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Braised pork belly with black fungus cooked in five-spice powder a superb pairing.

GOOD and established makan places in Kuala Lumpur are like the few remaining grains of sand in an hourglass.

One of my favourite makan stalls that should be preserved in this food column for posterity is the kou-yuk (braised pork belly) nasi lemak near the Jalan Raja Bot wet market.

This stall (GPS N 03 09.900, E 101 41.963) is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s notorious Chow Kit area.

Back in the day, this neighbourhood was infamous for vice and gangsterism. And I grew up smack in the middle of it.
If I had not hung out with the right peer group, I might have ended up being called “Sammy two-fingers” for being involved with samseng groups.
So, what is so special about the kou-yuk nasi lemak?
For starters, the rice itself is worth trying out.
The owner of the stall preparing a meal.

The owner of the stall preparing a meal.

The man behind it, who is in his mid-60s, started his nasi lemak business in the early 1970s and his expertise in steaming rice with coconut milk is apparent in the quality of the nasi lemak served.

Rather than being a lump of rice, you get individual grains infused with the sweet scent of coconut.

This stall is also one of the few operated by a Chinese family in the Klang Valley.

What made the makan experience even more memorable were the side dishes.

There’s curry chicken with potatoes, kangkung, curry pork and the famous kou-yuk.

I want to give special mention to the braised pork because this is a side dish that goes well with the nasi lemak.

When I was a kid, I used to crowd around the kawah (large wok) when the stall owner stirred and deep-fried sliced pork bellies which was then braised with black fungus to produce the kou-yuk.

The smell of fried pork and five-spice powder permeated the air and sometimes, the owner would offer a piece to his customers fresh off the wok.

Part of the old shoplots at the Raja Bot wet market.

Part of the old shoplots at the Raja Bot wet market.

I had a chance to relive my childhood by visiting this stall over the weekend with Michelle, my wife.

From Subang Jaya, we drove to Mid Valley Megamall where we parked and took the KTM Komuter train (Rawang-bound) and got off at the Putra stop.

We continued our journey by walking past the Chow Kit neighbourhood towards Jalan Raja Bot.

I relived my teenage days when walking and commuting was an everyday affair.

As soon as I reached the stall, the owner recognised me.

Hey, you are Man Kee’s son!” he said. (Man Kee was the name of a grocery shop owned by Cheong Man, my late grandfather).

He was referring to my late father Ah Wah Kor, who used to run a shop in the row behind the nasi lemak stall.

Wah, where have you been? Haven’t seen you for umpteen years,” he continued.

I told him that after I got married, I relocated to the outskirts of the city and that hisnasi lemak was so good, it was worth taking a trip down memory lane.

To relive the moment, I ordered a plate of nasi lemak with kou-yuk (above pic) and a piece of hard boiled egg.

With the extras thrown in, my bill came up to RM7.50.

A potful of kou-yuk.

A potful of kou-yuk.

Michelle found the braised pork to be a little salty, but the rest was okay.

On the Samo-scale, I would rate this stall a 7.5 out of 10.

The stall opens daily for breakfast and lunch except Sundays.

The best way to get there is by taking the monorail because parking in this neighbourhood is a nightmare.

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