I know, I know… You want to know what yummy food I am eating in KL for this trip. I’m telling you, my trips home are always hardly exciting in terms of culinary experiences. I always
plan dream to dine in a million new restaurants that I have never been to, but I always end up staying at home with mom and TV as company, for most parts. And spending quality time with mom means fruits and vegetables blend for breakfast, and fish/vegetables/soup/multi-grain rice for lunch and dinner. They look pretty much similar to what I’ve posted here. Or here.
Okay… Okay! We did squeeze enough time to go some place for dinner yesterday, as some sort of a combined Mother’s Day/Father’s Day celebration. But this isn’t a fancy fancy air conditioned restaurant or some atas (high end) place in the malls. This is… apa nama (what’s it called)… another place where the locals eat, so to speak.
This place has no English name, only a Cantonese name, called 好友强 Hou Yao Keong. I think the owner goes by the name of Keong, and the place’s name translates to Good Friend Keong. It is a shabby looking 大炒 dai chao place in a food court in Taman Cahaya. But they don’t share dining tables with the food court, it is a properly segregated area at one corner of the food court.
A dai chao place is basically a place that serves dishes to go with rice, much like in a Chinese restaurant, but it is hawker/street food style.
You can try to find this place with Google Maps of Waze or even Garmin GPS, but you will fail. Well, for the KL locals who are familiar with the Ampang area, this place is within walking distance from the Cahaya LRT station. It is also very close to the area where the famous Ampang Yong Tao Foo trio are located. I’ll show you a crude map with GPS coordinates at the end of this post.
You know I have not been living in KL for almost 7 years now. I am definitely NOT responsible for finding this hidden place. The kudos goes to the big brother…
This place only opens for dinner service, from 6.00 PM till… I don’t know, 10.00 PM I guess… According to the brother, if you come here after 7.00 PM, be prepared to wait for a bit for a table, and to wait for an hour after placing your orders for your food to arrive. You would imagine people to be pissed off, but apparently this 1-hour-waiting syndrome has always been the case for quite a long time already and the crowds always come back for more. I guess this is a better testament than any of sweeping statements that I can make…
My family, we don’t do crowds, and we don’t do late dinners anyway, so we arrived at 6.00 PM sharp to avoid all those shit.
Anyway, let’s get to the main event. Let’s show you the food we had…
The first three are highly recommended by the brother’s friend who frequents this place, like, a lot…
瓦煲蕹菜 Nga Bou Ong Choy (Claypot water spinach) – We came at a wrong day apparently. According to the auntie who took our orders, they sometimes do thick water spinach but not today. The thick ones are the more popular ones because they have better crunchy texture. The ones we got were thin water spinach. It was still very nice anyway, the sauce was spicy and very appetizing!
蒸咸鸡 Jing Ham Gai (Steamed Salted Chicken) – We ordered a small portion, so we got half a chicken. I love this. I think they steamed this chicken for a prolonged period of time, and then roasted it in the end to get a crispy skin. And you know most roasted chicken that we get nowadays are somewhat bland? This one is salty. Not very salty, just the right amount of salty. Goes very well with rice. I love it!
生根 Sang Gan – I really don’t know how to call this in English. When I heard the dish name, I didn’t know what it was. This one is basically a cousin of Yong Tau Foo. You know Yong Tau Foo is basically tofu (and also chilli/pepper/bittergourd/etc) with the inside dug out and replaced with meat fillings. This one, the tofu is replaced with those 面根 Min Gan type of material, you know, those processed flour sheets that people use to make vegetarian meat [wheat gluten (thanks Mun for providing the correct words)]. The wheat gluten sheets stuffed with meat fillings are deep fried and served over oyster sauce. It was delicious! I did not expect this, but it was more crispy than deep fried taufu pok (tofu skin) type YTF. Amazing!
The above three were the MUST ORDER, the ones highly recommended by the brother’s friend. I think they did not disappoint at all. But there were five of us, and three dishes were most certainly not enough. So we ordered three more dishes based on our own preferences.
三黄蛋 Sam Wong Dan (Three Yolks Egg) – As the name implies, this is an egg dish with three different types of egg yolks. It is basically steamed 鸡蛋 chicken egg infused with shredded 咸蛋黄 salted egg yolk, and topped with 皮蛋黄 century egg yolks, served over a drizzle of soy sauce. This one was passable, although the family thinks we can get better at a certain place in Imbi (KL downtown) which I have never been to before.
菜脯豆腐 Choi Pou Tau Foo (Salted Radish Tofu) – My dad’s order. It was not bad. There is a generous amount of salted radish used here, not just as topping but also in the gravy. Another dish that would go well with rice.
咕噜肉 Gu Lou Yuk (Sweet and Sour Pork) – Me and the sister’s order. We ordered this dish for its nostalgic properties. You know, kids love this. In fact, I think all Malaysian Chinese kids love this! And we used to be Malaysian kids ourselves, so we definitely love this! They do it properly here, the gravy was awesome, and the pork was deep fried till excellently crispy. This is one dish that I don’t think we can ever replicate properly at home. We never get that crispy pork, with the incredible amount of crunch, no matter how we deep fry the pork. Restaurant/dai chao place’s gu lou yuk is always much better!
These dishes, plus 6 bowls of rice and 6 pax of Chinese tea came up to RM 87 (US$25). I think the price was alright. Probably not the cheapest, but also not expensive by KL standards.
This place is also famous for steamed fish, but we did not order it. Apparently their fish are all very big and 4-5 kg heavy, it would be beyond our eating capacity. But I did see one being served to a neighboring table, it was certainly quite impressive looking.
We were done with dinner and was ready to leave by 6.40 PM. A quick glance around and the tables were almost fully occupied, and maybe I was imagining things, but I noticed a few faces beginning to show slight impatience, or frustration. Apparently what the brother said about the waiting time was true…
As promised, I’ll end this post with another crude location map, complete with GPS coordinates.