My Anthem

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sundae is 4RUMINATION -- esp deep wit' CHINA chow!:)

wit' some help from a writer @MalaysianInsider wit' a GOoD taste of yummy, yes, chow!:) Desi has frequented this Restron as it is a convenient stop at Pasar SEni for me travelling down from Furong. I have a sort of monthly meetup with media buddies, and sometimes a diplomat2 or politician three.

A return to Precious Old China

The perfect starter to a great nyonya meal... Ju Hu Char.
KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — I had not been to Precious Old China at the Central Market for years, ever since my “happy chef” left. But I’m glad I went back to soak in that old China ambience and eat its nyonya food, while two goddesses looked down benignly on us from their seats on the long antique table. 

The Lemak Nenas Prawn was just the right combination of tartness and heat.
It’s still a place to bring foreign visitors and wow them with the whole experience. The intricately carved doors from an old mansion in China are still there, enclosing a large private dining room with a long table. Everywhere you look there’s an antique table, chairs, cupboard or windows to catch your interest. 
What of the food? I’m happy to say most dishes hit the spot with us. First there was the Ju Hu Char, finely cut yambean braised with cuttlefish strips, shallots, mushroom, carrot and minced chicken, which came with the prerequisite sambal and fresh lettuce. It was a perky sambal, tart with lime juice, that gave a hot lift to the yambean touched with the sweetness and aroma of cuttlefish. A lettuce parcel of this and we were ready for more. 
The Lobak carried on this taste-good feeling, these deepfried rolls filled with yambean strips and chicken subtly scented with five-spice powder. You bite through the crispy beansheet skin dipped in a chilli garlic sauce, and the moist, slightly crunchy filling tumbles into your mouth. 

You will love the freshness of the Pucuk Paku Kerabu.
I love pineapple in any curry, and we zoomed in on the Lemak Nenas Prawn. This had big prawns in a medium hot curry cooked with fresh coconut milk. The pineapple infuses the curry with a mellowed tartness and light sweetness that’s welcoming. I picked out the slices of fruit and loved it with the plump, fresh prawns. 

Foreign visitors will especially love the ambience of Precious Old China.
There was a fine balance of sweet and sour in the Pucuk Paku Kerabu, the blanched, crunchy fiddlehead fern shoots tossed with sambal and lime juice, shredded ginger flower, kaffir lime leaf, dried shrimps and shallots. The aroma of each fragrant leaf and flower (bunga kantan) was released with each bite, and I went back for more helpings of these vegetables. 
While I was very pleased to have an asam fish curry with all the right nyonya nuances, it would have done better with another fish instead of John Dory in it.  The hot, sour and fragrant curry, filled with eggplant, tomatoes and ladies fingers, would have been perfect with a senangin, red snapper, stingray or even tenggiri or mackerel fillets. 
The Beef Rendang turned out to be more like a curry than a drier rendang that should have the chilli, spices and coconut flavours clinging to every fibre of the tender meat. 

A not-to-be-missed dessert -- Santan Durian.
But a glorious Durian Santan sent us into throes of delight. We could have kicked ourselves for not ordering one portion each instead of sharing. This was pure premium durian; fleshy, creamy, bittersweet and exuding all that wonderful aroma. It was laced with thick santan, and it was all that was needed. 
All in all the bill for the three of us came to RM137. The Lobak was RM8.80, Ju Hu Char RM10.80, Asam Fish Fillet RM22.80, Lemak Nenas Prawn RM39.90, Pucuk Paku Kerabu RM12.80, Beef Rendang RM18.90 and Santan Durian RM13.90. The restaurant is pork-free. 
I would like to go back for the Bittergourd Lemak Lada, Fishhead Curry (with crispy fried salted fish), Ayam Buah keluak, and the Heong So Duck. 
Precious Old China is located on the mezzanine floor of the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2273 7372.

The two goddesses who smiled down on us when we had dinner there that night.

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