It was a hot Sunday morning and by 10 am I was out of the house heading to the Curve to meet my friend Emilia Salim who was trying out for the Asia’s Biggest Loser Competition. I was late of course, and forgot that it was being held at Fitness First and stupidly took a log way down this road to get there when I could have just gone into the building and come out the other side. I was soaking wet by the time I got there, and by the time I got there Emilia’s parents were there but Emilia had already gone inside. So I had to wait to get a glimpse at her later on.
The other reason I was there was also to meet up with my friend Vincent Kang and Kenson for lunch. So while waiting till 11.30, I decided to sign up for Asia’s Biggest Loser as well, but in the end I did not submit the forms. Vincent reached early and called me and so lunch came first before the USD100000 prize money I was going to ‘win’.
I actually did not have an idea what I wanted to eat but I did see a banner across somewhere in the area for Ying Ker Lou Restaurant which sells Hakka food and somehow that stayed in my mind and when the three of us met and I could not think, suddenly Vincent said Chinese and I said Hakka so there you go, the power of advertising!
We entered Ying Ker Lou and it was less then half full so we had full attention of the wait staff who were onto us as soon as we sat down. Sometimes this can be a daunting experience and I think restaurant owners should train their staff to let customers settle down a few minutes before proceeding to the table wit a note book in had to take orders. However they were not too bad though, I have had worse.
Out came the complimentary steamed Peanuts. They served us good quality large sized Peanuts, unlike some bigger establishments I know. These were nice big peanuts that was easily picked up with ones chopsticks. By the way, the complimentary peanuts was not complimentary after all. It costs RM3 – just looked at the bill.
The menu was rather big and the photos were rather nice to look at and I must add it was user friendly for non Chinese speaking people like myself. This is important I feel to let other races tastes ones cuisine without being afraid of what they are eating. I was also the only person of another race in the whole restaurant.
We proceeded to order. I wanted more Dim Sum kind of foods but somehow Hakka Cuisine is not exactly known for its Dim Sum so it was more Dumplings with different fillings and Chee Cheong Fun wrapped leeks and other vegetables. So I did not have anything dumpling and ordered the Hakka Yam Abacus.
Kenson ordered the Hakka Minced Pork Bantiao. Vincent decided that we should order a few set meals so we could all share, so he ordered Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs, Deep Fried Pork Belly, Braised Pork Belly, and Hakka Fried Yam Cake. For tea we ordered Pu Er which was RM4 per person.
We distinctly said no rice, and in five minutes or so the meals arrived complete with three bowls of rice. We did try to tell the staff we did not need rice but somehow they could not understand what we were trying to say. This is another grouse I have with restaurants that hire foreign staff who cannot understand different people’s needs. This is of course not a big deal but I have come across many places that have staff that do things like robots and will not budge to anything different.
The Hakka Yam Abacus arrived along with Kenson’s Minced Pork Bantiao. The Hakka Yam Abacus was stir fried with two types of mushrooms, Wood Fungus ( Moo Er) and Dried Shitake Mushrooms. It was cooked a little like Loh Pak Koh style with garlic, leeks, and spring onion slices. I found the dish slightly insipid and I have tasted more tastier Yam Abacus before, but it was bearable. Something was missing though but then again it may be the way Hakka people cook their Yam Abacus. For RM17, I thought it could be a little bit more.
The next few dishes came soon, the Deep Fried Pork Belly, the Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs, the Braised Pork Belly and the Hakka Fried
Yam Cake all came at the same time. First things first, the Deep Fried Pork Belly did not in anyway resemble the photo in the menu. It looked too dark for my liking and just too fatty. It had a nice hint of Nam Yee (fermented bean curd) so it was nice. I like the Nam Yee taste because mum sometimes fries chicken at home with it and sometimes we eat Nam Yee with a bit of onions, chilies and lemon juice with hot rice and it makes foods a lot more appetizing. The Deep Fried Pork Belly to me was too thinly cut. It should have been called Crispy Fried Pork Belly Slices. I do think a bit of garnish would have made it a little bit nicer, something green for instance would have made the plate more palatable to the eyes. We ate the meat and no one touched the fat. The price was RM15.90 as well. I was nice I would say
Pork Spare Ribs with Sweet and Sour Sauce was somehow too simple and not strong enough in flavor for me. Maybe its my tongue and the way I like certain foods, presentation wise too was rather mediocre, three large pieces of radish which resembled potatoes was placed on the platter. I thought I was the only one who thought it was potatoes but Kenson thought so too, and the plate was right in front of him. There was about 5 pieces of spare ribs and one piece was totally non edible, as it was a big piece of fat attached to a marrow. Taste wise was nothing special, but then again it could be how the Hakka people like it. For RM15.90, I guess the portion size was because it was part of the set. By the way they never removed the rice. What a waste?
The Braised Pork Belly although another fatty dish was my favorite. It has a few big pieces of wood fungus that somehow soaked in
the flavor of the gravy so to me that was nice. The meat too was cooked and full of flavor. You know for sure the meat is not boiled separately and used to cook in a hurry. I have no complaints for this dish. The price was RM16.90 which to me was fine and since it was part of the set as well, the portion was just right.
I think the not so nice part of the meal was the Hakka Fried Yam Cake which was over fried for my liking hence it was darker then the photo in the menu. Moreover, it was salty. The saltiness somehow over powered the whole dish so I really cannot tell you the flavor it was suppose to be. It was just salty. I guess the price was only RM8, so one should not expect much. I must say though, as lousy as it tasted, it was the most photogenic dish of the day.
Now the dish of the day had to be Kenson’s Bantiao. It was really nice albeit a tiny bit oily for me, but seriously that’s just me and
oil. It came with two quite large meat balls, and the noodles were laced with minced pork and spring onions. I thought the combination was just perfect. Not too porky too, although the minced pork was ever where. The noodles so suited the gravy and it was a dried noodle dish that was simple and I must say tasted very homely. The slight hint of salted fish was just perfect. Something mum would make just for the family without any fuss. The price, RM13.90 I think was suitable, and Kenson let us all taste generous amounts as well. It was by far the best of the lot.
If I do go back to Ying Ker Lou, I think I would choose something like what Kenson chose and have everyone share it. I do not think I can finish a whole bowl of it.
The total damage for the day was RM116.85. I thought it was ok, there was a nice ambiance, the food was not too bad, service proficient. I would go back I am sure with another group of friends of course as the menu is user friendly. I will not choose some of the things we ordered today though, but still it was a nice convivial afternoon with friends.
Dessert??? No we decided to go somewhere else.!