Ong Lai Goh Kee, Lorong Tiong Nam 3 (off Jalan Raja Laut)

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This restaurant, tucked away from the main road is well-known to most KL folk for its steamed fish head and its fish-head noodles. The Tiong Nam area (developed in the 1960s) may not necessarily ring a bell with most Klang Valley residents but I’m very familiar with this area as one of my maternal half-uncle is residing there. In fact, he resides with his family just a block away from the picture that you can see above. But I was not there last Saturday to visit him. Long history, meh. Anyway, here’s a map to show you how to get there –

directions 

About fifteen years ago, business was so brisk that queuing up for adequate seats is a norm rather than the exception. The lorong (backstreet) was previously rather filthy even by Malaysian urban standards and on a fine, warm night, you could see rats playing hide and seek whereas stray cats observed the guests lazily from their perch.

Dining here starts at 7 p.m. while it is not unusual to be able to grab a late night supper here at 11 p.m. although I’m not sure about being served if you come later than that. Parking was very easy when we came – there are some people directing you to a nice spot when you do arrive. 

This place has since expanded by adding more tables to three shoplots down the road and ensure that its faithful clientele could enjoy its delicacies in relative comfort. The opposite lot fronting the restaurant had been renovated not long ago and cleared out its shoddy surroundings. Business is still pretty good, with all the fierce competition going around KL for the people’s wallets. I haven’t been there since late 2010 but it’s more to do with a hectic schedule rather than me turning to someplace else. Still, the service has always been excellent and we placed the order that we have formulated in mind before coming here.

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My parents and I ordered the usual fare – (1) fried Hokkien noodles with vermicelli; (2) fried tang hoon / glass noodles; (3) honey spare ribs; (4) oyster omelette; and (5) steamed fish head. I didn’t have the time to take pictures of each dish individually as my dad had already started to chow down and I thought that it’s high time to follow suit or else I’d be left out!

The Hokkien noodles was quickly demolished given that it was best eaten while piping hot. It was a good effort though a tad on the soggy side, but it had plenty of ‘wok hei’ which is essential for Hokkien noodles served in the KL style. It was served with generous portions of pork lard (top priority!) and sufficient seafood. Actually, pork lard features a lot in Hokkien cuisine, so don’t be surprised to see it turning up the glass noodles or other similar-type food here. 

The ‘or chien’, a family favourite, was a bit on the disappointing side – the number of oysters could be counted down with digits of both hands (a far cry from the plentiful version of old) although it was still tasty, thanks to the juicy oysters. The picture above shows the omelette already half-eaten so it’s not a reliable report of the portions that you could expect to receive. I also noted that this KL version is different from a particular Penang one that is crispy, which I’ve tried while visiting the island for a food tour in 2007 and don’t really like, probably because of its unnecessarily crunchy texture.  

I had very little of the spare ribs dish as I was more interested in the fish-head and the fried glass noodles, the latter of which is my secretly favourite dish here. It tasted ok, I guess, although dad wanted to have it wrapped up for take-away in anticipation for a meal the day after within the comfort of the home.

But the fish-head was excellent – steamed to perfection and wrapped in Chinese cabbage for a sweet flavour. The sauce was so good that I ordered two bowls of rice to savour its goodness. The fish meat was tender, though you may have to be wary of minute bones present. I spent quite some time fishing out loose thorns that would inflict a world of hurt if inadvertently swallowed. Overall, the fish-head was picked clean, veggies and all (but the bones of course).

The fried glass noodles reported far less excitement this time – there was a distinct lack of oysters crowning this dish and the ingredients used have also somewhat diminished in quantity. It wasn’t a total disappointment though as I dutifully polished off this dish, noting that it still maintained its basic texture and overall delicious taste.

The bill came up to RM118.20 which is pretty reasonable for a meal of three at least that’s what I think given. The dishes here are also quite on the pricey side but you could stick to the ordinary fare such as Hokkien mee and fried glass noodles which don’t cost that much above average hawker rate. Your bill doesn’t summarize what you have just ordered – simply conveniently lumping it all up in the ‘dish’ section of the said bill, so it may be prudent to check with the waiter attending to your order first before committing to any particular dish.

I look forward to my next visit, hopefully sometime soon. In the meantime, come and try the dishes for yourself. Particularly noteworthy also is the fish-head noodles (for a very hearty meal) and the fried bamboo clams (chuk pang) which we didn’t order this time. Closed on Mondays.        

 

  

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