When it comes to the best food, I firmly believe that the most amazing dishes are found not in high-class restaurants, but on the street. The roadside stalls selling fried keropok lekor and currypuffs, the open-air kitchens stir-frying char kuey teow over a massive fire, the five-foot-way makeshift shops where people take their pick of fresh durian and enjoy them on the spot: this is where the food magic happens.
One of these places is Keong Kee Herbal Soup in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. Famous for their Coconut Chicken soup and Wild Boar Curry, the eatery dishes out simple but hearty fare that is sure to keep the crowd coming back for more.
Located next to an open air carpark, the ‘restaurant’ is literally a shack, albeit with cement flooring and zinc roofing. A couple of rotating fans keep the place cool. Chairs and tables are simple plastic ones placed haphazardly close together. Decor is a couple of red lanterns and a Malaysian flag.
The place was already packed when we arrived around 6.30pm.
Food was served in a jiffy. They don’t have a kitchen as the limited number of dishes on the menu have already been prepared beforehand. Large steamers sit at the entrance to the shack, hissing and whistling at passersby.
The star of the night was the Coconut Herbal Chicken Soup (RM10.50 each). Portions were generous (good for two small eaters but you might want to hog one all to yourself!) and the coconut was chock full of soft and fall-off-the-bone tender chicken meat, boiled with herbs such as wolfberry and dongguai. The broth was clear and sweet, thanks to the coconut meat, but also had a strong herby flavour from the dongguai.
Stir-fried veggies was as good as it gets.
We also ordered a Hakka-influenced dish, the ‘Zha Yok’. Cuts of fat and lean pork are first deep fried, then lovingly cooked with wood-ear fungus (they are crunchy and taste like cartilage) and fermented bean paste. The result is a tender, melt-in-the-mouth meat dish that goes very well with rice. This was slightly on the salty side though.
The wild boar curry was oily but oh-so-yummy. You can really smell the fragrant blend of curry paste and spices in it, and the wild boar meat (which has a tougher texture than regular pork) was not gamey. The whole meal with four bowls of rice came up to RM60, which is a steal considering we ordered so many dishes. Definitely come here for the herbal soup and Wild Boar curry. They also serve exotic meats here. I overheard the next table ordering Monitor Lizard (!!!!) but that sounds a bit too adventurous for me so I’ll pass.
KEONG KEE HERBAL SOUP
Changkat Thambi Dollah, Off Jalan Pudu, 55100, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. (opposite Shaw Parade)
Business hours: 4pm – 10.30pm
Since we were in the vicinity, fam and I stopped by at Berjaya Times Square to look at their Christmas decorations. It was pretty! They had a giant tree a few storeys-high, and the main foyer had been decorated with red and green drapes + snowflakes.
Walking around this mall brings back memories. I used to come here often with my ex because he was a toy enthusiast and there was a specialty toy shop here that he always bought his model figurines from. I think since we broke up, I never set foot here again. That was three years ago.
Some stuff has changed. They now have a Taipei Avenue selling Taiwanese snacks, and more high-end cafes and restos. The rest of it is still the same – still many outlets selling cheap knock off shoes, bags, free-size clothing and cheap Asian fashion.
Ended the night’s gastronomic adventure with Thai Milk Tea from Cha Tra Mue (RM5.20 – regular). I am absolutely addicted to this but it’s hard to find in Malaysia. Still can’t beat the ones in Phuket which sold for only 20B (about Rm2++).