New Formosa Restaurant,
46, Jalan SS2/24,
47300 Petaling Jaya.
Tel: (03) 7875 1894
Business hours: Lunch from 12 noon to 3.00pm;
dinner from 6.00pm to 10.30pm.
The restaurant is open throughout Chinese New Year
PORK, chicken, fish and prawns are must-haves for a festive Chinese New Year (CNY) meal.
Every household would prepare traditional dishes “homestyle”. That means, the way the dish is prepared in a family and stays as a family tradition, explains Jeanie Lee, who runs a 30-year-old Taiwanese restaurant with her husband, Lee Weng Eng, a chef.
Steamed chicken is one of the most significant dishes for a festive meal. The restaurant’s Steamed Village Chicken with Yam and Vegetable uses free range or kampong chicken. It appears as a simple dish to serve but the cook still needs to perfect his or her skill to ensure the chicken is not dry and overcooked or undercooked and “bloodied”. I like the succulent texture and excellent flavour.
The Chinese like kampong chicken as it has a thin layer of skin, is less fat, lean meat and better texture (plus no hormone injections). Thumbs up to the special fragrant chopped ginger dip, a secret recipe.
Some Chinese families include yam for its festive dishes because it signifies auspiciousness. The steamed yam slices are soft yet not mushy. And the yam is “powdery”, a descriptive to denote excellent quality yam.
The dish is one of the courses of four sets of the CNY menus (RM498 nett) for 10 persons. The other three sets are priced at RM398 nett, RM368 nett and RM338 nett. CNY Lou Sang menus are available until Feb 6.
With negative publicity surrounding shark’s fin, the restaurant opts for a unique variation. New Formosa’s Fish Skin Soup with Crab Meat and Bamboo Pith and Baby Scallops is a slightly goey, hearty and nutritious seafood gumbo. Just like shark’s fin soup, you can add dashes of vinegar for zing.
The fish skins used are from Taiwan, says Jeanie, a Taiwanese. “They are skins of a sea fish,” she says, declining to reveal more. “The fish gelatine is good for complexion. They are good as ‘lubricant’ for the joints and knees too.”
Pineapple Spare Ribs and Butter Eel is a two-in-one combination platter. Spare ribs are coated with batter, deep-fried and enveloped in a sweet and sour sauce with red and green capsicums and pineapple slices.
I preferred the Butter Eel which are crispy thin strips on the outside and soft on the inside. Prepared ala Butter Prawns-style, it has a liberal sprinkling of curry leaves and a rich dry sauce made with butter and egg yolk, with cili padi for extra kick.
I have eaten Grilled Garlic Prawns at this restaurant a couple of times and it’s one of my irresistible dishes. The mound of finely chopped garlic paste clung like a saddle on the back of each skewered prawn. Well, some people think that eating garlic can help increase good cholesterol (perhaps to counter any negative effects of prawns, which are relatively high in cholesterol).
Silver Pomfret Taiwanese Home-style is deep-fried to a crisp. Some parts of the fillet will crackle in your mouth; others are tender fillet. My photographer Art Chen commented, “No fishy taste.” The sweet and spicy bean sauce tastes better than it looks; it is dark coloured but packed a punch, with a hint of cili padi which you cannot see.
Roasted Pork with Two Kinds of Vegetables has a border of green (broccoli) surrounding the white centre. Dig with your chopsticks and you will find two varieties of mushrooms: Abalone mushrooms and crisp golden needle mushrooms. The roast pork slices that garnished the top of the dish are delicious dainty morsels though roast pork lovers would prefer chunky pieces though. Lup mei farn (Chinese Sausage Rice) too oily for you? Try the Taiwan Hakka Bamboo Rice, a healthy version, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Incredibly, the rice isn’t oily. In fact, the rice is more flavourful thanks to bits of aromatic ingredients of fried Chinese sausages, shitake mushrooms and pumpkin bits. “Pumpkin is added for its auspicious meaning. It signifies picking up gold. Besides, pumpkin is good for the eyes too,” says Jeanie, whose restaurant constantly updates with its innovative dishes.
It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery. Jeanie claims that her restaurant’s CNY menus are being replicated by some other restaurants.
To get into the celebrative mood, there is the kick-off with a prosperity toss of Formosa Jellyfish Yee Sang winding down to Taiwan famous muachi (glutinous rice snacks coated with sugar and peanuts) and puddings for desserts.