lunch in uptown.

Note: This place is no longer in operation.

we happened to be in damansara uptown last thursday and decided to walk down the shops around the standard chartered bank row in search of a nice place for lunch. noticed quite a few modern kopitiamlike eateries, serving the typical white coffee, roti bakar, curry noodles etc which i didn’t feel like. instead we settled for this seemingly new-ish restaurant bearing the name “Sea Star Kitchen”.

i was a little surprised to see a hakka specialty – “lui cha” (客家擂茶) in its menu. i am not unfamiliar with this dish as it’s one of my grandmother’s specialty. as she does not skimp on the ingredients, i have always been a little reluctant to eat this whenever i eat out as most of the times they fall short in comparison. the soup is perhaps the most important, as it’s cooked with a consortment of pounded herbs, tea leaves, sesame seeds, peanuts etc. to make the dish more flavourful, it is served with a variety of stir-fried greens (seven types being the norm), roasted peanuts and a trio mixture of pickled radish, beancurd and dried shrimps.

Lui Cha 客家擂茶 when served, the dish seemed promising despite the soup being a lighter, brighter shade of green than i am used to. taking into account customers who may want to go easy on the soup, the soup was served separately. unlike the way my grandmother cooks, the beancurd & pickled radish is served separately here, together with stir-fried cabbage, leafy vegetable (bok choy), leek, long beans, coriander (chinese celery) and roasted peanuts. a very promising beginning indeed. eager to tuck in, i poured all my soup into the rice and its accompaniments and just dived in. Lui Cha II

so, the verdict. the soup was a tad too salty for my liking, which i guess helped the dish live up to its other name – “Salty Tea Rice”. and there wasn’t enough oomph from the pounded herbs which probably meant that i was far too used to the abundance of herbs used in my grandmother’s version. still, it was more authentic than i would expected it to be but i wouldn’t be craving for it anytime soon (unless my grandmother has returned to my hometown and i have no frozen rations. afterall, beggars can’t be choosers, can they?).

Fried Rice with Chicken & Salted Fish the restaurant also served a variety of other quick meals and my colleague opted for the salted fish & chicken fried rice which was actually quite delicious due to the lingering wok hei (a certain smoky taste brought on by the hot wok). i think the only complaint was that the sunny side up served together with the fried rice was too oily! another thing that i thought was too oily was the soft shell crab which we ordered as a starter. i couldn’t understand why the chef topped the crab with fried shallots as well, as it didn’t add any value to the dish. the price was also a little steep at RM7.90 each.

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