The pork-free Hu Ji Chinese Restaurant in the Copthorne Orchid Hotel in Tanjung Bungah is one of my favourite chill-out places, especially at their weekend (and public holiday) Taiwan Porridge Buffet, where you’ll often find me hanging out there with a few girlfriends. I like it because it’s a place I can go for as much food as I want, when I want it, and it’s in clean, comfortable air-conditioned surroundings with (usually) lots of parking, without having to battle the traffic going into town.
Now run by Chef Raymond Yeoh who recently took over, the buffet always has 3 types of congee on the boil – plain, with sweet potato or flavoured with chicken or pei tan (century egg) – as well as plain rice and a noodle dish or two.
There are always about ten main savoury dishes on offer which change weekly, but usually comprise several vegetable dishes, chicken, fish, steamed egg custard and tofu cooked in different ways, together with a whole host of condiments laid out on a separate table. These cover the spectrum from red-and-white salted or black pei tan egg, pickled radish and chopped spring onions to the ubiquitous chopped chilli padi, but of course, and our local must-have chilli paste, sambal belacan.
On top of that, they will occasionally lay on specials like Typhoon Shelter Pei Fung Tong from Hong Kong, or “Sampan Porridge” aka Deng Zai Chook, where diners can choose from different seafood to be added to their porridge after which it is cooked up a la minute, rather like it is served by the Hong Kong boat people. There’s also “Fried Porridge”, surely an oxymoron one would think but actually it is congee which is ‘fried up’ with additional ingredients like chicken meat, dried shrimp and garlic chives, resulting in a fragrant, all-in-one bowl which is hot and quite tasty.
It’s the sort of heart-warming, complete meal which isn’t just filling but healthy and appealing as well. Talk about chicken soup for the soul; this is our version of comfort food, the sort of local nursery food that we grew up eating, and is a perfect antidote to too much greasy hawker food.
Dessert isn’t much to shout about, comprising just some cut fruit and perhaps a boiled barley or some other local sweet. However, one can’t expect too much at RM21.90 nett per person. It is very affordable, so large groups of friends or families meet there to tuck in without having to put Mom through the trouble of cooking for a change. And unless she is Superwoman, it also offers the variety that she would probably never be able to come up with at home.
My only gripe about it is that the Taiwan Porridge Buffet is only available at lunchtimes (noon to 2.30pm) at weekends and public holidays, so do go along and try it and make it so popular that they feel obliged to offer it during the week as well! For details or reservations, call +604 892 3333