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.