Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mum’s recipes draw the crowd - Star


THE first thing that diners notice about the Special Butterworth Curry Mee at Lemon Grass Cafe & Restaurant is its pale, milky soup.

One cannot help but wonder if the curry mee is hot enough as the dish offered at other outlets is usually a striking red colour.

As if reading our minds, restaurant owner Desmond Teoh passed us a small jar of chilli paste and said: “Add this into the soup. Put more if you want your curry mee to be spicier.”

The Special Butterworth Curry Mee is served with a small jar of chilli paste for diners to adjust the spiciness to their own taste.

The colour of the soup changed instantly as we stirred the paste into the bowl.

The flavourful and aromatic mee, laden with a healthy amount of prawns, tofu pok, long beans, squid and cockles, is a special recipe of Teoh’s mum Ng Nga.

Because of her passion for cooking, Ng opened a coffee shop in Butterworth about five years ago where she served her special curry mee.

“Making the paste alone takes almost half a day. I grind shallots, chillies, garlic and other ingredients together and fry the mixture for hours.

“I’ve also cut down on the amount of santan used in the soup,” Ng, who is in her 60s, said.

A taste of Penang fare: Assam Laksa (top) and Butterworth Special Fried Rice

The dish was a hit in Butterworth and six months ago, Teoh decided to bring the dish to the Klang Valley, along with Assam Laksa, Butterworth Special Fried Rice, Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies’ Finger and Lobak.

“I have brought Penang here!” he quipped.

Some of the ingredients are brought from Penang to ensure the quality.

“We found that some things here just don’t taste the same; one example is the belacan used in our Butterworth Special Fried Rice.

“We tried the local belacan but still felt that the Penang product smells much nicer,” Teoh said.

Ng is now in stationed in Lemon Grass, where she helps out with the daily running of the restaurant.

As she is very particular about the freshness of the ingredients, customers need not worry about the strong fishy smell of the Assam Laksa.

Packs a wallop: The Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger uses only springy fresh prawns.

“Unlike some who use canned fish, we use fresh ikan kembong from the market,” Teoh said.

The cooked-to-order Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger caters for diners who crave for hot food.

The springy prawns, coated with the spicy sambal sauce, were not too harsh on the palate, but beware, they left a burning sensation in the stomach.

The slightly sweet Lobak, with bits of vegetables in it, makes a good side dish.

“To make sure that the Lobak is tender, we use only chicken drumstick to make it,” Teoh said.

While desserts like green and red bean soup are in the dessert section of the menu, it is the Kaya Butter Char Kuey that makes an interesting option.

The yau char kuay (Chinese crullers), drizzled with butter, is served with a dollop of kaya.

Set lunch, priced below RM8.50, is also available, with over 10 choices that include Hokkien Mee, Seafood Sang Mee and Lala Fried Meehoon.

LEMON GRASS CAFE & RESTAURANT, 41, Jalan Vanilla Anggerik X31/X, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam (Tel: 03-5122 4128). Business hours: Daily, 11.30am to 9.30pm. Closed on Wed. Pork-free.

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