Hwang Jin Yi @ Desa Sri Hartamas

October 2, 2014

From the seas of Korea to the suburbs of KL: Hwang Jin Yi is a hidden cove In Sri Hartamas where the bounty of the ocean comes flooding in, awash with everything from puffer fish bulgogi to steamed stuffed sea bream, hairtail fish to tile fish, skate fish pancakes & croaker fish stew to pollack hot pot.

Tucked on the first floor of a Hartamas shop-lot, Hwang Jin Yi currently lures mainly Korean customers, but it wants to now cast its net wider to reach Malaysians too. Its aquariums are not extensively populated, but its menu is impressively diverse, with many recipes we've not spotted elsewhere.

For the truly bold, we suggest this 'skate fish offal stew' (RM100) - said to be similar to Iceland's notorious 'rotten shark meat' (hakari). The internal organs of skate fish are fermented for weeks, imparting an extremely pungent ammonia-rich smell that'll burn up the nostrils, cooked in a mushy, what-the-heck's-inside stew with a savoury flavour that'll wake you up better than coffee. Warning: This is the ultimate definition of an acquired taste; many local customers may struggle to finish two spoonfuls.

Need something safer? Straight from Jeju Island comes finny pleasures such as this mackerel, salted & grilled (RM60).

Also more comforting than horrifying: Steaming-hot seaweed fulvescens soup (miyeokguk), customarily a celebratory birthday dish. Thick, slimy & nourishing, made with maesengi seaweed (an autumnal delicacy), studded with sesame seeds & filled with hidden treasures of plump oysters.

Wrapping up with more oysters, this time in a mound of Hwang Jin Yi's house-prepared kimchi, meant to be paired with pork belly & bundled in lettuce leaves for a meaty, moreish meal.

Hwang Jin Yi's 'banchan' side dishes are appreciably varied, with sea snails, quail eggs, konnyaku jelly, glass noodles & biscuits all coming into play alongside the more typical veggies & pastes.

If you're still feeling energetic after dinner here, it might be worth noting that Hwang Jin Yi also has karaoke rooms.

Coming full circle for this meal with more fermentation: Makgeolli, the milky-white, mellow-sweet rice wine.

Hwang Jin Yi
17-1, First Floor, Jalan 26A/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
Same row as KFC, but farther away from the main road. Open 5pm-3am

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