Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Funky experience dining in Soon Heong Restaurant, Menjalara

**Warning: Some of the pics did not turn out as desired, blame it on my photography skills or it's better if you choose to blame it on the camera;)
I wanted to skip posting on this but I felt I had to share my experience bear with the photo quality; after all, I haven't been the best photographer in blogosphere..*smiles sheepishly* **

Yeah, yet another restaurant we discovered in Menjalara, Kepong.
Didn't I mention that this place is growing in its members in the form of restaurants and eateries, swaying from its original fame as the steamboat town?

This is located somewhere along the same row of the Chan Chan Yong Tau Foo
In fact, you just go all the way straight after you see the Yong Tau Foo shop and this is located at the end. It's a corner shop.

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There's actually a lot of people patronizing this restaurant, particularly on weekends and they even accept reservations (although I wonder why and what were they thinking after my experience and also my opinion on this restaurant)

We were there early; and did not have any trouble finding a table despite it being a Sunday (crowd at restaurants alert day)
We glanced through the menu and we had the waitresses coming out to ask us what we want.
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Guess what, they were a bunch of Chinese ladies, and I mean as in real native CHINA-ladies who speaks Mandarin and probably a bunch of dialects.
The thing is, when you walk into a restaurant, especially when it's your first time, you expect to be assisted by the staff in terms of the recommendations of dishes, am I right?
Unless you're always so organized that you take the same food in every restaurant, then that's a different story.
A NORMAL customer would want to find out and try the specialty dishes offered by the restaurants - well, they have got to tell us themselves what makes them different or special from their neighbors or competitors in the same industry.

This lady, she stood there for a few good minutes, not taking the hint that we have not read the menu or that we need her recommendation and she remained in silence.
Okayyyy....we told her we will call for her when we are ready to order, we need to read the menu.

**They do serve quite a unique variety of cooking styles for their dishes**
Soon after, less than 5 minutes, another lady walks and asked us, in her singsong slang of Chinese, "Do you want to order yet?"

Okayyy, we sensed that they may not be reading our body language/facial expression, and so we asked her directly, "What is good here? What do you recommend?"
She looked at us blankly and then pointed at the menu.
Ermmm....excused for the communication....but we spoke in Mandarin *puzzled*

So we went through the menu and ordered, and occasionally asking whether it's good and how it's made, etc - your typical Chinese restaurant questions.
We will not lose our hair over a small thing like that.

We ordered
A plate of Stir-fried Lady fingers with belacan/shrimp paste (RM6) - pic is blurry
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It's not too bad although it's tad a bit too oily.
Frankly, this is one rare dish to be found in restaurants and I must say this is the first time I came across this dish or this vegetable even in a Chinese restaurant.
They tossed in a combination of young and old lady fingers; which I'd frown upon as it created an inconsistent taste when you put them into your mouth and the momentum of the crunch of each bite when it is being chewed with the teeth.
Maybe they could improve on that, and choose a set of more evenly ripe lady fingers - if they could.
I mean, we can't expect everyone to be like the best chef in the world, right? (The likes of Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, or even Jamie Oliver)

Squids cooked in a combination of Assam sauce garnished with mango strips (RM10)
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This was not bad and it had a really unique sourish taste to it which was appetizing.
The freshly sliced unripe mango was a perfect addition to balance the sour taste and providing a unique fruit-fresh whiff and crunch to the dish.
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This is their specialty dish, Pork ribs in a combination of salad sauce and also sweet and spicy sauce (RM12)
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This is their Double specialty pork ribs
Everyone liked the tenderness of the lean pork ribs which went very well particularly marinated with the spicy and sweet sauce.

So far so good, everything went well but I have to warn that the cooking style did have a little bit more oil in it; hence the oily state of most of the dishes.

We waited patiently in anticipation of our last dish, which was the Steamed Talapia (Fei Chow) with Sichuan sauce (RM16)
It sounded exciting for a change and I still remembered the spiciness of Sichuan chili which I experienced in Shanghai last time.
It took quite long but we didn't make a fuss as it is pretty normal for steamed fish.

Then we saw the waitress coming, carefully holding the plate holding the fish and she walked past our table.
Then she stopped, looking around at a practically vacant place except for another table where there was a waitress attending to them, taking their orders.
She then got anxious and still looked around frantically, searching for whose-does-this-belong-to while we were waiting.

She approached the other waitress who was busy taking orders (by the way, she was also the one who took our order) and we guess it will come to us now.
But NO.....that waitress told her to serve the very table she was taking order from!

They haven't even could that be theirs?
We were stunned, seriously...I mean, not to be sarcastic, the one with the plate of fish may be forgiven as she was just the maid, and she came out of the she may not have an idea whose order (although I still think it was pretty obvious when the whole restaurant is vacant, you don't need to be Einstein to figure out who ordered first when the other table is obviously still ordering their food!!!!)

And the 2nd award of who-deserves-to-be-shot goes to that other waitress who was taking the order for the following reasons:
1. She took our order
2. She is still taking order from the other table
Again, you don't need to be Einstein/Newton.... oh, did I mention she was the ONE who took our order??

So there goes our plate of steamed fish, swaying like a pendulum, back and forth and finally, they decided that it is ours.
(OF COURSE it is OURS.....urggghhhh.....)
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Our highly controversial plate of fish (or at least it WAS to the folks at the restaurant)
Steamed Talapia fish in Sichuan sauce - it was definitely a different taste and it was excitingly tasty with a certain spike of spiciness in the sauce and its blend with the smooth and firm texture of the talapia fish.
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Think fermented beancurd sauce (Tau Chu) with Sichuan chili:)

While we were eating, another one of the waitresses came with a plate of jelly; supposedly our dessert.
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Dad told her to keep it in the fridge to keep it chilled and only serve us after we are done with our dinner.
She looked perplexed but did it anyway.

After dinner (by this time, there were more people), we waited for our dessert where we were wondering whether it's going to be another controversy again this round (hadn't we had enough?)
We signalled to another waitress who came to us and we told her we want our dessert now.
She looked puzzled so Daddy repeated the word, "Jelly"
Again, she looked like she doesn't understand but the best part was this, she stood there and did NOTHING.
She pretended to scribble some notes and walked off, and our dessert never came.
At this time, we were also watching a drama unfolding in front of our very eyes where a big family walked in and they were waiting to be seated. They had made their reservations for 2 tables and seems that the restaurant didn't take that order seriously and end up, they had to sit on different sides in the restaurant as it was pretty much filled up by other customers.

So, seems like we are not the only ones antagonized by their antics, huh?

Well, our dessert finally came and we were starting to think up the other synonyms of Jelly as they don't seem to understand us.
Time to expand our vocabulary....

When we paid our bill, they were about to do another drama by looking around who asked for the bill but somehow, the bill was the fastest they have ever done during our whole dining experience...LOL!~

Anyway, it was not too pricey and the total bill came up to a reasonable amount of RM56.60 I think.
But will I come back?
Erm...I need to think twice, I mean, I may need to put on my Einstein and Shakespeare thinking caps when I am here to figure out how to explain to them, right?

Some tips that I thought of if you happen to want to dine here (in case)
1. Bring along your iPod or MP3 player, I heard music soothes and calms the soul when it's on the verge of anger
A comic might help too!
At least, it kills your time while waiting...

2. Bring along your camera and switch it to videographing mode, it may be fun to record the antics of the servers when they try to figure out whose dish is it when it's yours.
Oh, for an extra drama effect, remember to turn your camera to show the vacant restaurant too!
And if you're on the boiling verge and have no mood to take video, please refer to No.1

3. Offer them some post-it or sticky colored notes for them to put on your dishes and also stick one on their notepad which they used to take your order.
Please please make sure you use the same color...else, Amen, there goes your dish again...and refer to No.1 or No.2

4. Bring along a Chinese-English-Malay dictionary, it may help to try to find out how many types of words it takes which synchronizes with Jelly or dessert

5. Say your prayers when your food arrived and thank God for the food on the table and you can also start to praise Einstein or Newton or Graham Bell or Franklin as your idols if you haven't done so. They are such smart people!:)

6. Have fun with the food, it's not bad actually and come back and tell me about it in your blog and create your own list of things to do too!~

To be fair, the food is not too bad.....perhaps that's the reason they have regular customers who probably loved their food...I didn't say I hate it either, just the service that needs to be improved and oh, a organized ordering/serving system....
If you happen to dine there, I hope my list helped! *SMILES*


  1. haha
    very interesting comedic furious gastronomic adventure co-starring the famed Dragon Ladies !

    nowss-adays tho these fair maidens proudly proclaim themselves to be Queen's English students with a prestigious College somewhere near Cheras in between Sunway.

    So you can excuse their unMalaysian Ingerish and to Xcused us for our Mangarine ! Yes your many other points have been thoroughly noted TQ

  2. either they're tough nuts to crack, or they're hard on hearing?
    gee, i can imagine the scene unfolding (many times worse) as my command of the Mandarin is as worse than an Indon maid. =P

  3. the joys and pains of dining in chinese restaurants..hehehe

    well, menjalara is a really good place for food, these days. more to come, i hope..hehe...

  4. Haha...BackstreetGluttons, thanks for that much applauded insight on the communication and languages:D

    Hope I didn't overreact or OD on this incident...hehe;)

  5. Aiks j2kfm, didn't mean it that way,'s not to be sarcastic to be non-Mandarin or non-English speaking folks...hehe, I am also from Eng education btw:p

    It's just how the whole incident with continuous unfolding drama which kept us at the edge of our seats that night when all we want is normal dinner...sighs

  6. nic...hehe, happy that you enjoyed it...and yeah, I am looking fwd to more Menjalara haunts when I am back the next round...credits goes to my family who have been doing a great bit of exploration back there:D

  7. haha! doesn't sounds like a good experience having dinner there. Btw, i like the sarcasms! *applause*

  8. Hi Christy, its not a good idea to come to your blog around dinner time as all the food pix is making me very hungry. By the way thanks for stopping by at my blog

  9. haha...--kaiba--, *bows head shyly* thank you...but sarcasm all the time ain't that healthy:P
    Hope I didn't OD on this.....

  10. hie icook4fun, no problem, especially when it's such a nice blog:)
    Hahaha.....I must be punished for creating that sudden hunger...hmmmm:p