Friday, August 14, 2009

Restoran Lan Je @ Kota Damansara

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


bossacafez said...

reminds me i haven't eaten fish in a long time :(

lovely shots & DoF of the fish and i was totally captivated with the tiffany blue plate! where can i buy one? haha. so those were chicken balls, tot they were kulou yok.

btw, how come u r in sg on weekends now? :D

Selba said...

The first fish picture is so stunning! I like the way you snapped it :)

African fish? There's African fish in SEA? Where? kekeke...

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I can eat fish anytime, no need to wait for flu season. I think I have cheap taste, coz I love the taste of tilapia.

choi yen said...

I scare mud taste of the fish especially in "African fish"~~

Rebecca Saw said...

Much blogged abt..and so far gd comments! healthy too..think i will like this plc!

Chaokar said...

i haven't got the chance to try this place yet, despite it being within the vicinity of my nest. I wanna go ... ajak me !

Hazza said...

Going even further back, I used to fish black tilipias from the taman jaya pond in pj. I did eat them but they tasted disgusting back then, even when fresh!

ck lam said...

Definitely not easy to find a place that can serve this fish without much of the earthy smell. A new place for me to try out :)

ai wei said...

steam fish is my love. provided that the fish must be fresh. love ur photos!

Jan said...

wow, i love steam fish, will find a way there!

Camemberu said...

My first thought when I saw the title - "Aiyer so rude! hahaha"

Hmm, I can never remember fish names and their corresponding Chinese equivalents. So tilapia is African fish!

But steamed fish with chili padi always looks so good!

minchow said...

Steamed fish really never looked so good! I have in my memory card childhood meals when steamed tilapia was practically a staple, which turned me off this dish permanently, as soon as I was allowed to make my own meal decisions. Your pics might have just reversed this!

J2Kfm said...

yeah, rumours abound that the tilapia eats ...erm ... excrements and all.

but who cares ... its cheap, and sweet. lest it's muddy ...

HairyBerry said...

evan 이벤젤린, the tiffany blue plate is made of plastic. i think can get it for less than S$2..heheheh...yupe, u r right. those are kulou yok, with chicken instead of pork. :)

me getting busy with studies, so staying back in sg. more time for sg food..hehe..

selba, thanks!!! haha, African fish has been around for a long time already. i like it very much. :)

lyrical lemongrass, but that was THE perfect time to check out lan je taste? la, me thinks u got a good balance. cos u like foie gras and truffles as well. ^_^

mimi, i realise that these days, tilapias dont have (or at least, minimal) earthy taste. so, that's good news! :)

thenomadgourmand, i'm sure you'll like it lah. hey, do check it out. remember to order the whole fish for yourself, ya. ask unka to order another for himself..haha

chaokar, oh, u stay nearby ar? kewl! sure, sure, let's go makan. havent officially introduced myself to you oso. but i think i might have seen u at one of your performances la. must ask snow white..haha

hazza, wow, that's a very long time ago, ya? i certainly didnt know that black tilapias exist back then. do check this place out the next time u r back, ya!

HairyBerry said...

ck lam, yupe, you are right. and even good restaurants will end up serving some earthy smell ones as well. do check out this place and let us know what u think, ya!

ai wei, that's true. fresh fish must be steamed. the rest can be goreng-ed or curried..haha. thanks for the compliment!!!

jan, woah, long time no see. u must be very busy now..haha. quite easy to find, actually. using ldp (towards kepong), turn left into ikea/curve but go down the tunnel. then, just terus all the way. hmmm, more details i'll hafta refer to my maps..hehe

camemberu, yeah, sometimes, i feel funny just saying that name! but of course, it means "sister lan", nothing bad la..haha!

yupe, yupe, tilapia is African fish. i'm quite bad with the Chinese equivalents also. imagine relating them to sashimis! *faint* haha...

i like my steamed fish with the tauchu sauce!

550ml jar of faith, thanks for the compliment! interesting insight on the memory card. i think the varieties the restaurants are offering these days will have you loving this freshwater fish all over again. the steamed assam tilapia never fails to make me salivate..haha...the best part for me is the minimum earthy smell.

Kenny Mah said...

I wonder if I can rear tilapia in my condo... :P

HairyBerry said...

j2kfm, yikez, sorry for the late reply. yeah, the days of excrements are over, me guess. these days, they are cleaner than my car! hahaha! cheap, sweet and flaky. that's more important.

kenny, do it, man! when the tilapia is old enough to be cooked, call me ya! i'll bring a bottle of chardonnay! remember me hor..haha!