KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — When it comes to good food, one needs to explore unchartered territory to uncover gems. For me, Cheras is one of those spots I tend to avoid as I often get lost in the maze of unfamiliar housing areas.
But when good food calls... you go where the best is served. That’s how I ended up at Big Sea Seafood Restaurant one rainy morning, to try out their seafood noodles.
One taste of the superb broth and their fresh seafood sealed the deal for me, making me fall hook, line and sinker for their food.
The no-frills eatery is run by Sabahan Ngui Dai Hai, 46, and his Filipino wife Cristine Dorig, 28. Started about a year ago as a stall in Sungai Long, they moved to this shophouse about three months ago.
Originally from Tawau, Ngui moved here when he was 10. Previously a salesman, he decided to venture into the F&B business as he likes to cook and eat.
The “big sea” moniker is a nod towards Ngui’s nickname as he was a keen fisherman who used to spend a lot of time out at sea. His preference for his restaurant is the freshest catch — fish that is at least 15 kilograms — delivered twice a day from Sabah and Sarawak.
Usually, he serves fish like grouper or sek pan, giant estuary grouper or loong tan and seven star grouper. Every day, they prepare the giant fish, cutting it into pieces and using the entire fish.
Ngui insists that the fish be kept chilled with ice packs only as freezing will jeopardise its taste. He tells us should the fish size be too small, the flesh will not be able to withstand the cooking methods they employ, disintegrating in the process.
From early morning, the place pulls a pretty good crowd. Get an early start and order their seafood fried noodles (RM18 for a single portion) which is only served during weekday mornings (8am to 12pm).
Essentially Cantonese fried noodles, Ngui gives it an extra special twist by using fresh seafood like fish slices, sotong and prawns. The combination of the wok-fried noodles with a smoky taste, smooth eggy sauce and fresh seafood is wonderful.
One can easily slurp down every strand of the smooth rice noodle with that irresistible sauce until the plate is empty.
Make room in your stomach for their noodles served with broth. There’s a choice of two types of broths. You have the clear broth made with fish bones and fresh ginger to remove any fishy smells.
While that is good with an abundance of mixed seafood (RM25), their tomato broth is exceptional. This broth is commonly served in Sabah, a nod towards Ngui’s heritage. He uses fish bones, chicken and five kilograms of fresh tomatoes that are slow boiled for five hours to get that rich taste.
Preserved Chinese mustard greens or ham choy are also added to give it a hint of tanginess. Pair a bowl of the tomato broth with their bee hoon that is imported from China.
Unlike the local versions found in the coffeeshops, this beehoon has a springier texture even though it lacks a strong rice flour taste. You can order the mixed fish (yee chap for RM11) that is served with firm fish slices, fish balls, their homemade fish paste (yee wat) and the fried yee fu that is made with egg and fish paste.
We love the texture of their firm and springy yee wat. Ngiu tells us he uses dried mandarin peel to chase away any fishy smells. If you prefer, you can also order just the yee wat for RM8.50.
On the side, we recommend you get a portion of their braised fish head (yee tau) that is RM30 for a small portion and RM45 for a big portion. There’s a choice of five different cooking styles for this comforting dish.
You have the signature (chiu pai) dish with an aromatic dark soy sauce, a chilli version, kam heong, see chap and bitter gourd fried fish head. So far, we love the signature version that is generous with the fish head pieces that you slowly relish with an addictive sauce that has a hint of spiciness from the use of chillies.
You may moan and groan about how this place is so far but start your Waze to direct your drive and you will discover it’s probably a good 30 to 40 minutes only from Bangsar, on a good day with light traffic, since it’s just off a highway.
Is it worth it? Totally!
Big Sea Seafood Restaurant
No. 8, Jalan Megah 27
9 1/2 Miles Cheras
Open: 8am to 2.30pm. Closed on Wednesday.
Note: Prices may differ slightly as they implement GST from September onwards.