Last year I took SL to Opus – an Italian restaurant at The Bangkung Row to celebrate her birthday. This year, as much as I tempted to bring her to the same restaurant again (because the food is just really good) we decided to try out Cava instead. It is a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant just a few doors away from Opus. If you did not know, both Cava and Opus belong to the same management company and they have a few more restaurants under their belt too namely Leonardo and Moxie.
Some complimentary bread and fried potatoes served with salad dressing while waiting.
Spanish Seafood Soup @ RM25 – the broth is very similar with Opus’ Famous Shellfish Surprise but we preferred the latter’s version a lot more. Somehow the clams did not taste very fresh that day and it spoiled the overall taste. Even the Garlic Clams @ RM16 had the same problem. Not a very good start if you ask me, at that point I was already wondering if we should have just stuck to Opus.
Coconut Garden is a popular food court in Muar, busiest between breakfast and lunch hours. It is also here where you will find one of the best Mee Pok in town. This simple but satisfying noodle is more commonly found in Southern Malaysia and Singapore but you could find it in Klang Valley as well if you know where to look. One such restaurant that serves authentic tasting Mee Pok is Tang Pin Kitchen, which I used to be a regular customer when I was still working in PJ.
As opposed to Singaporean’s version of Mee Pok where vinegar plays an important part of the sauce that flavors the noodle, Malaysian’s version seems to omit it and focuses more on chili sauce and lard instead. My friend who recommended me to try the Mee Pok at Coconut Garden reminded me to request for extra chili, saying it will make it tastier.
I don’t always buy vouchers from group-buying sites. But when I do, I make sure it is worth it. Recently Groupon had a deal for Tian Siang Hui Wei – a restaurant that could be summarized as a fine-dining grade of steamboat/hot pot based on their pricing and service. I have heard a lot about them from friends who have dined there before and although all the feedback was encouraging, they all shared the same comment that it is not cheap too.
Anyway, the Groupon’s deal I mentioned earlier was that each RM50 voucher cost only RM25, which is equivalent to a saving of 50%. The catch is that it could only be used solely for food only while drinks and service charges must be paid in full. Regardless it was still a great deal and being a steamboat freak that I am, there is no better opportunity than this to try Tian Siang Hui Wei.
The restaurant looks like a proper Chinese restaurant rather than a normal steamboat place – clean, comfortable. Each diner is given a set of individually wrapped cutlery as well. Also, let me tell you about their “immaculate” service – it is quite extreme that we feel it was borderline intrusive.
At Tian Siang Hui Wei, you are expected to be seated and do nothing but pick food from the pot. I don’t know if that’s how steamboat is enjoyed back in Taiwan/China or wherever the waitresses come from, but I think part of the joy of steamboat is that you get to cook your own food at your desired pace. Here, the waitresses would help you dump everything into the pot unless you stop them. And boy do they look unhappy about it lol.
Other than that the meal was great and this is no doubt one of the best steamboat in town (if you do not consider the price factor) There are two types of soup base here – either spicy (Tain Siang Pot) or non spicy (Hui Wei Pot) like what you would have expected. We chose the latter because all of us don’t really like the spicy and numbing sensation. It cost RM35 for a pot and luckily any subsequent refills are free or else.
The reason they are charging for the soup, as opposed to most steamboat restaurants that provide it for free is that it was boiled with 60 all-natural ingredients (mostly Chinese herbs) without any MSG or food chemicals. I could vouch for that since I drank like tens of bowls of the delicious soup but did not feel thirsty at all. But make sure you consume a few cuppa of their specially concocted cooling tea later to reduce heatiness in your body.
We ordered more than 20 items from the menu so I am going to be brief and not going into detail for every one of them. But just so you know both the meat and seafood are very fresh so don’t worry about the quality. The most expensive meat we had that night was the 5 Cereal Beef @ RM48 – great marbling, tender and very flavorful.