KUALA LUMPUR - If you live in Peninsular Malaysia, you will know just how difficult it is to get your hands on Sabahan dishes. Or Sarawakian, for that matter.
In the past few years, several “famous” restaurants from Sabah have set up shop in the Klang Valley but reviews have not been too kind on them. It seems that the main complaint – I am assuming that they came mostly from Sabahans – is that the ngiu chap (beef noodles) and sang nyuk men (pork noodles) sold at these shops just don’t taste the same as the ones served back home.
At Restoran Ah Soon Kor, a no-frills coffeeshop located in the middle of a housing area in Kelana Jaya, Selangor, the same can be said of its Sabah-styled dishes. However, the shop does have more plus points than negative so if you are curious about what Tuaran mee tastes like, or if you have a craving that can’t be satiated with the usual mee goreng mamak, then Ah Soon Kor is a good place to start.
What’s important to know about the shop is that it has two “sessions”; it is closed just after lunch then open again in the evening for dinner. This gives the impression that the food served at the shop is prepared on the day itself with fresh ingredients. On the day we went for lunch, shop owner and main cook Chris Wong – a Sabahan, of course – was taking in the day’s supply of fish.
The shop is actually well known for its fish dishes. As the story goes, Wong used to work at a popular seafood restaurant in Rawang, Selangor that is famous for steamed fish (price by weight). When he opened his own shop a few years back, he decided to sell not just steamed fish, but a selection of popular Sabah dishes too like Tuaran mee, Beaufort mee, yellow wine chicken, paku-pakis and kiu nyuk or Sabah yam pork.
On top of that, there’s also a Vietnamese menu with stuff like pho, fried rice and stewed pork ribs. Unfortunately, several items from the Vietnamese menu have been “cancelled”, possibly due to the ever-increasing price of ingredients.
Being Sabahan, though, I was more interested in trying out the Tuaran mee and Beaufort mee. (The shop serves sang nyuk men but on weekends only; when asked, Wong simply replied that he didn’t want people to “get bored with the dish”.)
I am a big fan of Tuaran mee and I like it cooked a certain way. The first time I went to Ah Soon Kor, Wong had made it slightly on the dry side, which is not what I like. The second time, it was egg-ier and more to my liking. You see, there are different variations of Tuaran mee and although shops in Sabah usually serve the dish the way the cook best makes it, I appreciate the fact that Wong tries to accommodate his customers’ requests.
The Beaufort mee is, to me, a little boring but that’s pretty much the nature of the dish. It is basically fried noodles topped with a thick, clear gravy with blanched choi sum and pork. The noodles and BBQ pork (char siu) used at Ah Soon Kor are homemade, though, so that’s a good thing. (All noodle dishes are priced between RM7 and RM15.)
Another good thing is that whenever Wong gets fresh supplies from Sabah, he will make certain dishes unique to our home state like pinasakan (a fish dish that is served in every Sabahan household). When we were there, he had a fresh stock of Sabah rice wine (lihing) and served our paku-pakis drenched in the liquid. It tasted great to me, but not so much for my friend who is not used to Sabahan cuisine.
Overall, Ah Soon Kor is a good place in the Klang Valley to get your Sabahan food fix. And if you’re lucky, you might even get served items that aren’t on the menu.
Restoran Ah Soon Kor
42 Jalan SS 3/31
47300 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 013-856 7669
Open 11am to 3pm; 5.30pm to 10.30pm (closed on alternate Mondays)