Good Eats

Marco Polo 福臨門 @ Kuala Lumpur

What about a restaurant that is in the building that is named after your founder, and the restaurant was built by the founder’s son who was the architect responsible of the building? You know you are dining in culinary royalty for KL.

Marco Polo Chinese Cuisine was founded in January 1980 by Dato’ Lim Foo Yong 林芙蓉, who already had long years of hands-on experience as a hotelier and restaurateur. Marco Polo is one of the oldest places in town that you can enjoy your dim sum. Located at the first floor of Wisma Lim Foo Yong, you can find this place has since been refurbished and turned out to be extremely nice and elegant. It is not only a famous place for dim sum; it is also a famous place for wedding dinners.

Zooming dimsum trolley

Hot baskets of fresh dimsum are still paraded around with rolling carts called dimsum trolleys. There’s a piece of paper that the waitress will chop when you order the dimsum off the trolley. An oldie-but-a-goodie still known for its quality and consistency after over 40 years old, .

Shrimp rice rolls 鲜虾肠粉 Charsiu rice rolls 叉烧肠粉

Dimsum is a Cantonese cuisine that is usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, with little plates of handmade dumplings, pastries and carbs made to share like tapas. Marco Polo has taken this traditional meal and made them Malaysian with the introduction of sambal as a condiments. Take these rice rolls 肠粉 – they tasted the same as the HK version, but they have put some sambal to give it a kick.

Steamed Teochew dumplings 潮州粉果

Dimsum, whose name derives from the Cantonese word for “appetiser” (in Mandarin Chinese, dianxin 点心), is thought to have originated in teahouses along the Silk Road as long ago as 2,500 years during the Song dynasty as a light accompaniment to appetite-stimulating tea as travellers stopped to rest along the way.

Prawn wrapped in bean curd skin 鲜虾腐皮卷

Most of the items in dimsum are steamed and made from a variety of minced pork, offals, shrimp and fish paste. They are not the main ingredient but umami-flavours for the other ingredients like bean curd skin, rice sheets, glutinous rice, and other forms of carbs to help fill void from drinking tea.

Taro puff with charsiu filling 叉烧芋角 Prawn wrapped with bean curd skin 腐皮虾

Other items can be deep fried or these days, baked, like the taro puff puffed with charsiu filling, which is one item that I would always order whenever I have dimsum. The shell of the puff is made with mashed yam and the filling made from bbq charsiu with its sauce. Savoury and sweet in the same bite, it reminded me of the Teochew dessert orhni.

Red chilli stuffed with fish paste 釀红椒

The dimsum style that we are familiar with comes from Guangzhou. In Cantonese-speaking regions like Guangzhou and Hong Kong, the customary brunch called yum cha 飲茶, literally “drink tea,” remains a high point of the week, with dimsum served along with tea to diners who are in no hurry. The custom has spread to other Chinese communities in- and outside of China, and choices of items are getting more and more varied with influences from Hakka (like this yongtaufoo 酿豆腐 style red chilli stuffed with fish paste), Sichuan, Suzhou, etc

Egg tarts 蛋挞

And of course the British had its influence too, with the egg tarts introduced in yumcha in Hong Kong. And from this egg tart, there’s also variation like the Portuguese egg tart from Macau.

Chicken feet 鳳爪

Many foreigners’ first attempt at Chinese cuisines would have been with dimsum and formed impressions that we eat weird things because of dishes like chicken feet, beef tripe, etc are served alongside their favourite hargow and siumai. Nevertheless they came to enjoy and love authentic Chinese food from dimsum.

Signature lormaigai 糯米鸡

Their signature lormaigai has not change in the recipe and is totally different from the HK version. It is still made with the same sticky, sweet and savoury sauce that I have remembered all these years. Came with thick slices of charsiu (bbq pork) from the pork belly cut and pieces of chicken thigh, the glutinous rice had absorbed all the goodness from the meat and marinades and was extremely flavourful.

Superior dark soy sauce fried noodles 豉油皇炒面

The taste of their dimsum is different because of the special KL soy sauce, which is heavier and sweeter than the normal HK or Singaporean types. It was especially evident in their stir-fried egg noodles.

Vegetarian sautéed vegetables

Marco Polo is not just about dimsum; they are famous for their traditional Cantonese cuisine. I have been coming to this restaurant since I was a kid, as my relatives in KL would treat us to their wonderful Cantonese dinner. These days, there are many so-called modern Chinese restaurants that are competing with Marco Polo for the wallets of millennial who grew up with Western cuisine. They are forced to take some of these changes. But why fight in unfamiliar territories? I think they will continue to do well if they stick to these tested recipes.

Marco Polo Chinese Cuisine 福臨門
1st Floor, Wisma Lim Foo Yong, 86, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel : +60 (03) 2141 2233 

Visited Mar 2023

@marcopolo_kl #marcopolo_kl #MarcoPolo  #KL #富臨門酒家 

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