Fabulous lunch at Fu Qi, a small but very busy family-run casual eatery in the town of Simpang Ampat.
The 7-year-old eatery is run by a husband-and-wife team of Ang Beng Khoon, 48, and Chong Phaik Yong, 47. Mr Ang had started his culinary career by helping his father cook back in 1992 at Ta Ma (Big Horse), the now-defunct eatery in nearby Sungai Bakap. He was just 18 then.
Our lunch spread consisted of:
Kum heong squid - I normally stay away from any dish which touted the “kum heong” (Cantonese-speak meaning “golden fragrance”) method of cooking, as I found the combination - very popular in Kuala Lumpur, but rare in Singapore - to be too pungent for my liking.
I’d always suspected that the “kum heong” method of cooking, which does not exist in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even neighboring Thailand and Indonesia, was adapted from Indian-Chinese cooking, for it brings together light & dark soy sauces, oyster sauce, dried shrimps, Indian curry powder/spices, Indian curry leaves and chilis.
But, surprisingly, the version here at Fu Qi did not throw that in-your-face sucker punch. I attribute that to the largely Teochew clientele here, who traditionally favor subtler, gentler flavors, even when it comes to curried dishes.
“Orh sip” (sharkfin) curry. The dish included pieces of fish liver, which are flavor bombs of pure deliciousness. Indian curry spices are also used for this dish, but which delivers a gentle heat, just enough to tantalize one’s palate.
The balance of flavors here was sheer genius.
Steamed tofu topped with caramelized dried shrimps - quite a common dish in this part of the world, executed perfectly here: a quivering block of tofu smothered with a savory-sweet sauce bristling with garlic and shallots. A sprinkle of chopped green scallions completed the simple dish which was big in flavors.
Soy-and-vinegar-braised pig’s trotter. One of our lunch partners was a fussy connoisseur of this dish, and she gave an 8 out of 10 rating for the rendition here. That’s like receiving 3-Michelin-stars from her!
The chopped pieces of pig’s trotters were well-marinated and cooked to perfection.
Caramelized garlic prawns - these were utterly delicious: very fresh shell-on prawns deep-fried to a crisp, then covered in a garlicky caramel-soy sauce crust. A must-order here, IMHO.
This was one of the most enjoyable meals we’d had in quite a while.
One tip: It’s advisable to call ahead and book one’s dishes, as it usually entails a 45 minutes’ wait if one has not pre-ordered one’s food before arrival.
Fu Qi (大马煮炒)
74, Jalan Tasek Mutiara 2, Bandar Tasek Mutiara, 14120 Simpang Ampat, Malaysia
Opening hours: 12pm-2pm, 6pm -9.30pm. Closed on Thursdays.