Well, well - my search for good Hainanese chicken rice in Kuala Lumpur finally came to a delicious conclusion today. And the place? Loke Yun Restaurant in Ampang, owned by the so-called "King of Chicken Rice", Phang Kee Kim (http://mymakanplace.blogspot.com/2007...). The restaurant was opened by his father in 1971, and who, in turn, learned his trade from Kim Hing coffeeshop in Jalan Bandar (in KL's atmospheric old downtown).
I was searching for Hainanese chicken rice in KL which can compare to those from Singapore. Each & every version I'd tried in KL thus far had been disappointing: usually, it's because the rice in KL was simply not oily, moist or fragrant enough. Much, of course, has to do with KL's mainly Cantonese Chinese population. The Cantonese also has a similar poached chicken dish - "pak cham kai", which is usually served with steamed white rice. The Hainanese, on the other hand, served their poached chicken with oiled, stronger-flavored "chicken rice" which, over in KL, had to be "toned down" to suit local (Cantonese) tastes.
But then, the Food Channel screened an episode on Hainanese chicken rice a couple weeks back - hosted by Jason Yeoh aka 'Axian', Malaysian TV's bubbly über-food critic - where Loke Yun was featured. The program delved into the origins of Hainanese chicken rice (from Wenchang chicken rice in Hainan Island, China), the immigration of the Hainanese en masse to British Malaya (Penang, Singapore, the Malay states) in the 1920s, and how they introduce their cuisine to the local populace. Many customers interviewed in the program claimed Loke Yun served "the best Hainanese chicken rice in Malaysia" - which piqued my interest tremendously. But I was in Singapore the past week, and was finally able to make the visit to Loke Yun today.
Lunch today consisted of:
- the chicken rice. Oh boy - it was simply perfect: the right texture, the right flavors (chicken-ginger-scallions). One of the best I'd had outside Singapore!
- the poached chicken: using "kampung" chicken, meaning "village" chicken which has a stronger flavor, and more bite to it compared to the farm-chicken we have in Singapore, was totally delicious. Very well-seasoned. What I really liked about the dish was that the chicken-meat was served topped with delicately-seasoned poached chicken intestines & golden crisp-fried shallots, which provided a delightful crunch to the dish overall.
- a bowl of stewed chicken feet. A bit disappointed with this dish: it didn't have the collagen stickiness obtained from slow-cooking chicken feet, but which were drop-of-the-bone tender otherwise. It only tasted of soy sauce - perhaps I was hoping for the slightest hint of cassia bark, or star-anise. Slight let-down here.
- Crunchy, super-fresh beansprouts. Oh-so-simple, yet so satisfying - quick-poached then seasoned with chicken oil, light soy-sauce and the lightest touch of sesame oil.
The chilli sauce dip was spicier than any one can find in Singapore, whilst the ginger dip has a very strong flavor - deeper and mellower than the type of ginger used in Singapore. I preferred the Singapore versions, but that's very probably just me - being conditioned to the tastes I grew up with.
Super-duper satisfying meal! I am *so* returning there whenever I'm hankering for good Hainanese chicken rice :-D
Restoran Loke Yun Ampang (安邦乐园鸡饭店).
158 Jalan Besar Ampang
Tel: +603-4291 9884
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