My go-to restaurant for Hainanese chicken rice in Kuala Lumpur is Loke Yun restaurant in Ampang, currently run by the so-called “King of Chicken Rice”, Phang Kee Kim. The restaurant was founded by his father back in 1971, and who, in turn, had learnt his trade from the venerable, old (and now now-defunct) Kim Hing coffeeshop in Jalan Bandar, KL Chinatown.
I found out about this eatery from the Food Channel program on TV, which screened an episode on Hainanese chicken rice hosted by Jason Yeoh aka ‘Axian’, Malaysian TV’s foremost food personality. The program had delved into the origins of Hainanese chicken rice - it originated with the Wenchang chicken rice dish on Hainan Island, Southern China; the emigration of Hainanese fortune-seekers en masse to British Malaya (Penang, Singapore, and the Malay states) in the 1920s, and how they brought their cuisine to the local populace. Many of those interviewed in the program had asserted that Loke Yun served “the best Hainanese chicken rice in Malaysia”. So, I decided that I had to try the place.
Loke Yun is located in the largely Chinese Ampang village on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
The area was a gold mine of good Chinese eats, from the Hakka “yong tau fu” (courtesy of Foong Foong) to Cantonese “wantan noodles” and, of course, Hainanese chicken rice from Loke Yun.
Our meal at Loke Yun consisted of:
Hainanese-style poached chicken - we ordered two types: the organic “kampung” chicken (meaning “village” chicken in Malay) which has a stronger flavor and firmer flesh, and the more common and cheaper farmed chicken. Both were very well-seasoned. The “kampung chicken” had yellower skin, and a much more toothsome texture.
Soy-braised chicken feet - Underwhelming, as the dish lacked the collagen stickiness obtained from slow-cooking chicken feet. Flavor-wise, it only tasted of soy sauce, no other spices or aromatics like cassia bark or star-anise used.
Poached beansprouts - simple, but well-seasoned with rendered chicken fat, light soy-sauce and a touch of sesame oil.
The chicken rice here is fragrant and tasty, unlike the bland versions one usually finds elsewhere in Kuala Lumpur.
Poached chicken intestines and gizzards - the crunchy chicken intestines has always been one of my favorite items here. Loke Yun actually used to dispense it free, as a garnish, with every order of poached chicken. But its popularity meant that now, one needs to pay for the chicken intestines, just as for the chicken livers and gizzards.
The minced chili dip, available on the table, was spicier than any which one can find in Singapore, whilst the minced 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 just strictly my personal tastes as I gravitate towards flavors I’m more familiar with.
Having minced ginger in a chicken rice meal is a practice on Hainan Island, where the locals there do not take chilis with their chicken rice, unlike their brethren in South-east Asia.
Overall, this is the only Hainanese chicken rice place in Kuala Lumpur which I’d really enjoyed eating at. For any better, I’d wait to go back to Singapore, or else visit Ipoh for meal at Lou Wong in Ipoh New Town, or Ayam Tauke in Buntong.
Restoran Loke Yun Ampang (安邦乐园鸡饭店)
158, Jalan Besar, Ampang Town, 68000 Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: +603-4291 9884
Opening hours: 10.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-8pm daily, except Thursdays (Closed)