Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Review: Precious Old China, Central Market

We finally checked out Precious Old China over at Central Market along Jalan Hang Kasturi!!! My friend had recommended me to check out John Locke's Happy Restaurant when he first opened in Imbi a couple of years back but I never got around to that place and next thing I knew, he's cooking Nyonya over at Precious Old China! So embarassed hahaha... ok friend, I've finally tried John's cooking and I'm loving it! Tell your mom that. (John is his mom's friend).

Precious Old China is a branch of Old China Cafe over at Jalan Balai Polis. I used to frequent Old China Cafe but they never seems to be consistent with their food quality. I found a gem a few doors away - Beam Cafe but it's sad they have since closed. Now, I'm glad John is helming the kitchen at Precious Old China as the food is wayyyy superior than Old China Cafe.

Precious Old China is housed in Central Market which used to be a huge wet market in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. The wet market built in 1928 was converted back in the 80s into a one stop destination of arts and culture showcasing the country's handicrafts, arts and of course food. There is a change of hand in the management of Central Market sometime last year or so. The new management is giving some life back to this interesting place by refurbishing the entire building, section by section. Renovations are still on going but gee the revamped sections looked great! I'm gonna go back there one day for picture galore since most of the shops were closed after our dinner and it has gotten too dark to capture some decent photos without flash.

This is the main walkway which has yet been renovated.

CM revamp1

And just look at this newly done section named Little India. Look at those beautiful tiles... and the grilles plus the old fashioned metal door haha... wooo I'm impressed.

CM revamp lil india

Precious Old China is located on the Mezzanine floor which is easily accessible by the stairs or the lift. This is the entrance to Precious Old China that doubled up as an antique and art gallery. It is filled with antique furnitures from Malacca and China. Vintage advertisement, prints and oil paintings adorn the walls. Folding stained glass doors served as dividers at certain sections of the vast area. Victorian-style glass lamps and chandeliers dimly lit the place up. I loved the medicine chests and cabinets decorated with my favourite blue and white porcelain. Do check out the spacious washroom, yeah haha... the vintage sink; black and white tiles; and wooden door where you need to close it with a wooden shutter lend a very old world charm to the place.

Precious exterior2

Precious exterior1

Precious interior2

Precious interior1

Since we were celebrating my mom's birthday, my parents and brothers went on an ordering spree... they ordered so many dishes! I have no idea what they have ordered since we arrived slightly later than them, so all I could do was to wait in anticipation.

The first dish that came was this superb steamed assam siakap (RM39.80). The balance of sourish assam gravy was just right, not overly tangy. The fish was accompanied with brinjals and ladyfingers.

Precious Steamed Assam Siakap RM39.80

I absolutely loved this Kerabu Pucuk Paku (RM13.80). The portion is pretty huge for 7 adults and look at the price! The spicy level is high but no one is complaining... the shallots, dried shrimps and crushed peanuts gave me loads of satisfaction that evening.

Precious Pucuk Paku Kerabu RM13.80

See how fast the Four Seasons Beans disappeared! Another spicy dish with a zing. It has long beans, four angle beans, ladyfingers and loads of petai... fried in tasty sambal belacan. Luckily I managed to snap a pic before the whole dish got gobbled up.

Precious Four Seasons Beans RM10.80

My mom ordered a non-spicy dish for my boiboi and he seems to like the chicken and potatoes cooked in fermented soy bean paste. The salty gravy went well with plain rice.

Ayam Pong Teh RM16.90

Next came the Sambal Petai Sotong... so by now you could have guessed how much the family have loved petai. This dish tasted similar to the Four Seasons Beans except that it contained petai and squid.

Precious Sambal Petai Sotong RM19.80

We also have a Nyonya Rendang Chicken. I can't really tell what's the difference between this and the usual rendang chicken. Tasted pretty usual, no fireworks for me here.

Precious Nyonya Rendang Chicken RM18.90

Chui Pei Tofu (crispy skin tofu) came with a whole piece of soft tofu coated with a light flour batter, quickly deep fried and served with a pool of gravy. The tofu is topped with some minced chicken meat and crispy deep fried shrimps. The sauce did perk up the bland tofu.

Precious Chui Pei Tofu RM8.80

The Otak-otak came and everyone dug in except myself since I was busy with other dishes. After some time, my brother was about to help himself for another helping, my mom stopped him. She said the Otak-otak tasted funny, like stale coconut. I took a bite and confirmed it. Most likely they have used canned coconut milk instead of fresh one. We quickly summon the Captain (are they still refered as Captain these days??) and told her about it. She took it back to the kitchen and came back apologising for it. She told us that she will waived the Otak-otak from our bill and in replacement she suggested a serving of Ju Hu Char (a Nyonya signature dish of shredded yam beans and cuttlefish). As usual Ju Hu Char (RM13.80) came with a plate of fresh lettuce as the wrap. Since this dish came later, I have forgotten to take a picture of it. The yam beans were shredded so finely! I wonder if they have used a machine or done by hand.

Precious Otak-otak

Lastly, the Itik Tim (RM10.90 per serving which can be shared by two) arrived. We have been hankering for ham choy (preserved Chinese mustard greens) for a long while since my mom had stopped cooking them for years. Apparently ham choy aggravates the pain on her knees due to arthritis, hence no more ham choy in the menu at home. This soup is hearty and the tomatoes in there lend a slight tang to the soup.

Precious Itik Tim RM10.90

We were too stuffed by then and declined the offer of dessert but we gonna come back for the bubur cha cha and chendol next time. Overall, the food did satisfied our tastebud but seriously I can't tell how authentic they are, for this I'll let Lanatir to be the judge. However, I don't mind returning though to try out other items in the menu.

Currently there is no Government tax being charged except for 10% Service Charge.

**Apology over the photos... they're heavily edited as the interior of Precious Old China Cafe is very dim in the evening.**

Precious Old China Restaurant & Bar
Lot 2, Mezzanine Floor, Central Market,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (603)2273 7372

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  1. The food in m'sia is damn good esp the ramli burger, tze char etc. Although I can't say much about the restaurants, Singapore's hawker stalls definately pale in comparison.

  2. babe, is this rest located inside central market?

  3. I love kerabu pucuk paku~!!! My favourite. Oooo, looks like your family loves spicy dishes. ;)

  4. so many changes at central market!!! its much more inviting now..must go when i'm back home :)

  5. U got me drooling at d 1st dish! Do hope nobody got sick over d rotten otak-otak.

  6. hi yummie dummies, my cousins in Spore tell me the same too. each time come to KL sure go round eating haha

    yes meiyen

    cookies_cream, yeah yeah we all loved spicy stuff

    kris, you might wait need to wait till sometime next year for them to complete renovating the whole building.

  7. haven't been to CM in while. things sure have changed!

  8. Hi babe_kl,

    I found your blog through Boo's Masak Masak's. Nice blog you have. I'll definitely use it as a guide for where to head to when I next rock up to KL. I started a foodblog not too long ago but I'm currently based in Singapore so it's mostly all about Singapore stuff (with some Australia stuff at the start). I do agree with yummy dummies that KL hawker food kicks the ass out of Singapore's hawker food but thankfully we still have a few gems here.


  9. Hmmmm, I have a different viewpt abt Precious though. Felt the food was too toned down but then we ordered entirely different items.

  10. try already then remember to feedback ok, lanatir

    yeah you should check it out one day des

    hi D, thanks for coming by

    boo_licious, maybe lor, might try other stuff next time. else go with lanatir haha


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