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Monday, 5 October 2015

Soo Kee (Char Siew) @ Ampang

I used to pass by this shop enroute to Great Eastern Mall and (so) I googled it one day and came across many blogs mentioning how awesome their "char siew" (barbequed pork) is.

The place I'm referring to is Restoran Soo Kee @ Ampang and we decided to try it out for dinner one evening.  The inside of the restaurant looks really old and a bit dodgy, if you ask me.  The place wasn't full for a weekend dinner and we easily secured a table although the dishes we ordered took some time to be served.

The Signature Tofu was the first to arrive in a thick gravy of egg with minced pork, thin slivers of fresh crab meat (probably harvested from crab legs), carrots and sugar snap peas.

I found the texture of the tofu (which I believe is made in-house) overly soft and too mushy for my liking.  The texture wasn't anything like silken smooth tofu, not something I'd order again, although the thick egg gravy was somewhat pleasant.

Next came the Deep Fried "Chun Kuen" (aka some kind of deep fried spring roll) which resembled "lor bak" (minced meat roll) but it was essentially a fish paste roll.  The outer layer had a slight crisp to it though it didn't taste anything like a wrapping of some sort (like bean curd skin) but more like a batter mix.

I detected bits of salted egg yolk, carrots and "yin sai" (Chinese parsley) in the fish paste mix.  I liked the fragrance the yin sai brought to the fish paste and if it had come with a crispier skin, I would order this again in a heartbeat.

For our vegetable dish, we went with a simple Stir-Fry "Choi Tam" (Brussels Sprouts) fried with ginger, a few carrot slices and lots of garlic.  Although this vegetable is often referred to as Brussels sprouts in English, they're actually the leaves of the Brussels sprouts.  This is best eaten quickly stir fried to maintain a crunch but it can sometimes have a bit of a bitter taste as well.
 
Finally, a must-order here is, of course, the Char Siew as it's singularly the most sought after commodity here....even if you didn't know that, you soon would once you step into the restaurant and see strips and strips of them hanging in the front.

The well charred outer layer, the smoky flavour and the tender, succulent meat was well received.  I liked that the meat wasn't overly sweet. 

Just remember to ask for your preferred ratio of lean meat to fat.  The cuts that were "pun fei sau" (half lean, half fat) had a melt-in-your-mouth texture while the leaner cuts were still tender to the bite.

I didn't order any "siew yoke" (roasted pork) as I saw only a miserable (small) slab hanging at dinner time and was afraid that the siew yoke skin may have lost some of its crispiness.  I was also tempted to order the "kon cheen har lok" (huge freshwater prawns cooked in a dark sauce) that was recommended but decided against it when I enquired the price (around RM90 - RM100) just for that dish (maybe 2 - 3 prawns?)...and price wasn't the only deterring factor.  I wasn't about to take the risk of spending that kind of money on a restaurant that is not a specialist in "sang har meen" (aka freshwater prawn noodles), although it's offered here, for fear that it may not turn out as expected.

The above meal for three costs RM76.30 in total inclusive of rice, Chinese tea and water. But be forewarned that the Chinese tea is among one of the worst I've had (so better request for your desired type of tea in pots and not the general mix in glasses).  Even the plain rice seems to be of a lower quality.  Since no receipt was given, I suspect that the plate of char siew probably costs in the region of RM25 (not all that cheap).  I'd say that prices are on the higher side for a place like this. 

My Personal Opinion
 
The char siew is probably the one thing you should not miss ordering here....and the only thing that I'd want here as well.  The dimly lit restaurant, with its old air-conditioners chugging along...and old everything else, isn't exactly an environment I'd be particularly fond of. 

The char siew was good but I've also had equally good (if not better) ones in lots of places elsewhere....and the rest of the dishes were passable but not extraordinary.  If you happen to be in the area, it'll be a good place to have a quick lunch of char siew rice but nothing more than that! ;)

Restoran Soo Kee
No 373-1 4th Mile
Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-4257 0767

14 comments:

  1. Generally, these roast meats are much nicer in KL, maybe the Cantonese influence.

    We had a very good one here, guy from Ipoh - just migrated to London!!! So his stall's closed for good now. There is still another one that I like - tried one place this morning, people always tell me it is nice...I didn't really think so, edible...that much I would say.

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    1. Come to think of it, I've not really seen you post good ones on your blog....those with the nice 'almost burnt' caramelised char on the outside...hehe! :D

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  2. Better just tapao lah, or go get it in Shamelin...

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    1. If I had known only the char siew was good, I would have but I was there for dinner to try out some of their other stir-fry dishes. The Shamelin one, you must be referring to Uncle Meng's char siew :)

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  3. I used to prefer char siew over siew yoke but now it's the opposite. But I still do enjoy a good char siew. Since this place is only good for char siew, maybe like what RG said, just go tapau the char siew to eat at home.

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    1. I too prefer siew yoke over char siew probably because I don't like as much the sweetness in the marinade that usually coats the char siew to give it that caramelised exterior.

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  4. The char siu looks good, I like mine sticky sweet :)

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    1. I actually prefer mine not too sticky sweet....that's why I would ask them (when I remember) to omit the char siew sauce whenever I have char siew rice! ;)

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  5. RG's suggestion to tapao is spot on. Don't think I will want to sit there and eat after reading your description of the old place. Smart move of asking for the price of the "kon cheen har lok". Nowadays must ask price first before ordering expensive food items or else may kena tiok. I think I know where this shop is, a little after the turning left from MRR2 into Jalan Ampang heading to GE Mall.

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    1. With the exorbitant prices of these huge freshwater prawns of late, it has become very unaffordable, so better to ask the price first! :(

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  6. ooo, i wonder if this is related in any way to the Soo Kee in Imbi ... that's the only Soo Kee i know, and i like their sang har meen :) hmmm, i think i'd like the egg gravy for the tofu, especially if it's served very hot and creamy :)

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    1. No, this is in no way related to the Soo Kee in Imbi. I've had the sang har and beef noodles there before too...one of the better known places for this. I guess Soo Kee is a pretty common name (the other would be Meng Kee :D) coz there's one Soo Kee in PJ selling Ipoh sar hor fun as well. Yeah, the egg gravy for this dish was better than the tofu unfortunately.

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  7. When I read the title of today's post I couldn't wait to get to the bottom to see what you thought of the char siew. It has been a famed location in that area for as many years as I can remember. I'm not fond of the fat and so always do well with local friends as they're happy for the fattier pieces, while I always want the lean chunks of meat.

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    1. As much as I would like the half fat half lean ratio for char siew, I don't mind the leaner chunks either as long as they're tender. The ones I requested here was more lean than fat. I can understand why you prefer the leaner cuts since you're more into healthy eating =)

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