I admit to being a Chinese food enthusiast; although I’m a vegetarian, most Chinese restaurants can accommodate me by substituting soy bean curd (tofu) for meat/chicken/seafood. One of my favorite dishes – I usually order it with all my meals - is hot and sour soup, a staple in Chinese cuisine. I have had this particular soup at Chinese restaurants not only in my home town of San Francisco but all around the world, in places as far away as Accra, Ghana and Quito, Ecuador. The common denominator is that the soup is relatively spicy and has a certain thickness or consistency.
Believe it or not, the worst hot and sour soup that I have ever had was at Kim Liam Kee, a rather, large establishment located on Petaling Street in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s famous Chinatown. I ate at this establishment on Nov. 27 of this year - it was my first night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city and after a strenuous day of travel, I really wanted a proper vegetarian meal. My hotel was an easy 5-minute walk to Chinatown and my decision to patronize this particular restaurant was primarily because of their rather large and very prominent signage.
I ordered two dishes at Kim Lian Kee – a vegetarian claypot dish with rice and a small hot and sour soup to the accompaniment of a Royal Stout. While the claypot dish was satisfactory, the soup was very watery and had hardly any taste – it was so bad, I thought I would let the management know about it. Now I’m a person who is not afraid to voice his opinions to the restaurant management if the service or the food is bad.
Expressing my dissatisfaction vociferously with the manager over the bland tasting soup, I opened up ‘a rather large can of worms’. Later on, I asked the manager to reprimand the young waitress for her very flippant comment when I requested the bill. After hearing my complaint, he smiled and replied “I am sorry sir, none of these girls have any training; they are hired off the street.” After hearing that, it was very difficult for me to refrain from laughing out loud!
In retrospect, I really thought the whole incident was quite amusing as I relished playing the role of the incensed tourist-customer. Bottom line - I would never, ever go back to this restaurant and recommend that my fellow travelers do not patronize this establishment as well. For a detailed account of my rather dismal experience at Kim Lian Kee, I have filed a report on TripAdvisor
On my 2nd night (and final night in Kuala Lumpur), I went to Fatt Yan, a small vegetarian Chinese restaurant that received very favorable reviews in Happy Cow. The price was right at 18.50RM ($5.25USD) and my two entrees were very tasty – one of which was a vegetarian hot and sour soup. Take that Kim Lian Kee!