Having a taste of the legendary Empurau (忘不了)

>> Oct 18, 2010

King of the Rajan River, the Malaysian Mahseer (Tor tambroides), better known as the Empurau by locals is a highly priced fish by diners. A direct translation 忘不了 (its Mandarin name) can be summed up by one word - Unforgettable. Whether or the fish got its name from its taste or its price tag, still remains a mystery among many diners.

This fish has actually been successfully cultivated throughout Malaysia. Breeding this fish is extremely difficult as it requires a rocky bottom and a very large pump to simulate the running river in the wild. Water pH level as well as a cool temperature is require to get the fish in the 'mood' for mating. This fish can grow up to 30kilos. However, their growth rate is extremely slow, which is quite similar to their distant cousin, the Red Mahseer (Kelah Merah).

The wild Empurau, thrive on 'Buah Kepayang', a type of fruit found by the river bank. This is probably the reason the fish has a very unique and special taste compared to other fish. Some diners claim the Empurau taste different depending on the location the fish was caught at. The Empurau should only be consumed once it grows above 3kg, or its meat would not have firmed up, leaving it mushy to the taste.

It is extremely challenging even for professional anglers to catch the Empurau by hook and line as they have a tendency to throw off hooks. To make matters worst, the quantity of this fish in the wild has been depleting in the recent years due to its high demands from diners.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to taste this rare fish at River Fish Restaurant ( 九和鱼餐馆).

Empurau

Steamed Empurau with Superior Soy Sauce


Gill of the Empurau Fish

A plate of Empurau Fish

Steamed Empurau with Superior Soy Sauce

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Nathalie's Gourmet Studio @ Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur

>> Oct 12, 2010

After hearing multiple praises about Nathalie's from thenomadgourmand, I finally decided to find out if Nathalie really is that good. Solaris Dutamas is rather out of the way for me, so I was hoping it was worth the trouble getting there.

No prize for guessing who I met when I stepped into NGS. Yes, thenomadgourmand and Paranoid Android were dining there as well. After being seated, Becky was so kind to come over and showed us pictures of her appetizers and main. I swear she described each dish in such depth as if she was being paid to advertise for Nathalie's (which she certainly wasn't).

We were served some freshly baked bread with french butter. (I didn't enquire what the brand was)

Freshly Baked Bread

Freshly Baked Bread

The bread was warm to the touch, and accompanied by a nice spread of butter, it certainly helped ease the hunger (My last meal was dinner).

Salmon Tataki

Salmon Tataki

Tataki is a Japanese method of preparing either fish or meat, where the product is seared very briefly on the outside, then thinly sliced up and seasoned with spices. The salmon had a nice subtle touch of celery and shallots, topped with a little truffle oil and fish roe for flavour. The dish was well seasoned, and the smoothness of the puree on top certainly went well with the fish. This wasn't a bad dish.

Scallops Salad with a Citrus Dressing

Citrus Scallops in Carpaccio, Mesclun and Citrus Dressing


Carpaccio usually refers to a appertizer comprising raw meat. Mesclun refers to a salad made up of young vegetables. So, the dish above actually translate to a scallops and young vegetables salad served with a grapefruit dressing. I found the dish to be rather well balanced. The nice plump scallops were very smooth, and the crunch of the vegetables gave this dish a nice texture. The vinaigrette wasn't exceedingly sour as well.

Note: Research has shown that grapefruit can lead to testosterone deficiency in males. So guys beware.

King Prawns with a Bisque Sauce

King Prawns in Coral Lasagnas, Zucchinis in two ways, Bisque Sauce

This had to be the dish of the day. 2 king prawns served on top of a flat pasta filled with 2 ways zucchinis. The prawns were cooked to perfection. It had to be one of the best prawns I've tasted in a long long time. It had a nice crunch texture, but was soft and moist on the inside (unlike to boric acid infused prawns found in the market). The bisque sauce was very well executed as well.

Eggplant with Lamb Stuffing

Stuffed Eggplant like a Moussaka with Lamb, , Tomato broth and Yogurt Sauce


A Moussaka is an eggplant dish that is stuffed with some sort of meat filling. This dish didn't hit the spot for me. If given a choice, I wouldn't order it. The meat stuffing was too little compared to the massive egg plant given. The eggplant was a little overcooked. Half of the eggplant was left behind as a result.

An Array of Desserts

A Selection of Small Desserts

From left to right: Canale, Praline Macaron and strawberry tiramisu. The tiramisu didn't stand out in anyway (it was ordinary). The macaron, being Nathalie's specialty was very good (I personally like the black sesame flavoured ones). The Canale had a very chewy soft texture to it. Unfortunately, I didn't quite appreciate the complexity of the Canale. The only thing missing was the tea/coffee which was suppose to come with the set but somehow didn't make it to the table (actually, we forgot about it too).

Chocolate Charlot with Vanilla Chantilly

Chocolate Charlot with Vanilla Chantilly

The dessert above is a chocolate ice-cream filled centre, surrounded by chocolate fingers and topped with a nice Vanilla whipped cream. A chocolate dessert is usually a crowd pleaser if done correctly. The dessert above was very nicely done. It looked good, and tasted good.

All in all, Nathalie's Gourmet Studio certainly lived up to its reputation. My only complain about this place was the awful service. It took them about 15 minutes to seat us (there was a table available). However, the servers did know about the dishes being served. I reckon this place deserved a revisit.

Note: The menu changes every month. You can read more about the October menu in Becky's blog by clicking here.


No Pork

*Opinions expressed are solely based on my personal experience

Map to Nathalie's Gourmet Studio


Address:
A-4-1-5 Dutamas Solaris,
Jalan Dutamas,
50490 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia

Contact:
Telephone number: 03 6207 9572
Website: http://www.nathaliegourmetstudio.com/

Opening hours:

Open Mon-Thu, Sat 10am-6pm; Fri 9am-6pm. They don't do dinner.
Closed on Sundays


Check out what other floggers said:
Masak-masak
Lyrical Lemongrass

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River Fish Restaurant (Damansara), 九和鱼餐馆 @ Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya

>> Oct 9, 2010

For all you fish connoisseurs out there, I just found a place to satisfy your picky taste buds. Eating the perfect fish is like drinking wine. You need to know how to taste those subtle flavours to truly appreciate it. I know a lot of people who claims that 'a fish is a fish, how much different can it taste?'. As they say, ignorance is bliss. Its better off not knowing, because once you know, there is no turning back. When you can tell every little thing wrong with a fish, you tend not to enjoy your food as much.

Anyway, there is this restaurant in Damansara Kim that specialises in river fish. Their specialties include Empurau 忘不了, Red Kelah (Red Mahseer), Tenggalan, Tapah (a type of cat fish), Tilapia, Big Head carp and Soon Hock (Marble Gobi). Occasionally, they bring in Kerapu Naga (Loong Dan - Goliath Grouper) as well. Do call ahead to find out what fish they have.

Loong Dan is actually a different species of grouper contrary to being a very big grouper as to what most people think. In other words, an ordinary spotted grouper aka Samivelu (not spelt like this but open to interpretation) as what most fisherman calls it is not a Loong Dan. If you look carefully, a Loong Dan has a yellowish tinge on its tail, fins and gills. This fish is usually prized for its stomach and skin. The meat taste slightly better than an ordinary grouper (I would say marginally). When restaurants recommend this dish to you, be sure to not be conned into paying a hefty price for the flesh. Put it this way, if I ordered the stomach and skin of the fish, the restaurant would have to get rid of the meat asap rather than letting it get spoilt. So don't be conned into being the sucker that pays for the meat (the meat is sold at 2-3 times the price of an ordinary grouper).

I am going to combine my 2 visits to this place below.



Emperor Noodles

The Emperor noodles (Wong Dai Mein in Cantonese) was fried really well. It was adequately flavoured and had a nice 'wok hei' (breath of the wok) to it. This certainly tasted far better than the emperor noodles found at William's and Murni.



Claypot Chicken Rice

This claypot chicken rice differs from the usual dark soy sauce type found at most places. It came laden on top with nice pieces of steamed chicken, served with an accompanying ginger sauce. The dish went really well together. A ginger love would certainly enjoy this dish.



Pork cooked with Yam

Personally, I never did quite enjoy eating braised pork with yam. According to the rest of my dinner companions, this dish didn't stand out in anyway.



Steamed Loong Dan

We chose to have the tail part of the fish (each part of the fish is different in its own way which I will so kindly describe below). The fish was steamed to perfection. The skin had a nice gelatinous texture to it. It wasn't chewy (which would have been bad). The soy sauce used was very nice as well. The dish above was RM180.

Note: When eating a fish, people usually like to go for the belly region as it contains the most fat in a fish. Do be warned that if a fish is not fresh, the belly region would taste bitter and fishy. Some people also like to have the head of the fish. I know of a couple of kids to actually fight over the eye balls of the fish. The tail part of a fish is also very good as it doesn't have as many bones as the other parts and the last morsel of meat before the actual tail itself is usually softer and better in texture. All these only applies if your fish is bigger than 4kilos otherwise it doesn't really matter.



Chinese Pancake

We ended the meal with these flaky Chinese pancake stuffed with lotus seed paste. It wasn't exceptional but it was edible.

As for my second visit, our goal was to have the red mahseer (red kelah). Unfortunately, the fish was found to be 'lekor' (skin was extremely tough). Just my luck huh? So, we settled for another fish instead.



Double Boiled Chicken Soup

We started the meal with a bowl of chicken soup (RM8) each. The soup had a nice distinct chicken flavour to it, and it was seasoned well.



Honey Baked Pork Ribs

The ribs (RM3.50 per pieces) had a nice caramelised exterior to it. The meat was so soft it was falling off the bone. This dish was done very well. I could have easily polished off the entire plate myself.



House Specialty Tofu

The tofu (RM 10) was homemade. It was silky smooth and soft and went very well with the accompanying meat condiments.



Steamed Tengalan

The Tengalan (RM14 per 100grams) had a very nice texture to it. The meat texture was slightly soft but had a nice subtle sweetness to it.

Note: No offence to the owner, but I personally felt that the dish above was rather small and did not weigh up to 800grams as stated in the receipt. As a person who loves going fishing, I know how big an 800grams fish is. When I ordered the kelah over the phone, the person told me that 600grams would suffice for 4 people. Hence I was a little shocked when I didn't have enough to eat in a 800grams fish when we only had 3 people.

Anyway, what happened is probably an honest mistake, as I feel that the manager so kindly brought out the red kelah told us there was something wrong with the skin. He also offered me a taste of the fish and told us to choose another fish as the Kelah wasn't up to pare and He didn't want to serve it to us. We were served a complementary plate of fruits on the house, and they wanted to refill our beer.

All in all, I will definitely be back despite that incident. Hopefully, such a thing doesn't happen again as some of the public may not be that forgiving. I wonder what fish I'll have next time round.


Non Halal

*Opinions expressed are solely based on my personal experience

Map to River Fish Restaurant (Damansara) Sdn. Bhd. 九和鱼


Address:
17, Jalan SS20/11,
Damansara Kim,
47400 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan,
Malaysia.

Contact:
Telephone number: 03 7727 8029
Fax number: 03 7727 8019
Email: riverfishdamansara@yahoo.com

Opening hours:
11.30am-10pm daily

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Guess the Fish

>> Oct 7, 2010

As the title suggest. Anyway willing to guess what fish this is?



Mystery Fish?

Answer will be reviewed in a couple of days. I'm currently too darn busy to give out a reward just yet. So in the near future, there'll probably be a small reward for further guessing games on my blog.

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