Saturday, 15 July 2017

Best Zhi Cha in JB List. Lai Hing in Taman Perling 利興坊海鲜小厨

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Buddy Steven suggested that we have dinner at Lai Hing zhi cha in JB after our day long food trail in Kluang. I thought it was a great idea as our Kluang food trail began at day break, and eating dinner in Kluang meant driving back late at night - it would be a little taxing for my vintage chassis 😜 I was also keen to visit Steven's favourite JB zhi cha place as I have not been to Lai Hing before 😋

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Lai Hing restaurant is at a corner of a long row of shops on Jalan Layang 16 - a side road running parallel to and below the Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar flyover at Taman Perling (near the junction with Jalan Persisiran Perling 1). Parking is plentiful at night as most of the shops are closed (so it's also a little dark here).

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Lai Hing is popular with local families for its fresh ingredients, delicious food and reasonable prices.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Cooking is done outside along the corridor at the front of the the restaurant facing the car park 😄 You can hear the flaming gas stoves roar like jet engines against the background of muffled rumbling from cars passing by on the flyover, just ahead in front of Jalan Layang 16.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

In 1978, 18 year old Ah Peng 亚平 came from Ipoh to work as a kitchen hand in 大中国大酒楼, a Singapore Orchard Road restaurant. In 1981, Ah Peng went to work at a zhi cha 煮炒 stall in downtown JB's Pasar Kia hawker centre beside Sungai Segget. When Sungai Segget was redeveloped in the 1990s, Ah Peng set up Lai Hing here at Jalan Layang 16 in Taman Perling - it's been nearly 2 decades already. At Lai Hing, Ah Peng is supported by his wife, son and a long serving sous chef.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

This was the finale of our dawn till dusk food trail. Steven who is a regular at Lai Hing did the honours of ordering the dishes 😄

We enjoyed every dish by Ah Peng.

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The most expensive dish was this Asam Steamed Fish (price RM72+). It was worth every sen.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

The uber fresh Ikan Merah (Red Snapper) was steamed perfectly and served in a pool of orangey red asam pedas.

The dish tasted zesty tangy-spicy from the asam pedas with subtle sweetness from the tender juicy red snapper flesh. The vegetables added more textures and flavours to the dish.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

This humble RM7+ fried hor fun was the most memorable dish of the evening for me.

Hor fun with good "wok hei" is rare even in JB where almost every zhi cha stall has high BTU gas jet stoves. Even with the right equipment, it takes a special mastery to do an excellent "wok hei" hor fun.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

The good quality flat rice noodles absorbed the savoury-sweet flavours from the blended sauce which are sealed in with a slightly caramelised surface. The subtle toasty flavour of the caramelised surface combines with the savoury-sweet flavours infused in the kway teow to give that signature "wok hei" hor fun taste with every mouthful.

A real treat which you can get when Ah Peng, the master is at the wok.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

I like this Ku Lou Yok 咕嚕肉 (I realised the boss didn't charge this item in the bill only after we got home 😂 ).

The thick pieces of lean pork were deep fried to a subtle crisp outside sealing in the naturally sweet porky juices in the moist tender white flesh. The savoury-sweet sauce outside added another layer of flavour to the ku lou yok 咕嚕肉 without overwhelming the natural porky sweetness.


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Indonesia Style Prawns 印尼虾 (RM45+).

I like the thick curry sauce of Lai Hing's Indonesia prawns. It was robust and well balanced - sweet-spicy-savoury. The curry sauce was thicken and sweetened with evaporated milk. Dried prawns gave it crustacean savouriness, curry leaves gave it aroma and chili gave it a spicy kick. The tasty sauce, however, masked much of the good size prawns' natural flavours.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Hakka Beancurd (price RM20+).

It's a slab of soft bean curd, fried to a browned crisp outside and slathered with fried minced pork on top.

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Lala in a savoury-spicy sambal sauce (price RM20+).

The quite robust sambal sauce masked the delicate flavours of the clams.

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Nicely done crunchy juicy kang kong greens in mild sambal chili sauce.

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👉 We didn't order too many dishes as we had been eating non stop since the morning 😂 We enjoyed all the dishes, the great company, and ended our whole day food trail in Kluang on a happy, and delicious note thanks to Lai Hing zhi cha 煮炒 in JB. It's a good, humble no frills spartan place for families and small groups for casual, affordable meals. If you are dining alone, it's hard to do better than a RM7+ plate of excellent "wok hei" hor fun at Lai Hing 😄

Lai-Hing-Taman-Perling-JB-Zhi-Cha-利興坊海鲜小厨

Restaurant name: Kedai Makan Dan Minumam Lai Hing 利興坊海鲜小厨
Address: 34, Jalan Layang 16, Taman Perling, Johor Bahru
GPS1°28'23.2"N 103°40'37.1"E | 1.473112, 103.676964
Tel: 019 772 0312 (Ah Peng)
Hours: 4:00pm to 12:00 midnight

Non Halal

Date visited: 15 Jul 2017

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