This place is a couple of hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur - a coastal strip which stretches from Kuala Selangor all the way to the town of Klang, and which are traditionally inhabited by Hoklo (southern Hokkien) fisherfolk from Fujian province who'd settled in this part of west coast Malaysia since the late-19th century.
To access Kuan Hwa, one of the many Chinese seafood restaurants at Kuala Selangor, one drives along a narrow strip of land bordering traditional Hokkien wooden homes built on stilts over the waters. Each home's front door is kept wide open, to allow the sea breezes to waft through, but also afforded rubber-necked passers-by a glimpse into the homes - the centrepiece in each & every living room seemed to be an altar dedicated either to the Jade Emperor or else one of the Chinese deities like Guan Ti (God of War).
Kuan Hwa is a huge high-roofed eatery, large enough to accomodate at least 600 diners (no, this is *not* a typo error). Food is cooked and served at lightning speed - we got ours barely 10 minutes after ordering:
- Crabs fried "kam heong"-style, i.e. curry powder, chillis, curry leaves, black pepper, dried shrimps and light soysauce. It's typically Malaysian because I'd never encountered that style of cooking in Singapore before my first experience with it in KL.
- Chilli crabs - now *this* one was familiar, and Kuan Hwa's version is 100% similar to those we find in Singapore: sweet, tomato-ey, eggy and slightly spicy. Finger-licking good. Fried "man tou" Chinese buns were also served on the side to dip into the gravy.
- Fried mantis shrimps. I don't know about this dish - I'd never had a single good mantis shrimp dish before, not in Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong or here. The mantis shrimp meat were served de-shelled (thank god), battered and deep-fried, then stir-fried in a dark salty-pungent sauce reminiscent of the "kam heong" rendition we had for the first crab dish earlier. But the mantis shrimp meat tasted dry, hard and chewy. Not sure why folks keep on ordering this.
- Steamed clams: this was my favourite dish, strongly flavoured with Shaoxing wine, bordering on the bitterness. Generous amount of finely-julienned ginger surprisingly tasted mild on this dish, served topped with fresh cilantro.
- Signature house tofu, which came in longish batter-covered batons. They tasted a bit saltish and had a hard texture, as if fish paste had been added to the tofu during the preparation process. I'd have preferred plain tofu. Two dips on the side: sweet Thai-style chilli sauce and a watery mayonnaise.
- Baby lettuce stir-fried with "nam yue" (fermented beanpaste) and chillis. Light and slightly spiced.
Nice meal, and a bargain at RM160 (US$50) for 6 persons, including steamed rice, Chinese tea and some soft drinks. But the 2-hour drive from KL is a back-breaker!
Restoran Kuan Hwa Kuala Selangor (群华瓜拉雪兰莪海鲜楼).
1A, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu
Kuala Selangor, 45000 Selangor
Tel: +603-3289 6719