*from my StarMetro June 2011 article
One of the many things my former boss DF and I have in common is our appreciation for good food. From time to time, we would meet up over a good meal or a cup of coffee. I recently joined him and a few friends for a makan outing in Bentong. Yup, we drove all the way to Bukit Tinggi, Bentong just to have lunch. According to DF, there’s this sang har tang hoon place that I simply must try. That place was Restoran Hong Hing.
Bentong is a pretty small town about 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur. I’ve only been there two to three times, when my parents stopped by for fresh vegetables and fruits on our way back from Maran and when rif and I had a satisfying lunch at Kedai Kopi Kok Hing last year.
Service was fairly quick as we got there before the lunch crowd came in. An elderly man took our order and within 10 minutes, our first dish arrived. Between the four of us, we had a steamed patin fish (RM54 for 900gm), crispy pork bacon (RM12), stir-fried sweet potato leaves and the highlight of our meal, sang har tang hoon soup (RM72 for two prawns).
The bacon was deep-fried, tossed with onions and drizzled with honey and soy sauce. “This is good stuff!” I remarked, in between bites. So good, yet so bad for the heart and waistline. Throw in a handful of pork lard and I may need an angioplasty sooner than I think.
Sweet potato leaves may be easy to find at the market, but it isn’t as easy to cook. Cook it too long and you get a pile of mush. When it’s undercooked, your jaw gets a good workout. But the chef at Hong Hing got it right — the leaves were fragrant from the garlic chunks, tender at the stems and lightly seasoned with salt.
I usually avoid eating fish when there’s no price indication in the menu. But at Hong Hing, the price is stated clearly on the wall, albeit in Chinese. Steamed with julienned ginger, soy sauce and dashes of Chinese rice wine, the fish was fresh, sweet and smooth with a tiny layer of fat. We ate the fish clean, except the bones, tail, and eyeballs.
The sang har tang hoon soup came in a large claypot to keep it hot. For RM72, I found it a tad steep but DF said the pricing was pretty standard. I liked the addition of chilli padi and ginger, which gave the dish a fiery kick. However, the Chinese in me thought the broth could have done with more rice wine, or better still, XO. The more ‘kao’, the better, don’t you agree? That said, the prawns were crunchy and gave the broth a delicious sweet flavour.
Lunch came up to RM146 for the four of us. Not exactly cheap, but definitely value for money considering the type of dishes we ordered. Restoran Hong Hing used to be at MTD Prime in Genting Sempah; it relocated to Bukit Tinggi late last year. To get there, just drive all the way down from the Bukit Tinggi market. The shop is on your right hand side.
Restoran Hong Hing
P15, Jalan Pesona 1,
28750 Bentong, Pahang
Tel: 012 950 5652