My friend Bryan has been telling me about the steamed catfish at Honbin Seafood 宏运海鲜 for a while, and today we finally gathered a few kakis to pay this restaurant a visit.
Honbin Seafood is located at a quiet corner of Permas Jaya, not far from the AEON JUSCO mall.
The simple menu is written out on this white board. Besides the usual fish, prawns and crabs, Honbin has the proper license to serve certain wild game like terrapins, boar and squirrels.
Hian is the friendly owner and head chef. Honbin started as a street side stall, slowly working their way to today's simple but good size restaurant.
Sally and her husband Hian are visibly and deservedly proud of their restaurant which is the result of their decade of hard work.
First up was this mixed platter of crispy fish roll, fried chicken balls and crispy fried chicken.
The fish roll was made of tender minced fish meat and vegetables wrapped in crispy thin tofu skin. A quite interesting and tasty snack or appetiser.
The fried chicken ball is made of minced chicken and water chestnuts. Would be perfect if the chicken balls were a little more moist.
I like Honbin 's crispy fried chicken with a savoury and sweet sauce. The thin slice of chicken with skin on is fried till the skin is crispy while the flesh still retains some chew and juice. Though different, it did remind me of those small square pieces of roasted suckling pig. I like this.
Steamed catfish is one of my favourite dishes and I will order one whenever it is available. Honbin's steamed catfish is made with wild caught river fish. Very sweet and bouncy white flesh, with not even the slightest hint of muddiness.
Hongbin's herbal turtle soup is made with wild caught terrapin from the rivers near Kota Tinggi.
The clean tasting broth is clear and light with herbal and ginseng flavours and aroma. (Note: This is not the murky, full bodied, umami savoury style of broth commonly served in Singapore.)
The meat and gelatinous parts of the turtle tasted mildly sweet and had mouth feel somewhere between fish and chicken.
We also had Honbin's braised catfish which is made from live fish. The large chunks of tender catfish were braised in a mildly flavoured savoury sauce. I love chewing the chunks of soft meat, skin and fat of the catfish.
Sally is proud of this lala shellfish stir fried with fried garlic and shallots. Savoury garlic and shallot bits blended with natural flavours of chewy bouncy lala.
The total bill including a pot of tea and rice came to RM140 nett for 6 adults, which I thought was very reasonable.
Overall, I found the ingredients fresh and the dishes well executed. Honbin's dishes use less robust flavourings (like sauces) and rely more on the ingredients' natural flavours. I like Honbin because over time I learnt to better appreciate the original flavours of ingredients.
For wild caught ingredients, it is best to give Sally a call at +6012-797-7231 or +6019-754-7930 to find out what is available before proceeding to Honbin.
Restaurant name: Honbin Seafood Restaurant 宏运海鲜
Address: 2, Jalan Permas 1/3, Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, Masai, Johor Bahru
Hours: 3:00pm to 1:00am
Date visited: 28 Nov 2013
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