoplot. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Putien @ 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya

IMG_8189 IMG_8190

Getting back into the groove of work means sacrificing the blog, just a little bit...sorry!

Must admit I've fallen into a food rut. You know the kind where you prefer to eat the old and familiar versus the new and happening?

It's not as though I've not tried to hit those happening places such as that latest burger bar but the food there was dismal, it didn't even inspire me to whip out the DSLR to snap a picture of it.

Better not talk about failures but talk about something so much better i.e. Singapore's latest import that is making us eat our words and admit that, Singapore food is actually rather decent.


Technically it is Heng Hwa food and not Singaporean to say the least but the restaurant's origins hail from that tiny red dot down south.

It is not the first time we have been invaded by the Singaporean restaurant chains (one remembers Crystal Jade's delicious openings) but late last year, early this year saw a huge influx of them trooping up north to our capital. First, it was Paradise Inn in Sunway Pyramid. Then Soup Restaurant that serves Samsui homestyled fare and this place Putien started their business in the refurbished 1 Utama Shopping Centre's old wing.


I've dined at this place twice and noticed how packed it is every time. Even when I walk past it to patronise other places, there is always an eager queue of people at its doorstep and the hidden restaurant within seems to heave with people during lunch and dinner time.

Their key is consistency - everything is rather well cooked. Also helps when you serve up a rarely seen cuisine like Heng Hwa that makes it stand out among our usual Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka cuisine.

For those whose tongues are more accustomed to robust flavours, this place is definitely not for you since their flavours are delicate and light.

I found certain dishes exceptional here such as the classic Chinese restaurant dish of poached spinach with superior stock. It is served with a triple whammy of eggs here - the stock is infused into a brilliant orange with creamy salted egg yolk and egg, while niblets of century egg complete the whole trilogy of cholestrol-highness. Really so lovely and decadent that those who don't eat greens really do not know what they are missing out.


The cuisine is a humble one that uses lots of root vegetables such as yam, a big favourite of mine. I love the crispy yam with duck that is like a grown up version of the wu kok, with its crispy filigree coating and chunks of duck meat in between.

The briny seaweed as a starter is also rather nice and tangy. There is also the decadent pig's intestine - tender niblets of the offal all rolled up in so many thousand layers that it is wonderful when bitten into. Another favourite, not pictured here is the deep fried pig's trotter - just the right crispiness mingling with the soft collagen that begs you to get the hands all dirty and eat it with your fingers.


We also sample the sauteed french beans that is lovely and crunchy. There is also prawns with tea leaves, a kinda forgettable dish that leaves us not much of a food memory. I'm no fan of their o chien either since it is rather chewy and dry. The Heng Hwa fried beehoon is rather nice, beautifully fried with each strand absorbing the rich pork stock it is cooked in.


Dessert is simple...the age old classic of soft yam with gingko - a decadent treat of silkiness mingling with sinful lard. There is also the cooling and refreshing lemongrass jelly.

I reckon I will keep returning to this place as it is my new Chinese comfort food. I also love the lor meen here with its silky white noodles and the lusciously sweet broth dotted with prawns, vegetables and pork.

G213A, Ground Floor
Promenade Section
1 Utama Shopping Centre (Old Wing)
Bandar Utama
Petaling Jaya

Tel: 03-77221539

(Non Halal. Reservations are advised or else expect long wait during peak times. Open from 11.30am to 9.30pm. From next week onwards, they will not break during the afternoon. For more pictures, see the Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.
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