Saturday, March 29, 2008

Restoran Zenith

If you are looking for Halal Chinese cuisine, you can give Zenith a try. Zenith serves a variety of Chinese dishes - steamed fish with black bean sauce, claypot salted fish and chicken, kam heong-style bamboo clam, marmite prawn and butter prawn combo, jiao yan (black pepper and salted) squid, jiang nan seafood noodles to name a few. Zenith also serves few Malay dishes like nasi goreng kampung, nasi goreng Pattaya, nasi daging merah and nasi paprik and Western food such as chicken chop, lamb chop, fish & chip and honey peanut butter toast. Go for the chinese cuisine - I personally recommend the following dishes:

Ikan Masak Kerabu Mangga
Kailan Zenith (Yin-Yang Vegetable)
More details below.

**********Extract From The NST**********

When she became a Muslim some 20 years ago, Haslinda Sim Abdullah had no problems adjusting to a new way of life except for one aspect — food. She couldn’t find a Chinese restaurant that catered to Muslims. So Haslinda had little choice but to cook the food herself, more so when she got married and started to raise a family. She became very good at it and eventually, her husband suggested that she take over the Zenith Restaurant when its owner had trouble making it profitable. She agreed as she wanted to share the joys of Chinese food with fellow converts and her Muslim friends but was nevertheless anxious. After all, she could only cook Chinese and she worried about whether the largely Malay Muslim market would find Chinese food acceptable though all the ingredients were halal. So she started with quite a lot of Malay dishes, interjecting a few Chinese dishes here and there to test the market.

Later, she says, when she decided to switch to all Chinese dishes (except for a few items like nasi goreng kampung), the number of customers grew and many of them kept coming back. Their praises for her cooking gave her the much-needed confidence and she began to expand on the menu. Today, the no-frills but airconditioned restaurant has gained a reputation that Muslims in Kuala Lumpur and even as far away as Rawang and Seremban come to when they get a craving for Chinese cuisine. She also attracted the Chinese Muslim community who were now glad they could eat out and enjoy halal Chinese food.

These days, with her clientele growing, she’s roped in a proper Chinese chef from a major Chinese restaurant chain of restaurants, to help her cope with the vast amount of cooking. “A lot of Malay customers don’t really know what to order when it comes to Chinese food, so I have to be there all the time to make recommendations,” says Haslinda. Some regulars never bother with the menu anymore, preferring to happily let Haslinda take charge of their meal. Now she is in the process of coming up with a picture menu that will help her customers decide better.

Lunch time sees a good crowd who come in for the chap fan — the pay-for-what-you-take Chinese coffeshop buffet. Haslinda offers only eight to 10 dishes there are vegetables, fish, tofu, eggs, chicken — all cooked Chinese-style. “I think I’m the only one offering chap fun in this area. The rest are mostly mamak shops. Many office workers come in for a quick bite. With chap fun, they don’t have to think about what to order and many don’t have the time for a leisurely meal,” she says. But I notice that many of her customers do pick up items from her a la carte menu.

These range from quick single- serve meals like noodles and fried rice to more elaborate dishes to go with rice. A set lunch of meat or fish with rice and a fruit juice costs only RM6.50. There’s black pepper beef, sweet and sour fish, marmite chicken, venison kuay teow, Cantonese fried and tom yam noodles. There are Package Meals designed for the busy businessman, priced from RM30 to RM88 (nett) for between two to six persons and from RM115 to RM210 for between five and 10 persons. Three dishes of Hong Kong kailan with ginger and onion fish slice and mustard pickle and beancurd soup is RM30 nett. Many customers come by to order ta-pau or take-aways and for nearby offices, all it takes is a phone call and Haslinda obligingly sends the food over.

Chap fun is not on our minds today. Instead, we ask Haslinda to make us some recommendations and soon, our table is spread with a variety of dishes that make us feel like we are in a Chinese restaurant. Wong nga pak (Chinese long, white cabbage) with dried scallops, for instance, is almost a festive dish.Here, it’s very well done indeed. The cabbage is well cooked to a tenderness that you can feel with your heart. I do so love softly-cooked Chinese cabbage. It comes packed in a plate with dried scallops in oyster sauce ladled over. The scallops add a delicate dried seafood flavour to the otherwise bland cabbage.

Then we have a Yin-Yang Fish. It’s a pretty dish and such a lot of work. The chef has carefully filleted the whole siakap and used the meat to cook in two different styles. Half of this he has done in a deepfried butter-style with filigreed egg-white and curry leaves to add a gorgeous aroma. The other half he spreads with a fish paste and carefully rolls each piece up with a scallion and julienned carrot in the centre. These are steamed and lightly flavoured with soya sauce.That’s not all. What’s left of the central bone, head and tail of the fish is dipped in a light batter and deepfried to crunchiness so that no part of the fish goes to waste.

The next dish is a Thai-sauce Roast Chicken. I find the sauce, with a generous sprinkle of roasted sesame seed, far too sweet. I prefered the chicken without the sauce. Fried Abalone Mushroom is one of Haslinda’s favourite dishes. The mushrooms are battered, deepfried and tossed in a sweet and sour sauce with chopped cucumber and capsicum.

Currently, the top favourite with her customers, according to Haslinda, is Yin-Yang Vegetable. “I remember recommending this dish to one group of customers but one of them protested, saying she had tried it in another restaurant and didn’t think much of it. But she was out-voted and later, she said that it was good! I was so happy,” says Haslinda. “Our chef really does this dish very well.” The imported Hong Kong kailan is cooked in two styles. The stems are steamed while the leaves are shredded and deepfried till they are crispy and arranged on top of the stems. Then little silver ikan bilis are sprinkled over the kailan - a nice touch by the chef. The ikan bilis does wonders but it is also the contrasting textures of the steamed stems and the crispy leaves that make it so enjoyable.

For dessert, Haslinda doesn’t offer too many choices. She has jin tui (sesame balls) and Shanghai pancake. She makes these herself, she says. Noticing some customers enjoying the jin tui, we ask for the same and soon we are happily munching on the glutinous rice flour balls with a red bean stuffing. The coating of sesame seeds adds a nice crunch to the balls. Photographer Rohanis couldn’t resist having three though she professes to being “stuffed”. While we are having lunch, I can’t help noticing the food ordered by customers at the other tables. The fish-head curry looks great as does the Seng Kong Tofu. The aroma of the Claypot Chicken with Saltfish simply irresistible.

Restoran Zenith is open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am to 10.30pm. It’s closed on Sundays. Taman Desa Petaling is on the way to Seremban from TUDM in Sungai Besi. You’ll have no problems locating Zenith with its bright blue canopy. Haslinda also does catering and even managed a small wedding at the restaurant.

**********End Of Extract**********

Restoran Zenith
Block B, 3-LG-1, Megan Salak Park,
Taman Desa Petaling, Salak Selatan, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-90563668
Business Hours:
Monday - Saturday, 11.00am to 10.30pm

Cuisine: Chinese
Rating: Food = B, Ambience = C

Rating System:
A = Recommended
B = Worth A Visit
C = Average
D = Below Average
E = Waste Of "Hard-Earned" Money. Seriously, I'm Not Kidding!

1 comment:

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