Saturday, March 12, 2011

Richwell Restaurant

It feels good to be back in KL. Having lived in London for the last 10 years, every visit back is never longer than two weeks at a time. The most average Char Kuey Teow was probably outstanding to me, and I was happy to take what I could get (I don't care what my fellow Malaysians in London say about Sedap's CKT, there's nothing like being in the KL mothership!). I'm lucky to be back with a little more time, now being able to judge without desperation.

Names like Richwell are translated directly from a Chinese dialect, with the idea that anything remotely suggesting prosperity, no matter how blatant and unrefined it sounds, will bring good fortune. Inside, there is no pretention in the simple decor, usually a bright red tablecloth over tables and maybe some Chinese lanterns above.

The words "Sang Har Noodle" emblaze the entrance in big red letters. The closest translation to Sang Har, is a type of Langoustine, hence it's speciality here is the Langoustine Noodle. Similar to Lobster Noodle, Langoustines are braised traditionally in ginger and spring onion, then tossed with noodles. The noodles then soak up all that fishy goodness.

The irony is we chose not to try them.

There were some pretty interesting dishes that were new to me, such as the Nai Pak (a smaller, plumper version of Pak Choi) with Yam. Breaking the yam whilst cooking it with the crunchy Nai Pak introduces an earthy, creamy texture. Smatterings of Salted Dried Fish provide a tasty and aromatic punch of seasoning.

Braised Belly Pork with Salted Fish was a more traditional dish, this one lacked a caramelised depth usually brought on by marinating with some sugar.

We were brought back on track with a meaty Braised Catfish. I love how the gelatinous juices mix with ample spring onion and ginger to create a natural broth at the bottom, which gets eagerly spread over my rice. 

I also loved the Stuffed Tofu, soft and milky tofu stuffed with garlic, diced prawns, chinese mushrooms and water chestnut to give it seafood flavour and crunch.

The only other let down was the Three Layer Pork Belly, which with its lacquered ebony shine is so inviting. I say let down because whilst it was really super tender, the sauce was a touch too starchy and not salty enough. 

Increasingly, I notice Chinese restaurants having rooms that house a healthy selection of wines and loving how there is greater appreciation of appropriate wine pairing with Malaysian food. We had a smooth Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand which went down very nicely. 

I liked Richwell, but didn't love it. Great food should elicit "Wahhs" and "Mmmmms", which weren't very present in our company. There are some dishes they do very well, like the yam, fish and tofu, though the rest was more "Meh". Service is smiley, efficient and good natured (they jested in me taking pictures of food on other tables since I was snapping away!), and the average dish (to share) is RM 13. I'd rate this as a very good SS2 neighbourhood staple. Perhaps the clue is in trying the dish across the doorway first...

Richwell Restaurant (check out their Facebook page!)
24G & 26G, Jalan 19/3
46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03 7955 5855

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