The Carnivores Crave for Crispy Pork Knuckles!! @ Swee Garden RestaurantSeptember 30, 2010 | 9,123 views
Technically, Swee Garden Restaurant is in Nibong Tebal, a town on the mainland of Penang that shares the border with Parit Buntar; a town to the north west of Perak. And from Parit Buntar we travelled a short distance of about 15 minutes before crossing the border and reaching the township of Nibong Tebal.
Their famous crispy pork knuckle; a fusion of German-Chinese cuisine served with no particular sauce but pickled shallots and slices of cucumber and tomatoes.
And Molinja* (not her real name, of course) kept on raving about this deliciously sinful and gelatinous rendition of a pork knuckle, back when we were having the Sitiawan’s red wine pork knuckle at Lido Restaurant. Being the lover of anything porky, I set my mind to it and ended up at Parit Buntar for work with LZP and hopped over the border (sounds like a major sacrifice, right?) for some delicious ‘chu char’ dishes.
Did not expect the place to be swarmed by the lunch crowd way before 1pm, and they are also famous for their ambra juice.
No wonder Molinja herself suggested for us to arrive earlier for lunch. 12.30pm is far from early, even on a weekday. Ended up we waited for some time before being seated, and a good 30 minutes or so before being served. So was the wait worthy and the hype justified?
Batter-coated Crispy Deep Fried Squids
Remember to order a glass of their own concocted umbra juice, or a jug to be shared across the table. I was not aware of this, and ended up with a glass of ‘leung sui’ (herbal tea) instead.
Ordering is easy, either you put your trust to the recommendations from the staff (which you should, as they do not have menu), or glance around and look at what the others are having and point away.
The Deep Fried Sotong arrived in a delectably golden hue, from the thin and crispy flour used to coat the succulent pieces of squids. Very addictive, as the chewy flesh coupled with the crunchy texture, dipped into the accompanying sweet chili sauce spells SATISFACTION in every bite.
Sweet Potato Leaves (Fan Shu Miu) – Stir-fried in a pungent and slightly spicy sambal belacan paste, with crunchy prawns.
A little too fibrous and the shoots not as soft, the Fan Shu Miu (sweet potato leaves) should have been substituted with kangkung (water spinach) instead. But still, the plump shrimps in the mix were all very sweet and fresh. Of course, given the fact that Nibong Tebal has a river running through the town, with fishermen villages around the vicinity (Kuala Kurau, Tanjung Piandang of Perak) it’s no wonder you can find cheap and fresh seafood (erm, river prawns included?) from the restaurants.
Case in hand that famous curry prawns with bread at a random shack beside the river. Read CK Lam’s post for a better idea where the place is. Better to call and reserve your prawns (seawater or freshwater, your call) prior to arrival to avoid disappointment. But prices rather steep, hence don’t overdo it.
Steamed Scallops with minced garlic and chillies
Though the scallops were nothing like the gargantuan almost palm-sized mollusks at Ah Pek Lee Kou Hock in Sitiawan, but the juicy morsels tasted fabulous with the accompanying sauce. Would have been better if the scallops were of larger sizes, for that toothsome bite and juicy finish. But can’t complain much ……..
Fried Ma Yau Fish in a “3 Rasa” gravy – Sweet, Spicy and Sour.
If you crave for fish, and sick of the usual steamed in soy sauce or in a spicy bean sauce, go for Swee Garden’s Tiga Rasa (literally translated to Three Tastes) method of dishing the fish out. First the fish (ma yau, or threadfin in our case) was deep-fried until crisp on the exterior while still retaining the flaky, moist and sweet flesh underneath the skin.
The tomato and chili-based sauce was perfect to go with white rice, but if only they were more generous with the gravy. Chopped cili padi (bird eye chillies) were haphazardly strewn on the surface, so beware if you happen to scoop spoonfuls of sauce and accidentally bite into one! Very fleshy and more than enough for the six of us.
Crispy Pork Knuckle – We felt like a family of Flinstones chomping on the meaty mass of porky haven
And now we reach the pinnacle of our lunch feast. The pork knuckle making its appearance finally, after being teased relentlessly; the sight of customers next tables licking their fingers and whiffs of smoky deep-fried pork knuckles from the kitchen. To which we got ready with our cutlery (no knife necessary, everything’s chopped up into smaller pieces) and dug in with relish.
Alas, the pork knuckle was not as spectacular as anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, for I still think that the idea of chomping on the fleshy and fatty cuts of pork sounds fantastic. Just that compared to say, the one from Sun Marpoh, or even Brother Yat‘s, Swee Garden’s pork knuckle paled in comparison. Maybe not as crispy, and rather dry without any accompanying sauces aside from chili sauce.
* For those living in the Klang Valley, there is one restaurant named Uncle Choon in Klang that serves a marvelous version of the pork knuckle, with an accompanying creamy black pepper sauce; or Mongolian sauce as listed in some menus.
Swee Garden Seafood Restaurant – A corner lot off the main road in Nibong Tebal town. Follow the crowd, and you will never go on the wrong path!
The meal came to RM142.40/USD44.50 for the 6 of us. A little pricey for an eatery of this scale in a small town, but given the rather high standard of living in Penang, and the ample portion as well as fresh seafood, I’d say the price was well justified.
SWEE GARDEN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
No 1, Jalan Punai,
14100 Nibong Tebal,
Seberang Perai, Penang, Malaysia.
Telephone : 604-5934768
Business Hours : Dinner only, from about 5.30pm onwards.
GPS Coordinates : E100 28′ 39.2″ N5 10′ 8.0″
Chop Chuan Guan for some traditional biscuits and confectioneries. We bought ourselves some “Lek Tau Koo”, a type of sticky pancake with kuaci and mandarin peel.
And before we concluded our journey up north, Molinja was kind enough to show us around Nibong Tebal (as if it’s her hometown …. but actually not). She highly recommended the Tambun biscuits (or Tau Sar Pneah) from this traditional confectionery named Chop Chuan Guan. This place screams nostalgia, a gentle reminder of Ipoh’s very own Ching Han Guan on Hugh Low Street (Jalan Sultan Iskandar).
As luck would have it, they were busy baking mooncakes for the then-upcoming Mooncake festival. Hence no other biscuits other than mooncakes. Tough luck.
But we ended up buying a round, flat and sticky pancake named “Lek Tau Koo” (RM4/USD1.30 each) for tea time back in Ipoh. Not bad, a little sweet and sticky, with a fragrant hint of mandarin peel and bits of ‘kuaci’ for added crunch.
CHOP CHUAN GUAN
80 & 81, Jalan Pengkalan Rawa,
Nibong Tebal, Seberang Perai,
GPS Coordinates : E100 28′ 35.2″ N5 9′ 54.2″
Thanks Molinja for the food tour around Nibong Tebal/Parit Buntar. 3 years in the making, but never too late right?