My last 4 trips to Pan Heong were an exercise in futility. Seeing the hungry horde milling in front of the shop, sent the shivers down my spine. A hungry man is an angry man! I beat a hasty retreat without even stopping my car. My perseverance paid off and I was lucky on my 5th trip. In my first 2 eating trips I did not get to eat their redoubtable Sang Har Noodles. So I had to have this.We ordered Sang Har Wat Tan Hor (Fresh Water Prawns with Flat Rice Noodles Cantonese-style). The noodles had good wok hei. The gravy had the right consistency and a nice amount of the slippery half-cooked egg whites. Any Cantonese would be proud of this piece of good cooking and right timing. The 2 big prawns were symmetrically cut into 2 half along the length of their body. Their bright red roes had coloured the rich eggy gravy, orange. One of the prawn was slightly on the soft side indicating a lack of top-level freshness while the other was premium and succulent. Sang Har orders will only be delivered with a minimum of 2 prawns. Price - RM36.00. Rating 7/10.
Another perennial favourite is Frog Porridge. The frog was big and meaty which was good in terms of chewability, texture and body. There were times I got small slivers of meat from tiny underweight frogs. The feel good factor was when I have plenty to chew on. But the downside was these were not from the paddy fields but rather the farmed variety thus the taste was rather flat.
Onward to the porridge - it was average and bland (seems to be a recurring theme one way or another of the food I ordered). I thought some stock will be used in the preparation of the porridge to bath the broken grains of cereals with savoury sweetness. There was no ginger strips too. Sigh! A sign of short-cuts or cost-cutting? Or were they over-confident in the frog imparting its essence into the medium it was cooked in? If this was, it failed. So I have to resort to flavouring it with soy sauce. In my previous visit I found the pork ribs porridge equally bland. In my first visit I had better experience. RM15.50 for 2 pax order. Rating 5.5/10.
Interestingly, on checking other tables I observed there was claypot porridge! Why mine was delivered in a melamine bowl? These folks in my observation were ordering normal wat tan hor and other noodles. These fares may have made the name for Pan Heong in times past under the tree serving the working class and the SME bosses in Batu Caves. I thought they were the regular clientele and know best. The expensive embellishments and fancy concoction were added into the menu to satisfy the over-stimulated outsider's tongue! In any case this warrants more inquiries and a more cautious approach in my ordering the next time round!And finally my Nam Yue Pork Belly came. Piping hot and a crackling outer layer of thin nam yue flavoured batter. The layered fat was present. But then the word average came into play again. The taste has a weak and ambiguous nam yue taste. Marination was short therefore penetration was millimetres deep. Where was the nam yue? Seriously I couldn't tell. I had better tasting ones from my regular Chap Fan store. However, credit must be given as the meat was top of the line. RM11.00. Rating 5.5/10)
Over-rated? I think so for now until my next visit. I will try to order like a true Batu Caves resident and see what happen.