‘Rice to the occasion’ with pao fan

Eu Hooi-Khaw

Pao fan with petola, sea cucumber, prawns, fresh scallops, dried scallop and squid in a shark cartilage broth. – The Malaysian Insight pic, October 14, 2023.

PAO fan was the highlight of my recent dinner at Kingdom Cuisine in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.

Milky shark cartilage broth was served bubbling in a claypot over a stove at tableside, to which was added pieces of petola (angled gourd), fresh and dried scallops, prawns, squid and sea cucumber. The seafood contributed more flavours to the broth which had some cooked rice in it. Toasty rice puffs went in last before the dish was topped with fresh coriander and spring onions and served.

I revelled in the fine broth, which was full of umami and had the aroma of rice puffs and light crunch of sea cucumber. There was just the right amount of rice in the broth. You could compare it to a Teochew porridge, but a very soupy one, with seafood dominating rather than the rice.

Pao fan sparked my curiosity about its origin. I have had it at the Hua Ting Chinese Restaurant at the Orchard Hotel in Singapore, and on an earlier occasion, at a small restaurant in Kula Lumpur, run by a Hong Kong chef.

It’s Cantonese by its subtle flavours, though it’s been claimed to be Teochew.

Sea perch steamed with fermented chilli and choy poh. – The Malaysian Insight pic, October 14, 2023.

Steamed sea perch with fermented red chillies and choy poh (preserved radish) was recommended. We added to that braised sea cucumber with goose web, French beans fried with preserved black olive paste and minced pork, and fire prawns.

The last was a steal at just RM1 for prawns on a hot plate to which Shiao Xing wine was added and set afire. It’s an unmissable offer for those who spend RM150 or more on dinner on weekdays. The tiger prawns were sweet and fresh, served with a special soy dip. Be sure to eat them hot though.

Fire prawns doused with Shiao Xing wine and set aflame at the table. – The Malaysian Insight pic, October 14, 2023.

The steamed sea perch with salty and spicy flavours from chopped choy poh, fermented chilli and garlic, called for a small bowl of rice which we shared. The delicious gravy just could not be ignored.

I liked very much too the French beans which had been lightly deep fried first, then sauteed in the wok with “lam kok” (black olive paste) and minced pork (RM28). This goes well with rice, even porridge.

If you need a collagen fix, sea cucumber does it marvellously, as in the braised sea cucumber with goose web (RM38 per person). The skin and tendon fell off easily from the well-braised goose web while the sea cucumber was springy and crunchy. I would have liked the last to be softer and more gelatinous.

Braised sea cucumber with goose web. – The Malaysian Insight pic, October 14, 2023.

Kingdom cuisine also serves dim sum. There is a four-course executive lunch set at RM38 and RM48 per pax.

There is also Cantonese hot pot at RM88++ per person There’s lots more to explore on the a la carte menu, such as Peking duck, steamed rice with oven-grilled eel and waxed meats, double-boiled shark bone soup with fish maw and dried scallop, and crispy pork ribs with golden garlic.

Kingdom Cuisine is in Wisma Bentley Music, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. For enquiries, call 012-272 3488 or 03-7713 2088. – October 14, 2023.

* Eu Hooi-Khaw has been writing about food for the longest time, covering all aspects, from restaurant reviews to cooking and recipes, as well as the healthy side of it. She has written for major newspapers and magazines, published the cookbook Fresh Ingredients, and also writes for her website hooikhawandsu.com.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.