Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Food: Restoran Chef Low 羊城海鲜饭店 @ Bangsar Lucky Garden

Like I often say, my parents (or more so my Dad) have a yen for trying new places to eat. There are hits and there are misses. Restoran Chef Low, established since the 1980s, is one of the hits that we're very glad to have found, right on the edge of Bangsar! With Chinese New Year just around the corner, perhaps those looking for a new place to take family and friends can consider this recommendation of Chef Low. =D

It's not that easy to spot this seafood restaurant; it's located behind TMC Supermarket, sandwiched between some car workshops. It's also the row behind where the Sanbanto branch in Bangsar used to be before it closed down.

The venue may look small, but it has a large wide space upstairs that can seat big families comfortably. They also continue taking orders well into the night, with last order at 11pm since Bangsar residents seem to like to eat late

To be clear, this post is a combination of 2 dinners at Chef Low; once with my parents, and once with Wendy's family to celebrate her Dad's birthday, hence the overload of food pictures in this post! There's a lot more still to be tried at here though, with a whopping 200 over items on their menu and counting. =)

Soups to start; admittedly soups aren't going to be the most memorable thing at the dinner table, but Chef Low still does a good variety. With my parents, we went for something simple, but close to home; ABC Soup. The bowl came to our table brimming with ingredients! Their rendition of this age-old favourite was good, a pleasant vegetable sweetness though nothing can ever beat our mums' versions. 

With Wendy's family, we tried the Szechuan Soup. As with Szechuan Soup that we're used to, we expected a tongue-numbing sour brew, but this turned out surprisingly bland in flavour despite its promising colour. It contained lots of edibles inside, like mushrooms, tofu, and seafood, but it just wasn't to be. 

Ah, what could be better at a Chinese dinner than a plate of Crispy Roast Chicken (RM 32)! I liked the how the skin was very crispy, and the chicken wasn't very oily. A portion of this is more than enough for 4 or more people to share. A larger portion for big families is available at RM 64.

For something more adventurous and artery-clogging, how about the Chinese Style Fried Bacon (RM 16)? Bacon hardly gets much love at the Chinese dinner table, but it should have more chance if this dish is anything to go by! Not a very large portion, but it's enough for everyone to whet their appetites on this porky dish. We loved how crispy and flavourful the bacon was, having been stir-fried with marmite and some chilli and lime for balance. 

Another traditional Chinese creation is the Yam Basket with Dried Chillies, Cashew Nuts & Boneless Chicken (RM 40). This is a nice dish to order at big dinners to share because the yam can get too filling. None of that here though, because this is a perpetual favourite of Wendy's family. Though it is on the pricy side for a standard yam basket, everyone agreed it was one of the best we've tasted. The chunks of chicken were large and tender, and the yam had a crispy exterior but had a great inner consistency, fluffy and moist.

Chicken and pork aren't the only meats on the menu, as Chef Low also has a few duck dishes. We tried the Smoked Duck, which was a cold dish suitable as a starter or appetizer. It was nice, but at a table of 10, each person only gets about one slice each, so don't expect many second or third helpings of the lean smoked duck. =P

For a change, we chose to have steamed pork ribs instead of the usual deep fried ones. Sweet Plum Steamed Pork Ribs was something we spotted off the specials board and isn't on their menu yet. The combination didn't really work for us. It ended up tasting a little Thai to us, thanks to the use of tomatoes and the herbs, only that it was sweet. Maybe they should consider a tom yum spare ribs instead - I think that would be awesome =D

For vegetables, we highly recommend the Combination Kailan with Dried Scallop (RM 30 for small). It's called a combination because the Kailan is done yin yang style, where the leaves are separated from the stalks and julienned before being deep fried. I really enjoyed the fine texture of the shredded leaves while Wendy liked the crunchy stalks. Add in the fragrant dried scallops, and we're well on our way to vegetable cloud 9. Remember: do order this when at Chef Low! =D

Do your vegetables always need to be green? Are fried vegetables still considered healthy vegetables? You'll have to decide on those difficult questions when ordering the next must-order dish, Pumpkin with Salted Egg Yolk (RM 12). Whether you consider this part of your vegetable dishes or not, one thing's for sure - everyone will love it! The sliced sweet pumpkin, with each strip coated generously with salted egg yolk was to die for, a marriage that melts in your mouth when hot. This was gone in two minutes. Not something that goes well with rice, but a great snack. =D

While meat and vegetable are good at Chef Low, what really makes the place stand out is the variety and quality of the seafood! At dinner with Wendy's family we tried a few types, like this Butter Mantis Prawn (RM 30 for medium-sized serving). Everyone usually talks about going to Klang to have mantis prawns, but these are just as good! The butter bits are fragrant and crumbly with the mantis prawns being crunchily addictive. 

Squid anyone? Chef Low's version of salt-pepper squid, their Crispy Squid with Chilli Spices & Herbs (RM 16 for small) didn't take our breath away. Though, the squid was fresh and springy, it arrived slightly cold to our table.

Of course,what seafood meal would be complete without crabs? We're happy to say that Chef Low does stock some pretty big crabs that can weigh from 800gm - 1kg each. Prices vary according to their market rate, so you can call up and enquire before you dine. We wanted the large crabs, so we called to get a quote and to reserve these.

There's many styles of crabs available for the more adventurous souls, while those looking for regular fare would have traditional cooking styles like the Stir-fried Crab with Salted Egg Yolk. Like the salted egg yolk pumpkin, the crab was also top notch. Each piece was finger licking good, with the grainy salted egg yolk complementing the sweetness of the fleshy crabs well.

For a version with lots of gravy, try the Chef Low's Special Stir-fried Crabs with Chilli Sauce. The redness of the sauce makes the whole dish look quite ominous, but rest assured it's all yummy in the tummy. =D The chilli sauce here was more sweet & sour than it was spicy, so this was a version that even the children enjoyed. Honestly, it was hard to pick a favourite between the two types of crabs we had.

A mention must be given to the Deep Fried Mantou we ordered to dip in the crab gravy. Chef Low gets these from a Taiwanese lady who makes them fresh daily. The crispy shell contains soft and greasy tendrils of mantou, perfect for mopping up all that chilli gravy.

It only seems fitting to end this long post with our perennial favourite, another item that's off their specials board. It's difficult to choose the best dish, but the Indonesian Claypot Prawns (the prawns go by weight, about RM 10-12 per 100 grams depending on the type of prawns you choose) certainly comes close for a lot of us.

The prawns were excellent on both visits, very fresh and fleshy, but what made them all the more enjoyable was Chef Low's special sauce. The Indonesian-inspired gravy was deliciously rich with coconut milk and curry paste, laced with fragrant curry leaves and spices. This was perfect paired steaming white rice. 

To wash it all down, we tried this dessert. Sea Coconut with Longan (RM 4 per pax) was very light and refreshing, thanks to the lemon slices. 

Though prices here are steeper than your usual Chinese go-to spot, but that is almost expected for the Bangsar area. This is some place we don't mind paying a little more for because we know that the food is good and the seafood, fresh.

With CNY coming in just three weeks, hotel set dinners and yee sang menus have already began making their rounds online. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to be paying RM 1000++ or more to toss yee sang at the latest, fanciest joint for every single night right up to Chap Goh Mei... which is why we recommend Restoran Chef Low (as a gauge, dinner for Wendy's family - 13 adults and 3 kids cost RM 700 after tax with three big dishes of crab and even dessert) as a handy, yet tasty alternative. You might probably bump into us hosting a CNY dinner of our own here. =D

Restoran Chef Low
No 4, Lorong Ara Kiri 3,
Lucky Garden, Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6 03 2095 2766, +6 03 2201 2766
Opening Hours: Daily; 11:45am-2:30pm, 5:45pm-11:30pm (last order 11pm)
GPS: N3 07.705 E101 40.139

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