With the closure of Hai Ching, we made a beeline for Jia Siang, another Hakka-run seafood restaurant in Pulau Betong, for lunch yesterday. Jia Siang operates the same way as Hai Ching did - you buy fresh fish & other seafood from the fish market next door, and bring those here to be cooked according to the way you want it.
Our lunch yesterday consisted of:
Sweet-sour flower crabs - this is a Penang variation upon Singapore chili crabs, sans the chili heat. The version here was perfect - the sweetness and sourness were never too assertive, and balanced each other out very well. The crabs were fresh from the sea that same morning, and were alive minutes before.
Spicy-sour steamed white pomfret* - this dish delivers the “typical” Penang flavours: sour (from tamarind and tomatoes), spicy (from the addition of small, red chilis/habaneros) and fragrant from the crushed lemongrass stalks.
Prawns with salted ducks’ egg-yolks - shell-on prawns, blanketed in a rich, salted ducks’ egg-yolk sauce, which is ALL the rage in Singapore and Malaysia this past couple of years. A scattering of curry leaves provided an intoxicating scent to the dish. Unfortunately, the prawns weren’t too fresh this time - thawed frozen ones, as the fishermen haven’t gone out to see since the Chinese New Year festival started 10 days ago.
The obligatory greens - Stir-fried Romaine lettuce greens, which turned out to be my favourite dish: just a simple quick stir-fry with garlic and perhaps a touch of light soy sauce.
Umbra and lime juice with salted plums - these are pretty refreshing. We actually asked for chilled nutmeg juice, but were served umbra juice instead, but it was a fortunate error, as we rather liked this over the usual nutmeg.
Overall, it was a pretty satisfying lunch - simple and rustic. We do miss the now-defunct Hai Ching, but Jia Siang fills in that vacuum pretty well.
No. 321, MK 7, Pulau Betong, 11020, Balik Pulau, Penang.
Tel: +6019 746 8465
Operating hours: 11.30 am-6:30 pm daily. Closed on Thursdays.