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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Malaysia has always been a hot spot for Hong Kong celebrities' food ventures

Full steam ahead

Dive into a hot and steamy affair at this eatery owned by popular Hong Kong comedian, Eric Tsang.

Malaysia has always been a hot spot for Hong Kong celebrities' food ventures. So when actor, producer, director and zany game show host Eric Tsang Chi Wai opened his Hong Kong-style steamboat and seafood restaurant at the Hartamas Shopping Centre two and half years ago, the eatery naturally made a splash.

Done up in red, yellow and orange hues, the spacious outlet can seat 300 diners. Its minimalist dark wood d6cor includes a colourful wall mural of its famous owner. General manager Rou Ho, says "One of our biggest challenges is to change the local perception of steamboat. There's intense competition to see who offers the cheapest deal. Most outlets end up serving mass produced fish balls and low quality ingredients. In Hong Kong, we use the freshest and best ingredients for our steamboat so the taste is incomparable.

"However, now Malaysians are becoming more discerning. They also realise steamboat can be delicious if you start with a flavnurful stock and choose good quality ingredients. Here, we regularly introduce new soup bases to entice customers. In fact, our Fatt Thieu Cheong Foh Wor or Jumping Buddha Steamboat promotion is the latest craze among Hong Kong steamboat lovers."

Ho explains that the steamboat is a version of Fatt Thieu Cheong, a premium soup favoured by Chinese gourmands because it includes shark's fin, dried scallops, abalone and fish maw.
"The steamboat stock is made fresh daily from boiling pork bones and Jinhua ham for at least four hours," he says. "We also add in half a kampung (village) chicken, ginseng and Kei Chi (wolfberries) to give the soup extra flavoun"

Ingredients for the Jumping Buddha Steamboat Set (RM108++) include shark's fin, sliced Chilean abalone, dried scallops, fish maw, Chinese mushrooms, Taiwanese abalone mushrooms, local beancurd, home-made prawn dumplings, Japanese udon (noodles) and seasonal greens.
Ho also shares some tips on how to enjoy this dish. "It's best to allow the steamboat stock to come to a full boil before adding m the ingredients so that the high heat will seal in their fresh, natural sweetness. Never let ingredients soak in cold stock or you will end up with bland, tasteless stuff."

Other ingredients from the a la carte menu include home-made cuttlefish balls, fresh tiger prawns, hand-made pork balls, Teochew fish balls, sliced fresh fish fillet, fried bean curd skin, beef tendon balls and sliced lamb and beef, and a wide range of seafood.
Ho reminds us that sliced beef, lamb and fish should only be dipped briefly into the boiling soup to retain their tender and succulent texture.

"Prawns, crab, mussels and scallop can be cooked slightly longer but do keep a watchful eye or they will turn tough, coarse and rubbery."

We also liked the fact that Eric's Seafood & Steamboat Restaurant lets diners whip up their own sauces - a self-service counter is laid out with various condiments for this purpose. Mine was a piquant concoction of soya sauce, sesame oil, chopped bird's eye chilli, spring onion, minced fresh and fried garlic, and chilli oil.

If you are tired of plain chicken or tom yam stock, the restaurant's soup flavours such as Ma La (tongue-numbing spiciness) and Superior Soup, Special Teochew Soup, Herbal Chicken Soup, Chinese Parsley and Preserved Egg Soup, Hong Kong-style Spare Ribs, Tomato and Potato Soup, and Hong Kong-style Pork Soup will prove more tantalising.

Under the Citibank World Privileges - Gourmet Pleasures programme, Citibank credit card members enjoy 20% discount off the a la carte menu (except for on-going promotions, seafood and set menu). The offer is valid until Oct 31, 2008.

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