KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Chicken rice is a popular pick in any Malaysian food court or kopitiam. At Cantonz, one can score a satisfying lunch of chicken, rice and soup for just RM4, a steal in this tough economic environment.
The eatery run by Ken Ong, 43, and Woon, 41, draws many customers looking for a good deal.
Previously located on Petaling Street for 10 years, they moved here last April as it’s relatively near Ken’s home. Ken traces his food heritage to his uncle who used to run a stall in Sungai Way for about 35 years.
Nowadays, that place is called Restoran Home Cook and is run by Ken’s brother. The eatery is popular for their char siew, crispy siew yoke served every Friday and other home cooked dishes.
Ken who used to sell building materials approaches his cooking with a lot of research and experimentation. He believes in putting the effort into the quality of the food. “If anywhere is good, you will try it out and share it,” he said.
For siew yoke that remains crispy throughout the day, he explains that it took him more than two years to perfect the technique without any chemicals.
Known as the “prawn cracker” siew yoke, a method coined by his brother, the pork belly cut has a crispy, puffy skin that is not too hard. Ken tells us with a chuckle that most customers often ask where’s the prawn cracker in the pork.
Occasionally, depending on the meat received from the supplier, the siew yoke can be a little leaner than preferred. However, Ken emphasises that all his items are served fresh, as they are prepared daily.
If you prefer char siew, their version has a melt in the mouth texture, thanks to the use of pork cheek. Ken also prefers to not over roast the meat since it’ll have a burnt taste.
He also serves thicker slices known as the “rich cut” that melts in the mouth. He tells us, most stalls hardly sell this cut of meat, since it is usually too hard to be edible.
For the chicken rice, he picked up his skills from a sifu from Muar, as he wanted to serve the true taste of Hainanese chicken rice. You will notice that the rice served here is different from other stalls; it has a more homely taste, with no margarine or tumeric to tinge it yellow or even lemongrass to give it additional flavour.
Ken explains to us that back in the old days, the rice would just be prepared with chicken fat and chicken broth, giving it a more natural taste. He uses a mix of Siamese rice and fragrant rice to cook his chicken rice. “It’s the method that makes a difference,” he said.
In the beginning, Ken started the RM4 chicken rice as a promotional item. However as time went by, he decided to stick to that pricing as there are a lot of orders.
He uses Tai San Keok chicken, as he prefers the quality and texture of the meat that is not too soft. If you’re MSG intolerant like me, go for just plain poached chicken. It’s tasty when served solo on a bed of boiled beansprouts, since the flavour comes from the chicken.
For those who prefer a stronger taste, you can add their soy sauce laced with fried garlic for extra oomph. If you prefer, they also serve chicken bathed in boiling hot oil, till the skin is crispy. Ken tells us, this is the same method used in restaurants.
Don’t miss out on their chilli sauce with its piquant, spicy taste. Ken tells us it’s blended from fresh chillies as he doesn’t use any of the processed chilli from the packet. Your meal will be served with a bowl of their soup made with pork belly and dried vegetables.
Early birds will be happy to find out that the eatery starts from 8.30am. As Ken starts roasting the meats from 6am, he decided to open early to test out the market.
Back then when they were in Petaling Street, they opened from 6.30am so they are used to early hours. Surprisingly, customers trickle in as early as 8am here.
For KL-lites, Ken has also recently opened a new stall at 36 (DBKL Lot 250/1), Jalan Brunei Utara, Pudu. Known as Hong Kong Taste 1975, he serves his signature chicken rice there for RM4. You can also get their crispy siew yoke and char siew. These are roasted at this eatery and brought down to town for sale. It’s only the chicken that is prepared in Pudu.
DBKL Lot 3
Taman Bukit Indah
Open: 8.30am to 3pm
Closed alternate Tuesdays
For Chinese New Year, they are closed from February 15 to 20