Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shikai Restaurant

We've been having birthdays galore recently. It was Hub's Lunar calendar birthday on 9/1, Ming's 2oth birthday, Roman calendar, and Yi's 23rd Lunar calendar birthday on 10/1 and MIL's Lunar calendar birthday on 11/1. As usual, I forgot the birthdays, especially Lunar calendar ones. It was MIL's other daughter-in-law who reminded me, so guess who's more favored with MIL.

Anyway, I was given the task of choosing a good Chinese restaurant and in KK, that's as hard as choosing a good spouse. Maybe harder, because there are so few choices. Many times we've eaten at some restaurant and came away fully satisfied but on a later visit the food turned out totally different from the previous visit's. The most recent case was the Dynasty Restaurant at Promenade Hotel. In the end, we narrowed our choices down to Equatorial Restaurant, which we haven't been to in a long time, Port View at The Waterfront and Shikai Restaurant in Asia City.

The name Shikai may mislead many people into thinking this is a Japanese restaurant. I personally think they should make the name more Chinese-sounding and looking to attract more customers who want to dine on Chinese cuisine. Now, I've been to Shikai (in Chinese, it is Si Hai Ting, Four Seas Hut) about 4 times and although I liked the food, Shikai wasn't a place you'd bring old folks to because the lights were too dim and the seats were low backless stools. Places with low backless stools aren't exactly fitting for banquet meals, especially if you want to impress your guests. However, I was told that they have added more lights recently and that they were able to give us proper chairs so I checked the place out about 5 hours before the dinner. The young chef, Ah Pheng, was very helpful and accommodating. When they couldn't serve a whole fish on such short notice, I was allowed to bring my own fish for them to cook for a minimum charge of RM15/US$4.40, depending on the size of the fish. I also brought some large yellow ocean prawns to make up for the smaller prawns the restaurant had.

I will start with the best dish and work down the list.

Crispy skin duck with tang gui, RM52/US$15.

I don't know the difference between this and pipa duck, which is also on Shikai's menu but this was excellent in taste and flavor and the skin was very crispy without a disgusting layer of fat as sometimes ducks can have BUT the meat was quite tough. I gave up on using chopsticks and used my fingers instead while the old folks didn't bother to eat any more after one slice.

Fish maw soup, RM65/US$19 for a large bowl that can feed 10 to 12.

This was yummy and they didn't scrimp on ingredients. For the price I think some crab meat wouldn't hurt.

Steamed lu ton grouper, cost of steaming RM15/US$4.40.

I brought this beauty to the restaurant and requested for it to be steamed simple, with soy sauce and oil. It was excellent, surprisingly tender and sweet. Lu ton groupers are prized for their heads, fins and skin because of the gelatinous fat and flavor, and their meat is firm yet fine and smooth . The bigger lu tons cost more because they have thicker and more gelatinous skins and fins, and I had a memorable meal of a stewed lu ton head in The Sandakan Golf Club many years ago. The fish must've been a monster because the skin was as thick as 2 cm in some places and the flavor was supreme, unbelievable.

Brinjals with salted fish, RM25/US$7.30.

Ah, this was very well done and superb with plain rice. However, the amount was miserly even though we had ordered a large portion.

Creamy butter sauce prawns.

I brought the large prawns and I think Shikai made a mistake with the price. A medium portion would be about RM25 but they charged me RM40 even though half the prawns were mine. Must teach Hub to check the bills before paying.

Long life noodles, RM15/US$4.40.

I liked this although someone said it was rather bland. Be warned that Shikai is lighter on the salt than most restaurants, which suits us fine as we eat a low-salt diet anyway. We also didn't go numb from msg; in fact, we hardly detected msg, compared to most Chinese restaurants. I like that. I intend to age with a full head of hair.

Garlic fried Hong Kong kai lan, RM25/US$7.30.

This was done very well, simple yet refreshing but for a medium portion that was more small than medium, this was very expensive.

Chicken in shao xin wine, RM30/US$8.80.

This was quite ordinary, more home-style really. This would be better with plain rice.

Beancurd seafood claypot, RM35/US$10.30.

A good pot of beancurd claypot should have fried beancurd as the main ingredient but this had way too much a mixture of ingredients and not enough beancurd in a so-so gravy that was definitely way too soupy.

Fried rice with salted egg yolks, RM15/US$4.40 for small portion.

This was more fried rice with frozen peas and corn niblets, which was very cheap-looking and tasting. There was neither the distinct flavor of salted egg yolks nor that of a well-fried rice. A big "NO".

That was a good meal, and I hope Shikai will keep up its standards. The service too was very good, with friendly and polite staff. You get a plate of cut fresh seasonal fruits (watermelon and honeydew) free with the meal. One thing to note is that Shikai has become a 'no-pork' restaurant, which is unfortunate but still, try this place for simple delicious dishes. Their crispy ducks are particularly good, but make sure they cook you either Huey, Dewey or Louie and not Uncle Donald. And another thing to note is while many places impose 5 % service charge Shikai charges 10% and with the cost of drinks and tea, expect to pay another 15%.

Shikai Restaurant
Kompleks Asia City
Tel:088 484242


ganache-ganache said...

we go there very often, I love the tang gui duck, hubby likes the mango fish but have stay away because they use dory !

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

yaya! the only thing i feel uncomfortable about this rest is the light too dim! probably close-to-dark . I dont like to eat in a dim place as I can't check my food probably b4 I spoon them in my mouth! U know! sometimes U can even spot some tiny weeny xxx in the food! ( I m not saying Shikai)

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...


Precious Pea said...

Some of the dishes looks really good, especially the steamed fish and duck. Pricing was, am surprised that they charge RM25 for a plate of brinjal. Is this a high class restaurant?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

they charge 10% service tax? or service charge? got to make it clear..bcoz service tax is a flat 5%..and for restaurants with a 3 million dollar annual turnover..

prices really arent cheap hor..25rm portions for vegetables..im sure u can get some huge plates even in KL..

terri@adailyobsession said...

ganache: thanx for reminding me tt it was tang gui duck. yes yes they only use dory (which wey n i dislike) tt's why i brought my own fish.

denise: they've added more lights n very soon, if the boss agrees, they will have proper chairs in the air-con room

pp: no, it's a medium class one, not too classy not too shabby. the decor stands out bc u can tell the owner has an interest in chinese calligraphy n arts n it really is a nice palce to eat in except for what i've pointed out. the food too is more casual dining than banquet.

joe: u an accountant?? u r right, it is service charge. i'm told there's no more service tax this year, not even 5%?

TeaLady said...

UUUMMM!!!! Yummy!!! My birthday is coming up in about 6 months. Can I go.

Big Boys Oven said...

OMG! the food look so awesome! delicious! so yummy! I want the steam grouper fish too!

PureGlutton said...

The long-tan fish is first class - absolutely love this fish and the bigger the better, yay! I'm surprised the portions of vege were so small! But glad that u had an enjoyable meal.

Fooman said...

I like Shikai and my parents like it too. Yeah, they're not crazy about the backless chairs. I also lament the loss of their most excellent pork ribs. :(

Anonymous said...
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Shan said...

Hi Terri I finally made my way to Moon Bell last night. Enjoyed the food but I do lean towards saltier cooking. What are your thoughts on the place?

terri@adailyobsession said...

tealady: u r more than welcome anytime :)

bb: :)

pureglutton: hm, west msians love fish ya.

fooman: right. smhow if there's no pork, i won't go back often.

shan: it tt the place for steamboat down in tanjung aru beach? r they still open after all these years? the last time i was there was maybe 10 yrs ago n they were already very run down.

Shikai Management said...

I am a representative from Shikai Restaurant Management. We appreciate and THANK YOU for your valuable comments; only with your comments we are able to improve our restaurant food standards and services.

I wish to clarify the price of prawns that Terri brought to our restaurant. She is absolutely correct that RM25 is the cost of a medium portion prawn. For all meat/vegetables which customers bring to the restaurant and request for us to prepare and cook, an additional RM15 is charged (For this case, cleaning of prawns & extra sauce required for cooking) Our Chef mentioned there will be an additional charge for cooking your fish and prawn.

Shikai Restaurant charges a flat 10% service charge, and no 5% service charge. We are open 7 days a week from 8:00am-3:00pm 6:00pm-10:00pm, except Sat Sun & public holidays 8:00am-10:00pm. Please contact us for your Chinese New Year 'Low Shang' menu. (and YES..we will be open for CNY!)

Wishing all your bloggers a Prosperous New Year ...GONG XI FATT CHAI!

Anonymous said...

yummm...looks delicious.

wish i could've been there :)

Shan said...

Hi Terri, no Moon Bell is on the row of shops directly opposite Wisma Yakim facing the main road - there used to be a Vietnamese cafe next door to it. Szechuan cooking and I loved it. Am planning to head there tonight after work!
Please do give it a try and tell me your thoughts

terri@adailyobsession said...

danny: i distinctly rmber u were there. "Big rain" "Big fish"

shan: now tt's a place totally new to me. thanx, i will def check it out!

Jonathan Chee said...

the yumcha at shikai is pretty good as well.. love their 'liu sha bao' or whatever they call it... they have a lot of interesting names for their dishes :D

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