Saturday, 12 March 2016
Tropical Garden Restaurant Kulai Johor 新嘉宾酒楼 JK1426
One of the pleasures of a trip to Johor for Singapore visitors is the opportunity to enjoy quality old school food at comfortable banquet halls at Singapore kopitiam zhi char prices. More important, many of the delicious traditional banquet dishes are seldom found in Singapore nowadays.
Today, we were at Tropical Garden's banquet hall here at Taman Tropika, a well known local restaurant in Kulai (near Johor Premium Outlets). This is Tropical Garden's second outlet. The first outlet at nearby Jalan Senai Utama 1/2 (opened in 1990) is still operational.
Tropical Garden has an extensive menu of over 100 dishes and we could only try six - which was more than what our tummies could fill in one sitting. Another trip to Tropical Garden is definitely on the cards :-D
First dish was the Crispy Boneless Chicken with Thai Sauce 金龍雞 (half chicken - RM30+). This is one of Tropical Garden's signature dishes since 1990.
This is a surprising dish.
Starting from the bottom are crushed cashew and at the top is the crispy chicken skin with a thin layer of meat. Sandwiched between the nutty cashew and crispy chicken skin/meat is a soft patty of mashed shrimp and squid.
It's a savoury sweet blend of chicken and seafood flavours with a touch of tangy and spice from the Thai sauce. This is a must order novel signature dish at Tropical Garden.
I remember this as a child in Singapore but have not seen this chicken dish for decades.
Superior Double Boiled Seafood 一品窝 (large serving - RM180+).
The large pot of chicken broth is chocked full of seafood like scallops, prawns, sea cucumber and abalone. There are also mushrooms, pork tendon and stomach. Everything is nice inside the rich superior broth with layers of gentle sweet savouriness.
There was this delicious sea cucumber from Australia with a soft jelly crunch and an ocean fresh flavour that resembles scallops. Must order this when you are at Tropical Garden.
Deep Fried Snapper with Two Flavour Sauce 二味紅鯛 (RM80+).
A good size fresh red snapper deep fried to a crisp outside while the inside was still moist and tender. The fish was laid on a large lotus leaf - one half of fish is blanketed with a thick sourish savoury spicy sauce. The other half is slathered with a creamy sweet savoury sauce with hints of spice. We enjoyed both sauces and the interesting textures of the fresh snapper.
Pork Ribs with Plum Sauce 梅醬排骨 (medium serving - RM30+).
The chunks of pork ribs are deep fried till the outside is crisped while the inside is still tender and juicy. The pork ribs are then hot bathed with a coat of sticky sweet savoury tangy plum sauce. Jolly good pork ribs.
Stir Fried Long Beans with Brinjal 長豆茄子 (medium serving - RM18+).
I like this well executed homely dish very much. Juicy brinjal is coated with batter then deep fried like tempura. It is then tossed in a savoury sweet sauce. Love the mix of crispy and soft textures, and the gentle well balanced sauce.
Fried Mushrooms in Two Styles 雙味菇 (large serving - RM45).
Braised Chinese black mushrooms and Enoki mushrooms fried tempura style garnished with pork floss. The savoury sweet mushrooms are set in a bed of boiled broccoli and doused with superior sauce.
The sourish sweet Ice Jelly 愛玉冰 (RM3) which is popular especially with ladies. I like Tropical Garden's version too as it is not overly sour.
Tropical Garden is a family business established in 1990. Chef Ah Kwang heads the kitchen while other family members run the operations and marketing. Many things are still done the old way at Tropical Garden - Ah Kwang is making yam rings here with yam the old way (by hand rolling). Tropical Garden's main clientele are local Kulai folks who are long time customers 老街方, 熟客 - you can't fool them with short cuts or cutting corners :-D
The 80 table banquet hall at level 2 of Tropical Garden. There are also smaller halls and private rooms for more intimate functions.
->> All the dishes we tasted today were delicious and reasonably priced. Tropical Garden is a good place to bring the family for a lunch or dinner treat.
Disclosure: This is an invited food tasting.
Restaurant name: Tropical Garden Restaurant 新嘉宾海鲜酒楼
Address: 35-42 Jalan Tropika 1, Taman Tropika, 81000 Kulaijaya, Johor
GPS: 1.668958, 103.570203 | 1°40'08.2"N 103°34'12.7"E
Tel: +607 656 6001 / 662 2568 / hp: +6012 790 8806
Hours: 11:00am to 3:00pm | 5:00pm to 10:00pm daily
Date visited: 11 Mar 2016
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