MOONSI NG RESTAURANT
No.41, Jalan KIP 2
Taman Perindustrian Kepong
Tel: 03-6275 1037, 017-207 5271 (Ms Cheng)
Venture into the Kepong industrial heartland for good food that’s cooked with passion and leaves you in seventh heaven.
IN Hong Kong si fong choi is all the rage. This Cantonese term essentially means “private kitchen dishes” – usually a selection of simple, hearty offerings rustled up by passionate home cooks who turn their private residences into makeshift hole-in-the-wall eateries.
But forget about simply walking in and grabbing a seat at one of these places. Seats at these si fong choi sessions are hard to come by, unless you know somebody who’s in the loop or has all the right connections to get you in.
Rumour has it that a similar trend is starting to take root in the Klang Valley but in a different form. In a bid to set themselves apart from the competition, some owners of small neighbourhood eateries are now offering their own si fong choi selection. Curious about this new phenomenon, I asked around and ended up at Moon Sing, a modest, no-frills restaurant tucked away somewhere in the heart of the Kepong Industrial Park in Kuala Lumpur.
Yes, industrial park.
Ambience-wise, the restaurant looked no different from your average mid-price Chinese tai chow (big fry) eateries found in most suburbs. Its fluorescent-lit setting was spartanly furnished, highlighted only by several photographs of someone proudly showing off his catch and some of the house specialities.
We learned that Moon Sing’s owner cum chef, Tim Ho, hailed from Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.
“My family runs a vegetable and fish farm there,” said Ho. “So my restaurant’s supply of tilapia and fresh greens come directly from our farm.”
Since Ho himself single-handedly whips up the dishes on the menu, diners usually have to wait at least 20 to 30 minutes before they get to sample his lah sau choi (signature dishes).
“Good food takes time and effort to prepare,” Ho explained. “Every dish that comes out is cooked wholeheartedly by me. All you have to do is wait for them to be ready.”
Our dinner commenced with Theen Chaat Vegetable In Superior Soup (small RM8, medium RM12, large RM15) – a light, clear broth with theen chaat, a type of waxy vegetable that has a slightly crunchy texture like kelp, kei chi (wolfberries) and sliced black mushrooms.
We fell hook, line and sinker for Moon Sing’s Tilapia In Claypot (RM2.50/100g). Somehow, Ho managed to bring out the fish’s sweetness using his own soya sauce-based gravy mixed with plenty of fresh coriander, ginger strips and spring onion. It was certainly a nice departure from the usual jiong cheng (steamed with spicy bean paste sauce) version.
For more piquant flavours, you can try the irresistible Steamed Assam Tilapia (RM2.50/100g). You’d have a hard time restraining yourself from sousing your white rice with the tangy, spicy gravy.
Another simple but interesting dish is Yong Kau Yue (RM4/100g) which comprises a whole fried deboned Spanish Mackerel stuffed with homemade fish paste. Bite into the thick cutlets, and you are rewarded with a mouthful of flaky fish meat and springy fish paste that’s scrumptious.
Equally popular here is the delicious Braised Ma Yau with Tou Foo And Hum Choi (Fried Threadfin With Beancurd And Salted Mustard Green, RM4.50/100g), a comforting home-style delight that I guarantee even the fussiest family matriarchs would heartily approve of.
The Hakka Khau Yoke (Braised Pork With Yam, RM16) and Three Flavoured Pork Ribs (small RM13, medium RM22, large RM28) also went down a real treat. Although the former can’t hold a candle to my aunt’s version, the tender and flavourful meat was no less sublime. I really enjoyed the latter for its sweet-briny-tart nuances, which left me hankering for more.
One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and this same principle applies to food too. Frankly, the Brinjal With Garlic And Dried Prawns (small RM8, medium RM12, large RM15) was not much to look at, but taste-wise, it sure blew us away. The silky soft but non-greasy brinjal that came sprinkled with some fried garlic flakes and crunchy dried prawns was something we couldn’t get enough of.
The only offering that failed to impress was Lai Yau Sotong (Squid In Creamy Butter Sauce, RM14). We found the blend of evaporated milk, turmeric powder and curry leaves too sweet for our liking. This little glitch aside, I’d say Moon Sing’s affordable homely specialities are well worth the drive into the industrial heartland of Kepong.