A big highlight of our eating adventures during our holiday (in September … where did time go?) was the dinner we had with J’s parents and a group of K’s (J’s Dad) old school buddies. They’ve all come a long way since they grew up together in Penang, and among them there is an engineer, an oil and gas man, an entertainment exec, a private banker, and an architect!
J’s parents had already scheduled in a meal to catch up with the old crew, but when we were asked if we wanted to tag along, we were happy to oblige – knowing full well this would be a great opportunity to eat some great food recommended by locals.
We were picked up at our hotel (The Double Tree by Hilton on Jalan Tun Razak – I highly recommend it!) and were quickly on the road to the restaurant, a place just around the corner – but of course, with the crazy KL traffic, the journey took a little longer than it would in Perth.
The restaurant – Ka-Soh was a favourite of our affable hosts, who had already pre-ordered a special menu.
K-S told us the restaurant was famous for two things – the fish head curry and the fish head soup. I’ve had similar versions of this soup before (served with crispy fried snapper wings, rice noodles in a milky tomato broth). But one sip of this fragrant soup proved it was an entirely different version - K-S told us that was because unlike other places, Ka-Soh doesn’t use the ubiquitous evaporated milk to make the soup richer or to impart it’s typically cloudy look – they only use the fish bones, and boil them into the fish stock, he said.
We also enjoyed some typically Malaysian sambal kangkong (water spinach), and tried some crispy fried frogs legs for the first time. I’m not too sure why people say they ‘taste like chicken’ – having tried the two, I’d say they taste like frog. But in a good way!
J and I both agreed the pork leg with it’s tender falling off the bone meat, and crispy crackly skin was our favourite dish of the night. And I think it was a big favourite with everyone else – I noticed lots of secret gleeful looks when each person at the table selected a piece with crackling gold.
We also tried the restaurant’s famous fish head curry – it was fragrant, rich and spicy, and while I’m not usually a fan of fish head curry, because it was boneless, I found it much easier to give it a go.
The steamed savoury custard was a bit of a revelation – my Grandma used to make something quite similar with seasoned pork mince, but this version contained jewel-like pieces of century egg! It was silky and light, and delicious. I’d love to try making this at home (possibly with the addition of the minced pork )
Just when I thought I’d eaten my favourite of the night, the waiter brought out the plate of crispy golden blachan chicken. This was seriously good. The deep frying had enhanced and also mellowed the blachan, and it gave the chicken a deliciously savoury flavour (kind of like the well known Singaporean/Malaysian dish – Marmite chicken).
With seven of us at the table it was much easier for us to be heroes and attempt dessert. Not one to be beaten by a full belly I was really happy to see this when it arrived. Between the crisp super-thin pancake was sweet and sticky mung bean paste. This was definitely one of the better versions of this dish I’ve eaten, and it was a delicious end to a great meal.