WE ARE at a fish farm just a short trek from Langat Ah Soon Seafood and Beer Garden in Pekan Hulu Langat.
It is supposed to be lunchtime but restaurant owner Alex Yap is eager to first show us what makes the freshwater fish on his menu different from the rest.
As we stand near a stream, we learn that a good fish dish starts with water quality.
Yap said diners get to savour sweetness in the flesh of tilapia, catfish and grass carp bred on his farm because they are not kept in stagnant ponds. Instead, they live in water from a mountain spring that flows into four large retention ponds.
He is also very particular about what to feed his fish. No chicken intestines or animal innards for them as he does not know what they were fed.
To be on the safe side, he only feeds his fish imported pellets.
He does not use antibiotics, and there is no need to as fish farmed this way have a lower infection rate.
The nature walk soon boosts our appetite and for starters, Yap invites us to his stingless bee farm.
Cracking open a honey pot built from tree bark resin, we get a taste of raw honey – a little sour, slightly herby and dotted with the woody notes of tree bark. A 380ml bottle of this precious substance is sold for RM90 here.
Then comes the actual meal, a flavourful feast done Hakka-style.
There is Claypot Convolvulus Stir Fried with Cincalok and bits of fried lard and sliced red chillies; Pan Fried New Zealand Lamb Loin; Macanese Pork; and the restaurant’s Signature Claypot Steamed Catfish.
The Signature Claypot Steamed Catfish lives up to its promise, the flesh sweet in taste and with a silky texture.
Yap said the fish’s age is usually a consideration for connoisseurs.
The catfish we had was 18 months old and weighed one kilogramme.
To prepare this dish, the claypot is heated for five minutes before the fish is added in. Coriander, spring onions, shallots and cili padi contribute to the flavours. Next, comes soy sauce followed by a dash of rice wine.
Diners looking at other ways of enjoying their fish should take note that 10 varieties of freshwater fish and 17 cooking styles are on the menu.
“The fish farm came first after my wife’s uncle bought the land 17 years ago. We had an angler’s pond where people would pay RM30 an hour to fish.
“The idea of starting a restaurant came about three years ago when people started asking us if they could cook the fish they caught,” said Yap.
We also enjoyed the Pan Fried New Zealand Lamb Loin.
A new item on the restaurant’s menu this year, the meat coated in a sweet-and-sour sauce made from lemon juice, maltose syrup and plum sauce is pleasantly gamey.
Another diners’ favourite is the pungent and fiery Macanese Pork – deep-fried pork loin bathed in a sauce of garlic, chillies and thickened with condensed milk.
The restaurant and fish farm are run with the help of Yap’s family and is a regular meeting point for the Hash House Harriers, who enjoy their runs among the many durian, nangka and langsat trees surrounding the farm.
The eatery also serves coconut wine (toddy), suitable for diners who enjoy rustic flavours.
LANGAT AH SOON SEAFOOD and BEER GARDEN, Lot 100, Jalan Sungai Sop, Batu 14, Pekan Hulu Langat, Selangor. (Tel: 019-600 6363) Business hours: 11am to 11pm. Non-halal.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.