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Herbs for longevity

 | May 16, 2011

These days, if you are willing to part with some of your hard-earned money, you can really dine on highly valued herbal products.

FOOD REVIEW

Not many shoppers know that the Effective Herbs outlet on the lower ground floor at the new wing of the One Utama shopping complex has a little corner where a variety of herbs, drinks, snacks and other delights from the vegetable kingdom are served.

For a long time whenever I passed by that shop, I avoided going in because it doesn’t seem to have anything I need. It is a shop that sells all kinds of Chinese herbs, dried seeds, fruits, abalone, shark’s fin, various types of bird’s nest and a host of other items that would only interest Chinese traditional doctors.

Housewives and elderly women are more familiar with these kinds of Chinese herbs. Then one day, while I was browsing inside the shop out of sheer curiosity, I noticed a corner that has tables and chairs.

It seems that there are customers who frequent the Effective Herbs outlet mainly for the abalone and bird’s nest items. The kitchen tucked away in the far corner prepares the items on order.

Double-boiled “Pa Sai” cave bird’s nest with lotus seeds is priced at RM150 per portion. If you think that’s a little too rich for your blood, there are others who can afford it and will consume a bowl as if it is just a cup of Chinese tea.

Just when you think bird’s nest is way out of your league, there is the Indonesian purple bird’s nest double-boiled with sugar cane. This item is only RM280. That’s per person, if you don’t mind.

If abalone is your favourite item, then you may want to consider placing an order for the “stewed Mexican Calstar wild abalone”. But you will have to dish out RM266. That’s just enough for one person, thank you.

For a party of four people, stewed Mexican supreme abalone, in canned form, clocked in at a tidy sum of RM235.

Medical benefit

For me, my favourite herbal concoction for the afternoon is the double-boiled white fungus with fresh milk and gingko nuts. It is served hot in a Chinese porcelain bowl with a pretty cover.

For some strange reason, I feel very fresh after eating that bowl of white fungus. You have to drink the contents slowly because the serving is very hot.

Sometimes, I prefer the double-boiled white fungus with American ginseng and white lotus seeds. On other occasions, I opt for the double-boiled white fungus with dried longan and white lotus seeds.

All these items concerning white fungus are priced at RM6 per bowl. That is actually quite reasonable, considering the trouble taken by the chef in the kitchen to heat up the entire recipe with an expertise rarely experienced in this part of the Klang Valley.

Some people are wary of Chinese herbal drinks and “soups” but, believe it or not, these medicinal concoctions have been around for thousands of years.

The fame and popularity of these double-boiled items could not have lasted this long if they are of no medical benefit to anybody.

I haven’t yet worked up the courage to have a bowl of abalone porridge yet. Apparently, it is a popular item among the well-to-do folks.

The abalone porridge which comes with Japanese dried scallops, dried oyster, sea cucumber and fish maw will set you back RM28. If you think that’s too much, just think of some of those exotic burgers sold at the swanky restaurants.

Real treat

Abalone porridge is a real treat for those who do not hold on to their wallets with an iron fist.

Effective Herbs shop also serves stewed rice but it is only available on Saturdays and Sundays. You will have to give advance notice, at least half an hour to an hour before you are ready for your meal.

It seems that the cook who specialises in serving the stewed rice or “mun fan” (in Cantonese) only shows up during the weekends.

A person in charge of the kitchen told me that this was a special dish with a number of interesting items.

The servings for stewed rice are for two people and it is RM28 per set. It does sound very interesting to a rice eater like me. Next Saturday seems to be a good time to test the waters, as they say.

You can also have fried rice with Japanese scallop, plus Chinese tea or fried rice with Japanese oyster plus Chinese tea. That’s RM10 per portion.

If you prefer something not too heavy, you can ask for the double-boiled snow jelly with American ginseng, red dates and lotus seeds. That’s RM12, please.

I am listing out the prices because it wouldn’t be convenient if you are caught unawares by the prices of the items. The costs of Chinese herbs vary greatly. It depends on demand, availability of the ingredients, and the rarity of the herbal product.

The highly valued herbal ingredients at one time in the long history of Chinese civilisation are only cooked and consumed by the royal household.

These days, if you are willing to part with some of your hard-earned money, you can really dine like a king.


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