(THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Diners in search of a freshwater fish meal - done simply and well, with the freshness and firm, sweet flesh of the fish placed solidly front and centre - have been making the trek to Loong Kee restaurant in Gohtong Jaya for a good 42 years now. Certainly, it is a popular stop on the way up or down from the pleasure dome of Genting Highlands.
Its specialities have seen the original restaurant grow in reputation, across multiple shoplots and now, the Fenix has risen, with Loong Kee's first Klang Valley outpost in KL Gateway Mall, just off the Federal Highway. The man in charge here is Ben Chan, the son of Loong Kee's founders, Chan Ah See and Wong Mok Yin.
Fenix's menu is exactly the same as Loong Kee's, with a two-pronged focus on freshwater fish and on vegetables from Bukit Tinggi, most of them from the Chans' own farm; the only difference is that Fenix has set meals, in a nod to its location in a mall. Chicken, pork, seafood and bean curd dishes are also on offer, with noodle dishes and double-boiled Chinese soups.
With the restaurants' focus on the bounty of land and river, menus from both are showcases of Pahang terroir (and beyond) and Ben Chan can talk to you effortlessly about the provenance of Fenix's food - Bentong ginger features prominently in some of the dishes, the clams are from Teluk Intan, Perak, and the rich yellow rice wine is sourced from a home brewer off the Karak Highway.
"The fish are mostly wild-caught by orang asli fishermen using lines or traditional traps," said Chan. "Although we do serve some farmed fish, depending on supply. Customers who want to make sure they get wild-caught river fish should call two days ahead."
The wild-caught fish are snared in Sungai Pahang. "The water is clean and the river, narrow, making it faster-flowing," said Chan.