Gourmands need not travel far to get good fresh water produce... Kulim, one of the closest towns to Penang in Kedah has quite a handful of good options. A short 15-minute drive away from Kulim High-Tech Park or 30-minute drive away from Penang bridge will land you at Big Tree Garden Restaurant (香树下河鲜), a seemingly curious restaurant tucked within a residential area of Kulim, Kedah. It takes some effort to reach here (once near Jalan Perdagangan, follow the lead of the road signages) but the reward is worth it. The place occupies a big piece of land and has multiple fish ponds farming fresh water produce. At the side of those ponds, it has a restaurant dedicated entirely to serve all these goodies. There are 6 types of fresh river fishes available here- Patin, Cat fish, Tilapia, Tamarind fish etc. Apart from the fresh water fishes, some of their signature dishes such as Stir Fried Porridge are not to be missed either...
Steamed Patin (Rm 40/ kg)
Deep Fried Lampang Fish (Rm 50/ kg)
We had Patin and Lampang- the former fish was steamed and served with Chinese soy sauce while the latter choice was deep fried and dished over simple soy sauce dip. Both were great in their own ways but they shared one common thing... fresh. There was a nary of fishiness and the unctuous belly of the Patin fish was jaw-droppingly good. The pristine-white flesh was smooth and muscular, it possessed that satisfying "meaty bite"; when complemented with the soy sauce, it was best to spoon over Rice.
We were new when it comes to Lampang, the river fish has countless, small bones which makes the eating process tedious. The server recommended to deep fry the fish and we figured out why. The idea was to introduce a crispy dimension to the edges of the fish and perhaps, certain parts of the fish could be entirely eaten. Some fish scales were magically added for the extra crisp.... not too shabby for a change.
Stir Fried Porridge (Rm 5/ pax)
Stir Fried Vermicelli Noodles (Rm 4/ pax)
Kerabu Chicken Feet (Rm 12/ small)
Tummy fillers were Stir Fried Porridge and Stir Fried Vermicelli Noodles in lieu of White Rice. Big Tree Garden's Stir Fried Porridge was nicely done, a delightful smokey-charred aroma was introduced to the porridge with condiments like salted pork meat, shrimps and dried shitake mushrooms. It was delicately salted and with so many ingredients coming in, the flavors were multi-dimensional. Equaly delicious was the Stir Fried Vermicelli Noodles with an unbeatable price tag of Rm 4 per serving (small); though not out of the world delicious, it was decent with the quintessential "wok-hei" and basic ingredients (such as shrimps, egg, greens, sprouts etc) to spice up the noodle dish.
Stir Fried Belacan Kangkung (Rm 10/ small)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Price: 7.5/10 (1-3 expensive, 4-7 average, 8-10 cheap)
Parking: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Ambiance: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 200 A, Jalan Rambai 1/4, Taman Rambai, 09000, Kulim, Kedah.
Business Hours: 11 am to 9 pm. Closed on Wednesday and Thursday on every 3rd week of the month.
Contact Number: 6016- 551 1410/ 6016- 405 3300