Hoi Peng or Hai Peng??? Recently, I had a chance to compare the two places, when we dropped by Hoi Peng for Precious Pea's farewell dinner. Well known in Petaling Jaya, Hoi Peng is actually a branch of the old stalwart seafood place Hai Peng located on Old Klang Road. While you would think the branch won't do as well as the main outlet, I must admit I felt the branch's food was way much better than the original outlet.
Literally a neighbourhood hangout, Hoi Peng is definitely a place you need to book ahead as it is packed during the weekend. If not, you get relegated to a small table that can barely hold everything together or one that faces the kitchen and bathroom. Unlike Hai Peng that has a vast space after they expanded to the back of their single shophouse, Hoi Peng is quite cramped. The other thing we also noticed from eavesdropping on the loud conversations in nearby tables is the crabs tend to finish quite fast. Some regulars book their crabs ahead to avoid the dinner crowd.
The menu for both outlets are carbon copies - at Hai Peng there's a stall outside that gives you quick snacks while you wait for your main meal. Ditto for Hoi Peng but again there is a difference in the taste. At Hai Peng, the tofu bakar stuffed with cucumber slices don't make the mark as the extra cucumber juice has not been squeezed out making it a soggy mess when you bite into the crispy tofu puff layer. Even the sauce seems watered down with just a hint of prawn paste. Hoi Peng's version was so much better - crunchy cucumber shreds and a thick brown sauce with a strong hint of prawn paste. We also tried Hoi Peng's chicken wings as a starter - not fantastic as the meat didn't have much taste and it was a tad too dry from the deep frying.
More comparisons: the ginger fried clams. Weirdly enough, this one Hai Peng got it right as Hoi Peng's version was too thick and laden with corn starch to taste great. The ginger taste seems quite muted here too at Hoi Peng.
Next up, it was the battle of the noodles - their signature fried mee sua. It comes laden with prawns, shredded cabbage and beansprouts. At Hai Peng, the noodles still maintain quite a lot of moisture making it slightly soggier. As the places are pork free, no lard is used but they compensate that missing taste with teeny weeny crunchy small prawns or har mai. Strangely enough, even though Hai Peng also has these prawns, the Hoi Peng version tastes better as it seems crunchier, more aromatic while the noodles are also drier. For this battle, Hoi Peng wins hands down!
Crabs was a lot tougher to determine who is the winner. Both places don't use local mud crabs but instead they go for the Indonesian version, that yields thicker claws and more meat. At Hai Peng, a minimum order of 1kg is required while Hoi Peng does not seem to limit you on the number of crabs - we had one crab done in sweet and sour and another in salted egg yolk.
For the salted egg yolk crab, the crabs seem to have gotten a fairy sprinkling of salted egg yolk. It's so thin that it just covers the tops of the crustaceans. While I prefer my salted egg yolk crabs laden with lots of cholestrol laden sauce, this is not to say this version is not tasty. Just I reckon not too satisfying for a glutton like me.
The sweet and sour crab - their signature dish has a nice thick sauce with bits of eggs. While it may not seem spicy, it did tickle my throat that night. I would have preferred a more sour taste.
Last but not least, it was their soy sauce prawns or kon cheen har - a last minute add on since the Ravenous Rabbit didn't eat the clams. While it was coated with lots of chopped garlic and soy sauce, I felt it was just too salty and it seemed to lack the sweet taste of prawns. Definitely another thing we will not reorder again.
Thus in this battle between the two, I must say Hoi Peng wins hands down while I'll try and avoid Hai Peng for a while more. Nevertheless Hoi Peng is also not perfect since some dishes ain't too great like their chicken wings and kon cheen har. Personally, I didn't think the crab dishes were that fantastic though. They tasted decent but I reckon places like Robson Heights does a better version for their salted egg yolk crab and places in Klang are way better. However, if you don't want to travel all the way, this makes an excellent choice especially if you live in Petaling Jaya.
Hoi Peng Seafood Restaurant
30, Jalan SS2/24
Tel: 03-7874 2199
(Pork free. It is only open for dinner. Same row as Nonya and New Formosa. For more pictures, see their Flickr set.)
Hai Peng Seafood Restaurant
Lot KS-5 Taman Evergreen
4 1/2 Miles, Jalan Klang Lama
Tel: 03-7982 5072/79816982
(Pork free. It is only open for dinner. Near the entrance to the turn off to Taman Desa. For more pictures, see their 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.
Tagged with: seafood