KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Tucked away at the end of a row of shops next to Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Restaurant Sangong has been around since 2019, but I hadn’t noticed it until this year.
Calling itself a Taiwanese fusion restaurant, the menu features classics like lu rou fan, a beloved comfort dish of small pieces of braised pork belly served over rice like a thick meat sauce, and cang ying tou, a dish of garlic chives stir-fried with pork and fermented black beans, the latter of which gives the dish its distinct nickname: "flies’ heads”.
It’s a small-ish space with wooden tables that seat about 30, spanning the dining area's main part.
The use of wood, which is everywhere, including the chairs, floor and window panes seems a bit at odds with the rather modern feel of the restaurant, which is punctuated by the wall of full-length windows that wrap around the side and front.
Chef and co-owner, Derrik Ang, spent close to 10 years in Taiwan where he studied and worked in advertising with his brother.
But cooking had always been a passion of his, and together with his brother, had long aspired to open a restaurant.
He came back to Malaysia and decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok, with plans to finally open a restaurant, which, with the support of his family, came true.
He decided his restaurant would feature dishes he loved, some with his riff on them, modelled after nearly a decade’s worth of good eating and drinking in Taiwan.
Take Sangong’s Braised Pork (RM23.90), their take on lu rou fan, for example.
A blurb on the menu describes it as undergoing an eight-hour-long stewing process, which is immediately apparent when the dish arrives.
I’ll be the first to admit that the size of the bowl (which wasn’t much bigger than my open palm, with fingers spread) initially underwhelmed, but one bite put any doubts to rest.
"Bite” doesn’t even feel like the appropriate word for it — "slurp” or "gulp” feel far more fitting for the thick, fatty and luxurious nature of the pork.
Mostly savoury and slightly sweet from the use of shallots, blobs of pale jelly-like fat make your tongue promises of supple pleasure to come.
Such is the richness of the dish that what I previously thought was a small bowl was more than enough, and after a few mouthfuls of braised pork ladled over sticky short-grain rice, I rolled over on my back, needing a cigarette.
With no cigarettes in sight, Deep-fried Braised Pork Intestine (RM22.90) made for a crunchy, salty interlude. Unlike most iterations of this dish, in which the intestines retain some degree of chewiness, these were dangerously addictive, crunchy little nuggets that bore a hint of five spice.
The Stir-fried Crispy Pork lard with egg (RM25.90) was a loose scramble of egg — with some serious wok hei — and crispy chunks of pork lard, and yet it never threatened to be too greasy or salty, with cooking wine and fermented black beans bringing plenty of sweetness and a funky, almost slightly bitter brand of savouriness.
Stir-fried Baby Chive with Minced Pork and Century Egg (RM35.90) is where Ang flexes his muscles, putting a spin on the creatively named "flies’ head”, a Taiwanese speciality.
The dish conventionally consists of chive flowers, minced pork, bird’s eye chilli and fermented black beans, which brings much of the dish’s depth of flavour.
At Sangong, that depth of flavour is dialled up to 11 with the inclusion of century egg, which envelopes the bright, green chives and crispy rendered-out pork in a creamy, gelatinous and funky taste and texture that turns the dish into something else entirely.
I was curious about the Dry Duck Egg Springy Noodle (RM8.90), which is usually served as part of a lunch set, but fortunately, they were willing to serve me a plain version on its own.
While I cannot confidently claim that the use of duck egg left a sizeable impression on me in terms of taste or texture, the noodles were delightfully "QQ”, fully deserving of the "springy” label and delicious, thanks in no small part to the copious amount of shallot oil it’s tossed in.
A nod to Ang’s classical French training, Crème Brûlée (RM16.90) is listed as one of the desserts, served in a gorgeous ornate bowl instead of a ramekin.
It’s exactly as you’d expect from a good French restaurant, rich with a masterfully executed brûlée, though the texture is so light it almost resembles crema catalana.
Unit F13-1, Bukit Jalil City, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12-3pm, 5.30-9pm
Tel: 03-9764 0140
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