Authentic Hainanese Cuisine @ Wan Li Restaurant, TaipingJune 6, 2010 | 8,892 views
Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM6.50/USD2.00) – Gravy-licious serving of a tender chicken chop battered, fried and topped lavishly with the brown sauce with onions, carrots and peas.
I wrote about Yut Sun Restaurant in Taiping before, a famous kopitiam that serves a wide array of Hainanese dishes, including the perennial favourite of many; Hainanese Chicken Chop, as well as the not-so-common Roti Sayur, and they even have an ‘Egg Steak‘ to pique your interest. Best of all, Yut Sun’s PORK-FREE, hence you’ll see people from all races dining together in harmony …..
Corny but true.
However, this time around, I was aiming for Wan Li Restaurant on Jalan Kota instead. Situated on the same side as Kok Beng Hainan Chicken Rice (amongst the TOP 10 Chicken Rice in Malaysia!!) and opposite of Kum Loong Dim Sum, most people would pass by this place without even batting an eyelid; judging from the disdain and rather rundown outlook of the premise. But DON’T come to conclusion just yet. For more often that not, it’s places like this that holds promise, and dishes out foods that arrest your attention; ensuring perpetual revisits …….
Hainan Spring Rolls (RM1.80/USD0.55 each) – Evidently these were homemade ‘Choon Piah’ at its best; Stuffed to the brim with chopped turnip, carrots, and minced meat, with a crispy and thin layer of deep-fried beancurd sheet wrapping the whole deal …
One fine afternoon in Taiping, with our guts barely done with digesting the ‘roti canai‘ we had for breakfast at Bismillah Restaurant (that’s coming up in another post, promised!), it was already time to hunt for lunch. Good thing was, Taiping’s bursting with eateries;both old and new.
On one hand you have the classics like Yut Sun, Restoran Air Kacang Taiping, and everything else at the Larut Matang Food Court. But after repeated visits, you’d long for cafes and fast food, hence you can proceed to Taiping Sentral for your fix at McDonald’s, A&W, Noodle Station, and such.
Barely visible was Wan Li’s menu on the wall; but our eyes gleamed with anticipation (and surprise, no less) when we saw Chicken Chop, Pork Chop and Beef Steak on the board.
Stepping into the unassuming coffee shop, filled with a predominant lunch crowd gobbling on their economy rice fare (mixed rice, or ‘chap fan‘), I was not sure whether this Wan Li was the same Wan Li I read about in a food guide; purportedly serving authentic Hainanese dishes.
But a reassuring confirmation came from the lady boss herself (this I presumed, since she was the one running the place), and we were seated in a jiffy. It was barely 1pm, and business has yet to pick up. Glancing around the premise, I was pleasantly awed by the sheer cleanliness of the restaurant and thus clearing my doubts on the possibly-compromised hygiene aspect.
Chicken Chop and Pork Chop for merely RM6.50 each? I stared at the whiteboard again, to brush off potential bloopers when settling the bill. Nope, my eyes did not deceive me. The most ‘expensive’ item on the menu was a black pepper steak (from New Zealand!) for RM12.50/USD3.80. And everything else was priced below RM10. Talk about affordability.
Fish & Chips – REAL fillet of fish coated with batter and fried to crunchy perfection. For RM8.50/USD2.60 per serving, it’s a steal really.
After placing our orders, it took them a good 10-15 minutes to serve our beverages. Yeah … unlike the other coffee shops nowadays that prepared their coffee and tea prior to the day’s business, at Wan Li, they make your drink by hand, and per order. Scroll down for a look at the ultra-frothy drinks.
Then the mains arrived. The Chicken Chop was exactly how I imagine a true-blue, authentic Hainanese Chicken Chop to be. Crispy batter-coated tender fillet of chicken drenched in the most lip-smacking brown sauce with abundance of peas, carrots and onions. Then a few chunks (refuse to call them pieces) of crinkle-cut potatoes, and the garnishing of sliced cucumber and tomatoes.
The Fish & Chips on the other hand, was satisfactory as well, a fact that belies its initial appearance. Served with a rather dainty dollop of mayo on the side, and the thick fries again, the deep-fried fillet of fish (it’s ‘kurau’ or snapper, if I’m not mistaken) looked to be devoid of any moisture when placed in front of me. After the first bite, i was sold. The batter was buttery, and unlike the generic tasteless variety commonly used to coat the dory fish (or worse, frozen fish fingers!) at some places.
Enjoying your portion of Chicken Chop at Wan Li requires NO table manners, really. You can even dig in with your hands, for all they care …..
An awkward situation arose when the lady boss herself promptly walked over and placed a few leaves of lettuce on my plate of fish & chips. Then proclaming in Cantonese; “Neh … now it’ll look better for photography ma …” 😉
And I thought I was being my usual self, going undercover and unnoticed. Whoops.
The glasses of iced MOCHA coffee (RM2/USD0.60 each) overflowing from the froth produced. Their milk tea was satisfying as well (not in picture).
Oh, and we sampled two rolls of the fresh-from-the-kitchen Choon Piah, or Hainan Spring Rolls, or Lor Bak (whatever you might call it). Nothing earth-shattering, but the skin of the rolls was bursting at the seams, filled generously with the ingredients stuffed into it. As homemade as spring rolls could be.
Wan Li Restaurant @ Jalan Kota – Blink and you might miss this restaurant, overshadowed by the many spanking new eateries in Taiping town.
Lunch was good. At least, this could be a place to fall back on, in case we’ve run out of place to eat in the future. Wan Li Restaurant has been operating at the exact same spot since 1997, as I was told by the lady herself. Though they do not practise open-kitchen concept (truthfully how many coffee shops do?), you can actually see them in action if you use their washrooms. Yes, the kitchen was rather open, but thankfully … nothing unsavoury to the sight.
WAN LI RESTAURANT
No 48, Jalan Kota,
Telephone : 605-808 6092
Business hours : 8am-3.30pm, 6-10pm.
And as usual, a GOOGLE MAP to Wan Li Restaurant.