I am normally not a fan of Friday nights in Kuala Lumpur. At 5pm I am ready for my husband to be home so I can quit my weekly jobs as School Chauffeur, Homework Nazi and Dinner Magician. Instead the Friday night traffic jams keep my husband hostage while whines from my hungry daughter grow louder and more ferocious.
Last Friday, my friend Lisa and I hoped to fill the early evening gap. With three kids (ages five, eight and nine) in tow, we ventured out to Kepong’s Plaza Menjalara neighborhood to find a kid friendly dinner in a new locale and maybe even a cocktail.
We stumbled upon TaiFeng Taiwanese Hotpot, sandwiched between a closed bean curd restaurant and a Barbeque Thai steamboat restaurant. Remembering my last scrumptious hot pot experience in Shanghai years ago, I encouraged the gang to step inside.
As soon as we opened the heavy glass doors, we saw a lovely, whimsical front entry filled with flowers, hats and owls against a red brick wall. We poked our head around the corner and were greeted by smiling hosts, dressed in traditional Chinese garb.
Two waiters immediately walked us through the restaurant to a table in the back. The smell of hot broth filled the air. Although many tables were still empty (it was only 6:30pm) there was a slight buzz from the many waiters running around.
We sat and were handed coffee table book size menus filled with photos of ingredients and broth options. The waiters even provided paper and pens for our girls. Several of the waiters stood behind our table to answer any questions we had.
ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL
We could choose from two kinds of base soup flavors, the house special and lemon grass. We chose the lemon grass. Then it was time to pick the ingredients. The normal drudgery of convincing children to choose something healthy and having to do the “eat your vegetable if you want desert” negotiation was replaced by the joy of telling the girls they could choose what to put into the pot of soup. They could pick whatever they wanted as long as there were noodles, meat and a variety of vegetables. After a lot of back and forth, they finally decided on ingredients which made them happy: short, plump button mushrooms, pumpkin, beef, bok choy, lettuce, two kinds of noodles and even home made dumplings. They didn’t choose fish, meatballs, or other kinds of meat and vegetables, but these were also available.
The time between putting in our order and having it served was less than 5 minutes. The beauty of cooking food ourselves is that there is no wait.
FRESH, TASTY FOOD
Before the waiter dropped the ingredients into the pot, he poured a bit of the steaming broth into each of our bowls and let the hungry girls savor the smell. There was silence except for excited squirming as we all sipped the home made brew. The waiter then helped us slide each vegetable into the pot, and within minutes we had a meal that everyone felt they had helped to make.
The vegetables and meat were fresh and the dumplings were divine. After about three bowls each, the girls finally turned to the paper and pens to wind down while Lisa and I squeezed in some adult conversation. Haagen-Dazs ice cream was available, but we were too full to enjoy any.
Four drinks and one giant hot pot later we got the bill and were thrilled that the whole meal cost around 120RM. Split between two families was less than we’d pay at the store. In less then one hour we’d found a place with entertainment, healthy food and a reasonable price. As far as I was concerned we’d had a “party in a pot!”
Hot pot (aka Steamboat) restaurants are not hard to find. In fact this neighborhood is full of ones that might be cheaper, but between the charm, great service and fresh ingredients, we proclaim this a hidden gem. We will definitely return, maybe even with our husbands.
There are two locations:
Lot 1-10&1-11, Plaza Menjalara Idaman, Bandar Menjalara, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur
Phone:+60 3-6270 0162
Hours: · 5PM–12AM
Hours Monday – Sunday
A-1-UG, Jalan C180/1, Dataran C180,, 43200 Cheras 9 Miles, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone:+60 3-9082 1911
Hours: Monday – Sunday · 5–11PM