There is nothing like a drive out of KL on a Saturday morning and know you are heading to an expectedly delicious lunch of Foochow food in Rawang. We soon arrived at Ah Tee Private Kitchen in a new housing estate there.
Ah Tee, also known as Kevin, was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to the lunch of Foochow food for the seven of us. He’s from Sitiawan which has a dominant Foochow population. There’s a comfortable retro feel about his kitchen – the cement-rendered walls, working counter, table-top and floor. While being a passionate and versatile cook, Kevin is a part-timer in renovation management and his house best represents what he does.
The retro touch extends to the enamel plates, bowls and colourful trays which he serves his food in, and enamel mugs which we drink from.
First up for lunch was the hot and sour Fish Maw Soup. It’s a well-loved Foochow dish, and here at Ah Tee’s it was a soup that was perfectly tuned, being hot and sour enough and lightly thickened with cornstarch. Strips of crunchy wood ear fungus, cabbage and red pepper and of course fish maw made it a textural delight.
Ah Tee’s version of this soup is a refined one as I would imagine it being served as a starchy, more robust soup in certain restaurants in Sitiawan.
Ah Tee says his food is Foochow with a twist and I don’t believe I have encountered the next dish — Fried Stingray in Red Wine Mash. (I’m well acquainted with the cuisine, after having eaten several times at Sin Han Siong, a well-known Foochow restaurant in Ayer Tawar, at Bei King in Sitiawan and a couple of Foochow restaurants in KL.)
Red wine fermented with red yeast rice is a Foochow speciality. It is usually cooked with chicken and mee sua and served at celebrations. The red wine lees or mash also has a place in its cuisine, and as it has a more concentrated flavour, it is often used in tandem with the wine for cooking the red wine chicken, for instance. It can also used as a marinade, as Ah Tee has done with stingray. He marinated the fish overnight with the red wine mash and ginger, then frying each piece of stingray. The fish soaks in the marination so you have lovely sticky, crispy and winey bits when fried. The meat slides off the soft bones of fish; it is just so delicious.
Ah Tee presented the stingray on a round enamel tray, together with blanched ladies fingers, slices of mango and bangkuang, with a dark sauce chilli dip in the centre. The fish was so flavourful on its own and did not need any embellishment. I thought it was a clever way to serve it — with fruit and vegetables complemented by the zesty dip.
Mee Sua in Red Wine is a must in any Foochow meal. We had Ah Tee’s version of it – swirls of mee sua in a thick and aromatic red wine sauce with pork and shimeji mushrooms, boiled eggs with soft yolks and topped with crispy fried ginger strips. The sauce was sweet and winey enough and simply lovely with the ginger strips. I liked the egg too.
Dessert was Sago Gula Melaka with ice-cream, followed by sour plum ice popsicles which were a great ending to a wonderful lunch.
Ah Tee’s Private Kitchen is open on Saturday and Sunday for lunch or dinner. It’s RM88 to RM98 per pax (minimum 4). The menu rests with Ah Tee who likes surprising his diners. If you would like to try Ah Tee’s Foochow food, call +6 012 383 0478, email firstname.lastname@example.org.