Top 4 Kuala Lumpur Hawker Food – the 4 “Kees”: Seng Kee (唐人街胜记), Kim Lian Kee (金莲记), Yut Kee (鎰記茶餐室), Keong Kee (强记补品)9 February, 2014
Kuala Lumpur is well-known for its hawker food scene – you will find that our recommendations for the top 4 Kuala Lumpur hawker street food are all “Kees”. Kee refers to 记 in Chinese and is usually preceded by the last name (surname) of the founder. These places are typically called Restorans (which I assume is Restaurant in Malay). I do have to manage your expectations a bit here – while they are “restaurants”, the standards are not Michelin star standards and some of these places are not exactly spick and span but the plus points are that their food are cheap and the food tastes good!
Petaling Street Seng Kee 唐人街胜记
Seng Kee is not exactly located along Petaling Street – it is in the Chinatown (Petaling Street) area along Jalan Sultan – check out the map below for a guide on how to get there. Just before you step into the Petaling Street market (assuming you are walking from the Maharajalela monorail station), turn right and walk along Jalan Sultan until you reach number 52 and look for the sign shown in the picture below. Different websites had indicated different opening hours for Seng Kee but one thing for sure is that it opens til quite late around 2am daily. We arrived at Seng Kee at around 5.30pm and the restoran was not crowded.
The Seng Kee restoran is not very big (as seen in the picture below) so during peak hours (around dinner time of 7-9pm), you can expect long queues.
Seng Kee is known for its Claypot Loh Shu Fun. Loh Shu Fun 老鼠粉 literally translated from Hokkien to English means Rat Powder but don’t be frightened off – it is actually a type of noodle named that way because of its resemblance to rat’s tails. Loh Shu Fun is one form of Chinese noodle (known as silver needle noodle 银针粉). This noodle is also known for its many names from Yin Zhen Fen, Ngan Jam Fan (銀針粉/银针粉) to Mee Tai Bak, Mi Tai Mu (米苔目/米台目).
Regardless of what it is called, what’s important is that the Claypot Loh Shu Fun at Seng Kee is very good. In Seng Kee’s menu, it is known as Claypot Pearl Noodles and comes in 3 serving sizes (priced at RM9, RM13 and RM18). When the dish is first served, it looks very appetising with a generous amount of minced pork meat and a raw egg served atop the steaming hot Loh Shu Fun (see picture below) in a claypot.
The Seng Kee claypot Loh Shu Fun tasted very very good and each strands of the Loh Shu Fun is so smooth that it just slips down your throat (I am not exaggerating! – it actually felt this way when I tasted this dish!). Mix it well with the minced meat and egg for the best flavour. The servings are quite generous even for the smallest size claypot Loh Shu Fun (RM9).
Seng Kee (腾记) is located at 52 Jalan Sultan Kuala Lumpur. See the map below for a guide on how you can reach Seng Kee from the entrance to the Petaling Street Market (Seng Kee is marked by the yellow star). If you want to check out the famous hawker food Hokkien mee of Kim Lian Kee in the heart of the Petaling Street Market, don’t feast too much at Seng Kee as Kim Lian Kee is just a few steps away. Nearest Monorail station: Maharajalela
Petaling Street Kim Lian Kee 唐人街金莲记
There are 2 branches of Kim Lian Kee Restaurant 金莲记福建面美食馆 in Petaling Street Market (marked the red and green star in the map above). Opt for the older shop (the red star) which is located opposite Hong Leong bank – but do note that this branch is open after 5.30pm (the other branch is open the whole day).
The well-known Kim Lian Kee is widely recognized as the birth place of Hokkien Mee. So a must try dish is the Black Hokkien Mee. You get a selection of the type of noodles e.g. Mee, Mee Hoon, Kway Teow and Yee Mee – the difference is in the thickness of noodle – if you are unsure, just stick with Mee.
The Kim Lian Kee Black Hokkien Mee comes in 3 serving sizes (RM7, RM15 and RM20). For one person, the small serving size (RM7) is adequate especially if you are going on a food trail around Petaling Street Market. Here at Kim Lian Kee, you can taste the Wok Hei when this Hokkien Mee is cooked and stir-fried with high heat over an open flame. Everything (from the mee to the various ingredients) is doused in black soy sauce and it can taste a bit salty. For the health-conscious, you might have to skip this dish because the Hokkien Mee also comes with a very generous serving of fried lard (which only makes this dish even tastier!).
Kim Lian Kee has two separate shops at the junction of Petaling Street Market. If you are walking through the Petaling Street Market, just walk until you reach the junction of Jalan Petaling and Jalan Hang Lekir – you are unlikely to miss this junction as this is also where most of the pushcarts selling all kinds of food is set up. Once you reach the junction, immediately to your right, you will be able to find a small shop selling the Kim Lian Kee Hokkien Mee; on your left, you will also see Kim Lian Kee signages but that is the bigger restaurant version (according to various food critics, they recommend the smaller shop for its original charcoal stir-fried Hokkien Mee). Nearest Monorail station: Maharajalela
Yut Kee Kopitiam 鎰記茶餐室 @ Jalan Dang Wangi
Yut Kee is a longstanding Hainanese kopitiam with a very old school charm from mosaic tiles and very 1970s tables and chairs. The menu at Yut Kee is written on a huge board near the entrance and most of the food available at Yut Kee is the same as those on offer back in 1928 when Yut Kee was first opened.
Yut Kee can be quite crowded during lunch time (from 11.30am to 2pm) and you might see a group of people waiting outside Yut Kee. The queuing system here at Yut Kee is simple and efficient – just tell the guy manning the counter (by the entrance) your name and number of people in your group and they will call out your name when there are seats available. Don’t try to chope seats on your own because that’s not how it is done here at Yut Kee! While Yut Kee was fully packed when we arrived, we didn’t have to wait long for our seats – expect to share the table with other diners.
The signature dishes here include Roti Babi (RM8) (pork stuffed in pockets of fried dough)…
… and Fried Hokkien Mee (RM6). Other popular choices on the menu include Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM8.50), Chicken Rice (RM5.80) and Lum Mee (RM7). I also recommend its Fried Rice dish (RM5.50).
The highlight of dining at Yut Kee during Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (after 11am) has to be the Roasted Pork Roll (1 Portion – two slices for RM14). The crispy, golden crackling pork rolls are stuffed with pistachios and peach and served with Yut Kee’s homemade apple sauce. You can also buy the whole roll of Roasted Pork for RM150 (or half the roll for RM80). It is usually sold out within minutes – when we were there at Yut Kee at around 1pm, it was all sold out!
For dessert, you can try out the Yut Kee Butter Cake (RM15). Unlike the typical butter cake you find in most bakery, the Yut Kee Butter Cake is served right from the oven and is warm and aromatic. It is very soft and even after setting it aside for a day or two, each slice of the butter cake still stays soft and fluffy (and has the melt-in-your-mouth effect) – we know it because we brought it back to Singapore and even after 2 days, it still tasted very good! Don’t keep it in the fridge though as the cake may hardened.
On the Yut Kee menu board, it is written as Butter Cake RM15 – do note that this is for the whole cake (as shown in the picture below). If you just want a slice, I read somewhere that you can buy it for RM0.60 a slice but do confirm with the Yut Kee staff lest you end up with one whole cake (which isn’t a bad thing as the cake is delicious but it might be inconvenient to carry it all around Kuala Lumpur).
The Kaya Roll (RM9) is also worth trying – I don’t know how big is the Kaya Roll serving – please check with the Yut Kee staff if you don’t want to end up with a huge Kaya cake roll :-).
The food served at Yut Kee does not seemed to be what you expect from a typical Chinese kopitiam especially with some western dishes e.g. Chicken Chop and Pork Chop. That was because back then in 1928 when the founder – an immigrant from China’s Hainan province, Lee Tai Yik set up Yut Kee, some of the dishes served were customised to the British’s palate (Malaya’s colonial rulers back then).
Thus, as Mervyn Lee, the grandson of the restaurant’s founder put it, “This was fusion food, before fusion food was invented”. Mervyn is the third generation of his family to be involved in the running of Yut Kee. His father, Jack, who is now in his mid-60s, has been at the helm for more than four decades. I just had to get a picture with Mervyn – the friendly towkay of Yut Kee 🙂
Yut Kee is located at 35 Jalan Dang Wangi, 50100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2698 8108
Opening hours: 8am – 5 pm daily, closed on Mondays. Do check out Yut Kee soon if you want to try out its famous Roasted Pork roll and Butter cake as I read somewhere that it might be relocated soon because its landlord might be redeveloping the area.
Follow the map below for how you can walk from Dang Wangi LRT station to Yut Kee.
Nearest LRT station: Dang Wangi; Monorail station within walking distance of the Dang Wangi LRT station: Bukit Nanas (not shown in map below).
Official Kuala Lumpur transit maps designate both Dang Wangi LRT and Bukit Nanas monorail stations as an interchange station between the Kelana Jaya LRT line and the Kuala Lumpur monorail but do note that the 2 stations are 300-400 metres apart and you will have to exit either stations and walk for about 5-8 minutes and then buy a new ticket to board the train at the next station. There is an overhead bridge directly in front of the Dang Wangi station which crosses Jalan Ampang (with escalators) and then a sheltered walkway parallel to Jalan Ampang that leads to Bukit Nanas monorail station.
Keong Kee (强记补品)
Located at a corner between Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah and Jalan Pudu, Keong Kee is a well-known street stall offering a wide variety of Chinese herbal soups. Keong Kee is situated just across the street from Shaw Parade. Keong Kee is also commonly referred to as ‘the stall under the big tree’ or ‘dai shue tao‘ in Cantonese by locals because of the large tree that shades the stall.
There is no menu here and the staff here generally doesn’t speak English so you got to know what you want to order. If you can read Chinese, you can also check out the signboard for what Keong Kee had to offer. If you are unsure what to eat, just go with Coconut Herbal Chicken Soup (Ye Zi Gai) and Curry Wild Boar (咖喱山猪肉).
You got to know what you want to eat because there are many other exotic flavored soups available e.g. pigeon, terrapin, flying squirrel, monitor lizard and even bull’s penis! Being not very adventurous, we stuck with the normal choices – Coconut Herbal Chicken Soup (RM7). The soup is infused with generous servings of various herbs and chicken parts – pretty much what you can expect from a typical nutritious herbal soup; if you like herbal soup, you will like this dish! 🙂 and the additional plus point is that it is very cheap (at just less than S$3.50).
We also tried the Curry Wild Boar (RM6) (咖喱山猪肉) – rice comes separately (don’t remember the price but it is cheap). The curry wild boar tasted great and the meat was quite tender. Wild boar meat tasted just like pork so don’t expect very exotic tastes 🙂
Keong Kee Chinese Authentic Food 强记补品 is located opposite Shaw Parade at Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah, Off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. Keong Kee’s business hours are from 4pm onwards. Nearest Monorail station: Imbi
To get to Keong Kee from the Imbi monorail station, you can take the path parallel to the gigantic Berjaya Times Square (see map below). Just keep on walking along the path until you see Shaw Parade and the stall is right across the street from it (marked by the yellow star in the map below). I heard from some staff of Keong Kee that they might be moving from the “under the tree” stall location to a new coffeeshop (also along the path parallel to Berjaya Times Square and marked by the red star in the map below).
If you are coming for dinner, I strongly suggest you to come early (around 5pm – 6pm) before the peak hour kicks in when you might have problems getting a table and face long queues.
Besides the 4 Kees I mentioned in this blog post, there is another excellent food location for travellers in Kuala Lumpur – the Imbi Market (or Pasar Bukit Bintang). I will share more about Imbi Market and what to expect in the next blog post 🙂