Sunday, October 04, 2015


New Formosa - PJ’s bastion of Chinese-Taiwanese cuisine - celebrated its 36th anniversary in September. To mark the milestone, owner Jeanie Lee and husband Lee Weng Eng (also the resto’s chef) came up with special celebratory menus (RM498++ and RM598++ per table of 10 persons) showcasing the resto’s perennial signature specialities.

Ever the genial host, Mrs Lee decided to fete our dining party to handpicked specials from the celebratory menus and popular signature dishes which made New Formosa what it is today.

Big flavours and multi-textures reigned in the opening Formosa Special Combination. The quintet of tasty Yam Balls, 3-cup Squid, Formosan-style Butter Fish Slices, Deep-fried Oysters Taiwanese-style and Stuffed Lotus Root with Special Fish Paste were hard to fault. Some of the offerings stirred up fond memories of old-school wedding banquets while the distinctly Taiwanese ones piqued interest with new tweaks. Overall, it was a substantial platter that left no cause for complaints.
As a kid, I’m a huge fan of chicken meat and the Steamed Village Chicken with Black Fungus took me down my childhood memory lane. Toothsomely tender, the super-succulent chook were raveworthy thanks to the trinity of minced ginger, spring onion and crunchy black fungus blanketing it.

For farn toong or die-hard rice eaters, the Bamboo Rice definitely rose to the occasion. Studded with diced pumpkin, mushroom, dried shrimps, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), minced pork and fried shallot, the aromatic and delectable grains were satisfyingly out-of-this-world.
Crabs are rarely found at New Formosa so when you do encounter them, the critters should ‘grab’ your attention. We couldn’t decide which was better – the fresh, sweet crab claws or the addictive sweet-sour sauce redolent with garlic, spring onion and vinegarish accents which we greedily soaked up with fried mantou.
The piquancy of hot bean sauce in the local seabass dish should please those with a penchant for strong flavours. Surprisingly, the fish’s delicate sweetness remained discernible despite being inundated by a generous helping of tart-salty-hot sauce. 

Only available on weekdays, the unique Formosa Stone Fire Pot (RM20 per person, min 3 persons per table) features 22 ingredients. Assorted housemade meat and fishballs, mushroom, corn, pumpkin, cabbage, crabstick, bamboo pith and other ingredients are more than ample to make the speciality memorable. Prawns can also be added (charged according to market price) for that luxe dimension.
A durable ‘stone’ pot placed atop a portable stove is heated up for sautéing garlic and chicken meat. Once the Taiwanese satay-type sauce is added and the meat cooked through, the stir-fried dish is ready to be sampled.
The same heated pot is then reused to partially cook the prawns before steamboat stock is poured in. All the other goodies are then added and slowly brought to boil. Is it any wonder the resultant milieu tasted superbly good and incomparable to normal steamboat?

When it comes to dessert, few diners can resist the resto’s evergreen Sweet Yam in Honey Sauce. Soft and powdery, the chunks of warm yam were coated in caramelised sugar at the table then plunged into ice-cold water. This process turned the outer coating crackly, edged with wispy sugary tendrils, making the yam pieces a joy to eat.

Clean and astringent, the second dessert of marble-smooth Green Tea Pudding with Red Beans also went down a treat. Besides cleansing the palate, it left all of us in a jolly sweet mood to wrap up the night.

For reservations, call New Formosa, tel: 03 7875 7478. Address: 46, Jalan SS2/24, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.


Saturday, October 03, 2015


'Mido' in Hangul means 'taste' and it's the true taste of Korea enterprising owner Joseph Lee aims to deliver when diners step into his restaurant. Mido's brick, mortar and timber façade resembles that of a traditional hanok (Korean house). Step past the heavy set wooden doors and you'd find a charmingly rustic wood-clad interior -- a testament to Lee and his team's hard work and labour of love.

From the delicate paper lanterns and textured walls to faux windows and latticed partitions adorned with ‘tal’ or Korean masks, almost everything were designed and custom-built by hand for the restaurant.
Sturdy wooden bowls of Pumpkin Soup warmed us up while we perused the menu. The simple broth was thick without being gluey, its ethereal sweetness primed our palate for dishes with substance to come.
Apart from the customary Banchan (six types of Korean appetisers and side dishes), the conversation-stopper has to be Spicy Pork Skin (RM20) – a rare find comprising smooth, toothsome pork skin doused in a piquant gochujang sauce. The texture resembled that of brown sotong but acquired a distinctly different dimension when dipped into the side dish of roasted soya bean powder.
Regular K-food appetisers of Seafood Pancake (RM25) and Kimchi Pancake (RM25) are also available. The squid and prawn pancake made perfect pairing with Makkoli (RM28), traditional Korean rice wine. Somewhat zestier on the palate with a robust kick is the Kimchi Pancake, an agreeable combination of batter and fermented pickled cabbage. 
Fried twice and heavily seasoned, the Korean Fried Chicken Wings (RM25) in normal or spicy mode should hit the spot well as a crowd-pleasing opener. Each resto boasts its own marinades so it’s worth sampling the versions here just to ascertain if they can wing it with you.

Unlike other Korean barbecue restos which have protruding suction hoods hanging down from the ceiling, Mido has them tucked away underneath the dining tables. The modern contraption proved its prowess as smoke and cooking fumes were extracted silently from the table-top grills, ensuring by the time we departed the resto, none of us reeked like burnt barbecue!
The selection of meat is limited to five for the barbecue: Pork Collar (RM30 for 200gm), Marinated Chicken (RM28 for 200gm), Marinated Pork (RM33 for 200gm), Chili Paste Pork (RM33 for 200gm) and Marinated Beef Rib (RM65 for 280gm). According to Lee, the meats are aged in sealed, vacuum-packed bags to retain moisture, develop deeper flavour and ensure juicy tenderness upon hitting the grill.
Photo courtesy of Chasingfooddreams
Once you have decided on your choice of meat, staffers will grill everything up for you. But if you prefer a hands-on experience, that’s doable too. Derive better enjoyment of the meaty offerings by wrapping them up in fresh lettuce leaves smeared with Mido’s house dips: basil, sesame oil with salt, ssamjang, or peanut.
My fave dish at Mido has to be the sweetish Bulgogi Casserole (RM48), a popular speciality representative of K-cuisine. Laden with assorted vegetables, the thinly sliced beef in sweet soya sauce broth was utterly sublime.
On the tangy, zesty spectrum is Tofu Kimchi Casserole (RM45). While some of the ingredients may be similar to bulgogi, the broth is subtly perked up by the inclusion of pickled cabbage or kimchi. Thick slices of smooth beancurd tempered the equation. Personally, I hanker for a more assertive broth but others may find it up to par.
Seafood and fresh tofu combine to give the house Doenjang Soup (RM22) additional textural interest and umami-richness. Best suited for those who relish savouring boldly flavourful soup for the soul.
Clay kimchi storage urns, stone slabs and traditional woven slippers decorate the outside of Mido
For less than the cost of a LCC ticket, Mido is worth a visit for those wanting to temper their Hallyu fever.

Call tel: 03-7865-9779 for reservations at MIDO KOREAN BBQ RESTAURANT, 11-G, Jalan SS2/64, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.