KAKI-LANG HOME’S KITCHEN,
9, Jalan Dato Yusuf Shahbuddin,
42, Off Jalan Sungai Jati,
Business hours: noon to 4.30 pm
and 5.30 to 8.30 pm.
Closed on Mondays.
AUTHENTIC Malaysian-Chinese cuisine. That is what it says on the business card of Kaki-Lang Home’s Kitchen, a year-and-a-half-old restaurant in Sungai Jati, Klang.
The yam discs and black vinegar pork trotters (top pic) are simply to die for.
The meat melts in your mouth and the skin is simply gummy and delicious.
Credit goes to Kok Yong Chu, the 74-year-old matriarch of this family-run business.
Kok tells the story of a Malaysian Chinese family who believes that to eat is to live.
“My mother seldom used water in her cooking,” revealed Kok of her late mother Chau Yoong.
Chau believed water robbed food of flavour. To get gravy, it should be coaxed from the meat or vegetables with a slow fire, patient stirring and generous use of peanut oil.
Only then is one able to produce a fragrant dish.
Kok’s mother was a housewife whose husband owned a grocery shop in Tanjung Sepat in Selangor.
They were a Chinese Hakka family who got on very well with their Malay neighbours.
So much so that chicken rendang and dried prawn and petai sambal became regular features on the family dinner table.
“My mother would modify these recipes to suit her taste. She made rendang out of pork and duck.
“When she made her sambal, the mouth-watering aroma of dried prawns wafted through the entire neighbourhood,” said Kok.
When Kok grew up and set off on the entrepreneurial path with her economy rice stall at Emporium Makan opposite Pasar Jawa in Jalan Pasar in Klang, she took her mother’s recipes and followed her advice to heart. Save the water. Do not be stingy with the oil. And no shortcuts.
“My mother cooked for a family of nine at a time when there was no frozen food, supermarkets and instant mixes.
“She ground the spices, chilies, onions and garlic by hand. The meat and vegetables were brought in fresh,” said Kok who continues to maintain the same standards at her restaurant.
So now for the yam discs.
Bite into one and feel the springy squish in each and every piece.
Shredded yam is fried with garlic and soya sauce.
Enough water is added and the yam is cooked until it turns to a paste.
After cooling, the dough is rolled around the palm.
The middle is pressed with thumb and index finger to make a dent.
It is boiled until hard. To add flavour, it is stir-fried in garlic, minced pork, black fungus and sesame oil.
The secret in this dish relies on wok hei (meaning the breath of the wok).
To do this, the cook waits for yam discs, meat and fungus to be well done.
Just when the wok is at its hottest, a dash of soya sauce is added to produce a loud hiss.
This seals in the flavour and releases the dish’s fragrance.
Another must try is the braised pork belly with black fungus.
This dish requires the belly to be marinated overnight in red fermented bean curd, rice wine and pepper. It has to be deep-fried before braising.
During the process, fat in between skin and meat melts allowing the diner to experience a tender mouth feel.
For optimum results, Koh insists that the black fungus be cooked separately until soft before it is added to the braising gravy to prevent overcooking the meat.
Those who do not mind the gamey taste of duck should try the braised version in ginger and preserved fermented yellow soy beans gravy.
This dish carries a heady aroma of rice wine.
Chinese wine connoisseurs will also like the ginger and rice wine chicken.
We were told that customers can place advance orders requesting for the kitchen to use free range chicken.
What endears this dish to the writer is the wine-infused gravy.
Koh said in the original version, she would empty an entire bottle into the wok.
But because not all diners are in favour of that tipsy feeling right after, the current cooks, Koh’s youngest son, Teng Kok Chong and grandson, Teng Tuck Chun, have decided to hold back on the wine.
The signature house salad which is not to be missed is the acar.
Carrots, pineapples, cucumbers and long beans, quickly blanched in hot water are pickled with vinegar, salt and sugar.
Crushed peanuts top the ensemble for extra crunch.
A three-dish meal of egg, beancurd and meat can be cheaper than a home cooked affair here.
If there is still space in your tum, give the deep-fried shark fillets with ginger crisps a try. You will not regret it.
This is the writer’s observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.