Tag Archives: mantis prawns

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

SeeFoon finds the freshest seafood on the outskirts….

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Issue 82- Muisng On Food

SeeFoon finds the freshest seafood on the outskirts….

Tucked away in a most remote new development of shop and terrace houses just off the Lumut highway is a gem of a restaurant called Shing Lee. Actually as the crow flies, it is probably just behind the Meru Golf resort, just beyond the range of mountains that surround the golf course.

Because of its remote location I am going to give readers exact instructions on how to find it. Coming from Jelapang, take the highway heading towards Lumut. At the first traffic light, take a right and almost immediately another right into Puncak Jelapang Maju. There at the end of the row of shophouses is Shing Lee, a restaurant serving the freshest seafood.

I have to admit to some curiosity as to its obscure location when I was first introduced to the place but on reflection, being only an hour away from Pantai Remis where some of the freshest seafood are either caught or farmed, it began to make sense. Particularly, when I saw all the saltwater fish tanks on entering the restaurant.

This is the restaurant to go to if you like fresh! ‘Flower’ crabs are shown to you still alive for you to make your selection. As are the mantis prawns and the bamboo clams and a host of other crustaceans and molluscs.

Mantis Prawns

The Mantis Prawns came first. These are weird looking crustaceans so called because when swimming they resemble the praying mantis when it moves it legs. Possessed of innumerable pairs of these (legs), they look like giant centipedes and can appear quite intimidating to the inexperienced diner. The ones at Shing Lee are huge. Measuring easily nine to ten inches long and about two inches in diameter at the meaty part of the body, they are pricey at RM95 per kilo (about 3 large ones) but the taste is worth every sen you pay. Done Tsiew Yeem style, the carapace is smothered in salt, pepper, garlic, some chillies and quickly deep fried at very high temperatures, arriving whole at the table, all golden and crispy. One has to be careful tucking in as they are piping hot and even cutting through with the scissors provided require some attention.

But its sweet soft flesh that had everyone at the table oohing and ahhing in ecstatic delight. This is undoubtedly the biggest, best, Mantis Prawns I’ve ever eaten. And cooked to perfection, the shell crisp, crunchy and salty with a hint of chillies and the flesh tender, moist and sweet beyond belief. Our group took a long time over the prawn, digging into every crevice, nook and cranny, in the hopes of finding yet another morsel of the tasty flesh. Sau Mei, the manager of the restaurant and the one who recommends the dishes, was very patient with us, holding off bringing on the next dish till we had exhausted our ‘pleasure’ hunt.

Lesson on Crabs

Our engagement with our hands wasn’t to end there. Next to arrive was the flower crabs, last seen alive and waving claws at the table, now more docile steamed with egg white with a hint of sesame oil. It was full of red soft roe which I thought was a rare seasonal treat until Mei explained that it is now possible to get roe crabs all year round, although September and October appear to be the best season. These crabs, have a softer shell, have less meat and are much sweeter than their mud cousins but this evening, because the crabs had just arrived from Kuala Kulau north of Taiping, they were chockfull of meat and still carried the tang of the sea in each mouthful.

We also had the opportunity to taste a rare crab, what in Malay is called the ‘Pondan’ crab, a hermaphrodite crab that is half female and half male. We then got a lesson in how to recognise these crabs by observing the belly side of the carapace. In regular female crabs, there is a fat, rounded fan-shaped delineation of the shell while the male crabs have a sharp triangular shaped one, but the hermaphrodite crabs will show a shape that is a cross between the two! See pix. All flower crabs RM38 per kilo.

We then moved on to the Tsee Lor an unusual sea-snail about two-three inches in length and have long spikes protruding all over. Not a friendly snail to meet in the sand! These were served with a chilli sauce and a ginger, spring onion, oil and soya sauce mixture which I preferred. They were easy to eat with toothpicks pulling out the reclusive snail – RM10/12/15 S/M/L. This was followed by the Pak Cheuk Octopus, thick chunks of tender octopus just blanched and served with the same sauces as the snails – RM12.

Shing Lee serves all their seafood in whichever style suits the diner. They will do it Kam Heong (dried chillies, dried prawns and curry leaves), Kung Poh (dried chillies and slightly sweet) or steamed, baked, fried or in congee.

Signature Vegetables and Others
After that abundance of seafood, we welcomed the next two vegetable dishes, both signature dishes for which Shing Lee is known. The first was a crispy fried kangkong (water spinach) delectably crunchy with bits of dried scallops and the second was the bitter melon fried with salted egg. We then finished off the meal with a Ngan Yu Tsai Chao Fan, fried rice with Chinese sausage, topped with tiny dried anchovies.

In addition to the fresh seafood on which their reputation is built, Shing Lee has a good offering of all the traditional Chinese dishes like braised pig’s trotters, roast chicken, tofu dishes, etc. Pre-ordering of seafood is advised for those wishing to have the crab and mantis prawns as well as for some of the pork dishes.

Shing Lee Restaurant
#44 Prsn Puncak Jelapang 2, Puncak Jelapang Maju,
Tel: 05-5267104/016-5935848
11.30-2.30 p.m. 6.00-0.30 p.m.