Monday, March 22, 2010

A craving for seafood at KJ

THE location is not dowdy at all. Located by a lake, KJ Seafood Lake Garden is a spot where you can indulge in seafood while enjoying a view that's a sight for sore eyes.

Butter Cream King Prawn.
“It’s a place where people can come for a meal or simply a drink by the lake,’’ says Ken Choy, co-owner of the restaurant.

Back by over 20 years in the food and beverage industry, it seemed a natural progression for Choy to start a food business.

He teamed up with a friend who happened to be the previous owner of the other Kelana Seafood restaurant, a much bigger place located nearby before it had to shut down several years ago because the land was being redeveloped into what is now Plaza Kelana Jaya.

Occupying a corner shoplot in the commercial centre, the present setup, which opened on March 3, is much smaller.

Rice from a wooden bucket

Among the seafood favourites KJ Seafood offers are Butter Cream King Prawn, Black Pepper squids, Crispy-fried Soft shell crab and Kum heong lala (lala fried with chilli and dried shrimps).

For the unique touch, the restaurant serves rice in a wooden bucket.

‘’This makes the steamed rice more aromatic and tasty,” says Choy.

Choy, 35, has been learning the art of cooking since he was 12. He has worked for years as a chef around the region especially in Thailand and Indonesia.

And now with a business he shares with a partner, he brings his diverse experience to the fore.

KJ Seafood also has a variety of dishes that are decidedly not seafood.

If you want c
Black Pepper squids and Grill lamb with honey pepper sauce (below right).
hicken, beef or lamb, you have come to the right place.

On the intriguing menu are Mongolian crispy chicken, Wok-fried ginger beef, Teppanyaki Tenderloin, Lamb with honey pepper sauce and Claypot Lamb Shank. It also serves noodles and fried rice.

Says Choy: “We also have daily set lunches. A RM25 (2-3 persons) Set A comprises Tom Yam Soup, Garlic Kailan, steamed Tilapia, steamed jasmine rice and Chinese tea. Set B is RM36 (3-4 persons has Tom Yam soup, steamed seabass, kangkung belacan, Chinese omelette , steamed jasmine rice and jasmine tea.

For this review, I took two friends along for company.

We started off with lemon grass jelly as the appetiser, a clear jelly which tasted light without the pungent smell of lemon grass.

kj-seafood-8We were then inundated with Kum Heong lala, Butter Cream King Prawn, Grill lamb with honey pepper sauce, Crispy fried Soft shell crab, Tepanyaki Beef, Black pepper squids and Mongolian chicken, with steamed jasmine rice and Chinese tea.

What drew accolade

The lala and the prawns won praise from Mohd Norfaizin Md Salleh.

‘’The kum heong lala was nice, not too spicy. The prawns are fresh and succulent, and dripping with the butter sauce. The other dishes were OK; my least favourite was the Mongolian chicken.’’

Norfaizin has a fondness for the restaurant, saying he has been a regular customer since it started early this month.

‘’My clients and friends also find this place conducive since it is facing a lake.’’

Yee Phooi Yee was less obliging in outlook, saying that her tastebuds were more selective since she is used to eating Chinese food every day. In her book, she could not rate any dishes as outstanding and pointed out that they were ''normal’’.

However, what the restaurant has going for it are the generous portions, she said.

As for me, I was partial to the prawns, grilled lamb and fried crabs.
The family who found a new place to eat out.

‘’The prawns were fresh, the lamb was tender and the crab was not oily. All three were not too salty either.’’

Packed with freshness

Choy says he goes to the wholesale market daily to look for prawns but it will be off the menu for the day if he can't find the freshest.

Apart from butter, the Butter Cream King Prawn is combined with curry leaves, bird's eye chillies as well as evaporated milk.

The curry leaves lent a distinctive flavour and complemented the richness of the butter and evaporated milk.

A family of four who sat nearby said they found the food to their liking and at half the price of the regular restaurant they frequent.

“I was surprised there was halal seafood in this area. We actually wanted to go somewhere else but fate led us here.

‘’It’s all right, the food was good and the family was happy. I will surely recommend this place to my friends,’’ said the head of the Malay family, who declined to be named.

Durian for dessert

For dessert, we were served fried durian with a creamy cold core.

The durian were blended with whipping cream to get the creamy texture without overpowering the durian taste. After freezing the mixture, the durian ice cream were then dipped in the fry. The golden crust had a fried banana-like texture. Bundled with the cold-blended durian centre, the combination was simply delicious and rounded off a night at KJ Seafood.

The three adjacent dishes shown here are (from top) Mongolian chicken, Kum Heong lala and fried durian.
The next day, I strode out for lunch at the restaurant. I couldn’t possibly finish Set A on my own so two other friends help picked up the slack.

Lunch-time service was fast. We waited less than 15 minutes to see the first food on the table.

The tom yam soup was sour but not too spicy and went well with the rice.

Lunch do

Next up – garlic kailan and steamed tilapia. The vegetable was enough for three persons, cooked well and not bitter at all.

Although we were not tilapia fans, we found the freshwater fish in this instance steamed with enough ginger and spices to

take away the fishy smell, and thereby making it palatable.

Taste is subjective. In the two days we have tried the food there and compared notes, KJ Seafood did not strike all the right notes.

It didn’t have to.

It earned enough kudos to rate it as a worthwhile place to dine out. And you simply can’t argue with the view.

food-to-goKJ Seafood Lake Garden is located at A-10-1, Plaza Kelana Jaya, Jalan SS7/12A, Kelana Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya. Call tel 03-7877 1526. Business hours are (Mon - Sat) from 11.30am-3pm and 5pm to 11pm. On Sunday, it opens from 5pm to 11pm.

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