Wednesday, January 20, 2016

YummY! - Banana Leaf Rice @ Yap Kee Klang

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Banana Leaf Rice @ Yap Kee Klang
Klang, Malaysia - January 2016
There's this Banana Leaf Rice place in Klang (Tamil: கிள்ளான்; Chinese: 巴生) that is unique.... and er.... I would venture to say it's a bit odd too.
It's unique as it is an Indian Banana Leaf Rice place set in a Chinese Coffee-shop hence the name. Ask the locals about Yap Kee Banana Leaf Rice, they will easily tell you where it is. See, it's a favourite foodie joint for them. It's not just a stall in the coffee-shop, this curry rice business seems to occupy the whole shop, from the tables at the front side-walk to the kitchen at the back. The Chinese owner has been relegated to his cashier counter and a side corner for making drinks. But don't get me wrong, it seems to be a happy arrangement between the Indian and the Chinese as the place is doing roaring business.

It's an odd place as it is one that occupies a narrow shop, one without any big signboard to shout out its name. In fact a big signboard at the front was for a jewellery shop that does business at the first floor. Further in there is a small yellow signboard with red characters that states "Yap Kee" and nothing else.
What's even odder is that, they don't offer much choices in their selection of food - cabbage veggie, fried chicken, fried fish, mutton curry, papadam and a little more.

 Despite this lack in fanfare and a Spartan menu, the place seems to be a favourite with locals and visitors; it is often packed. At times there are even patrons standing by waiting for a place to sit! And it's not just the Indians who come here, there are Malays and Chinese among their regulars.
So what draws the crowd here?

We had just done some cycling to Pulau Ketam. Wanting to try out this banana leaf rice, we skipped having lunch at the island, hopped onto an earlier ferry and were now at the shop. The place was packed! We stood hovering like vultures around the occupied tables, waiting for our turn.
Might as well observe what's going on. Many were eating with their hands - perhaps the rice tastes better this way, or perhaps the afterwards aroma on the hands is a reminder of good food. For those not familiar with eating with the hands, there are no worries, forks and spoons are available.

Our turn came and we quickly sat down. Within five minutes clean banana leaves were laid before each of us.

A little while later a waiter came over and scooped some curried cabbage onto our leaves, this was followed by white rice. We asked for some other veggies (like those from other banana leave restaurants). "Sorry, boss. Only cabbage".....

Later another waiter came, pouring chicken curry onto our rice. "Can we have some chicken?" we asked. "Sorry boss... no more chicken...". We just went "Huh?" What's this? Chicken Curry without chicken, just the gravy?
"Can we have some fried chicken and fried fish then?" "Sorry boss, no fried chicken and no fried fish."
Double "Huh" !!!

We were too hungry to ask further; we just dug in and ate white rice with curried cabbage and chicken curry gravy.... sigh...

We were "lucky", a little while later another man came to serve some fried chicken. Not wanting to take any risks, each of us asked for two pieces each.

The Fried Chicken were good, tasty with good seasoning and crispy at the edges.

Feeling unsatisfied, I went scouting at the food counter. Nothing much more there until I espied a small bowl of mutton curry sitting very lonely on one of the shelves. Okay, that will do. It's better than nothing. With a word to the attendant, I personally quickly whisked it back to our table before some other patron took it.
This mutton curry was good, not excellent but still much better than just chicken curry. The meat was also tender.

To go with the food we had glasses of amra juice with salted prunes and also some cincau. The drinks were served by the owner and operator of Yap Kee, who seems happy to be doing just the drinks business.

Well... we did finish our food to the bones! Was it our hunger or was the food great?
I believe it was more our hunger, the curries were okay but not great like those from the Brickfields curry houses.

And here I think is one of the reason they are a crowd-puller, here is their menu. Their pricing is relatively cheap, a plate of rice (as much as you want in one serving) with gravy, cabbage and a piece of fried chicken for RM7.50. An additional piece of fried chicken was at RM4-00. And Tairu (yoghurt) at RM1-00.
The menu is limited though to cabbage, chicken, chicken liver, fish and mutton. Now, if only all of these were available! Would I come here again? Probably, for the ambiance and for the pricing.

26 Jalan Besar, Klang, Malaysia.
Hours: 10:00am to 6;00pm

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