Malaysia has no shortage of casual family style Chinese restaurants. Round tables are supersized with the addition of giant plywood discs with a lazy susan groaning under the weight of over-ordered meals. Green View’s bright neon sign proudly displays a massive crab in some sort of two-step animation. Honestly, I could not work out what it was supposed to be doing. All I saw was one whole crab with both claws up in the air, followed by a crab slightly to the right with his left claw missing. There was also a king prawn in the corner wearing a little crown. Appropriate. Besides the quaint signage, the restaurant staff are inviting and the air-conditioned room is clean and comfortable. Aside from the sporadic pops of flies exploding on one of the many UV bug zappers mounted from the ceiling, that is. Fly 1: “Don’t go towards the light!!” Fly 2: “I can’t help it, it’s so beautifu-ARGH!”.
The main reason we come back to this restaurant, is the Prawn Noodles. Served up in a massive white dish, these once crispy deep fried egg noodles have been drenched in a gooey prawn-infused gravy and are crowned with some seriously sized shrimpage.
As impressive as the size of these crustaceans are, I find the flesh, despite being well cooked, ever so slightly tough and far too hefty in size for an already rich shellfish. You really have to wrestle with the meat to cut it down to bite sized portions.
The noodles and gravy are another story. Deep frying the egg noodles prior to saucing them makes them much more absorbent and they just suck up and saturate themselves in the flavourful brown gravy. The shellfish have passed on their legacy and that scrumptious seafood flavour is abundant in the saucy noodles even without eating the prawn meat.
We don’t usually order fish done sweet and sour style in Asia, unless it’s a whole one and we aren’t sure how long it has been dead. So having this dish of sweet and sour garoupa was a bit different, though not unwelcome. It’s on my favourites list when dining in Chinese restaurants in Western countries.
The fish pieces are big enough to give you a full bite of white succulent fish meat and not just greasy batter. The sauce was quite typical of any sweet and sour you could find anywhere in the world; jazzed up ketchup. And the typical vegetables (onions, mixed peppers, pineapple, tomato and …cucumber?) were fine in their own right, not over cooked, but they seemed a bit disparate. Overall the dish was quite pleasant. Who can resist the ease of popping solid bite sized pieces of boneless white fish into their greedy mouths?
If you want a full sensory experience, you should order any dish that comes in a clay pot. From the streets of Hong Kong to the alleyways of Bangkok’s Yaowarad (Chinatown) clay pot dishes know how to make an entrance. They have great heat retention which allows any treasures retained within to remain bubbling and sizzling once they are placed on the table. Miniature eruptions of billowing steam and scalding sputters of sauce are all part of the clay pot experience.
This clay pot was filled with braised goat meat, tofu skin and wood ear mushroom. The earthy colours were reflected in the flavours of the dish. The bold aroma of the goat was perfectly complimented by the strong salty hum of the dark sauce. The tofu skin and wood ear mushroom had the textural strength to stand up against the hearty flavours but also provided refuge with milder and lighter flavours. The meat is so juicy and tender it falls off the bone. There is so much warmth in flavour and texture in this dish, you can’t help but love it even if you are not used to eating meats more on the game side.
This one is for all the vegetarians out there. Two types of tofu and loofa brought together by a simple but tasty gravy. It adds a lighter and healthier feeling dynamic to a widely techniflavoured table of Chinese dishes. Textures are abundant in this one. The larger brown structures are wiggly oblongs of egg tofu. Imagine a delicate savoury egg custard encased in golden fried skin. I adore the gentle eggy taste and the soft melt-away texture of egg tofu. Breaking through that once crisp membrane and releasing the soft contents over your palette is as satisfying as it is delicious. The other tofu variety present is one consisting of layered tofu skins. The multiple layers stimulate your tongue and tickle your gums as your teeth ease through them. Tofu skins have a more elastic quality than solid tofu and one might think that compacting so many sheets in these blocks would result in an impenetrable Kevlar mass. It does not. The layers have sucked up the flavours and moisture of the dish into every pore and the body is soft without losing the integrity of each soy leaf.
The third component is the vegetable that most think of as a bathroom utensil rather than a kitchen ingredient. The loofa is a common green vegetable used in Chinese cuisine that often falls under the radar in other parts of the culinary world. It’s like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini in fibre and flavour. Even when cooked, the loofa has the refreshing characteristics of the cool cucumber with the soft bite of a zucchini or cooked apple. This triad is brought together by a translucent brown gravy which is smooth, silky and savoury scented so as to compliment the calm fragrances emanating from the major ingredients. Loofa! Fun to say, great to eat and if they get too old, dry them out and use them in the shower.