Yook Woo Hin is a real KL Chinatown dining institution, having operated from the same spot in Petaling Street (KL's Chinatown) since 1928, churning out dim sum items from as early as 5.30am in the mornings, then serving noodles and Cantonese-style cooked dishes at lunch-time. It's now run by the grandson of the original founder who was an emigrant from Guangdong, China.
Last week, the local news reported that KL's new MRT underground/subway project will involve acquiring the land where Yook Woo Hin is sited, so I thought I should catch lunch at this 83-year-old restaurant (one of the last of its kind in Chinatown) before it disappears into the annals of KL's culinary history.
What we ordered today:
- Yook Woo Hin's famous "lor mai kai", a dim sum item of steamed glutinous rice with chicken, Chinese sausage, pork, mushroom, flavored with soysauce, sesame, ginger, oyster sauce & Shaoxing wine. YWH's version here tasted a bit dry, and we suspected that it's a leftover since breakfast-time;
- Char-siu (barbecued pork) - very fatty cuts of pork-belly, lovely caramelization, with just the right level of sweetness;
- Wanton noodles with raw fish & ginger. This was, as I understood from my KL Cantonese friend, a traditional peasant noodle dish from Guangdong & pretty hard to find in KL. It's served with a bowl of hot consomme soup into which you dunk the thinly-sliced fish fillets, cooking them immediately. The egg noodles had the perfect texture and, dressed in a dark soysauce-sesame dressing, were super-delicious!
- Stewed chicken on rice - this was an interesting dish - the rice was covered in a thick, sticky brown gravy studded with chicken cubes and mixed vegetables. Taste-wise, it didn't really bowl me over, but it's local name did - it was called something like "Pimp's Rice" in the local Cantonese-slang (don't ask!)
- Boxing chicken, which were chicken drumlets covered in a crispy batter flavored with Chinese 5-spice, then deep-fried till golden-brown, served with a very liquid bright-red chilli sauce - a bit like SriRacha sauce one gets in the US;
- a house speciality called YWH pork-ribs, which were sticky pork-ribs flavored with, surprise, surprise, Marmite! You need a bowl of steamed white rice to offset the strong flavors of the pork-ribs. Delicious.
Some of the "old dishes" (e.g. stewed chicken with ginger, braised fish-head) weren't there anymore, and the waiter told my friends (both 60-something-year-old KL foodies) that it's because the old chefs have retired, and the kitchen was now run by new cooks.
I'd still recommend that one visits this old spot, so full of character, before it's gone for good.
Yook Woo Hin Restaurant
100 Jalan Petaling
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 5.30am - 2.30pm daily, except Thursdays