This place brings back memories going back to my childhood days in the 70s. However, it was only in the 80s that Petaling Street started becoming this vibrant tourist trap that it is today. Back in the old days, it was just full of old shops with few stalls selling food and drinks and most people would not have heard of the the fake designer brands that they sell here today.
It has been seven years since I have been to this place, and during that time, they have built a roof over the street, good for avoiding the extreme heat of the midday sun, but also the monsoon rain, both of which I experienced in abundance during my two week stay here.
Getting off the LRT at Pasar Seni station, it was only a short 5 minute walk to Petaling Street. On our way there, I noticed that not much have changed, over the last few decades. The shop owners may be different, but the buildings and roads are still the same. Klang bus station is still the same, apart from that the imposing Toshiba neon sign has gone.
Along the way, we passed a Hindu, and then a Chinese temple. These two buildings have always been there, but I never really appreicated them until I moved away from Malaysia. The Hindu temple, especially was such an elaborately crafted structure, it would not look out of place in the holiest of shrines in India.
Two minutes later, we were at the Chinese temple ... you could have easily mistaken this photo as having been taken in China or Hong Kong, if not for the Malaysia flag next to it. No other place does the term "Truly Asia" holds more true!
Shortly, around the corner, we reached Petaling Street. In terms of traders, it has not changed much in the last 20 years. It is basically a trading ground for modern day pirates, ie, people who infringe copyrights rather that those with a eyepatches and hooked hands! Apart from food and souvenirs, it was actually DIFFICULT to find any stall that did not sell fake goods there. You would find fake clothes, watches, handbags, shoes, DVDs, CDs, games, sunglasses, toys and more there. In fact, if it is possible to fake it, they will sell it! Look at some of the merchandise we .. er..ahem.. "encountered". Some were very good fakes too!
One thing that struck me was that the traders along the street has changed a lot since my last visit. Although it is called Chinatown, Chinese traders were noticeably the minority today. At one stall, I encountered a trader who neither spoke Malay nor Chinese. Eventually, I haggled over the item in my best possible English with a Malaysian accent!
After an hour of browsing and haggling, my 8 year old somehow managed to spot a toy shop hidden behind the sea of stalls, and wanted to have a look inside. Once inside, it struck me that I have actually been here before .... over 30 years ago! My grandfather used to occassionally take me to a restaurant on Petaling street, before all these stalls existed, and after every meal, he would take me to the toy shop next door to buy me a small toy. This was the same shop, still standing after all these years! When we came out, I looked next door and the restaurant was still there! It was none other than the long established Yook Woo Hin. It must be about 80 years old now, and looking little different from what I remember of it, apart from the marble tables which have been replaced by stainless steel ones. However, they had no board outside bearing their name at all.
As we were hungry and thirsty by now, we decided to settle down for lunch at this famous landmark for a nostalgic meal at No. 100, Jalan Petaling.
Mid autumn had just passed a few weeks ago, so we did not get a chance to taste their famous mooncakes. Still, there were other things on we could try... we were quite late for Dim Sum by now, but they had some leftover.
This pair of fishballs were ok. Nice but not outstanding.
This lor mai kai was very nice. It did not have any unusual ingredients, but somehow it all worked well together. I would have liked the rice to be less mushy, but maybe it was because it had been steaming in the cabinet for many hours. I would imagine that the texture would have been a little firmer if I had come here 4 hours earlier.
I had mixed feelings about this wat tan hor. The gravy and ingredients were absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection. However, the ho fun was a litle brittle and not smooth. I suspect that it had been fried a lot earlier and been left lying in the kitchen.
When eating in Yook Woo Hin, you cannot not have a dish of Char Siu, something that it is famous for. Char Siu and this restaurant seem to go hand in hand ... just google it and you will see! This plate must have cost around rm16 - 18... I was not disappointed, but neither was I overwhelmed. The marinade was fine and so were the cuts of pork (half lean half fat) I had. It was also crispy at the right places. However, it had a distinct lack of glaze, and the surface felt a bit dry. Or maybe the glaze had dried up after the meat have been left in the kitchen too long.
The restaurant was almost empty at Friday lunchtime, unlike what I remembered it to be, when it was bustling with mainly gossipping old men, back in the 70s and 80s. Well, maybe they have all passed away now. So with the slow turnover of food, it might explain why these dishes did not have the freshly cooked feel to them. Still I was glad I got a chance to visit this restaurant again and maybe one day my son will take his offspring there introduce this restaurant to the next generation. I just hope that their standards do not slip further.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Sunday, 16 November 2008
More bits from Section 17, as that is where I grew up and stay, everytime I visil Malaysia. This one is supposed to be "famous" and he actually has a newspaper cutting reviewing his ckt pinned to the side of his stall. Just a quick blog this week as I am back into my busy routine now.
Located in Restoran Say Huat, this has been around for a few years now and I have always bought from him everytime I visited. This particular meal was actually tar-pau'ed as I find that restaurant really hot and stuffy to eat in, hence maybe the noodles may look abit limp in the picture. As for the ckt, I think this is probably the best in Section 17. Not exactly exceptional within Klang Valley and I wouldn't exactly recommend anyone to drive miles just to savour it. However, if you are in the area, it is definitely worth trying. Has all the essential ingredients, including a few large prawns and chinese sausage slices, which you would not find at any food court in the shopping malls.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Back home in Manchester now. However, there is still plenty for me to write about regarding my culinary exploits in KL / PJ during my visit. The last few days since I have been back has been rather dull, as far as eating is concerned. But this always happen after every visit to Malaysia. After a couple of week of extreme stimulations of the tastebuds, all the food here seems rather bland and unexciting. Even when I went to a nice restaurant yesterday, it failed to recreate the buzz and high of tasting Malaysian food in Malaysia itself.
Here is place I have read about in many blogs and have had it on my list as a must-visit when I visited Malaysia next, so here I was.
The front was very modern, clean and had a rather upmarket look to it, despite having the image of selling popular Hong Kong hawker / cafe food. It was around 12pm on a Saturday and there were already loads of people going into the restaurant. I would have liked to have lunched a little later but seeing the crowd, we thought we'd better grab a table there before they were full up.
Here we can see the cooks doing their stuff in a kitchen exposed for all to see. No spitting into the food here! So, you can safely return the food if you dont like it!
The char siu wantan noodle dish was very nice. The char siu was tender and fresh with just enough charring to avoid the bitter taste. This was definitely Malaysian style char siu rather than the red and blander Hong Kong style. The wantans were huge.. like siu mai, and plenty of juicy prawns and pork filling within. The noodle was nice too, but not outstanding. The sauce, however, was just ok. Not as good as an old fashioned Malaysian style wantan mee sauce from a hawker.
The ngau nam meen (beef brisket noodle) is as good as any I have ever tasted. Neither better nor worse. I dont think anything ordering this would be disappointed, but neither would they be wowed.
I ordered an indivudual plate of crispy roast pork (siew yoke) and roast cuttlefish, after reading good reviews about the former. I was not disappointed with the former, as the skin was really crispy and meat was juicy and tender. However, the cuttlefish was really tough. I have had much better in the UK. I have not seen this kind of cuttlefish being sold fresh in the local markets here, so maybe the quality of the raw cuttlefish was not so good.
My overall impression was that it was just ok, especially given the price of around rm80 for all the above dishes. Ok, so its still about half the price I would have to pay in the UK in an average Chinese restaurant. However, I expected it to have cost a lot less in South East Asia, even if the quality was above average.
Some of the other blogs that made me visit this place:
Babe in the city