SEMENYIH, June 6 — Eating out too often can sometimes have a toll on our bodies, not to mention our wallets.

What we crave is food for our soul: home-cooked comfort dishes, the sort our mothers and grandmothers made when we were growing up.

But who has the time to cook at home, you say?

Another signature dish at Gu Shang is their Tomato Egg Noodles.
Another signature dish at Gu Shang is their Tomato Egg Noodles.

I understand. Other than the weekends, when I have enough hours and the peace of mind to conjure up dishes such as Japanese inspired miso glazed eggplant or a fiery Thai style spicy steak salad, my weekdays are spent at nearby restaurants and kopitiams, or ordering fast food delivery.

Advertisement

It’s simply easier.

But sometimes one does hanker for home cooked ginger wine chicken, for instance, or black vinegar pork trotters. Simple fare, the sort that is made with care and love, and hours of slow simmering and stewing.

Daily 'liong cha' (herbal teas) include 'pak chee chou', pandan lemongrass and barley with winter melon.
Daily 'liong cha' (herbal teas) include 'pak chee chou', pandan lemongrass and barley with winter melon.

Fortunately for me I have found one such shop where I can relinquish the labour of toiling in the kitchen to professionals yet savour dishes that truly taste like the cooking of our beloved mothers and grandmothers.

Advertisement

At Gu Shang Café in Semenyih, the philosophy appears to be simple home cooked food done right. The shop’s name in Mandarin — gǔ shàng — can be loosely translated as "old fashioned style” (of cooking).

This is evident in their home cooked black vinegar pork trotters, served in a claypot darkened with frequent use over a strong fire. Not quite wok hei (since it’s a claypot and not a wok) but a similar principle applies.

Vividly green 'lei cha' (thunder tea) are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Vividly green 'lei cha' (thunder tea) are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Food served in claypots just tastes better somehow.

In this case, the acidity of the black vinegar is subtly tempered with some sweetness (from the use of brown sugar, one reckons). The collagen rich pork trotters are soft, giving way easily to a good chew.

For a born-and-bred fan tong ("rice bin” in Cantonese), one bowl of steamed white rice might not be enough to soak up all that dark, molasses-like broth.

The clean and bright shop interior.
The clean and bright shop interior.

Another signature dish at Gu Shang is their Tomato Egg Noodles, where the nuggets of scrambled eggs and chunks of tomatoes mingle with bouncy shrimp and minced pork. The soup is enriched with tomato ketchup, which might seem like a shortcut until you realise this is how the original is made too.

There are daily liong cha (herbal teas) such as pak chee chou, which is believed to relieve liver heat, pandan lemongrass and barley with winter melon. Some days they might even have homemade tau foo fa, which is a rare delight.

Indeed, aside from the à la carte menu, Gu Shang also has rotating daily specials (except on Sundays, when the shop is closed) such as the always vividly green lei cha ("thunder tea”) on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

'Lǔròu fàn' ​​​​​​​or braised pork rice (left) and Teochew porridge (right).
'Lǔròu fàn' ​​​​​​​or braised pork rice (left) and Teochew porridge (right).

Fans of lǔròu fàn (braised pork rice) look forward to Mondays and Thursdays; the same braised pork is served with Teochew porridge on these two days too, together with sides such as salted egg and preserved radish omelette (choi poh dan).

Other dishes have their own appeal. The Homemade Curry Chicken has surprising heat while the fried Pork Meatballs are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, perfect for dipping in some cool chilli sauce.

The daily specials make it easy to look forward to different days of the week, believe it or not. Some weeks I pray that it will rain on Tuesdays, the better to enjoy Gu Shang’s belly warming Claypot Ginger Wine Chicken.

The Homemade Curry Chicken has surprising heat.
The Homemade Curry Chicken has surprising heat.

The barely intoxicating fragrance of the wine, the bite from the julienned old ginger, the moist morsels of chicken, the heady broth, a clear soup meant to be sipped - what’s not to like?

The Claypot Ginger Wine Chicken is served with either a bowl of hot steamed white rice or cooked with some misua (wheat vermicelli). I typically choose the former to take my time enjoying the soup; the Fujianese noodles have a tendency of soaking up the broth faster than I like.

This is a conundrum I faced as a child when my late grandmother used to ask me whether I would like rice or misua with my ginger wine chicken. The noodles seem more appropriate but the gluttonous child I was wanted to savour every last drop slowly.

So rice it was then, and rice it is now at Gu Shang, where the taste of home cooking lingers long after your last spoonful.

Gu Shang’s belly warming Claypot Ginger Wine Chicken.
Gu Shang’s belly warming Claypot Ginger Wine Chicken.

​​​​​​​Gu Shang Café 古尚

No. 33, Eco Majestic, 1, Jalan Eco Majestic 10/1C, Semenyih, Selangor

Open Mon-Sat 11am-8:30pm; Sun closed

Phone: 03-8725 0377

* This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.

* Follow us on Instagram @eatdrinkmm for more food gems.