My eyelids droop as I finish this write-up. Last week was a long one for work and play but I feel content and happy. One reason being my second and final entry for the Selangorlicious blogging competition at a really interesting venue with old friends. It's also been great fun reading other entries and ogling at the mouth-watering photos. It'll be another adventure in itself to try even a fraction of these places, and in the meantime fingers, toes and anything crossable crossed.
The Malay word “pantai” commonly translates into “beach”. So with a name like that for a restaurant it’s amusing to find it nowhere near a coast but hidden in the depths of Kampung Kayu Ara. A sandy driveway leads up to the sprawling building amidst palm trees and its décor is somewhat beach-like. But walk in through the main entrance and you realize the menu really resonates with the second part of the name.
Like a walk-in aquarium, Pantai Seafood could charge an entrance fee just to let customers marvel at the incredible looking creatures in huge water tanks. I adore seafood and consider myself well-versed in most things that come from a body of water but this is something else. I mean, what on earth is a geoduck?! Objects resembling overgrown mutant tails lie flaccid on top of each other with a sign saying ‘RM 178 per kilogram’. Those better be some tasty mutants. And that is just one find in a great selection: from Australian Abalone to Canadian Oysters and everything else in between.
This style of Chinese restaurant typically allows you to take your pick of seafood and choose how you’d like it cooked. Being spoilt for choice we actually ended up with some very classic and delicious options. Marmite pai quat (spare ribs) were tender but still slightly firm and evenly glazed in that popular sweet and sticky sauce. Thai-style fried chicken were strips of chicken fillets coated in batter and fried so well it left a crunchy skin that even Colonel Saunders would envy. Strips of mango, shallots, chilli and lime zest on top gave it a distinctive Thai tang.
A symphony played on my tongue from the Kum Heong Lala (Clams with a “Golden Fragrance”). They were plump and well seasoned with dried shrimp, curry leaf and spicy sauce.
As sides, kangkung belacan (Spicy Water Spinach) and Kung Po Chicken didn’t disappoint. What did fall short of expectations was the sauce for our Butter Crabs. Butter sauce should be glossy and rich with an aromatic curry leaf element. This sauce was gloopy and unnaturally yellow. We suspect foul play! Perhaps curry powder had been used instead. A shame considering the crab meat was, otherwise, wonderfully succulent.
What did put Pantai back in pole position was a gorgeous deep fried pork knuckle. Meat fell easily away from the bone and the crispy skin was bursting with porcine goodness. Served with a lemon and white pepper sauce, it was divine. One person in our party felt it his duty to completely dissect and maul the knuckle till the joints had been wiped clean.
“Pantai” also translates into “shore”, and aside from the Butter Crab sauce hiccup this place is a shore winner. From the mesmerizing sea creatures, the prompt service and excellent cooking it’s a perfect venue for a large group of adventurous eaters. For all the above dishes and drinks, it was a well spent RM55 per head amongst seven people.
Kampung Kayu Ara
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 7725 5099
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