Ben Tdi Wei … now, if you are a bit hesitant about how to say or pronounce the name, that’s because it is the romanized version of a phrase in Mandarin, meaning “local delights” or “local flavours/tastes”. Barely 2 weeks old, this latest addition to the dining scene in Centrepoint is a welcome option among the varied eateries around the area. Occupying 2 shop lots facing the main road, the restaurant is spacious and stylishly modern with a touch of Oriental slant. The Oriental touches come in the form of wooden panellings and screens with antique carvings. I like it that there’s no overkill of Chinese influences… the owners have cleverly off-set the panellings and wooden screens with plain simple tables and chairs. Oh, I also like the uniforms worn by the service crew, their black & red themed casual Oriental style completes the whole outfit.
The menu features a pretty extensive selection, ranging from roasted meats, noodles, porridges, rice, soups and special dishes.
The meats display showcases roast ducks, braised ducks, honey-glazed chicken drumsticks, cha siew and roast pork (siu yook). From this selection, the Golden Braised Duck holds a special spot in the hearts of Vincent Lam and his lovely wife, Pat – the driving forces behind Ben Tdi Wei. Even before we sat down to the meal, Vincent led me to the display and pointed out the gloriously glistening braised duck hanging there. Vincent related how he was so enamoured with this particular braised duck he had in a small restaurant in Guangzhou on one of his many gourmet trips, that he finally managed to persuade the chef there to come over here to share the secret recipe in a “knowledge exchange” session. The secret lies in the very special soya sauce used. Unlike the usual Teochew-styled braised ducks, spices like cloves and star anise are not used in this recipe. As Vincent puts it: “it’s ALL in the soya sauce!” One bite into a piece of the tender tasty duck explains Vincent’s passion for this dish. It tastes very different from the usual braised ducks you find in most restaurants here. There is this slightly sweetish aromatic flavour that comes from the caramelization of the superior soya sauce which balances out the gamey duck meat in a most delicious way.
It’s really “love at first bite”. If you are a duck lover, this dish is an absolute must-order item. We even asked for additional gravy – it was just sooo good. According to Vincent, he can polish off a bowl of rice with just the gravy! However, do note that pre-ordering is required for this dish, so please call ahead to book it.
Golden Braised Duck
The Roast Duck, while commendable in its own right, in my opinion, still takes a place behind the Golden Braised Duck. You get a whiff of Chinese herbs and spices used in the marinade as you bite into the tender meat. There’s a layer of fat beneath the skin, which adds to the flavours of the roast duck. I must say the marinade is well-flavoured and there is no need to for any dips. I didn’t even touch the chilli sauce!
We absolutely love the superb Siu Yook. You can see the perfect apportionment of fatty and lean layers in the belly cut used. The crunchy crackling has a light crispiness to it that’s so addictively delicious. This is seriously one of the best Siu Yook I’ve eaten this year.
The Cha Siu comes a close 2nd as far as pork is concerned … again this is testament of using the perfect cut of pork and precise roasting, plus having the perfect marinade. I like it that the sauce is not too stickily sweet and the edges of the meat have this lovely charred layer and when you bite into these succulent pieces, there’s this burst of smokey flavour mixed with the fragrant tender meat – such an awesome combination.
Chatting with the charming Vincent, one can definitely see and feel the passion he has for food. “So, do you cook as well?” I asked him. “Yes I do, I cook in my head” was his disarming reply. To that, he meant that he constantly has ideas in his head on how a particular dish should be cooked, from his many gourmet trips locally and abroad. He then relates these ideas and his “mind cooking” to his chefs and inspire them to replicate his culinary ideas. I tell you, this man really knows his food!
The Wantan and Sui Kow were chockfull with freshly minced pork and bouncy shrimps.
Every day Ben Tdi Wei serves 2 Special Dishes from their “Daily Specials” selection. These are mainly home-cooked style dishes that call for heaps of rice. Their “Cha Cheong Tofu” has smooth own-made beancurd with minced pork and pickled radish cooked in a slightly spicy beanpaste sauce which was simply delicious. Other crowd pleasers like “Pork Ribs with Cha Choy” and “Mui Choy with Pork Belly” – both featuring pickled vegetables and with Hakka influences. The Mui Choy Pork Belly was an instant hit with us – the chef has skillfully braised the pork and pickled vegetables to perfection… tender and yielding yet retaining some bite in the thick slices of pork belly.
Prices of the Daily Specials are really very reasonable, starting from RM15 for the own-made Tofu items.
The Seafood Porridge I tried came with chunks of fresh fish, squids and prawns. Biting into those succulent pieces, you know that Ben Tdi Wei doesn’t stinge in the quality and portions. Consting only RM9.80 for that big bowl of smooth white porridge filled with fresh seafood, it is indeed good value for money!
If you are a fan of pot rice, do try the Black Bean Pork Ribs Rice which came with a fluffy pillow of a perfectly fried egg sitting on top. The yolk was still runny – mix this into the piping hot savoury rice, flavoured with chunks of tender pork ribs coated with black bean sauce and you have a burp-worthy one-pot meal. DL, who is a staunch pot rice fan, was completely satisfied with this!
If you happen to bump into Pat Lam, the vivacious friendly lady to whom Ben Tdi Wei is like her “baby”, she will definitely recommend that you try her favourite Cantonese-style Beehoon. When I tried this, I could understand why she loves this beehoon dish so much. The chef’s skills in this simple noodle dish cannot be underestimated – the crispy golden-hued beehoon nest was fried to the right crunchiness and the pork slices and seafood were cooked in an eggy gooey gravy before being poured over the rice vermicelli. I love how the pork slices were cooked just right, still retaining a good degree of tasty tenderness and not chewy at all.
If beehoon is not your favourite, there is an Egg Noodle version which is just as good. But somehow, LL said he prefers the beehoon, echoing Pat Lam’s adulation.
Egg Noodles with Seafood
There are several Fried Rice items on Ben Tdi Wei’s menu but if you want to have their Best Ever Fried Rice, you have to pre-order it. It’s not on the regular menu. If you think a “Best Ever” fried rice must be filled with lots of ingredients, perhaps expensive ones too, then you are wrong. The best fried rice is one which has the simplest ingredients, for it is not the ingredients that should shine, it should be the outcome of the rice that’s fried. The test of a good Chinese restaurant is in their fried rice – a dish so simple, a dish which almost everyone can cook at home.
You would be surprised that the ingredients used in Ben Tdi Wei’s Best Ever Fried Rice are only eggs and chopped ginger and drizzled with sesame oil. The chef spends at least 30 minutes to fry this rice over a steady fire and the result is a plate of fried rice that has every single grain of rice thoroughly well-tossed, fragrant and well coated with eggs, the ginger and sesame oil lending their aromas and lifting this simple dish to a new level.
Best Ever Fried Rice
One of the special vegetable dishes I had was the “Stir-fry Rainbow Xue Lin“. “Xue Lin” is a tuber-like root which looks like a sweet potato. The texture is not unlike the regular sweet turnip (“sengkuang”) we have here… it’s sweeter and the finer. You can cut it into strips and stir-fry it, boil it in a soup or even eat it raw in a salad. I love the sweet crunchiness of it.
There’s a good selection of Double-boiled Soups in the menu, for RM8 per portion, which I personally think is a steal. I tried their Double-boiled Papaya with Pork Ribs soup which was really very good. In addition to pork, the chef also uses garoupa fish to flavour the soup, resulting in a clear umami sweetness that’s lip-smackingly good. There are also Chinese almonds added, enhancing the nutritious factor of this soup.
For desserts, at the moment there’re 2 types of Tofu Jelly, served with longans and gula melaka syrup…
I love these cubes of smooth tofu jelly, sweetened by the decadent palm sugar syrup.
The other version of the Tofu Jelly is served with red beans, sago, creamy coconut milk and a scoop of icecream … very delicious too, but just a tad too sweet which has been highlighted to the chef and I’m sure the sugar amount will be reduced.
The chef helming Ben Tdi Wei is Chef Lew who also goes by the cute nickname of “Chef Sailor Moon“. He’s a great fan of Japanese manga, hence that nickname. Shy, humble and unassuming, this young chef is very passionate about his culinary creations and are constantly experimenting to come up with new dishes. Don’t let his youthful demeanour mislead you – he has 12 years of culinary experience under his belt.
Ben Tdi Wei is open from 10.00am till 11.00pm with no closure in between. You can drop in at any odd hour – enjoy All Day dining here. Please note that their scrumptious Siu Yook (roast pork) is only ready and available from 12.00noon onwards. I find the prices here are really very reasonable, considering the quality and passion put into every dish.
Ben Tdi Wei Local Delights
Lots G1 & G2, Ground Floor
3 Lebuh Bandar Utama
47800 Petaling Jaya
Open from 10.00am to 11.00pm with no break/closure in between! It’s ALL DAY dining here.