Monday, July 02, 2007

Mui Hiong Salt Fish Delicacy, Imbi

"Come in, sit down!", the lady greeted me in English. "You read about us in NST?", she asked affably.

"Errr, no", I said apologetically.

"Never mind, I give you good dishes to eat", she offered. "We famous for salted fish dishes, you know."

"Errr, yes, I figured that out from your name", I said.

The friendly lady, whom I later found out was the wife of the proprietor cum chef, George Lai, proceeded to describe the house specialities and later produced a copy of the NST for me to read while I waited for my food.

steamed kurau with salted fish

I had a delightful conversation with the the proprietor, George Lai. According to George, the restaurant specialises in chinese new village food, which is essentially food that came about during the 1950s during the Malayan Emergency. As a result of the setting up of these new villages during the Emergency and their segregation to prevent insurgents from gaining influence in the community, the people had to make do with whatever ingredients that were available at that time. Dried salted fish was a popular ingredient. Even after the Emergency ended, the art of preparing these dishes continued. George remembers being asked by his mother to go out and purchase salted fish from the nearby sundry shop when he was young. He has since carried on the tradition of cooking new village food, and I had the pleasure of sampling some of his specialities.

The ikan kurau (threadfin) steamed with salted fish is one such dish. In dishes such as this, the freshness of the fish is crucial, and George didn't fail us. The salted fish provided a hint of flavour, but didn't overpower the dish, leaving the ikan kurau to bask in its watery glory.

steamed minced pork with cuttlefish

Another popular new village dish is the steamed minced pork with cuttlefish. Best eaten hot while the minced pork is still soft, the cuttlefish added a lovely salty, fishy taste to the dish. George cooks mainly Hakka and Cantonese style dishes and is an expert on steamed dishes.

lettuce and cabbage with dried scallops

The stir-fried lettuce and cabbage is a simple dish that tasted wonderful with the generous serving of sliced dried scallops. Of course, in the days of the Emergency, the dish was normally cooked with chopped pieces of salted fish, but the dish has since been improvised to suit the growing needs of the affluent customer.

bittergourd fried with salted egg yolk and prawns

I wanted to break out into song when I tasted the stir-fried bittergourd in a salted egg yolk base. The creamy texture of the sauce went extremely well with the bitter taste of the vegetable creating a myriad variety of flavours in my mouth. The dish was fried with prawns. This was probably the only dish that wasn't a traditional new village recipe.

George Lai has been in the restaurant business for about 13 years, starting in Pandan Jaya, then moving to Taman Maluri and now in Imbi. The restaurant has been in Imbi for approximately 2 years. Don't be misled by the very plain signboard and bare appearance. A gem (albeit a little smelly!) awaits to be discovered inside.

Mui Hiong Salt fish Delicacy
4, Jalan Medan Imbi, Off Jalan Imbi
55100 KL

Opening hours: 12.00 noon - 3.00pm, 6.00pm - 10.00pm (closed Monday and Tuesday of the last week of the month)


k.t.x said...

well well, i think all yr posts r great, but i think this is the greatest so far. perhaps the selection connects with me and my upbringing, perhaps, i dunno.

i wd give up fine dining which requires a fork and knife and a white napkin juz to savor this sort of cuisine. without a doubt.

hakka and canto cuisine are incidentally my all time favs too!!! lol.

do u know that this contractor would always want to take me for lunch at chinese restaurant ala carte whenever i visit this particular site? and i always DEMAND to go to this "economy rice" in a dilapitated industrial zone which sells authentic economy rice which i thought must be 'the best' in klang valley.

i m so gonna try this mui hiong place.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

i can smell the salted fish lingering in my nostrils..hmmm dunno if thats good or bad..good stuff! was it ur camera that got the plenty of attention?

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

k.t.x: i'm glad you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed writing it too, for the simple reason that I found the food wonderful, and that shows through my writing. Yeah man, you and I both know that the best foods are not necessarily found in the most expensive restaurants. I'd like to think that we will never forget where we came from and will continue to enjoy the foods that bring a smile to our faces and a burp to our mouths. ;-)

babe_kl said...

this will certainly spur me to try this place ASAP. had been in my list for ages but never seems to make an effort :p thanks lemongrass for the push ;-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

joe: my camera is small la, how to attract attention? :-P I actually asked to speak to the chef since I was really fascinated with the dishes.

babe_kl: do go and try the food there! Like you, Mui Hiong was on my wishlist since the beginning of time, so am glad hubby created the opportunity for me to go there. :-)

boo_licious said...

I remember reading abt it in the star metro long ago and food looked so good. Thanks for the reminder.

Precious Pea said...

Amboi..ikan masin! Sure all the dishes really tasty. Yummmzz.

Xiu Long Bao said...

hmm hmm...salt fish lauk pauk. But i always get this nasty thirsty feeling after having ikan masin.

tankiasu said...

Always drive past this place on Sunday after church. Never bother to try them before this as I thought it is one of those many restaurants opened by triad gangs for money-laundering purposes in that area. :-P

SteamyKitchen said...

I love salty fish. Is that dish minced pork steamed with salty fish?

My mom does one with salty eggs instead.

Paprika said...

Such gorgeous pics. I can almost imagine you breaking into song. Food looks excellent!

tigerfish said...

The dishes are different from what I'll usually see and I LOVE the sound and sight of all of them. The way you described it. The steamed thread fish, steamed pork, stir fry cabbage...simple basic ingredients but all kicked up a notch by adding salted dish, dried scallops. *drooling*

Pinkelle said...

Yummy! This looks very good and I do love bitter gourd with salt egg! What are their prices like?

jason said...

Ooo... very authentic indeed! Like home cooked meals.

MeltingWok said...

yup, mui heong salted fish is the best !:) Wow, all the authentic Hakka food my late grandma used to make. I missed them so much :( So glad you found the place. What a great post, thanks !:)

Lee Ping said...

I haven't had salty fish for a long time.

p/s You should hop on over to Steamy Kitchen. She has your drink!

KampungboyCitygal said...

I just cook some lousy steamed minced pork for kgboy yterday..It pales in comparison with the restaurant's

Tummythoz said...

Pass this many times but yet to go in. Notice it's quite empty at times.
So if ladyboss ask whether it's NST, I name u? Think she'll gimme a printout of this post to read?

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

boo: oh, i didn't know they were featured in the Star. I guess the owners didn't realise it...if not, i'd be forced to read the star printout too. harharhar.

precious pea: memang sedap!

xiu long bao: the food isn't salty. the ikan masin just adds a bit of flavour to the dish but doesn't overpower the dish.

tankiasu: triads!!!! ROFL. Well, the owner looks decent enough. Even has a well-behaved young son who knows how to say hello when greeted. :-)

steamykitchen: welcome! that dish has dried cuttlefish which I suppose would be in the same category of preserved fish. My mum makes it with eggs. :-)

paprika: thanks, girl. If I started singing, they'd lose all their customers. :-P

wmw said...

Wah lau...I'm drooling at the sight of the salty salty stuff!

Henry Yeo said...

looks like someone picked up a few trade secrets from our last meeting

kat said...

Oh yeah, I can almost taste the dishes based on your photos and descriptions. And I know I can trust your tastebuds!! All kah heong dishes.. yumm yumm..

My favouritest pork dish ever - steamed with cuttlefish! Haven't made that for a while. Most restaurants cannot make it the way I like it, which is lean-ish but still juicy and full of cuttlefish, so I don't usually order from restaurants.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

tigerfish: they're more home-cooked style food. You're right...simple, yet tasty food.

pinkelle: cool! I love bittergourd too. :-) The food, for two, cost us RM60. Portions were small, though.

jason: yeah...just like homecooked food. :-)

meltingwok: in two months, u'll be coming here, rite? We go to Mui Hiong, k. :-)

lee ping: why? salted fish not available where you live? I did check out Steamykitchen...she has a very nice blog.

kampungboycitygal: no matter how bad you think the food is, homecooked food will always warm the heart of your loved one. I'm speaking from experience. :-P

tummythoz: hahaha. The owner has already told me he's not internet savvy, so no chance of seeing my post at his restaurant. lol.

wmw: yups! salty's good. hehe.

henry: haha. i learn only from the best. :-P

kat: as always, you are very generous with your compliments. :-) Steamed minced pork is really nice, isn't it?

Jackson said...

Hulalala... at last i saw someone blog about this place.. i heard their served pretty good food but the price... very expensive rite?

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Jackson, yeah food's good. Price is relative. RM60 for 2 people. Portions were rather small, though. Hey, I hope you're feeling better now.

Big Boys Oven said...

Oh my god, look at that giant prawn, ain't it look so lovely!

The Cooking Ninja said...

mmm...reminds me of my mom's cooking.

sc said...

looks gooood..have always a soft spot for salted fish. since i'm a hakka+canton, this place looks perfect to satisfy my cravings. hmmm, but i'm very particular with steam mince pork wth cuttlefish & salted fish though.. hopefully theirs is a wicked one! ;)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

big boys oven: not really a giant leh...look at it in proportion to the spoon on the plate. :-)

the cooking ninja: it's very much like homestyle cooking. Have you mastered ur mom's recipes yet? :-)

sc: do try the stuff and let me know what you think. I guess you're as authentic as they can get. hehe.

WokandSpoon said...

The salted fish restaurant seems like an interesting idea! I'll definitely have to put this on my list of place to visit!

The Cooking Ninja said...

unfortunately not yet. :(

msiagirl said...

I really enjoyed this post, there was a sense of community and history here - and i liked it you had to read the press!! :) Plus I like salted anything, and can someone tell me why this is hakka food - I mean I grew up with it too - but why?

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

wokandspoon: will you be visiting soon, then? :-D

the cooking ninja: don't still have time!

msiagirl: thanks! one of my perks is being able to chat with the people who matter - the chefs! As for your last question, I'm not sure la...maybe someone can help?