PETALING JAYA, Sept 12 – If you're looking for restaurant-style dishes that won't burn a hole in your pocket, the dai chow is your solution for a family meal.
Sure, it's a little rough around the edges when it comes to ambience and service, but at the end of the day as long as it falls under the peng leng jeng (cheap and good) category, it gets our thumbs up.
Hence we're at Aman Suria on a Friday night. This is a neighbourhood where almost every corner has a dai chow. You see families packing into them as they wok up quick, delicious meals.
The place we were dining at is Hao Yue Lou Restaurant, a totally random pick. Previously, a friend was searching for a place for dinner and stumbled upon it.
Impressed by the dishes she tried, she had roped in a group of us to sample more dishes.
In typical dai chow fashion, ordering food is based on recommendations. Most times, it's the person who takes the orders who steers you to the right choices. We coupled this with the power of observation.
My friend had spied a few interesting items coming out from their kitchen.
That's how we stumbled upon their siong tong lala clams (RM26 for medium size). It's a simple dish where fresh clams are essential to make it a success.
What makes their version an excellent one is the broth; they're generous with the rice wine. Needless to say, we drank every last drop of the potent wine-laced broth even after the clams were finished. Definitely the top dish of the night.
We were recommended their dong po pork or braised pork belly (RM38 for a small portion), apparently a special item.
While it had the requisite layers of fat and meat, drenched in a reddish sauce, I felt it wasn't as luscious as I would have liked. Instead, the other signature BBQ pork rib (RM22 for a small portion) made the mark for me.
When it hit the table, everyone went "ooh" and "aah." It resembles char siu with its sticky charred exterior. Under it all, you get luscious fats and melt-in-the-mouth meat.
You may think it'd be too sweet but the taste is well balanced. You may find yourself fighting for the bone with your fellow diners; this is best enjoyed caveman style... with your fingers!
This pork rib seems to be the dish every dai chow serves in this area too so one can have fun comparing each place's version.
It's not often you get a yam basket (RM30 for a small portion), so we ordered this when it came up as a recommended item. You can pair it with the classic diced chicken with cashew nuts or an unusual sweet and sour pork.
It's a decent rendition, as the ring was well prepared with a light texture and the stir fried chicken with dried chillies and crunchy cashews. This dish is all about textures as you also have crispy fried noodles under the basket.
Of course, steamed fish was a must. This was a steamed tilapia fish cooked in their signature style known as yau wat. The flesh was silky smooth and delicious paired with the deep fried fine ginger shreds. I also liked how the sauce was just the right saltiness to give the whole dish flavour but still restrained.
Since everyone was cutting back on their carbohydrate intake, we ordered two vegetable dishes. One was a sinful claypot kangkung drowning in delicious crunchy lard fritters (RM20 for a large portion) and a much healthier stir fried sweet potato leaves with garlic (RM16 for a medium portion).
There was also a fuyong egg or a fluffy omelette (RM12 for a medium portion).
At the end, the meal saw us part with RM44.50 each, where the table was laden with a total of eight dishes. As we wanted to try more varieties, most of the dishes were small or medium sized. It was only the kangkung that we ordered a large portion, in lieu of rice.
We definitely want to return to try more dishes. There's an appetising steamed lime octopus dish, stir fried pig's intestines and much more.
Hao Yue Lou Restaurant, Inside Restaurant A.Suria, No. 54, Jalan PJU 1/45, Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya. Open: 4pm to 10.30pm. Tel:+6016-2241034.