Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sek Yuen - A Feast For The Senses

"But I want to go to Sek Yuen!", Eeyore whined.

It was the day before Eeyore's birthday, and we had somehow changed dinner plans in the hopes of surprising him.

"Wouldn't it be nicer to eat crabs and sang har meen (fried noodles with prawns) and lots of seafood at Green View Restaurant for your birthday?", I asked Eeyore in a soothing voice, akin to a mother talking to her child.

"But I want to eat pork! I want to eat pat poh ngap! I don't want to eat crabs!", lambasted Eeyore defiantly.

Several frantic calls later (thanks Barbie and Smokin' SOB), we were all set for Sek Yuen. We certainly weren't going to disappoint our dear friend, Eeyore. Of course, as we soon found out, good ol' Murphy has a weird sense of humour.

sek yuen
Sek Yuen was crowded as it was the Friday before Chap Goh Mei and all the tables were occupied. We had already pre-ordered the pat poh ngap (Eight Treasures Duck) the night before; ordering the remaining dishes was a stupendous task due to the variety of options presented to us. The aunty taking the orders could rattle off several dishes without pausing for breath. Never underestimate old people.

yue sang
We waited with bated breath as the yue sang was placed before us. On one hand, most of the ingredients were fresh which was what I was looking for. On the other hand, the yue sang, or specifically the raw fish, was doused in an overly generous amount of sesame oil, thus overpowering the rest of the flavours and our senses as we felt the grease on our tongues; the only flavour strong enough to withstand the taste of the sesame oil was the plum sauce. So when two giants fight for attention, the audience suffers. And that was our fate.

pat poh ngap
The pat poh ngap (eight treasures duck) was then presented on our table. The braised duck was stuffed with gingko nuts and mushrooms. Thanks to the hours of cooking, its flesh was tender, and the sauce was infused with the flavours of the duck and the other ingredients.

Here ends my visual description.

As the duck made its way around the table, the gods decided that Eeyore deserved a romantic meal and the power supply abruptly ended leaving us salivating and unable to see our food. Despite having mobilephones with inbuilt flashlights, we were still prodding in the dark with chopsticks, fingers and tongues. The restaurant owners were apologetic, and we goodnaturedly carried on eating, wondering if we were putting chilli padi in our mouths.

Halfway through our meal, the chinese lanterns suddenly lit up. Partial power had resumed; a little sinister, no doubt, but it made for a charming chinese inspired dinner. We were still unable to see our food, though.

The subsequent pictures, taken with flash, will reveal our meal for the first time to the Makan Club who were unable to see what they ate that day.

stewed lamb
Stewed stink badger.
Tender, but smell of meat was not sufficiently masked. There were leftovers, but not because people couldn't see the dish.

hoong siew yue tau
Hoong siew head of prehistoric panderichthys.
Deep fried, this delightful dish had a sauce that was rich in flavour...I distinctly tasted pork. Hmmm...pork in a fish dish? That was when I tasted siew yoke (roasted pork) in my mouth. Mmmm. Definitely thumbs up. I ended up eating half the head.

kah heong chai
Kah heong lalang and lizard's tail.
I blogged about this in my previous post on Sek Yuen. It's our all-time favourite vegetable dish due to the lovely flavour of nam yue (red fermented bean paste) which we didn't have to see to know it was there. The nose is an underutilised tool in dining.

lai pak
Fried venus flytrap.
This dish of stir fried vegetables was placed in front of Barbie. She ate most of it and pronounced it good.

woo tau kau yoke
Yam and dog belly meat (less fat, more meat).
A dish that was full of promise, but turned out disappointing as the meat was dry and the yam was drier. They should have let the dog live.

Happy Birthday, Eeyore!
Happy Birthday, Eeyore!

Note: No endangered species were slaughtered, willingly or unwillingly, in the name of gastronomy. But I acknowledge that a little creative licence and a lot of alcohol can make one write strange things. So, in all honesty, the following are the real dishes, together with their boring names, which we purportedly ate that night:-

Stewed stink badger - stewed lamb

Hoong siew head of prehistoric panderichthys - hoong siew yue tau (fried fish head)

Kah heong lalang and lizard's tail - kah heong chai (mixed vegetables)

Fried venus flytrap - fried lai pak (vegetables)

Yam and dog belly meat - woo tau kau yoke (yam and pork)

My conscience is now clear (hic!).

Lyrical Lemongrass. March 9, 2007.


boo_licious said...

oh no, this reminds me of my friend's Valentine Dinner. A friend of mine said the food in Sek Yuen really drop in quality during CNY. Maybe they can't cope? Sorry to hear yr kaw yoke was not nice that day.

ka..t said...

Hahaha.. that uncle famous already. Every time any blogger reviews this place, his face is sure to turn up! You should've seen the varicose veins on his legs - all bulbous and protruding! Imagine the amount of time he spends on his feet!!

I really like the hoong siew fish dish. Simple old-style cooking at its best!

tigerfish said...

Birthday guy has the say! I like eight treasures duck...been ages since I have it. Chestnuts(the "non-water" kind) is one of those treasures, right? Love those.
Only can see but cannot painful.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

boo_licious: well, I'm not striking Sek Yuen off my list yet. Their food is generally good, and there will probably be a lot more visits in the future. We also like the uncles and aunties there. So lovable.

ka..t: Welcome! Yeah, that uncle is quite an institution! The hoong siew yue tau was one of the better dishes that night.

tigerfish: Yep, I think there were chestnuts in there. I could eat, but not see it! Good taste test that night.

wmw said...

Ha ha ha...Murphy's Law indeed! But I'm sure it made this outing very memorable indeed. Reminds me of this restaurant that I saw on Travel and Dining. The whole concept was about eating in darkness; experiencing how the blind lives and heightening the other senses.

Barbie said...

Hey, our stewed badger had gravy!! Ai ya, maybe if I had taken a piece soaked in gravy, it wld be more tender and less, er, stinky(?). Hmm, or maybe the gravy was meant for the dog dish??? Kitchen must be dark too. :-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

wmw: yep, memorable's the word. mind u, it was hardly romantic, what with all that sweating and cursing whenever we accidentally swallowed a bone. Anyhow, it was good fun. :-)

barbie: they could have thrown all the food into one big pot and served us - it wouldn't have mattered! lol. It was good value for money, tho. RM216 for a table of 9, hor?

sc said...

i like the names u gave to the dishes..funny.. ;). sek yuen serves good pat poh ngap and veg

Tummythoz said...

Badger? That caught me offguard. Only understood what you were implying when read d name of d nx dish. Farnee stuff.

Wow, noticed your pictures are bursting off the monitor - gigantic like wmw's!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

sc and tummythoz: I figured that it wouldn't matter what I called the dishes since we couldn't see the food anyway. :-P

I just figured out how to post big pictures. Hope it isn't a bad thing..may slow down those with slower connections.

KampungboyCitygal said...

u guys are good in ordering..everything seems so special n nice..and i alwiz love ur shots..good job

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

thanks, kampungboycitygal! We normally ask for recommendations when we eat at restaurants. Plus, some of my makan kaki love to eat, so they've become sorta experts in the field. hahaha. Guess it also comes with age *plucking out a grey hair*. ;-)

jason said...

Nice shots you have there although some dishes look mixed up(?) Just 'hentam' la in the dark is it? :P

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

jason: harlow! where got mixed up one? lol. dog meat is dog meat wat. I don't bluff bluff one. :-P

boo_licious said...

I love the uncles and aunties there - esp this particular one who was horrified with the amt of food we all ordered.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

boo: you mean the aunty who normally takes orders and is very expressive ah? :-)

Precious Pea said...

The names of the dishes are so funny but me no like the 'dog' involved lerr...sniff sniff sniff.

jason said...


boo: probably because she's happy to see you come back for their food

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

gulp! forgot there are dog lovers among us. Sorry, Precious Pea! I won't eat dog meat again. :-P

fatboybakes said...

pray tell, what's stewed stinky badger?

team BSG said...

wa dis one like da Captain's final countdown Fighting 4 da Concubine Dish before he took on the Emperor himself Shi Huang Ti lah !

Henry Yeo said...

Geez, wish I could get into your inner circle soon.

But then again, Sek Yuen is my family restaurant so I am more likely to be eating with my family there, more often than not.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

fbb: see note in red which I just added in.

team bsg: less blood was spilled.

henry yeo: hey, the more the merrier! You need variety too, right? :-P

Melting Wok said...

ll, I got over excited with everything especially the 8 treasures duck, that I call it out loud "putt po(woman) ngap" wrong..:P aiyo, that lamb clay pot is very popular here too at the cantonese + teochew restaurants, but the portions in MY is really unbelievable man, thumbs up !! :)

Precious Pea said...

Peapea let out a sigh of relief..phew!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

melting wok: You should add the pat poh ngap to your wish list when u come down here. The portion is so big that you'll have to fast the day before.

precious pea: hehe. I love dogs too. :-)

The Expedited Writer said...

Hi Lyrical Lemongrass,

All these food, they just look soooo good right now. I really miss food like these and I don't get to eat them here.

Man I need to get myself a wok to give my dishes some "wok breath"!

Btw, I'm adding you to my food blog :) I love the pics you take of food, keep up the good work :)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

the expedited writer: hi, and thanks for dropping by! There's no food like malaysian food, and you've done a good job replicating it at home!

The Expedited Writer said...

Unfortunately, home is Malaysia for me. I've just moved to Canada last regrets so far. No I am lying, i regreted having to move so far away from all the good food back home! :P

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

the expedited writer: I visited Canada several years back and loved it there. Yeah, the availability of good and cheap food at every nook and corner here is undoubtedly Malaysia's star attraction.