Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taiwanese Food @ Zhen Shan Mei, Soho KL

Prawn with mayonnaise salad (RM38)

I'm always a fan of Taiwanese food since to my tastebuds, it's very similar to Chinese food but with an edge that makes it also very distinctively different. While I've never travelled to Taiwan, my yardstick on Taiwanese food has been Formosa Restaurant in SS2 (a place I grew up with) and in recent years, Fong Lye - a place we regularly dine.

3 combination platter - mochi foie gras, scallops and mullet roe (RM28)

Thus I was excited to read from
Eat Drink KL's blog (the go-to blog for new places to try) about this new place at Soho KL, opened by the same owners of Michelangelo's. A quick word with the very friendly captain revealed this place did open for a very short time in Sunway Pyramid but relocated here. The chef is from Taiwan and it seems even the ingredients are imported from Taiwan to keep it as authentic as possible.

1. Papaya pickles with passionfruit (RM4) to whet the appetite, 2. lu ro fan or braised pork rice (RM3), 3. Black chicken with lotus soup (RM18)

Unfortunately two subsequent visits to this place yielded one general response - if you're on a lookout for Chinese food presented in a more refined way then this place is great BUT if you're seeking extraordinary Taiwanese food with the wonderful aromas and flavours like I've experienced in Fong Lye, then sadly you won't find it here.

Steamed cod with cordia seeds (RM58)

Chiefly the place failed the sanbei kai or 3 cup chicken test in terms of Taiwan authenticity i.e. an utter lack of the heady aromas you get when the waiter opens the claypot lid, as the chicken sizzles in a sauce made from soy sauce and rice wine, mixed with fresh basil leaves with sliced ginger. Instead, the dish fizzled out to be just an ordinary braised soy sauce chicken. We reckon they must have adapted this dish for the locals as usually the authentic ones is a little drier while their version has more sauce.

Stewed chicken with wine (sanbei kai) - RM36

That's not to say we didn't enjoy our other dishes, as the steamed cod served with beancurd was beautifully executed with silky smooth beancurd with the Taiwanese cordia seeds to give you a burst of saltiness to an otherwise quite bland tasting dish. Another favorite was the sinful pork belly slices that crumble into the mouth when bitten in paired with Taiwanese mui choy that is not overly salted.

1. Pork belly with mui choy (RM28). 2. US Short ribs on hot stone (RM68)

This place serves some unusual dishes like the appetisers - a soft yet slightly chewy mochi filled with foie gras and vegetables, the mullet roe and scallops served with a tangy sauce and ikura. My favourite was the mullet roe that reminded me a little of salted egg yolk but less of a saltier edge. Savour each slice slowly with the raw leek thinly sliced to balance out the salty taste. My only complaint about the mochi roll would be it was a shame to use foie gras that way though since you don't really taste it within the roll in one bite.

Stir fried loofah with scallops and clams (RM28)

Some dishes are beautifully presented like the prawns with mayonnaise, served in passionfruit "cups" as the mayonnaise coated prawns are lightly tossed with a passionfruit sauce. That combination made the prawns less overwhelming creamy and easy to munch down. Topping each golden prawn was shredded seaweed, while at the bottom of each "cup" was canned pineapple.

Fish rolls with shrimp paste (RM16)

Other dishes we also tried that didn't wow the tastebuds was the loofah (not too old) topped with crispy scallops and clams , the black chicken soup with lotus root, US short ribs with black pepper sauce and the fish roll with prawn paste. One problem I noticed that they had was when the food arrived on the table, it's more of a tepid temperature vs a nice hot one I prefer. If the service is a little more slower, I can imagine more complaints coming. However, if you're eating the sizzling items like the US short ribs or the san bei kai, you don't need to worry, as they come piping hot to the table.

The menu also features dim sum (available even at night) that looks very similar to their Chinese cousins. Some are given luxe touches and touched with sliced truffles. Citibank is also running a promotion for their cardholders - 50% for selected dishes like wok fried scrambled egg with shark's fin, abalone dishes for lunchtime until 3pm from Mondays to Fridays. Good chance for one to sample the more pricier dishes. More details are found in the Star newspaper article. Full set of pictures can be found in the flickr set.

Zhen Shan Mei
Lot J-OG-13, Ground Floor
Solaris Mont Kiara
No. 2, Jalan Solaris
50480 Kuala Lumpur


(Non Halal. This corner lot is below Boston and faces the row of shophouses behind Public Bank. Outdoor seating is also available.)

*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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qwazymonkey said...

So pweettty!! I like. But can't bring McCutie here lah. Sure complain one as 3-Cups-Chicken is a favourite. We got a a dai chao in Tmn Megah for our fix.

Maybe it's a good place to bring clients or the bosses (the wheels in my head are turning)

Have a good Wednesday

Ciki said...

fwahlamak! see what i mean;)
nice shots boo - i didn't have that fantastic a time in taiwan.. maybe i will have better luck here;)

Ciki said...

oh yar, i forgot, kindly update my link to TQ!

Rebecca Saw said... got to go Fong lye 1st! Hehe..nvr been there yet also!

Sean said...

your post reminded me to be grateful that food really travels around the world nowadays. i kinda feel i'll never visit taiwan either, but i can still enjoy taiwanese food anyday :D

foodbin said...

very refined and visually pleasing dishes.

eiling lim said...

That's why i really like Fong Lye. The one at jalan Imbi!

worldwindows said...

Anything with pork esp braised will make my dinner. Too bad the 3-cups chicken failed.

J2Kfm said...

i didnt quite like Fong Lye @ The Gardens, though they really got the crowd going ga-ga.

maybe the original one in Imbi is better, but I've yet to try.

wmw said...

Looks like tak payah come here...been driving pass it when I go to the office!

J said...

Hmmmm... 50% off is a pretty good deal though I guess.
(But shark fin may be a bit decadent for lunch?... Haha....)

boo_licious said...

qwazymonkey - Splashie Boy said even the 3 cup chicken @ Robsons was so much nicer!

c&c - could be our tastebuds are different.

nomadgourmand - Do be warned, Fong Lye works for some people only. For me, I love the dishes we usually order hence it's great but I've heard some people claim nothing special, too pricey and etc.

Sean - we're getting very cosmopolitan just @ Soho itself. Austrian, Balinese, Italian, Thai, Croatian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese. Round the corner there's loads of Korean places also. Guess it will appeal to the multi-cultural neighbourhood in Mt Kiara.

foodbin - yup, very clean flavours also I felt.

eiling - I love Fong Lye the restaurant BUT not Fong Lye at the Gardens though.

worldwindows - hee hee, u sound like a braised pork fan!

j2kfm - the one @ Gardens has a different menu compared to the restaurant ones. Gardens is more fast food and a lot of sets.

wmw - LOL! U nvr know, u may like it?

J - guess good for client lunch? Unless client is a greenpeace member then kena kau kau!?

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