To awaken your appetite, drop by Semenyih for some spicy and peppery ‘hot soup’ at Dreamland Claypot

·5-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SEMENYIH, Sept 22 — Long drives can be soothing. A good time for contemplation. A chance to go food hunting in new places, a little further away than your usual haunts.

When there are no clouds in the sky and the noonday sun is cruelly roasting us on the highway, however, staying indoors all day, preferably in an igloo sounds more tempting by the minute. Time to find the nearest exit and look for lunch.

We entered Semenyih, a sleepy town roughly south-east of Kajang. After a few quick rounds of exploring, we found a promising restaurant called Dreamland Claypot. Who wouldn’t like a dreamy meal, especially if it’s served in a claypot?

Still, despite the happy lunch crowd tucking into their food, we wonder if a steamy and sizzling claypot dish is the right way to go given the rising early afternoon temperature.

The requisite Chinese restaurant “sides” – minced raw garlic and sliced 'cili padi' (left), and herbal tea (right).
The requisite Chinese restaurant “sides” – minced raw garlic and sliced 'cili padi' (left), and herbal tea (right).

The requisite Chinese restaurant “sides” – minced raw garlic and sliced 'cili padi' (left), and herbal tea (right).

Though famished after all that driving, the heat also means we don’t really have much of an appetite. Something simple and comforting seems the best.

On any other day, we would have ordered their other signatures such as the Spicy Flower Wine Chicken (xiāng là huādiāo jī), heady and fragrant, or the crispy Fried Pork Belly (xiāng zhà huā nǎn).

Their handmade Fried Spring Rolls (shǒugōng chūnjuǎn) would have sounded more appealing, full of crunch and juicy filling. A heavier dish of Stir-fried Minced Pork and Eggplant (ròu suì qiézi), thick with moreish gravy, would delight, begging for many extra bowls of steamed rice.

But not today. The sweltering weather meant that we craved something that was neither too cloying nor too greasy. Nothing that would leave me weighed down like a ton of bricks for we had more driving ahead of us, after lunch.

Their house special of Hot Soup or là tāng sounds divine, however. Known as "lat tong” in Cantonese, the spicy and peppery soup is cooked in a claypot with either kampung chicken (là tāng jī) or pork offal (là tāng zhū zá).

Dreamland Claypot is located in a corne-rlot shophouse in Semenyih.
Dreamland Claypot is located in a corne-rlot shophouse in Semenyih.

Dreamland Claypot is located in a corne-rlot shophouse in Semenyih.

Sounds like just the thing to pep us up and return our jaded palates to full flourish.

The proprietor informed us that we can also opt for mixed ingredients or even just lean pork. Watching our diet yet not wanting to miss out on the flavour that only succulent pork belly can impart, we request for "bàn féi shòu” (half fat, half lean meat).

When in doubt, always split the difference, no?

First to arrive are the requisite Chinese restaurant "sides” — generous saucers of minced raw garlic and sliced cili padi (left). The empty soup bowls and cutlery soaking in a small basin of hot water. Much needed glasses of herbal tea (liángchá), tinkling with ice cubes.

Simply stir fried with garlic, Chinese chives or 'qīnglóng cài' (literally “green dragon vegetables”) are naturally sweet.Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'
Simply stir fried with garlic, Chinese chives or 'qīnglóng cài' (literally “green dragon vegetables”) are naturally sweet.Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'

Simply stir fried with garlic, Chinese chives or 'qīnglóng cài' (literally “green dragon vegetables”) are naturally sweet.Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'

That’s the thing with condiments; they can make or break a meal. Ketchup would be too sweet, habanero-laced hot sauce too much of an overkill. Mayonnaise too rich, wasabi would make our sinuses and eyes water.

Straightforward works best: just douse as much minced raw garlic and cili padi as we can handle with plain, non-artisanal soy sauce and we are good to go. Good eating awaits us.

We could smell the là tāng before the server even reached our table. Mildly pungent and intensely peppery, I’m reminded of the white peppercorn chicken soup my mother used to boil for my family on rainy days when I was a child.

Here we have eschewed the kampung chicken for pork, of course, and the taste of the soup is meatier. More nourishing, perhaps, when fatigue has set in. Every sip promises that we can handle the kilometres we have yet to drive.

That is afterwards, though. Now we can slurp and try to remember to chew, the slippery morsels of pork belly tricking our mouths into thinking they are jellied manna. The lean meat for protein, to fuel our driving muscles.

Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'
Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'

Dried Radish Omelette or 'cài pú dàn.'

From the bowl of soup to atop a plate of rice.
From the bowl of soup to atop a plate of rice.

From the bowl of soup to atop a plate of rice.

Claypots aren’t only used for their house special là tāng, of course. The earthenware is used to good effect for their mildly sweet Pumpkin Pork Ribs and black pepper infused Claypot Lamb Belly. Both are rich, with the claypot retaining the heat of the dishes till the last spoonful.

To go with our là tāng, we also order a Dried Radish Omelette or cài pú dàn. The Bitter Gourd Omelette (kǔguā dàn) sounded good too, but we reckon that we will already have some vegetables on the way.

Our greens arrive in the form of Chinese chives or qīnglóng cài (literally "green dragon vegetables”). These are simply stir fried with garlic and naturally sweet.

Soup, meat, eggs, vegetables — almost a complete meal. All we need is plenty of hot steamed white rice to enjoy them with.

There is a childlike charm in dishing out one’s favourite pieces of meat from the bowl of soup to atop a plate of rice. One might even call it this sense of wonder... dreamy.

Restoran Dreamland Claypot

3, Jalan Paling Jaya 1, Taman Paling Jaya, Semenyih, Selangor

Open daily (except Wed closed) 11am-3:30pmand 5:30-8:30pm

Tel: 012-351 6628

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