Sunday May 6, 2012
By WONG LI ZA
An unassuming restaurant offers daily local delights and special gourmet recipes all under one roof.
THE parking condition on weekdays around the Damansara Uptown area in Petaling Jaya is indisputably horrendous.
Having to go there for a food review in the scorching afternoon heat was, therefore, quite a dread.
I decided to go straight into a basement carpark, circled a few floors down before finding a spot and made my way up to Auntie Sim Kitchen across the road.
Beckoning guests with its huge orange and brown awning, the outlet first opened for business in November 2010, offering largely Teo Chew dishes.
The idea for the restaurant came about when owner Elaine Goh and her husband, Simon Sim, wanted to preserve the traditional recipes of Elaine’s mum, a Teo Chew who was a great cook.
Hence, Auntie Sim Kitchen offers signature dishes like Kuey Chap and Teo Chew Braised Duck. Kuey Chap is a traditional, comfort food of sorts consisting of thick kuey teow and gravy derived from braising duck. Not for the faint-hearted, the dish is consumed with accompaniments like pork or duck innards, pig skin and ears. Fried shallots add a nice aroma to the flavourful dish.
The restaurant takes pride in ensuring that the original flavours of each dish are preserved. It whips up a host of homemade dishes like Stewed Kampung Chicken with Chinese Wine and Black Fungus, Deep-Fried Spare Ribs with Preserved Beancurd and a selection of seafood. A variety of single-serve local delights like Hokkien Prawn Mee, Roast Pork Curry Mee and Teo Chew Fried Kuey Teow add to the offerings.
One of its specialties is Teo Chew Olive Fried Rice – rice fried with preserved olive vegetables, chopped long beans and diced shrimps. The olive vegetable provides a nice tinge of saltiness to the dish, which is a refreshing change for a fried rice.
I liked the Golden Fried Stuffed Tofu with Jam Sauce that came next. An appetising snack, the local beancurd with pork and fish stuffing is topped with a special sauce made with apple and pineapple, garlic and chilli. The outcome is a medley of sweet, salty and spicy taste.
Recently, Auntie Sim Kitchen expanded its premises to occupy the level above, which houses just four tables.
Here, the concept is called Si Fong Choy in Cantonese, or special gourmet recipes. Operating like a private kitchen or supper club, it is available by pre-booking only, with a minimum one day’s notice.
With no menu available, guests are invited to embark on a culinary journey of discovery. However, those who don’t like surprises can discuss the dishes with the chef beforehand, and also request for special food like crab, lobster or abalone.
“Some clients want unique dishes that are presentable to entertain special guests. They can give us a budget and we will suggest a menu accordingly,” said Goh, 56, adding that a table for 10 starts from RM800 for seven dishes and one dessert and can go up to RM5,000.
We were then served a Squid, Brinjal and Fresh Mushroom Appetiser.
Fried Szechuan style with salt, chilli and fermented black beans, the dish was not oily. Instead, the de-skinned brinjal bears a soft, fluffy texture and the overall taste was lightly salty and spicy.
The Wasabi Prawn was a unique concoction, with the shellfish coated in a thin wasabi paste and then covered in finely-grated, fried American potato. The wasabi was too light for me, but I guess that was to avoid overwhelming this starter.
Next up was Braised Pomfret with Bittergourd in light gravy and fermented soya bean. The fish, lightly fried until golden brown, was a delectable delight, deeply flavoured with the fish crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
The Tilapia in Superior Soup was my personal favourite. Literally soaked for eight minutes in chicken broth that had been brought to a boil and which was then taken off the heat, the flesh was ultra smooth, sweet and tender, free from any nasty “mud taste”.
For a soup, the chef prepared Preserved Bak Choy Vegetable Soup, one of eight types of soups available.
Boiled with figs, crystal honey dates, orange peel and lean pork meat, the end result is a clear soup with a sweetness and depth of taste to it. Before dessert, we had Stir-fried Fish Maw and Prawns topped with fresh coriander and Hong Kong Fried Yee Mee.
The latter was prepared with specially imported Hong Kong yee mee cooked with black beans, diced prawns and beansprouts. By then, we were convinced we wouldn’t be able to finish our dessert. However, the Cream of Pumpkin and Yam with coconut milk was irresistible, with a lovely aroma of yam and a pleasant golden yellow hue from the pumpkin. Not too sweet, the creamy concoction was a great finale to our hearty meal – definitely worth braving the heat and parking hassle.