[Kuala Lumpur] Heng Hwa dinner at Million Restaurant (美聯酒家)

Million Restaurant was founded in 1974 in this working-class neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur by an enterprising Henghua-Chinese cook, Mdm Tan Han Tow, offering food from her Heng Hwa dialect group.

The Heng Hwa (興化) are a sub-dialect group of the Hokkiens from Fujian province in Southern China. Historically, the Heng Hwa district in Fujian was given its own jurisdiction during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Like other Fujianese peoples, the Heng Hwas originated from Henan province in the Chinese central plains, with a history that went back 5,000 years, but migrated southwards due to dynastic wars and invasions by the nomadic tribes from Central Asia.

Heng Hwa cuisine is pretty distinct - its fine-textured rice noodles are lightly braised (compared to heavier, greasier cooking style of the Hokkiens) and characterised by its combination of pork with clams & cuttlefish, then garnished with toasted groundnuts & black seaweed.

  1. The signature Heng Hwa “beehoon” (fine rice noodles) dish is available at Million - a pretty respectable rendition at that. Dark soysauce was used here - a departure from the pale-coloured ones I’m used to, and done very well by Putien Restaurant. It’s worth noting that Heng Hwa-style “beehoon” is much finer than the ones used by other Chinese dialect groups.

  2. Another dish, using a thicker udon-like noodles was much tastier - paler, braised with a pork-clam-flavoured stock, with shrimps, mustard leaves and toasted groundnuts.
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  3. The “oh chien”, also called “oh-wah chien” in Minnan-speaking Taipei, is de rigeur in Hokkien/Fujianese restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore. Usually done semi-scrambled (the way Castillian-Spanish cooking does their eggs) using small, plump sweet oysters.

  4. “Heh choe” (prawn-pork meatballs) here are light and scrumptious, perfect with a squueze of calamansi lime.

The restaurant has a retro, local feel. I need to return again to further explore its menu as this evening was a slightly rushed pre-theatre dinner for us (the KL Performing Arts Centre is 10 minutes down the road).

Address
Million Restaurant (美聯酒家).
517, Jalan Tiong, Taman Million
3rd Mile, Off Ipoh Road
51100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-4041 3245

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