Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Restoran Apa Khabar (老北村家煲仔堂), Kepong Baru

Introducing another hidden gem spot in Kepong Baru which you need to drop by to have a taste of their authentic and delicious yet affordable Chinese food. This place has an interesting name which you can remember easily. It's called Restoran Apa Khabar or known as 老北村家煲仔in Chinese. I bet you can easily remember its name in alphabets - 'Apa Khabar' aka How Are You in English. 

This Chinese restaurant is located nearby Tai Thong Odeon Kepong - about 3 minutes walking distance away. It's a corner shop along Jalan Ambong Kiri 1 and parking is not a problem here in the evening. As it's the only eateries which operates along the road on the lovely evening which we were there; plenty of parking lots available right in front of the shop. You can spot this lively restaurant when you're turning into that road. Not many people knows about this place but it's definitely a must-try place on your bucket list. 

It's a clean and neat restaurant with indoor and outdoor tables available. You gotta drop by earlier as the restaurant was packed to the bream at about 8pm when we were there on a weekday. The interior of the restaurant focuses on a clean white tiles covering the wall with traditional round food cover hanging around -  which showcase a traditional Chinese home's setting. That giant round-shaped food cover in red are part and parcel in most traditional Chinese's home - I have them in my house too as well as all my relative's house which has been used for more than 10 years.  

Restoran Apa Khabar aka老北村家煲仔specialized in Chinese cuisine - particularly in claypot dishes. It has a super thick menu in the form of an photo album. Pretty straight forward; pictures of the dishes available with its name and price. Dish's name are only available in Chinese words but no worries - just point on the dish's picture to order; you can grasp the dish by looking at its pictures. 
Gotta thanks Eddy and the team at Gourmet Hunter KL for organizing the dinner as well as introducing this restaurant to us. My partner and I had a great moment with the delicious dishes served. It's now on our dinner places list too. 
We tried an array of dishes that was served that evening. I would say that it's like a complete 10-course Chinese dinner being served to us. We love Chinese dishes and we gave a double thumbs up to all the dishes served that evening in terms of quality, variety, taste as well as price. It's not easy to find good Chinese dishes at an affordable price around Klang Valley.

You might already updating your own to-order list while browsing through their menu. It's hard to select the finalist on your to-order list. No matter what your choice are, you gotta include their seafood dishes on the list. This restaurant is also famous for their Claypot fish dishes. Two most common fish served on their menu is the Tilapia and Catfish. As for me, I don't really eat Tilapia fish (depending on the cooking method) due to its smell but it's really famous here - do try them while you're here. 

Instead, we tried their Claypot Catfish dishes which we love them very much. All fishes are served on a big claypot with the perfectly cooked fish and a decent amount of broth. Best thing about the broth is that the amount served is enough for you to drizzle them on your rice for an extra flavors. You don't need to ask for more sauce or broth like you do when you eat steam fish at other shops which always ended with a black face on the serving crew. The broth which comes with the fishes are lovely that we drank them as if we're drinking soup. 

The first type of fish that were served is the Claypot Catfish with Preserved Radish (RM48) aka 金沙菜宝白须.You can identify this dish from the crispy chopped preserved radish aka choy poh in Cantonese and the fried garlic & ginger which was garnished on top of the fish. The preserved radish is being fried together with minced ginger and garlic to release its flavours before being cooked with the fish. Catfish is fresh and cooked perfectly! You can smell a hint of the Chinese wine which is being mixed together with it superior soy sauce that forms the basis of the sauce. Claypot dishes must be enjoyed when it's piping hot because it's the temperature that the food taste at its best. 

The second type of claypot fish which we tried is the Claypot Catfish with Spicy Bean Paste Broth (RM48) aka 香辣白须and it's also one of my top favorite fish that evening. The sauce is something like the bean paste steamed fish aka cheong jing fish that I had tried outside. However, the spicy bean paste broth which was served has a balance of savory and spicy element in it that goes really smooth with the catfish. You might feel that the spiciness is quite intent in your mouth but it does really gives a kick to your palate. I love them and not to forget the coriander which act as a garnishing too. Coriander always gives an extra mile to the dish.

The third type of claypot fish which was presented is the Claypot Catfish in Chinese Wine with Minced Garlic (RM48) 醇香白须公 where the catfish is surrounded by a strong Chinese wine base broth. There's also extra flavoring ingredients in the broth such as the lemongrass, chopped chillies, garlic, gingers and etc. The broth has a bit of tangy, spicy and savory taste and the sourish element is not that strong. Order more rice to go with them.

Next, we move on to their poultry dishes. Like the seafood dishes, they have a long list of poultry dishes too. If you're not into Claypot fishes; opt for their Claypot Chicken dishes instead. We tried this Claypot Salted Chicken in Chinese Wine Broth (RM35 - Half Chicken) aka 盐酒村. It's actually salted village chicken (Kampung chicken) with a Ginger based Chinese Rice Wine broth. This dish is good to dispel unwanted gas in your body as it brings the heat element to your body. The chicken is not overly cooked that there's still herby flavours retained in the chicken. Good to try it on a rainy day. 

We also tried the Nutty Buttermilk Chicken (RM18 for Small & RM25 for Big) aka沙皮. I would called it a buttermilk chicken but in Chinese; it's called Shar Pei Chicken which means sandy skin Chicken. It's basically a fried chicken cooked in a creamy and nutty buttermilk sauce with bites of nuts as a coating on its skin - where it gets its name as a sandy skin chicken in Chinese; where the nuts resemble the sand thing here. It's just a personification. It taste great with a strong and creamy nuts flavor sauce. Great for those who love buttermilk and nutty food. It might sounds like a peanut butter chicken to you - but it's more to the buttermilk chicken kind of taste. 

Up next is the porky dishes; an authentic Chinese cuisine is not complete without the porky dishes. We were quite excited with this Braised Pork Knuckle (RM68) aka 老北元when it was being served. The first thing that might come into your mind is that, it's full of fats and no meat. Fret not, once you cut open the enriched collagen layer, there's a huge chuck of succulent meat lying underneath it. I'm not a fan of the thick pork knuckle skin but if you do, it's a natural source of collagen to your body. The juicy meat lying beneath it is flavorful and the meat just fall off its bone kind of texture. Yum!

If you love the braised kind of strong flavors dishes; you will fall in love with this Stewed Pork Ribs (RM8/each) aka 老北香口骨(一块). It looks something like the Barbeque kind of dishes due to its colour. But yes, I presumed the ribs is being grilled or barbeque before it's being braised in the rich savory sauce. Unlike those super chewy pork ribs, the meat actually falls off from its bone too and there's a huge percentage in meaty part to bones ratio in this dish. 

If you're looking for something to snack or a crispy texture kind of dish; this Crispy Pork Belly Slices (RM20 for small & RM25 for big) aka香汁花is perfect for you. It's actually deep fried pork belly slices coated with a sourish-sweet sauce. The pork belly is thinly sliced and deep-fried to crispiness that it's like a piece of potato chips texture in your mouth. It's really that crispy! You might want to order a bigger portion of this because just like your bowl of chips, it finishes faster than you know it. 

This restaurant also offers a few types of soup to go with your rice. We tried this special Tom Yum Gong (Fish Maw and Squid) (RM20 for small & RM38 for big) aka 老北东炎公 (鱼鰾和sotong). Unlike the traditional Thai styled Tom Yum soup, this Tom Yum Soup at Restoran Apa Khabar comes with generous amount of fish maw, squid and vegetables. It's my first time trying a spicy tom yum soup with fish maw! It taste really good with a good source of collagen from the fish maw - I'm a huge fan of fish maw. If you don't really consume fish maw due to its fishy taste, you can try this soup because the strong flavors of tom yum helps to dispel the fishy fish maw taste. And yes, perfect soup on a rainy day!

Last but not least, we also had a plate of greens to balance up our meal. I quite love this Stir Fried Wild Fern (RM20) aka 柠香巴古菜. I personally love this young wild fern vegetable and it's quite hard to get the young shoots in the market - not all Chinese restaurants have this too. This young leafy wild fern is prepared in a Kerabu kind of style where it's mixed with a Thai styled sourish and spicy sauce as well as raw onions as a finishing. A must-try dish here and a serve as a great appetizer dish! 

The food served at Restoran Apa Khabar is great! I'm sure that you will order extra bowl of rice to go with them - guess what, my partner and I indeed order extra bowls of rice to paired it with the dishes served. This is a perfect Chinese claypot dishes stop for your meal. 

For more info about their amazingly dishes, visit their Facebook page at Restoran Apa Khabar. 

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