ONE of my latest discoveries is the Ching Kie Restaurant in Taman Karak Indah, Karak, Pahang.
Okay, I know this is a bit far-fetched, but if you want to get out of town over the weekend, Karak is the place to visit.
It is only one-and a-half hours drive from the Klang Valley and the trip is worthwhile.
So, what brought me to this sleepy hollow?
I actually did two things in one go.
First, I attended my class reunion at Janda Baik near Pekan Bukit Tinggi.
There, I met my former classmates from Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur and after 27 years, some of the guys are barely recognisable.
That said, I would like to give a shout to my buddies Dr Mohd Ali Abu Bakar, Abang Rashid Felda, Woon Fei Hung, Haji Rocky Sujak, David Ho, Andrew Tan and a bus load of guys whose names I cant remember!
We had a good time laughing about our receding hairlines, expanding waistlines and reminiscing about the good old days.
From Janda Baik, the next thing on my agenda was a follow-up visit to my friends Ah Pan and farmer Wong of Sin Poh Farm in Mukim Sertik, Karak.
I had not seen these guys for some time and my mission at the farm was to land a table-sized sang yee (snakehead) for the preparation of a traditional Chinese herbal soup.
Farmer Wong, who owns an award-winning farm for vegetables such as choy-sum, siew pak choy and nai pak is also rearing freshwater fishes such as the tilapia and grass carp.
After successfully landing my catch, we set off to Ching Kie Restaurant (GPS N03 26.069, E 102 01.911) in Taman Karak Indah for dinner.
My farmer friend recommended this makan place which is hidden from plain sight.
Sam, only the locals know how to find this place.
The selection of freshwater fish here is also very decent. said Wong.
Together with Wong Wei, his son and Ah Pan, we dug into the food.
Our selection of dishes were steamed ikan tapah (Wallago Attu or the Giant River Catfish) head, stir-fried asparagus with prawns and koo lou yuk (sweet and sour pork).
The popular dish here is the steamed ikan tapah head (RM10 per 100 grammes) and I must agree with Ah Pan that it is pretty good.
It has a smooth texture and tasty flesh and since I really love to consume fish head, I must say that the tapah has a smooth and juicy skin that literally melts in your mouth.
The fish head served was only half the portion and weighed 600 grammes (RM60), and on the Samo-scale, I would rate it a 7 out of 10.
The har thou lou soon (asparagus with prawns) and koo lou yuk were pretty decent, too.
Later in the day, I found out that Ching Kie specialises in freshwater fishes such as the ikan krai, patin buah, tenggalan and baung that are harvested from the Pahang river.
This makan place is open from 3pm to 10pm daily, and is closed during certain Chinese festivals.
Karak town is about one-and a-half-hours drive from the Klang Valley and can be accessed via the KL-Karak section of the East Coast Highway.