Sunday, 21 July 2013

Chong Toong Kee – When slimy is good

No. 5-1, Jalan PJU 8/5I, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

The word ‘slimy’ has been much-maligned. Undeservedly so, in my opinion… especially where food is concerned.

Some of my favourite foods are slimy. Fresh raw oysters and okra stir-fried in sambal, for example… and also the dry Ipoh hor fun at Chong Toong Kee.

Smooth, slippery strands of flat rice noodles covered in a thick, sticky sauce that adds a mild saltiness. Sliced prawns, shredded chicken and scallions finish the dish. The dry hor fun comes with a small bowl of MSG-laden soup that has a few stalks of boiled choy sum floating in it… striving valiantly (and in vain) to raise the nutritional content of the soup. There’s nothing strongly-flavoured in there at all… aside from the small saucer of cili padi and soy sauce. So for me, eating this hor fun is very much a textural experience.

Or, rather, it would have been if it weren't for one of my all-time favourite combos: cili padi and soy sauce. 

When the dish arrives I always start by tossing it like a salad, separating the strands of noodles which tend to clump together, adding spoonfuls of soup as necessary for lubrication. The whole thing slips and slides and squishes as I mix and mix and mix and coat everything in the dark sauce.

It squishes a little more as I pick it up with chopsticks. Then the slippery noodles are in my mouth, the strands so light, paper-thin and soft it almost feels like pudding. I hardly have to chew it before it slides smoothly down my throat. Rinse and repeat. The whole plateful disappears before I know it.

This massive amount of hor fun is actually a 'small' serving. Wonder how many families a 'large' serving can feed.

Aside from the hor fun, I also like their steamed chicken. The meat is tender and juicy and it comes covered in the same dark sauce they put on the hor fun. I normally order a portion as a side order to have with the hor fun.

Lady Fartsalot and I need to get our fix of the stuff regularly, so it’s a good thing that they’ve opened a branch at Damansara Perdana, within walking distance of where we stay. Also, it seems easier to get a table here compared to the one at TTDI – possibly because fewer people know about it.

Right, that’s what we like about Chong Toong Kee. Now we move on to our complaints.

Do note that as we haven’t been to the TTDI branch in a long time, we don’t know how the food is like there. Our complaints are only based on eating at the Damansara Perdana branch.

First, though the texture of the noodles remains consistent, a longstanding gripe of mine is that they could have at least spent 2 seconds to ladle a little soup onto the noodles prior to serving to keep them from drying up and clumping together.

Next, prawns. They’re overcooked, they have little to no flavour, and there are only a few thin slices – cut lengthwise – with every plate of hor fun. Believe it or not, that wasn’t the complaint. No, the complaint is that they’ve removed prawns entirely from the hor fun! They could’ve raised prices to keep the prawns in, or gotten smaller and cheaper prawns. But no, they’ve just dropped the prawns altogether. That’s cold.

They could've cut the veggies out instead, but noooooo... they had to get rid of the prawns.

Last, also prawn-related: the prawn wantans. This is another side dish I like to order, but recently I noticed a disturbing change. There used to be a whole prawn in each wantan. It was about 50% prawn and 50% wantan skin. Now, there are tiny bits of chopped-up prawn that probably didn’t even make up 20% of the total volume of the wantan. And the wantans aren’t exactly cheap: RM7 for 10… and they couldn’t even give me a decent amount of prawns?

It took a great deal of excavation to finally dig these tiny bits of prawn out of the voluminous folds of wantan skin.

So now I have a sort of love-hate relationship with TK Chong & Co. Slippery, slimy noodles are nice… all this corner-cutting most certainly is not.

They still do steady business in spite of their unscrupulous new business practices. Good for them, I suppose... because otherwise I'll have to drive to TTDI to satisfy my slimy hor fun addiction.

Snack-sized review
Ipoh hor fun with a thoroughly enjoyable smooth, slippery texture. Lately, they’ve been cutting corners rather egregiously, but I’d still go for the hor fun and chicken. Damansara Perdana branch is less well-known, so there should be less waiting.

Hours: Morning till about 3pm.

Price: Not too expensive. You can get a meal for one for around RM10… depends what you order. And how much you eat.

1 comment:

  1. This definitely looks like the next place I am going to visit!!!!