Like the name implies, it all started with a group of foodies who just wanted to get together to cook good food and eat good food. After a while, people got to know about this and that’s how the cosy Private Kitchen became a restaurant, tucked in a middle lot in that crazily busy place called Damansara Uptown.

With the kitchen helmed by Chef Lam Fai, who hails from Hong Kong and the front-of-house run by the energetic Jacqui Yap, Private Kitchen has been pretty busy dishing out delicious meals to diners who comprise mainly office workers and residents from the neighbourhood.

Cucumber with Chicken & Ma La Sauce

On the Monday evening that we were there, diners kept streaming into the restaurant non-stop and soon the tables on the ground floor were all taken up and people who came in after that had to troop up to the 1st floor. While waiting for the rest of my fellow diners to turn up, the few of us who were there early, decided to order some appetizers to appease the growling in our tummies.

Long Springrolls

So Chef Lam whipped up plates of Cucumber with Chicken and Ma La Sauce, Long Spring Rolls, Smoked Duck with Mango and Fried Spicy Chicken Wings (typhoon shelter-style) for us. I love the cold crunchy cucumbers topped with spicy shredded chicken and doused with the “ma la” sauce which leaves your tongue and lips tingling in its spiciness. The long spring rolls look really elegant and with prawn paste encased inside, they were certainly yummy to bite into! I felt the chicken wings were a bit over-fried as they were on the dry side, but they were well marinated. The slices of flavorsome smoked duck, when eaten with the tangy mangoes, were so good that I almost had to keep the entire plate right in front of me!

Smoked Duck with Mangoes

Spicy Fried Chicken Wings

In case you think that Private Kitchen caters mainly to dishes ordered a la carte and eaten with white rice, well, they do serve quick one-dish meals as well. Great for diners in a hurry or those dining alone, you can get rice or noodles served in a variety of ways.

Soup Noodles with Hong Kong-style Steamed Chicken with Sand Ginger Dip

I like their silky slippery flat Beijing noodles which they use in their noodles dishes like the Soup Noodles with Hong Kong-style Steamed Chicken (RM9.50) served with a sand ginger dip and the Typhoon Shelter Noodles with Pork Chop in Chilli Garlic Soup (RM15). The steamed chicken can also be ordered separately to go with rice and the sand ginger dip is excellent – it reminds me of the pounded ginger dip my mother used to make whenever we have steamed or poached chicken served, usually during festivals and Chinese New Year.

The glorious steamed Chicken, Hong Kong-style

The pork chop served with the Typhoon Shelter Noodles has a nice crispy outer layer while the meat inside was tender and juicy – I can just eat this on its own! I couldn’t quite connect with the chilli garlic soup though – I felt it fell a bit short in terms of my preferred spicy soups (like laksa or tomyum) as it’s rather mild, a la Hong Kong-style.

Typhoon Shelter Noodles with Pork Chop in Chilli Garlic Soup

Another very Hongkee noodles dish is the Noodles with Minced Meat & Egg in Tomato Soup (RM7.50). Here, instant noodles are used and I believe it’s comfort food for most people in Hong Kong. This would be something I’d throw together if I’m too lazy to cook… minced meat and egg in instant noodles!

Noodles with Minced Meat and Egg in Tomato Soup

Stir-fried Pork Ribs with Rice (RM12.90) is quite similar to the popular sweet-sour pork (“ku loe yook”) – this is another quick one-dish meal that will please rice lovers. Fried rice is always a hit and Chef Lam Fai’s Fried Rice with Seafood in XO Sauce (RM18) is top on the list. The rice is well tossed with all the tasty chunks of seafood, the XO sauce gives it a slight spicy flourish and the fried dried scallops gave it that added punch. Definitely my kind of fried rice.

Stir-fried Pork Ribs with Rice

Fried Rice with Seafood in XO Sauce

For something different, the Portuguese-style Fried Rice with Braised Pork Belly & Seafood (RM16) would probably catch your attention. The rice is darker-hued, due to the braised pork and taste-wise, it’s a bit more subdued, possibly because the addition of seafood kinda diverted and diluted the porky flavours.

Fried Rice with Braised Pork Belly and Seafood

Prior to serving us the main dishes, we had this lovely sweet and nourishing Pumpkin Soup which has been boiled for hours with pork bones and white fungus. Like all true Cantonese who love their soups, I slurped away on this nourishing soup.

Pumpkin Soup

One of the iconic dish at Private Kitchen is their Strawberry Beef (RM28). When I bit into a piece of the glistening beef slices, I could appreciate why people have been raving about this. Stir-fried with black pepper and strawberry sauce, the beef was very tender and well-flavoured. The secret lies in the handling and marination of the beef, according to Chef Lam. Slices of strawberry further enhanced the tangy fruity taste of the dish … this is definitely a must-order dish, I personally feel.

Strawberry Beef

My fellow diners really loved the Deep-fried Pork Ribs with Special Salad Sauce (RM32) and I can’t really blame them. Like the Strawberry Beef, the pork ribs, though deep-fried before being mixed with the salad sauce, were exquisitely tender and juicy. One of my dining companions was in awe and commented “how did the chef come up with such superb ribs?” That skill and knowledge is only privy to Chef Lam. Needless to say, the plates of these delectable ribs were wiped completely clean.

Pork Ribs with Special Salad Sauce

The Typhoon Shelter style of cooking is popular in Hong Kong. This style of cooking uses lots of garlic, scallion, red chillies and black beans. Usually seafood, crabs preferred, is used as the boat people in the Hong Kong typhoon shelters earn their living mainly through fishing. In Private Kitchen, Chef Lam prefers to use tiger prawns, for a change and also due to its regular supply.

Typhoon Shelter Prawns

More dishes came our way… the Squids with Vermicelli (tunghoon) in Special Chilli Sauce (RM28) was next. This didn’t quite hit the mark with us. The sauce was rather too spicy, I find… thanks to the generous lashings of dried chillies added. Squids being squids, tend to be pretty chewy and I suspect these were cooked for some time in the spicy broth.

Squids with Vermicelli

The Portuguese-style Baked Chicken Chop (RM18) was a rather interesting dish. There were mashed potato balls cushioning the chicken chop, swathed in a thick gooey sauce and generous toppings of shaved parmesan. Eat this with rice or on its own as it can also be considered a one-dish meal.

Portuguese-style Baked Chicken

It’s no secret that Hong Kong chefs are deft with the “salt and pepper” style of cooking and Chef Lam is no exception. Usually seafood, like fish, squids or prawns are preferred for this method but tofu seems to have gained much popularity as well. Thick squares of beancurd are first deep fried and then delicately flavoured with salt and pepper… a simple enough mixture of ingredients yet the resulting dish belied such simplicity. The thin crunchy outer layer of the tofu cubes gave way to silky smooth and soft creamy centres – indeed, skills are needed to achieve this fragile balance.

Deep-fried Crispy Tofu, salt and pepper style

Our plate of greens – Sauted Chinese Chives with Dried Shrimps & Pork Belly in XO Sauce (RM18), was not purely green as Chef Lam has added handfuls of crunchy beansprouts into it. The flavours are rather heavy, due to the dried shrimps, pork belly and of course, the XO sauce. If you, like me, prefer your vegetables to be more on the “clear and simple” version, then perhaps you’ll find this dish a bit overwhelming. The good thing is, you can then have this as another single-dish meal with just white rice to go with it … you would have meat and vegetables all complete in one dish.

Saute’ed Chinese Chives with Dried Shrimps and Pork Belly in XO Sauce

Chef Lam Fai

So, on days when you feel peckish for some Hong Kong-influenced cuisine and some with a local twist (read: spicy) in the vicinity of Damansara Uptown, head on over to Private Kitchen.

Private Kitchen
103 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603-7728-8399
Fax: +603-7727-8398
Business hours: 11.00am-3.00pm/6.00pm-10.00pm
*Closed on Tuesdays
Facebook page here

Private Kitchen