Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kim Kee Restaurant, Sekinchan

From The NST

This dish uses shark meat with its skin and is best
eaten with hot white rice
The shark congee is popular and mothers
would order it for their children
ON one side are fishing boats and on the other, rows and rows of padi fields. Sekinchan, one of Selangor’s well-known rice-growing areas, is a haven for seafood and on weekends, the place is crawling with city folks.

Most of the “foreigners” head straight for seafood restaurants near the jetty, an area often referred to as Bagan. However, the local residents prefer somewhere smaller, less pricey and close to home.

One of their top choices is the Kim Kee Restaurant in the heart of town. The owner, Loo Kim Boon, has become a friend to many residents there. For him, the restaurant is a place where his family and friends hang out.

Loo, 55, started small, in a little coffee-shop selling drinks, bread and kuih. But he has moved on and now, in his restaurant, he offers culinary delights that he first created in his coffee-shop.

He whips up many of the seafood dishes which he has concocted over the years when he first had a small coffee shop.

Something Different

The place looks rather run-down though, as it stands opposite some big, fancy seafood outlets with large, colourful neon signs. But it has dishes with a difference indeed, like tiger shark congee, fish head in special sauce, stirfried shark in spicy sauce and many others.

For Loo, it is all about keeping his old faithful customers — who come from a cross-section of society — happy with the food he serves.

Everyone is treated equally at his restaurant, whether they are millionaires, wage-earners or hungry padi farmers who often walk in for a warm bowl of shark meat porridge which is said to be good for health.

On his menu, Loo says this is because he wants to serve dishes not found in the other restaurants. After all, he doesn’t want to compete with the “big boys”.

“We only serve what I know the locals would enjoy, including the shark dishes. We use the whole fish, including the skin. People outside Sekinchan don’t know my shop and those who do, are usually friends and relatives of the locals or are former residents of this town,” says the former fisherman.

Loo sold his boats and fishing nets to start the coffee-shop and for six months, he worked to perfect the art of making a good cuppa. Soon, his regular customers started pestering him to cook them something more substantial.

“I couldn’t boil an egg then because I didn’t know how to cook. When the pestering continued, I spoke to my wife about it. Of course, she was all for me to learn how to cook and to open a decent restaurant.”

Loo went home and experimented on some dishes on his own. He worked on them further until he thought they were good enough to serve to his customers.

“This is how I got into the food business. That was more than 10 years ago and I have no regrets whatsoever,” says Loo who runs the restaurant with the help of his wife and children.

Every recipe is kitchen-tested, and has to be given the green light by his wife and children before it goes into the menu.

“In my restaurant, what customers want is most important. These are the people who have supported me all these years and I cannot afford to neglect them.”

What’s Special

Kim Kee is non-halal. Speak to the owner if you don’t know what to order. Some popular dishes include shark meat congee that comes with shredded tiger shark meat, bittergourd with egg and prawns, claypot fish head cooked in a black sauce with salted vegetables, garlic and ginger, steamed clams, shark fried in sauce, fried squid, tofu and other seafood dishes.

Regular customers are known to tapau (pack) what’s left of the claypot fish head dish as the sauce is delicious when eaten with white bread and roasted pork. Prices start from RM6 and five dishes for a family of four, including the claypot fish head, will cost slightly over RM70, inclusive of tea and other beverages. The shark served comes from nearby waters or are brought in from Kuala Terengganu.

Customers who want a dish prepared in a particular way, can tell Loo who is more than willing to oblige.

Opening Hours

Kim Kee Restaurant in Jalan Pasar is open daily from 11am till 2pm and from 6pm till 11pm. For details and directions, call Loo at 012-236 9960 or 012-312 5725.

Getting There

Sekinchan is about two-and-a-half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. To get there, you have to get onto the North-South expressway and exit at the Sungai Buloh interchange. From there, head straight to Kuala Selangor and then onto Sekinchan.

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