The hidden Macanese gem in Damansara Perdana

The hidden Macanese gem in Damansara Perdana

Macanese food can be something good for a change, especially when you are craving for the famous Macau-style chi pa pau or pork chop buns.

When my wife and I visited Macau as part of our honeymoon to Hong Kong some 10 years ago, we just went crazy over the chi pa pau.

Sounds crazy, I know, but that was what I had for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the few days we were in Macau!

Now, when I think of the Cantonese name for the autonomous territory, which kind of sounds like ‘old moon’, I cannot help but think of the pig flying over Macau drawn on the wall of Fat Tea Macanese Food in Petaling Jaya.

So the first time I went to Fat Tea, the first question I asked restaurant owner June Yap was: “Do you have chi pa pau?” My eyes lit up when she said: “Yes! And we have more than that!”

That was over three months ago, and I have been back many times since, particularly for their chi pa pau. Because as much as I loved the buns in Macau, Fat Tea’s chi pa pau taste even better! I am almost salivating thinking of the buns as I write this.

The chi pa pau is basically a buttered bread roll containing a delicious pork chop and a special sauce concocted by June’s partner and chef Susana Batalha.

Of course, chi pa pau are not all they have. I would also recommend the po kok khai or Portuguese chicken, baked and cooked with turmeric and coconut milk, and which goes great with rice and salad.

My son got to the chicken before I had the chance to dig into it. He then shoved a spoonful of the gravy and the meat to my mouth, and said, “Daddy, this is great!”

Minchi rice was the other dish that we had the opportunity to taste. The Macau Tourism Office has deemed it their national dish, like nasi lemak is here.

The dish comes with steamed rice, minced pork, onions, diced fried potatoes, fried egg, rice, veggies and chi yau cha.

The well-known ‘serradurra or Macau pudding is a must-try. The crumbled biscuits on whipped cream looks like sawdust, which is why it is also popularly known as ‘sawdust pudding’. Which is helpful in case you ever forget the word ‘serradurra!’

Batalha, a sixth generation Macanese, may look as Portuguese as you can imagine, until she starts mesmerising you with her near-perfect Cantonese! It is wonderful to know that her passion is cooking!

There aren’t many places to find authentic Macanese food in the Klang Valley, which makes Fat Tea a real treasure.

It is indeed a hidden gem, especially because its name gives no clue as to what kind of restaurant it is! I was left wondering, “Is this a tea house? A bak kut the shop?” Good job I walked inside and found out!

But I learned that ‘fat tea’ is a translation of Cha Gordo, a gourmand affair for Macanese families for all the most important occasions. Like Malaysians, the Macanese also love their food – a fusion of Portuguese and Cantonese food – and celebrations wouldn’t be the same without it.

Fat Tea Macanese Restaurant is located at Unit LG-05, Plaza Emerald North, Jalan PJU 8/3A, Damansara Perdana.

Tel: +603-77331868
Business hours: 10am – 10 pm (Tuesdays- Sundays)
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A thumbs-up for Lim’s char koay teow in Damansara Kim

A thumbs-up for Lim’s char koay teow in Damansara Kim

Penang char koay teow has a big following but as I said earlier, taste is very subjective.

There is also no top connoisseur in the country who can tell us which version of Penang char koay teow is authentic and the best. It’s all about one’s preference and the way we have been brought up liking a particular taste.

After my article about Robert’s Penang char koay teow at Damansara Kim, two personal friends of mine told me to check out Lim’s Char Koay Teow at Restoran Wan Shoon.

The coffee shop is located at the opposite end of the stretch of shop lots in Damansara Kim where Robert’s char koay teow stall is located. So, there you go: two competitors that appeal to different taste buds.

Raised and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Lim Kah Hey was a former dim sum chef with a five-star hotel in Petaling Jaya for over seven years.

Being a foodie fan himself, the 34-year-old experimented with his version of Penang char koay teow, and decided to venture out on his own. His first stall was set up in 2015 at Paramount Garden. He only moved here to Damansara Kim in late 2016.

Lim’s version of Penang char koay teow received the thumbs-up from a younger Penangite, Beatrice Khoo, who claims that Lim’s CKT is closer to what she herself has grown up loving.

Being a Penangite herself, she is an ardent fan of Lim’s version of the Penang cuisine. Along with another common friend of ours, both recommended that I should check it out.  

“In fact, when he first started there, it was not good at all,” Beatrice told me. “After one month of abstaining, I could see a big improvement. I started noticing what others had on their table and from one look, I knew it was time to give it a try again; since then, I have been a loyal customer!”

She also notices that Lim uses the thinner version of koay teow which is closely resembling the Penang version that she is used to.

He puts in the usual stuff — cockles, lup cheong, prawns, bean sprouts, but unlike the authentic Penang version, Lim finds duck eggs give it a better taste. “Otherwise, for eggs, I use only kampung chicken eggs,” he said.

Depending on the clients’ preference, Lim’s style is the dry version. “If there are clients who prefer to have it slightly wet, they can tell me, and I will do it for them,” he said.

Personally, for RM6 (small plate) and RM6.50 (large), I think it is a good treat, especially with the current economic condition.

Wan Shoon Restaurant is located at 47 Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, 47400 Selangor. Lim’s CKT stall does not have a name but it is the only stall serving Penang Char Koay Teow.

Waze: Click here if you want to use Waze

Tel: 012-673 7811

Business Hours: 7.30am-2.00pm (7 days a week) Closed fortnightly on Wednesdays.

Robert’s Penang char kway teow comes highly recommended

Robert’s Penang char kway teow comes highly recommended

Everyone has their own take on where to fine the best Penang char kway teow in the Klang Valley. But when an 84-year-old restaurant owner and chef gives you his recommendation, you better believe it!

Especially when he has been a regular at the same stall for the past 31 years, frequently bringing friends and relatives to savour a plate of Robert Khoo’s char kway teow at Damansara Kim.

Whenever this octogenarian, James Kuok of Sri Nyonya Restaurant fame visits the coffee shop with his friends, he only orders food from Robert’s stall and nothing else.

That shows how much he still enjoys nice and simple street food that you cannot find in five star hotels or other posh restaurants.

When Kuok first told me about it, I agreed to check it out. So, off we went to Damansara Kim one morning, where Robert has been operating his char kway teow stall at Restoran Golden Kim Wah for the past decade.

He moved here after operating his stall in SS2 Petaling Jaya for 25 years.

“When the coffee shop was closed down, I moved to Damansara Kim. My relatives are also operating other stalls in Section 17, Kota Damansara, Taman Megah and Damansara Perdana.”

In fact, Robert has been whipping up one plate of char kway teow after another for the past 40 years. Assuming he sells a 100 plates a day, and works 300 days a year, that comes up to a mind-boggling 1.2 million plates!

I agree with Kuok that Robert’s char kway teow is not just better than anything I have tasted in the Klang Valley, but also Penang.

The RM7 price tag for a big plate (RM6.50 for a small plate) is worth every sen. He doesn’t skimp on the cockles, prawns, lap cheong, bean sprouts, lard, Chinese chives and finely-beaten egg omelette, and not to forget some aromatic garlic bits.

You can pay an additional RM1 for more cockles and, if you wish, Robert can also regulate the amount of chili to suit your taste.

The prices are kept to a comfortable level, as he still has a lot of faithful followers who have been his regular customers for many years.

I particularly like the slightly sweet and umami taste of the char kway teow, which is hard to find elsewhere. Robert is not giving up his trade secret, but he does tell me that one way this is achieved is by controlling the intensity of the fire.

So, Penangites who are living in the Klang Valley never have to miss home again, at least not when it comes to char kway teow.

For other Penang delicacies over here, they can also look for Joo Tiang’s Penang curry mee in Sri Bintang, and for those more familiar with Desa Aman Puri, there is Tong Siang’s version. Not to forget Sri Nyonya, one of the best northern Peranakan restaurants around.

To me, there’s no such thing as objectively the ‘best’ char kway teow, and I also disagree that it can only be found in Penang. Even my Penangite friends cannot agree on which stall serves the best version of the dish. It does, after all, depend on individual taste buds.

But according to Kuok, Roberts’ char kway teow has been consistently good for the decades he’s been going there, even following the chef when he made his switch to Damansara Kim.

Who am I to argue with that?

Robert’s Penang char kway teow stall is located in Restoran Golden Kim Wah, at No 1 Jalan SS20/11 Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya. His stall is open from 7am to 3pm seven days a week.

Waze: Click here if you want to use Waze

Tel: 016-3096797

Business Hours: 7am – 3pm

Joo Tiang’s Penang curry mee has no right to be this good

Joo Tiang’s Penang curry mee has no right to be this good

Fancy this: a bowl of Penang curry mee for just RM4 – and not in a small town, but in the Klang Valley!

There’s only one catch. Because it’s so good, you have to get to the Lim Sisters coffee shop before 10.30am, or all of Khaw Joo Tiang’s Penang prawn mee and curry mee may be sold out.

Khaw, who goes by the nickname “Leng Ma” (pretty mother), serves the Penang curry mee with a spoonful of chilli sambal mixed into white coconut broth. It also comes with brown squid, blood cubes and cockles.

Portions aren’t the biggest, but it’s enough to give most people a hearty breakfast. Or if you’re craving for more, you could opt to add additional noodles, only for an additional 50 sen.

According to Khaw’s son, Vincent Ng, they have maintained the low prices for a long time.

“The stall has been operating even before I was born. We have tried to maintain the prices for some time now. It is the volume that helps to sustain the business.”

Even better is the fact that unlike some hawkers, Khaw still does the cooking herself, waking up at 4am in the morning to prepare the special broth.

Hailing from Butterworth, Khaw and her husband started selling Penang curry mee in the 1970s. They made the trip to Petaling Jaya in the 1980s, selling only prawn mee, before setting up shop in Subang Jaya.

Now, her stall is located in Lim Sisters, Taman Sri Bintang, right next to SJK (C) Kepong 3. But have your GPS at the ready, because finding the shop would be difficult otherwise.

Ng, who also goes by “Ah Hong,” helps his mother at the stall six days a week. And it looks like the help is appreciated, because the stall appears to be the busiest in Lim Sisters, with waiting times of up to 20 minutes on busier days.

“Despite the prices, my Mom still tries to maintain the quality of the curry mee to satisfy the taste buds of her regular customers.”

Some may be put off by the general ambience of Lim Sisters, which tends to become as crowded as any other famous coffee shop in the Klang Valley. But just one taste of the curry mee will drown out the din of the crowd.

Besides curry mee and prawn mee, Khaw’s stall also serves Penang loh mee.

Lim Sisters coffee shop is located at 1 & 3, Jalan 3/36, Taman Sri Bintang, 52100 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: +6012-663 1319
Business hours: 7am – 5pm (every day except Mondays)
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Simply irresistible green curry at Yum Yum Thai

Simply irresistible green curry at Yum Yum Thai

Thai green curry to me is what Penang curry mee or beef rendang are to some people. I need not say anything else – I simply love it!

And as it is not too spicy, even children get to enjoy it. I almost regret not listening to a piece of advice I received long ago: when you find something delicious, tell no one about it, so you can quietly enjoy it yourself!

I recalled these words as my nine-year-old son and I had to compete for the bowl of green curry the moment it was served in Yum Yum Thai, as if we had starved for weeks, if not months. We are both in love with the taste of the green curry they serve in this restaurant, which is located in Casa Tropicana, Petaling Jaya.

My romance with green curry goes back a long way. I always order it anytime I walk into a Thai restaurant; therefore, when restaurant owner, Marcia Lau Saunders suggested that I gave it a try, I was delighted.

Even when we were living in Maputo, Mozambique, the green curry we found there was something that brought us some sanity, being among only a handful of Asians in a country where almost everyone speaks Portuguese.

When we were there, green curry was always something we looked forward to, being the closest thing we could get to satisfy our Asian taste buds.

And so, after a lifetime of eating green curry, I have to admit that to date, I haven’t tasted anything better than Yum Yum Thai’s irresistible green curry.

The ingredients, according to Lau, are all imported from Thailand. Even the chefs, Ying and Mee, are from Chiang Rai.

“We import basil leaves, aubergines and coconut milk from Thailand. This may bring up the cost a bit, but for the authentic Thai taste, it is worth it.”

“The style of cooking is Northern Thai. The food we serve here is therefore authentic Northern Thai cuisine.”

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted by the waitress Mila, who will greet you with the customary “Sawasdee Kap” (for men) and “Sawasdee kah” (if you are a woman).

Besides the green curry, I also recommend to try their signature dish, moo ping (grilled pork skewers) and pineapple fried rice. Both aren’t very spicy, and are very suitable for children.

My only regret is that we came with only one adult and two children, meaning that we could hardly run down Yum Yum Thai’s menu.

If you are planning to go Thai this weekend, try Yum Yum Thai where you can also enjoy the soothing Thai music playing in the background.

Restoran YumYum Real Thai Food is located at B-0-3A, Block B, Casa Tropicana, No. 5, Jalan Persiaran Tropicana, PJU 3, 47410 Petaling Jaya

Tel: 011-3386 9417
Business hours: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM (Mon and Wed)
11am – 10pm (Thurs-Sun)
Closed: Tuesdays

No hiding from Yi Yan if you’re seeking chee chap chuk

No hiding from Yi Yan if you’re seeking chee chap chuk

When a customer called up to ask for the direction to Restoran Yi Yan, 61-year-old Fan Kin Lin responded in Cantonese that his restaurant is Chuk Yi Yan.

The customer answered, “No, I am bringing my wife to try out your porridge, not to play hide-and-seek.”

The customer had a good laugh when he and his family finally arrived at the restaurant and learned how the name “Chuk Yi Yan” came about from Fan.

“In Chinese, Chuk Yi Yan means playing Hide and Seek, and the name Yi Yan was picked because Chuk is the closest sound to the word, ‘porridge’ in Cantonese. Apart from that, there is no other special meaning to it. It was meant to help customers remember our name better.”

The restaurant has been in business since 2010. In the past eight years, we have eaten in the restaurant on numerous occasions, as we find it is convenient for the children to spend their time reading books in the Mini Oasis library located just above the restaurant.

Kin Lin, or “Auntie” as we are fond of calling her, is friendly enough to have a good chat with occasionally. This is something to which a friend of mine, James Pang can also testify, having travelled all the way from Petaling Jaya to taste the food here.

Although she wakes up as early as 4am to prepare the porridge, Kin Lin is still energetic even by 9pm at night. When James flatters her by saying that she still looks young for her age, Kin Lin smiles sheepishly.

On top of her friendliness, James also agrees with me that Yi Yan’s minced pork porridge “stands out from the rest.”

“Although it is common, I strongly recommend it. Really sedap!”

Kin Lin, who hails from Rahang, Negeri Sembilan, has a long history in the food business, having sold noodles from as young as 12 years old.

Their specialty here is a wide variety of porridges, with the chee chap chuk being a bestseller.

According to James, the porridge is neither too watery nor too thick. “It’s just nice and really silky smooth,” he said, adding that these days, there are not many people who can still cook such good porridge anymore.

James, who hardly eats duck meat anywhere else, even recommends Yi Yan’s smoked duck, calling it exceptional.

His wife Priscilla Lee also enjoyed all the food she was served. Besides the chee chap chuk and the smoked duck, she listed her third favourite dish as the lor pan mee.

I couldn’t agree more. The lor pan mee is a unique dish that would be hard to seek anywhere else.

We’ve all heard of Ulu Yam lor mee, but this one uses pan mee, which gets my thumbs-up. It tastes even better when you add in some vinegar.

Their kids, Jayden and Jonathan, also fell in love with the fried pan mee, and the many kinds of porridge on offer.

Yi Yan also makes lovely vinegar pork trotters, which has a little taste of Bentong ginger.

Restoran Yi Yan is located at Jalan Medan Putra 1, Bandar Sri Menjalara, 52200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6279 0186
Business hours: 9am – 10.30pm
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