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Heritage Chicken Rice in Klang Valley
A staple rice dish in Malaysia, we track down a few decades-old chicken rice shops in the Klang Valley.
Chicken rice in Malaysia originated from the early Chinese immigrants of the Hainan province in southern China, inspiring the many variations of the dish now found locally. You can easily find a plate of chicken rice at almost any food corner, but while the dish is as simple as it sounds – literally chicken and rice – it takes a high level of culinary finesse to achieve perfection.
Roasted chicken at Restoran Wong Mei Kee.
There are a few components to creating the perfect chicken rice. The traditional Hainanese method requires the entire chicken to be steeped in a boiling meat bone stock, adhering to the Chinese culinary principle of ‘master stock’. The master stock is essentially a stock repeatedly used to braise or poach meats. The flavours contained within the stock are boundless, a result of the laborious hours of slow cooking. From that point on, the chicken is then either roasted or steamed.
Meanwhile, the rice is cooked using a separate chicken stock to create its rich and fragrant flavour. It’s then topped with cucumber slices and coriander to add a layer of freshness. Finally, the side of chilli sauce – a blend of chilli, ginger, shallots and garlic mixed with lime juice – gives chicken rice its fiery kick.
The next time you’re craving a plate of chicken rice in the Klang Valley, head to these stalls:
Restoran Wong Mei Kee
Datuk Robert Wong, owner and ‘master roaster’ of Wong Mei Kee, has been cooking practically his whole life. Originating from Melaka, he started off as a dishwasher before moving up the ranks as a cook making chicken rice balls, a local Melaka specialty.
It was tedious work preparing chicken rice balls, so when Wong set up his own shop, he decided to focus on the basic chicken rice with a variety of roasted meats such as char siew and siu yuk.
While the restaurant serves food strictly from 12.30pm to 3pm daily, the crowd starts building up well before. Despite the area’s traffic congestion and lack of parking, patrons can be seen waiting patiently from 11.30am, eager for a plate of Wong’s roasted chicken and siu yuk.
Wong is often seen smiling and chatting with customers as he slices away. Soft-spoken and friendly, he tells us, “I have been running this restaurant for 40 years now. We only close twice a month. I start roasting the meats earlier in the morning, timing it to be ready just in time for 12.30pm service. It takes about two hours of patience to prepare the chicken in the final stretch, while slightly longer for the pork. My recipes were inspired by Hainanese and Cantonese cooking, but of course over time I developed my own recipes and processes.”
Address: Restoran Wong Mei Kee 30, Jalan Nyonya, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur. Non-Halal. Open daily, 12.30pm to 3pm.
The current owners’ father, who passed down the business to his children, opened Restoran Satelite in 1963. The interior of the restaurant reflects a charming past, the kind that only time and experience can forge. Satelite’s main offering is its chicken rice; while it offers both roasted and steamed chicken, it’s the latter that people come back for. In Malaysia, steamed chicken rice with bean sprouts is often associated with Ipoh, its origins rooted in the Hainanese recipe. The steamed chicken rice, while simple, has been a neighbourhood favourite at Satelite for over 50 years.
Perhaps what its regulars value as much as the chicken rice is Satelite’s warm and friendly service; it’s common for the workers to be seen in polite conversation with returning customers. We often underestimate the importance of good service to complement good food.
Chicken rice might be the main course at Restoran Satelite, but don’t forget to sample some of the other specialities like pork balls, wantan mee, Ipoh hor fun, and the secret, off-menu pork’s ear kicap.
Address: Restoran Satelite, 103 Jalan Gasing, Seksyen 10, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Non-Halal. Open daily, 9am-10pm.
Chicken rice at Hong Seng Kopitiam
At Hong Seng’s chicken rice stall, it doesn’t matter if you’re dining in or taking away – you would still need to wait in line for your chicken rice fix. Given its popularity, a long line is expected, but everything moves along swiftly as the workers dish out plate after plate of roasted meat on rice with fuss-free efficiency.
A long-time neighbourhood favourite in Petaling Jaya’s Seksyen 17, the chicken here is roasted to perfection, exuding a strong hint of smokiness, while the char siew is said to be one of the best in town. Topping off this stall’s stellar chicken rice is its warm, flavourful soup.
If you’d like to enjoy a plate of chicken rice here, do it soon, as there are plans for the decades-old stall to relocate to a larger outlet in three to four months’ time.
“We have been here for a long, long time now and we love all our regulars. However, we are looking to move into a bigger space to accommodate our business,” says the owner.
Address: Restoran Hong Seng 1072, Jalan 17/29, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Open morning until 2pm. Closed on Mondays. Non-Halal.
By Chris Lim
Photos by Chris Lim and Eunice Tan
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