When Gluttons Bumped Heads @ Hong Ngek Restaurant, Kuala LumpurApril 1, 2010 | 9,495 views
Rarely do I venture out to the streets of Kuala Lumpur for my meals, especially with the sheer number of air-conditioned eateries in the malls promising convenience and comfort, paired with the myriad of international cuisines readily available almost everywhere. Moreover, KL’s streets and public transportation systems are NOT the most accessible options, in the first place.
All dishes and condiments (including Hong Ngek‘s signature ‘sambal’ on the lower right of the photo), halfway to being polished off in a flash. I tell you, when gluttons bumped heads, all hell broke loose. Literally.
And worse is, when you’re hunting for grubs in the most congested nightmare that is Petaling Street and its vicinity, you’re probably learning a smattering of new curse words you’ve probably never heard before. And putting them to good use. For the pesky “double-parkers” (me thinks this should be a term coined by Malaysians) lining up by the streets in a parade-like camaraderie will test your patience to no end. Not to mention the incessantly-blaring horns, buses and cabs bellowing smoke sufficient to paint the skies black, and far-from-courteous drivers with a penchant for dagger stares, and flipping fingers.
No, they rarely use the thumbs-up sign, in case you’re being optimistic.
Eat with family members and everyone digs instantly. “If not, it’ll get cold ma ….”
Eat with food bloggers, and everyone’s eating cold dishes. “Lighting, angle, composition ma …”
(Ciki snapping the fried ‘peh koh’, or sliced chewy glutinous rice cakes – Nian Gou)
Thanks to Monkey (of course not his real name lah …), this lunch was made possible on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Hong Ngek came to my attention when I was reading EatingAsia’s brilliant post on Top Ten Eats in KL, then reading Monkey’s comical intepretation a short while later. I am a sucker for all these charmingly nostalgic kopitiams since the colonial days, preserved miraculously until this very moment. Yut Kee on Jalan Dang Wangi comes to mind, if I am to ever compare Hong Ngek to another similar eatery. But the former champions their Hainanese cuisine, while Hong Ngek is essentially a Hokkien food Hing Hwa cuisine (subgroup of the Hokkien clan?) specialist. (Thanks to Tham for the clarification)
Yin Yang Pomfret – Much like Harvey Two-Face, the fish was steamed on one side, and the other half filleted then stir-fried with a thick, dark black pepper-based sauce.
All the ordering was left to Monkey, and dishes started appearing on the table almost instantaneously after we took our seats. Kenny was there early with the Devil himself, and so was Nigel; hands-down the loudest of the lot. Ciki whipped out her trustworthy RED Sony Cybershot and …. well, you know the deal when floggers meet.
Sweet and Sour Pork – Staying true to its roots, as good Gu Lou Yuk should be; Crunchy on the outside with a lightly coated batter that’s not too thick, and a gravy that’s proportionately-flavoured – Not too sweet, sour or spicy.
The dishes at Hong Ngek screamed HOME-COOKED, for you can throw caution to the wind and order away (from the many laminated pieces of printed photos of the dishes pasted on the tiled walls, or pointing to the plateful of delights ordered by your neighbouring tables), and yet came out mighty contented with the food. Decades of legacy strengthen my stand on this. The restaurant does not occupy the most strategic of location, and could easily be written off as another generic coffee shop, but yet the steady stream of customers come lunch hours renders the place significant amongst the rapid development/commercialization (or degeneration, depending on how you look at it) of the area.
Fried Glass Noodles (Tang Hoon) – Definitely too small of a portion to be shared. One of the better fried noodles in town, without the needs for unnecessary oil, lard or extravagant ingredients (crabmeat in Char Koay Teow, anyone?)
Guinness Pork Ribs – Not the most memorable, yet should be a hit. And what better way to introduce your kids to alcohol than these sweet, glistening pieces of tender, boneless meat?
Beancurd, Beancurd Sheets (Foo Chuk or was it Tau Kan?) and Yue Wat (Fish Paste) – This could have easily passed off as another one of those generic vegetarian dishes, saved for the pieces of “yue wat”
Or Chien (Oyster Omelette) – Merely passable, for the soggy/bland omelette did not do justice to the plump oysters used in the mix. And the salty chili sauce did not help either.
Mostly hits, some misses; the meal at Hong Ngek tied bonds, satiated hunger pangs, and brought me relief in knowing that these establishment still exist in the heart of the city that has been already choked with development. Maybe, just maybe, we all should let our hair down someday, walk away from the chic eateries/cafes/bistros we have all been pampered with, and seek solace in dining in such timeless restaurants.
After all, you will never know when Hong Ngek will turn into another Old Town White Coffee or Hon Kee Porridge, and goes all fancy-whimsy/ too commercialized for its own good.
Address & Contact Number :
HONG NGEK RESTAURANT (in Chinese, it’s pronounced as Foong Yut)
50, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee,
50000 Kuala Lumpur,
Telephone No : 603-2078 7852
Business hours: 10:30am – 7:00pm from Mondays til Fridays. 10:30am – 5:00 pm on Saturdays.
Closed on Sundays and public holidays. (information from A Lil’ Fat Monkey)
Here’s a GOOGLE MAP to Hong Ngek for easy reference.