Sometimes, it is the most unremarkable of places that serves some of the best food in town. You don't need to go to a high-end restaurant to find delicious, lip-smacking meals and that is exactly the case with Asia Seafood, a hawker stall located along Lorong Walter Grenier, just a short walk away from Berjaya Times Square mall. The main road, Jalan Imbi connects to Jalan Bukit Bintang where you can find 5 star luxury hotels and classy restaurants, but where Asia Seafood is, you're not going to see any of them.
The hawker stall is part of a large, open-air, roofed food court nestled among small shophouses, motels and an un-tarred carpark. The owner of the stall, one Uncle Ah Xiong has been in the business a long time, and my dad recalls that Ah Xiong's father had also served seafood many decades ago at another location within the city. When that food court was demolished, they moved here to the one at Lorong Walter Grenier. There was a good crowd of people there when we visited, and it was obvious that they were all working their way through platters of seafood.
After pulling a number of tables together in true Malaysian fashion, our party of 11 sat down to wait for the food. The dishes arrived in quick succession, starting with the siong tong lala pictured above. I'm not a big fan of lala, though these were pretty good, cooked in stock, garlic, ginger and chillies.
The stall next to Asia Seafood served fried dishes like rice and kuey teow so we took full advantage of that by ordering four big platters of fried rice to go with our main dishes. I really liked the rice and easily finished off many servings before I couldn't take any more. Even with everyone helping themselves generously, we ended up taking a lot of it back home as leftovers. The portions are huge!
For the veggie side of our meal, we got some sotong kangkung; squid cooked with kangkung in plum sauce, soy sauce and peanuts. The squid was really good and soft, the sauce mixing well with my helping of rice.
The garlic prawns were definitely my favourite of the night. Covered in garlic and chillis, the prawns were dry-fried and crispy so we could easily chew through the shell without removing too much of it to get to the flesh inside. They were very generous with the garlic, and the prawns were fat and juicy - no small fry here.
The kam heong crab arrived at our table steaming and smelling delicious (no surprise, as 'kam heong' directly translates as 'golden fragrance'). After some pathetic attempts at trying to eat it with my fork and spoon, I finally gave in, washed my hands and attacked it with my fingers. The crab was really good - big crabs covered in oyster sauce and curry leaves, full of tasty, sweet flesh that everyone at our table wolfed down with enthusiasm. Definitely finger licking good.
When we were ready to go, my dad stuck around to talk to Ah Xiong while we took some pictures of his stall. He was cheerful and friendly, even asking if I'd like to see him work up a big fire on the stove. I nodded eagerly and took a few steps back when he indicated me to. With a wide grin on his face, he counted down: "3 ... 2 ... 1!" In went a bowl of raw prawns into his wok, and a plume of flame flared up in front of my eyes, the heat charging through me like a wave. Everyone clapped appreciatively as he laughed over his steaming wok. I tried to take a photo of that moment, but the fire was so big that all I got was a blinding white screen on my camera.
While the food was delicious and finger licking-ly tasty, the location of the food court itself is kind of dodgy looking, and my mum warned all of us to have a firm hand on our handbags while we were there. The area is dirty and damp, and we saw a rat scurrying past in the shadows at one point, big enough to give any cat nightmares. Definitely not a hygienic place, though the food stalls itself are not so bad. One way to avoid this as I saw from a food blogger who visited the place, is to simply order the dishes to enjoy at home.