For authentic Taiwanese ‘lǔwèi’ or braised foods, head to Lantern Soy Braised in Sri Petaling
KUALA LUMPUR, August 1 — What a bowl! Heady, herbal broth and toothsome handmade noodles. Brimful of braised toppings — pork shank, bái yè tofu (bean curd skin), radish, konnyaku (konjac), king oyster mushrooms — and garnished with a shower of spring onions and Chinese pickles.
It’s enough to make one swoon.
We are enjoying this bowl of braised comfort food at Lantern Soy Braised in Sri Petaling. Perhaps the most recognisable dish in the Taiwanese braised foods canon is the classic lǔ ròu fàn or braised pork rice.
But lǔwèi (Mandarin for "braised foods”) is more than this one dish as Lantern Soy Braised has more than proven with their bowls of broth, noodles and braised delicacies.
The shop is actually the first Malaysian outpost of Deng Long Lu Wei (which translates to "Lantern Braised Foods” in Mandarin), a popular lǔwèi chain in Taiwan.
Deng Long Lu Wei began as a small stall in the Shida Night Market (Shīdà Yèshì) in the Da'an District of Taipei. Thus named for National Taiwan Normal University (fondly known as Shīdà), the night market throngs with visitors looking for giant fried chicken chops and stinky tofu, oyster omelettes and pepper buns.
And, of course, for lǔwèi — that ultimate Taiwanese comfort food, perfect for lunch or dinner, or even a post-pub crawl supper, if one can find a lǔwèi stall open till the wee hours of the morning.
Lantern Soy Braised keeps somewhat more regular hours, though being in ever-bustling Sri Petaling, this means they remain open till a generous half hour before midnight. Opened for seven months, the shop draws some regulars in the know but is otherwise quiet and under-the-radar.
Upon entering, you are greeted by the clean, white interior with a colourful mural of the braised delicacies. The minimalist set-up allows the dishes to truly shine.
Besides some sets (i.e. bowls with noodles, broth and a fixed assortment of toppings) and popular dishes, the appeal here is to mix and match from a wide variety of ingredients.
First, you choose the noodles. Besides the aforementioned handmade noodles, you can also opt for udon, yee mee, meehoon, glass noodles or even calrose rice, if you’re not keen on noodles.
Next, the meat: you can have pork shank, pig cheeks, pig ears, pig intestine, sliced pork, sliced chicken, chicken wings or drumsticks.
Soy products are a must, naturally; some options include dry bean curd, taufu pok, bean curd skin, fresh soy chips and seafood tofu. Vegetables too: how about bean sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, French beans, baby corn or enoki mushrooms?
The more adventurous can ask for the duck blood. Kids will love the dainty quail eggs and bite-sized chikuwa fish cakes.
Though the soup has a herbal base — made with ingredients such as cassia (Chinese cinnamon), Sichuan peppercorns, licorice and other Chinese herbs — and tastes good enough on its own, most customers opt to spice it up with varying levels of chillies.
A nice accompaniment is the quintessential Taiwanese side dish of yánsūjī (salted crispy fried chicken), topped with raw garlic and lightly fried basil leaves. This is one of the best renditions I’ve tasted in KL.
Ultimately, the true joy comes in custom "designing” your perfect bowl. The fun lies in figuring out which ingredient goes with which, or whether to go full glutton mode and order enough toppings that you can barely see any of the noodles or broth beneath.
I have to say, that second option is terribly enticing...
This is one of my favourite mix and match variations: Imagine a bowl loaded with simmered radish, practically melt in the mouth; taufu pok, the porous pouches soaking up the divine broth; thin slices of dry bean curd; and the "QQ” bite of translucent soy knots.
Add on some requisite greens in the form of broccoli florets, then a whole chicken drumstick to really go the distance.
Now this is what I call a meal that will bowl you over! (Pardon the pun; I couldn’t resist)
Some folks would hanker for Taiwanese desserts such as bouncy aiyu jelly flavoured with honey and lemon juice, or perhaps chewy taro balls in a hot sweet broth.
I must confess I prefer something more sinful, something deep-fried like the best street snacks that only Taiwanese night markets can offer.
To this end, there’s no better candidate to end our meal than a platter of irresistible sour plum fried sweet potato. The thick chunks of crispy sweet potato fries are dusted with a moreish sour plum powder — every bite leaves you reaching for the next one!
We leave with full bellies, already discussing how we would mix and match our next bowl of braised delights when we return.
Lantern Soy Braised
13, Jalan Radin Tengah, Bandar Baru Sri Petaling, KL
Open daily 12:30pm-11:30pm
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