Panchor is a small town within Muar district in Johor situated approximately 30km north east of Muar’s town center. Back in the older days when road networks were not as developed as they are today, Panchor was a busy river port used to transport inner agricultural and plantation crops on the Muar River. Fresh river prawns are aplenty too, which is why some outstation people would make a special trip off the beaten path for a quick meal here.
We did not have the coordinates of the restaurant so we could only rely on the GPS to route us to the address we found online. After driving along some questionable roads through a dense oil palm plantation for a while, we managed to find Han Thoy (the restaurant famous for fresh water prawns) easily once we reached the town. It was literally just a stone’s throw away from the big river. Our first impression of the town was that it is quiet, clean and seemed to be stuck in the 60′s.
This was meant to be a light meal before we continue our journey to Muar so we only tried two of their signature dishes. There are many cooking styles available for the river prawns but we opted for the steamed version (with ginger and scallion in egg white) because we thought it was the best way to enjoy their natural flavor to the fullest.
Based on Happy City‘s popularity and their ability to offer good value for money to steamboat lovers, it comes as no surprise to me that a new branch has opened in Kota Damansara (occupying the now defunct Dragon Gate Dim Sum) to expand their business. As a matter of fact, I had been wondering when a second branch would appear ever since my first steamboat meal at Happy City Kepong about 2 years ago.
If this is your first time hearing about Happy City, just know that it is a slightly upmarket steamboat restaurant that features live seafood in their set menus. Since most seafood like tiger prawns, clams and fish are kept in the live tanks and only served at the dining table upon order, freshness could also be guaranteed.
Cheaper and more affordable run of the mill steamboat sets are also available (RM33 for 2 pax)
Judging by the number of people eating at T&K Seafood, it should be the most popular seafood restaurant in Chinatown (Yaowarat Road). Just do a Google search for seafood recommendation in Bangkok and you will find T&K Seafood being mentioned everywhere in forums, travel websites and blogs. But wait, does this also mean it is a tourist trap? I am no expert when it comes to Bangkok’s food but even if this is indeed a tourist trap by local residents, it is a trap somewhat worth falling for – especially if you came for their famous Grilled River Prawns.
From the various photos I saw online, I thought T&K is more of a roadside eatery. Little did I know they actually have an actual restaurant about four floors in height, air-conditioned too. Stepping into the restaurant reminded me of our trip to Hong Kong though – tight and winding staircase leading up to the higher floors. Which is why a pully system is used during peak hours, you simply don’t expect the staff to deliver your food by scaling the staircase – a misstep means spilled food.
Compared with the other seafood restaurants I have been to during my short stay in Bangkok, the menu at T&K seems pretty standard and have quite a number of similar dishes. But I think you will at least be pleased at the prices, which I think is quite affordable hence you could pretty much get anything you feel like having. If not because there were only the two of us, and we already had a meal just two hours before reaching here, we would have ordered many more dishes.
Grilled River Prawn is a must have here and you should not leave without trying them. The prawns are so fresh that the simplest cooking method is enough to bring out the best in them. A sourish chilli dip is given but I prefer to eat them just like they are to savour the sweetness of the firm flesh.
Bangkok has a lot of seafood restaurants and Laem Cha Reon is one of the popular ones frequented by both locals and tourists alike. Being a chained restaurant, you could find Laem Cha Reon branches in most of the major shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Central World. They have a friendly menu with English and Chinese translation too so it is very convenient to order food here – especially for tourists like us who can’t comprehend Thai.
Just to play safe, most of the dishes we had are the recommended ones in the menu. Moreover, the locals are having them as well so I feel we should have done fine. Deep Fried Marinated Snapper with Sweet Fish Sauce @ 420THB is a specialty here and has received raving reviews from whoever has tried it. If you don’t mind the tad saltiness of the fish sauce, it is quite delicious alright (fresh, crispy and not oily at all) but not mind-blowingly good. For those looking for an extra kick, there is another similar version of this dish using the same fish but topped with loads of garlic and chillis.