Tag Archives: fresh seafood

SeeFoon seeks out seafood at its most extravagant

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musings on food - food reviewsMusings on Food

 By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

There is a general belief amongst foodies that the best seafood restaurants are situated by the sea. Being the lazy diner that I am, I seldom venture out on long trips whether its to Pantai Remis or Tanjung Tualang or Matang. So whenever the urge for fresh seafood comes on, I head for Lucky’s right in the heart of town.

Lucky Restaurant is a veritable shrine for seafood lovers looking for the biggest, the rarest, and the freshest seafood and fish and willing to pay the high prices that some of these dishes fetch.

To be fair, not everything at Lucky’s is expensive. Lucky’s also has the best prawn wonton in Ipoh which one can eat with a plate of noodles and feel satisfied that one has had a good lunch and not have to mortgage the house to enjoy it. Or their heavenly, springy, homemade fish balls which Lucky Cheong swears is made from pure fish meat, a mix of saito (wolf herring) and tao foo yu (Yellowback fusilier) with no other additives other than salt and water. And there is always a fried fish to nibble on while waiting for the other dishes to arrive — RM1.50 per piece; not to mention their double-fried roast pork whose crackling is rendered more crispy by the frying. But these are all merely appetizers for the fans who flock to Lucky’s and who come for his specialties.

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Lucky Cheong always has some special fish up his sleeves. Whether it’s the giant grouper or loong dan which is prized for its thick, velvety smooth gelatinous skin; or the parrot fish; or his specialty (depending on availability) the tao dai (large white pomfret, seasonal price), Lucky has a choice of 8 preparation styles from which to choose according to customer’s taste and inclination.

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His signature dishes are many. My particular favourite is his Fish Noodle Soup which comes sizzling hot in a claypot. These are thick filaments made from fish meat that resemble Japanese Udon in looks but are completely different in taste. Because they’re made from pure fish meat, the ‘noodles’ are springy on the bite and also serve to lend its umami flavouring to the soup which usually comes with Tientsin cabbage, and a choice of any other fish that one may order with it. Occasionally I have had these fish noodles with whole fresh lobster (sold at RM130 per kg) which makes it a dish precious for every bite and every drop of soup.

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What is very popular here at Lucky’s is their Crab Congee, a steaming tureen of rice congee where the rice has been boiled down to a thin gruel and flavoured by the crab with its red roe, permeating the dish. This can also be ordered with their large prawns for those who are not fond of crabs.

And while on the subject of congee, their crème de la crème has to be their ‘Fairy’ Congee or in Cantonese, the Sun Seen Rice Porridge, the same umami congee enhanced with shark fin, abalone, scallops and crab meat.

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Finally a write up on Lucky is not complete without a mention of their Braised Prawn Noodle, Sang Meen the al dente egg noodles which Lucky Cheong tells me are made specially for his restaurant with duck eggs, braised in a velvety smooth sauce thickened with egg white.

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It’s always good to have a chat with Lucky himself before you order as he always has a special or two of the day to recommend. These are usually highly innovative concoctions which Lucky himself dishes out.

His teas are also worth sampling as Lucky is quite the tea connoisseur, the shelves on one side of the restaurant being lined with boxes and patties of Chinese tea, some aged and apparently highly coveted by tea aficionados.

Suggested Dishes:
Prawn Wontons – RM0.50 each
Fish Balls – RM1.10 each
Giant Grouper or Loong Dan – RM110 per kg
Parrot Fish – RM40 per kg
Tao Dai (large white pomfret) – seasonal price
Fish Noodle Soup – RM3 per person or RM11 minimum for the basic dish
Crab Congee – crabs at RM70 per kg
‘Fairy’ Congee or Sun Seen Rice Porridge – RM150 for 6 persons
Braised Prawn Noodle or Sang Meen – large prawns or Meng Har at RM80 per kg

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Restoran Lucky
266 Jalan Pasir Puteh, Pasir Puteh.
Tel.: 05-255 7330, 012-501 6630, 012-510 6279
Business Hours: 7.30 am-3.30 pm
Closed 1st and 3rd Wednesdays
GPS:  4° 34.802’N, 101° 4.913’E

Restoran Makanan Laut Lemon Tree, Matang

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SeeFoon Goes To Matang In Search Of Taste Treats

What is this obsession amongst the ethnic Chinese that fuels the drive for fresh seafood? Not only must the seafood item under consideration be fresh but preferably squirming or claw waving as it is presented at the table,  or swimming  in a tank for selection.  Having almost exhausted the number of eating places that offer this option in Ipoh, a group of my foodie friends decided to take me further afield to Matang for new taste treats.

It took us under an hour to arrive at our destination, the Restoran Makanan Laut Lemon Tree, a very large ‘coffee-shop’ style restaurant in Matang, close to Taiping. Two glassed-in air-conditioned rooms towards the back provide respite from the heat as our group of ten settled in for the delectable lunch that followed.

Guarantee of Freshness
Lemon Tree is, as its Malay name ‘Makanan Laut’ clearly states, first and foremost a seafood restaurant, some of whose fresh seafood come from nearby fish farms in Matang and Kuala Sepetang, which is almost a sure guarantee of freshness. The style of cooking leans towards the Teochew, with most of their steamed dishes sitting on a bed of bean thread vermicelli, beaten egg and laced in dark soya sauce unlike the Cantonese style which has no vermicelli and uses light soya.

Crustaceans Galore
Our first dish was the Oyster noodles, thick Udon-style noodles in a soupy sauce replete with tiny fresh oysters. Eaten with black vinegar, the sauce which is eaten like a soup had all the right Umami notes. I felt that this was too heavy a dish to serve as a first course and would have been better at the end of the meal, which as I soon discovered, was a groaning twelve-course affair.

This was followed by clams (not the usual small market variety but large, round succulent clams) fried with scallions and ginger, and a second clam dish, this time the bamboo clams fried ‘Kum Heong’ style with dried chillies, dried prawns, curry leaves and curry condiments.  Both clam dishes were very fresh and cooked to the right degree of done-ness, which in the hands of someone less experienced can often lead to chewy bits of rubber.

Next to arrive were the ‘spiny sea snails’ in Chinese called ‘Tsi Loh’, just blanched, eaten with toothpicks and dipped into sambal belacan sauce. Quite a fiddly process unless you’re like me who loves to extract the last morsel from any shell or bone. This was followed by small shrimp, lightly battered and fried crispy. A great accompaniment with drinks which should have been served right at the beginning of the meal, particularly with beer.

Rare Surprise

Then we were presented with a dish which is very rare and totally seasonal depending on the catch of the day. It was a plate of shark’s liver, looking not particularly appetizing on the plate surrounded by a dark sauce, but absolutely melt-in-the-mouth succulent, with not the slightest hint of fishiness and exploding in the mouth with its rich creaminess not unlike the sensation of biting into still pink fresh foie gras or goose liver.

Piece de Resistance
A steamed dish was next, this being the piece de resistance of this restaurant which is the Mantis prawns or ‘Lai Liew Har’, large 7-8 inch long crustaceans which get their name from their resemblance to the praying mantis insect, and which to my mind are the best tasting crustaceans in the ocean. Scrumptious.  This was followed by the steamed pomfret, a medium sized ‘Tao Dai’ which is highly prized amongst certain gourmands, in dark soya sauce.

Then came sea-breeze fresh Flower Crabs steamed in the inimitable Teochew style, followed by  small ‘Tsai Yu’ – a five inch long  sea fish fried to a crisp where one can eat almost the whole fish, head, bones and all.

Irresistable Pancake and Mud Crabs
By now all 10 of us were groaning with surfeit of food and still the dishes kept coming. Next to appear was the Oyster Pancake, a flat pancake of egg and tapioca starch, generously dotted with medium sized fresh oysters, crisped on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. Not an easy dish to find indeed and certainly nowhere have I eaten a more delectable one.
Last but not least were plump, fleshy mud crabs sautéed in salted duck egg roe, succulent and juicy with the egg roe sauce adding the right measure of saltiness. I was ready to give up altogether but the sight of the tantalizing crab claws had me tucking in with gusto.
For a group of 10 people and with the number of dishes we had eaten, the total bill of RM428 was great value especially considering that most of the seafood dishes that we had is usually quite exorbitant in restaurants elsewhere.

Restoran Makanan Laut Lemon
No. 14B, China Lane
34750 Matang, Taiping, Perak
Tel: 019-5082793/016-5991883
12 noon till midnight