As I mentioned in my last column, I don’t review an outlet unless it’s been highly recommended by my foodie friends or if I find the taste to my liking. My friends, Christine and Chris DiGiovanna being the true foodies that they are, were driving back to Bandar Sri Klebang when a new sign on a corner restaurant caught their eyes and promptly dropped in for a tasting.
The following Sunday saw me with a group checking it out on their recommendation. The congratulatory bouquets were still on display when I went to Chemor’s newest restaurant. Situated on a corner shop house laid back from the main Jalan Kuala Kangsar just a few hundred metres before the petrol station where you turn left to head towards Jelapang, is Wong Kee, a family restaurant that has been in business in Chemor for 23 years but owing to a fire in their old premises, had to relocate to their present one; a fortunate set of circumstances in my view for I would never have discovered it otherwise.
A family restaurant it certainly is with Chef Wong Chorng Jyh in the kitchen and brother Chorng Ming in front taking care of customers. Mother, Father, sisters-in-law and a host of other relatives cater to the bustling clientele who know a good place when they taste one.
As did I.
The first dish to land on the table was the Fried Frog’s Legs, tender chunks of succulent frog legs which had been marinated in their special concoction and deep fried with masses of thinly sliced ginger. Judging by the size of the frogs they get at this time of the year (Dec-Feb) which Ming insisted on showing me (see pic) ours were small in comparison and hence the price of RM40 for our dish. According to him the big ones can cost up to RM100 per kilo and one can have a choice of cooking styles depending on preference. They can serve frog’s legs with ginger and scallions, steamed with ginger or chicken stock, ‘Gong Pao’ with dried chillies and a dark sauce, or Drunken which is their most expensive style as he claims he uses good wine.
The next was their signature dish, their Ikan Haruan (Snakehead) Fish Broth, which according to the Chinese is widely believed to speed up wound healing. This was a large tureen of bubbling broth with a whole fish, the head and bones fried, and the meat in plain slices jostling for attention amidst red dates, wolf berries, wood ear (mook yee) fungus, coarsely ground pepper, and dowsed with a generous dollop of Shao Hsing wine. The option for this dish is to eat the soup with just the fish head/bones and serve the fish meat fried with ginger and scallions – RM45.
As usual we went overboard with the ordering. Squid and cuttlefish served sizzling on a hot platter came next sauced with sambal belacan, tomatoes and onions; the softer squid presenting a nice contrast to the chewy cuttlefish – RM15. In rapid succession we had Salt-Baked Roe Crabs which they can do in any variety of styles, very tasty – RM38 for 4
smallish crabs; Bitter Gourd with Spare Ribs – RM15; the Four Heavenly Kings, that ubiquitous vegetable dish of brinjals, long beans, ladies fingers but minus the petai and with winged bean instead, this time with the addition of prawns – RM12.
As we sat groaning from the surfeit of food, our mouths still watered as we watched plate after plate of interesting looking dishes waft by, destined for other tables. We promptly made a promise to return to savour more of their infinite menu.
This we did with alacrity a week later and had the following dishes which I can recommend. We had their Kampong Chicken, in the same style as the fried frog’s legs, which is equally succulent and tender for RM18 for half a chicken; their Fresh Eel done ‘Gong Pao’ style which I enjoyed as it was not sweet as in a lot of other restaurants; their Sweet Meats Fried Rice and their Thai-Style Fried Tilapia. This is not as sweet as I had anticipated and the tilapia had no muddy taste or smell; in fact the meat was sweet and succulent while the bones were fried to a nice crunch. Thin slivers of cucumber, onions adorned the fish which lent a freshness to the whole dish – RM30.
After chatting with the chef, we discovered that more taste treats were in store and promised to return to savour their Sambal Lo Shi Fun which piqued my curio-sity; their deep fried octopus; their fried egg with dried shrimp, their crab meehoon and a host of other delectables that space constraints prevent me from listing.
Restoran Wong Kee24 Laluan Sinaran, Desa Chemor Sinaran, Chemor.Tel.: 012-5182686/019-5561870Open: 10.30 a.m.-2.30p.m. & 5.30-11.00 p.m.Closed every fortnight on Tuesdays.