It sounded a little too good to be true.
A place that served cheap and cheerful Vietnamese food in Kuala Lumpur?
My friend S had searched online and discovered this place tucked within the confines of Segambut.
I’m always game for any food brought in by the immigrants that have landed on our shores since that is truly the best way to enjoy foreign cuisines as good as in their homeland.
While we have had an influx of Burmese, Indonesian and Thai cuisines in the city, the one cuisine that always eluded me was Vietnamese.
I yearned for a good beef pho, the kind that Luke Nguyen was showing on Food Network Asia during his travels to Vietnam. Those visions of him fanning the fire while the beef stock slowly cooked away always made me wish Apple had invented some super smell-vision television or gadget that gave us a 6D effect where we could lick and taste the food on the small screen.
Despite visits to Pho Hoa (the closest to almost the real deal according to my Vietnamese friend) and even that swanky place in Starhill Gallery (what possessed me but I guess I was hopeful wagyu beef would be the answer), I was nowhere near the holy grail of pho.
Unfortunately, at this particular place I was to be dissapointed. No pho in sight either.
It seems there is no aromatic beef broth noodles here as a lot of their customers who were Chinese shunned the red meat. Instead, the modus operandi here was to blend with the locals.
Hence you had kuey teow soup (RM4.50 for small) staring up at you in the menu which the owner tells me is a specialty. Exactly how unique it was, I confess I didn’t discover anything within that bowl of clear soup. Maybe it was because they forgot my side dish of herbs. I only discovered it is usually served with those aromatic herbs when I looked online for past reviews on this place. Nevertheless that mistake just exposed their weak point.
Even before I tripped over here on a Saturday, I was having a niggling suspicion that it was the same place I had tried before in Segambut. A quick chat with the owner revealed that they are the one and the same. The place had relocated here about seven years ago. Read the previous review here.
Their trump card is “I serve pork!” This pleases their Chinese clientele who swarm the place to indulge in a little porcine. Hence you find pork steak mingling with the noodles and vegetables (pork steak mee, RM5). It would have worked miracles to the traditional dish but instead it was a cop out. While most of the dried noodles would have been tossed in a tangy spicy clear sauce, this one wasn’t aromatic or even noticeable. Big fail, we both waved our score cards.
Dish after dish we ordered was met with dissapointment. None hit our G-spot of yummy food. Instead it was just a “so-so” reaction that had us plodding through the food. Vietnamese pork ribs noodles (RM7 for small, available on weekends) were home tasting with its carrots that brought in the sweetness but it tasted so ordinary. Our Vietnamese rolls (RM4.50 for 5 pieces), wrapped in the white netting and deep fried till crisp had minced pork with chopped vegetables but eaten on its own, it was tasteless. Instead we had to liberally dip each crispy roll with the sourish garlic and chilli dip on the side.
One thing that did get our ears all pricked up…was literally the braised pork ears (RM7). Beautifully tender, we lapped it all up with the pork belly and stomach that came in a slightly sweet sauce. On the other spectrum is the free range chicken (RM6) version, a braised dish laden with lemongrass to give it aroma. That got a ho-hum impression from us.
Vietnamese coffee (RM3) served cold and hot are also available here. Believe me, you need that strong taste of caffeine as this place uses MSG liberally in their food that had me feeling thirsty the whole afternoon.
Would I return back again, you ask?
I somewhat think not unless I happen to be in the neighbourhood and I am craving for braised pig ears or the trotters with the hard boiled egg that was rather good in my first visit. Sadly, this Vietnamese food has been so diluted that it no longer bears much resemblance to the real deal. I think I better just stick to Pho Hoa for the genuine article in the future. And for those who love Vietnamese food, do throw out your ideas on where I can get good pho as I’m desperately seeking it like Susan in the movie.
Restoran Kah Hing
Taman Sri Sinar
(Non Halal. Place opens from morning to afternoon. Night time has a tai chow serving fried noodles at the same shoplot. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)
*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.