That name. There’s something about it that tickles.
Our first visit was greeted by a closed shop, a few days before the arrival of the lunar new year. We were of course, very disappointed because it has been on top of our makan list for quite sometime. Came a few months later when Lyrical Lemongrass was recovering from a (normal) flu and craved for something light and healthy. Like fish, steamed. Perfect!
There were many reasons to like the signature steamed tilapia. Firstly, it was fresh. And being cultured (no, they don't speak French) means that the earthy smell was kept minimal. The good steaming ensured every bite of the white flesh was flaky and tender. The sauce itself was simply a mixture of sesame oil, light soya sauce, fermented bean paste (tauchu) and juice from the fish itself. In short, great to go with white rice. We were told of the only 2 different varieties of the dish; spicy and non-spicy. There's no special ingredient to the spicy version. Just more chopped cili padi only lah. I’ll have you know that it'll be easier to distinguish these two than the normal and garlic chilli sauces from I’m Lovin’ It. Go for spicy. It's ooohmp-er. They were pretty generous with the chopped ginger and garlic as well, which made the dish even more flavourful. No one shares their fish here, so don’t be the first.
If I knew, I would have substituted the other 2 dishes that we had with another steamed fish. As pretty as it may look, the sweet and sour chicken balls dish was bland. The balls were hard too. No complaints on the stir-fried Chinese lettuce with fermented beancurd but yeah, I’ll still sacrifice fibre for the fish.
Back in those days, this African fish was not very much in demand and people would joke about the unhygienic rearing methods. The meat also smelled earthier and the only choice we had was the generic red type. Fast forward to recent years, we see new breeds that taste better and are more competitive in terms of price. It's a whole new market, judging from the number of freshwater fish restaurants that are opening faster than the fishes' mating rate.
I've learnt through some websites that tilapias are also known as aquatic chicken, due to the inexpensive cost and high adaptability. Trust me, it won't be long before some health-conscious (and creative) people start rearing their own tilapias. Or how about organic freshwater tilapia, people? As for me, I'll just stick to specialists like Lan Je where the only time I'll sweat is when the chilli's too hot.
Restoran Lan Je (Outlet)
F-50G & 51G
Jalan Teknologi 3/9
Bistari "DE" Kota
PJU 5, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
Tel: (+60)12 669 9919 / (+60)16 618 9919