The most memorable food I had in Muar was the Hainan Chicken Curry Rice at Lu San Coffee Shop. Hainan cuisine is definitely not alien to us. There’s Hainan chicken rice, Hainan coffee, Hainan bread, Hainan chicken chop and the list goes on. But Hainan curry is quite rare if you ask me.
To the casual eye, this would appear like a normal plate of ‘zhap fan’ but in fact this is already a serving of Hainan curry rice – it cost only RM3.50. So what makes up the traditional Hainan curry rice? Well for starters, it must have three main ingredients: curry (咖哩, typically chicken curry), braised sauce (滷汁) and braised meat and eggs (滷味).
Whether you mix them all up or serve the dishes separately, it’s totally up to individual preference and may vary from stall to stall. So who would have guessed that a simple mix of curry gravy and braised sauce could be so addictively delicious? The Hainanese sure did. But of course, this does not mean that by mixing any curry and soy-based sauce could produce the same flavor, there must be a proven recipe to begin with.
The main reason Lu San’s Hainan curry rice tastes better than the rest is frankly, quite simple – because the dishes are warm. When you are here, look around the humble stall and you will notice the pots of chicken curry and braised meats constantly being heated to preserve their warmth and taste. Cold food = bad food, simple as that. It is also worth mentioning that Lu San’s chicken curry is cooked using old hen (老母鸡) Since old hen has a longer life (obviously) than the average chicken, its flesh tastes sweeter naturally.
As far as food is concerned, the famous Yu Ai Seafood Noodle is usually on top of the list when Segambut is mentioned. But the noodles is quite expensive and not many people could afford it on a regular basis. Besides, I find the flavor too reliant on liberal use of MSG so I am not too much of a fan.
A better alternative in my opinion would be this Segambut Fried Chicken Rice stall, which is just a stone’s throw away from Yu Ai. By the way, have you noticed how many good food out there are located under huge trees? This is one of them.
The workers will assume that most customers would want the whole leg portion because it is the most popular order around here. But you do have a choice of chicken thigh or rib that are considerably cheaper by a few ringgit. Within a minute of placing our order, the fried chicken and rice were already delivered to our table – that’s how efficient they are.
When you think of Seremban’s delicacies usually Hakka Mee, Grilled Crab, Siew Pau and Beef Noodle are the ones that come into mind first. Never would I have expected to find a high standard Chicken Rice at Restoran Chai Hong. Then I got to know from a reader that this restaurant is also known as the ‘Diamond Chicken Rice’ to the locals due to the expensiveness. To get here, simply follow the road leading to the town’s police station and you will see the coffee shop on your right immediately after the coffin shops.
According to the signboard Chai Hong is actually serving Teo Chew style steamed chicken rice along with Ipoh bean sprouts. Don’t ask me how different it is from the Hainanese chicken rice though because I have no idea lol. And I actually got to know this chicken rice from my colleague who is from Seremban. He vaguely described Chai Hong’s chicken rice as the best in town but slow in service and a lot more expensive than the rest.
***This restaurant is no longer in operation***
My CookBook, a restaurant that left me with mixed feelings. It is owned by an acquaintance of a close friend. So, if not for his recommendation I don’t think I’d ever step in for a meal. I left glad because I tried something nice and new, but furious because I spent more than I should have – all thanks to the waiting staff that didn’t even bother to tell us that set lunch was available. If we had the set lunch, we could have paid much lesser with the same amount of food ordered.
I have come across many chicken rice with different shapes of rice, from the normal half-sphere to ball to pyramid shapes. So it is only about time a new one appears, and this time it’s cylinder shape. The chef has cleverly re-invented a food that is so common among us into something interesting, that could entice anyone to try it just by the looks. The only drawback is the price, RM15.90 for a portion of chicken rice that will not leave an average eater full.