Kepong in Kuala Lumpur is one of its oldest residential areas, with a population exceeding 360,000 (when taken together with nearby Jinjang), 90% of whom are Chinese. Kepong is also a treasure-trove of traditional Chinese eating places, including a popular stretch of "bak kut teh" (pork-rib soup) eateries along Jalan Kepong, its busy main thoroughfare. I was brought here by some old KL hands who wanted to introduce me to KL-style "bak kut teh" - the soupy sort, as compared to the stewed versions one finds in Klang, the Hokkien-dominated town 30km from KL which is also regarded as the "Bak Kut Teh" Capital of Malaysia.
Hing Kee is a hot, crowded, Chinese working-class eatery, with greasy floors and busy waiters shuffling to and fro carrying bubbling cauldrons of "bak kut teh". The service was brusque and brisk. Orders were taken, bowls and chopsticks cluttered onto the table and, before we know it, our order of a steaming hot claypot of pork-ribs, pork liver, kidney and pig's stomach in a light herbal soup arrived. My friends also ordered a claypot of pork-belly slices stewed in dark soysauce and garlic, and some surprisingly tasty steamed rice lightly scented with pork lard and shallot-flavoured oil.
The restaurant began to fill up as the peak dinner period approached - I was glad my friends had suggested that we come here a bit earlier. "Bak kut teh" is a Hokkien dish but, here in KL, its appeal cuts across all Chinese dialect groups - Cantonese was most often spoken here, though Kepong is traditionally a Hakka enclave since its early founding in the 1870s.
Hing Kee Bak Kut Teh (興记肉骨茶)
121 Jalan Kepong
52100 Kuala Lumpur