A full day of eating
Whether you’re seeking a quick culinary expedition or just looking for a new place to visit for a day from Kuala Lumpur, Port Klang is easily accessible and allows you to combine filling your stomach with the discovery of a new location. Relatively unknown by foreigners, Port Klang’s crab and steamboat dishes are highly sought after by tourists visiting from Singapore and other parts of Malaysia. It’s also where Royal Carribbean and other cruise liners dock, with most of them offering onshore excursions within the vicinity of the port.
Even though it can take up to an hour to reach here from the city, it hasn’t deterred food hunters. With commuter trains and local buses linking KL with Port Klang, the shuttle back and forth will be relatively stress free. Jump on either the Transnasional or CityLine bus (run by the same company) No 710 or No 126 to get here from Kuala Lumpur. Otherwise, the KTM Komuter runs every 15 minutes between the two locations and takes 70 minutes.
Arriving mid-morning so you can take in your surroundings while searching for a place to dig in. Jump into a taxi and head for one of the many restaurants located by the water, such as Sea Sky Seafood Restaurant, an affordable choice for sweet and sour chilli crab while enjoying views of passing vessels along the Straits of Melaka.
Located by the riverbank, Perlama Seafood is another spot where you can expect calm views of the water and if you’re lucky, multihued sunsets might be on the menu too. Try a more Malay version of seafood here, like the assam ikan (stingray or pomfret fish cooked in a sourish curry with okra) or crunchy fried baby octopus with a plate of white rice.
If you’re looking for a real treat, one place that locals swear by is Coconut Flower Restaurant. There are endless places to dine in Port Klang but this is possibly one of the best in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur and possibly Malaysia. Hidden away in an industrial park, you have to take a taxi to get there; try a classic dish of black pepper crab or steamed crab for 45 ringgit.
The best part about trawling for seafood in a port is that you’re pretty much guaranteed that everything is fresh and comes without steep city prices attached. While there isn’t much in the way of doing in Port Klang, this is a part of Malaysia that you’ll certainly be able to eat through.
You’ll find Sea Sky Seafood at A12881 Tanjong Harapan, Bagan Hallam while Coconut Flower Restaurant is at No. 702, Jalan Udang Galah in Kampong Teluk Gong. Perlama Seafood isn’t far away on No. 6, Jalan Tangki, near the South Port. (All are located in Port Klang.)
Port Klang may be famous for its seafood, but it’s even more so for preparing it steamboat style. While you’ll find traditional Chinese steamboat in Kuala Lumpur’s restaurants, it takes fresh ingredients and specialty in marinating to really bring out the flavour of the meats, and Port Klang, with the Straits of Melaka at its doorstep, has perfected the art of cooking seafood steamboat style.
A steamboat is a vessel anywhere else in the world except Asia, where it refers to an informal but excellent way to interact and share while eating. Cantonese in origin, diners can socialise while they choose from an array of meats, noodles and vegetables which are then cooked at the table in a simmering pot of stock. It’s a great option when you have a group of individuals who prefer different meats or are picky eaters. Steamboat means it’s entirely your choice to cook what you and everyone else likes to eat at the same table, without having to order a variety of dishes.
Because the seafood is only lightly cooked, it’s always preferable to use fresh, unprocessed products, which is why dining in the Klang area is your best bet for a memorable steamboat meal. Leave the marinating and preparation to the restaurant; everything comes ready and neatly served to your table, ready for your skills to be put to the test.
Cook like a local and always remember to dunk the meat, seafood and vegetables separately so that the broth doesn’t become an overwhelming mix of flavours and you can still savour the taste and texture of each morsel you put in your mouth. Tip: the vegetables come after the seafood and meat, allowing for the umami in the broth to become a rich essence that will cook your vegetables and leave them far from bland. Last are the noodles and egg, which will dilute the soup so wait till everyone is done before plonking them in.
Driving through Port Klang will leave you spoiled or possibly confused by all the choices. Making a wild pick generally doesn’t end badly, as almost all the restaurants get their seafood fresh from the same trawlers. You won’t have to go all the way to the Port to enjoy a truly interactive meal, with steamboat restaurants making an appearance in the Klang Valley.
But you can’t go wrong trying Chen ChenHo (Pulau Ketam) Seafood Steamboat at No. 2, Lorong Batu Nilam 21B, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 2, Klang. With a 30-year-old secret soup recipe originating from Pulau Ketam and an assortment of other specialties like fried mantis prawn, bamboo la-la and seafood tom yam, you’ll have a solid introduction to a communal dining style of Southeast Asia.
By Sarah Hishan
Last updated on 26th February, 2015.