Yes, that’s the year the Hakka Restaurant was established. It has been that long. Of course I wasn’t even born then but I know this restaurant has been around for ages. Many many years ago when I first came out to work in Kuala Lumpur, this restaurant was already very established and holds a significant position among the grand old dames of Chinese restaurants here. Over the decades, the restaurant has grown tremendously and now it sits on an enviable prime corner in one of the hottest spots of the city. Just a stonethrow from Pavilion and several steps away from many hotels in the area, the Hakka Retaurant enjoys great patronage, not only from its regulars but also from tourists who are recommended by their respective hotel concierges. On almost any evening, if you happen to pass by the Hakka Restaurant, you would see that it’s bursting at its sides with hungry (and noisy) diners. Don’t even think of eating here on weekends (or weekdays, for that matter) without prior reservations.
On one of those evenings when we had to catch a show at KLCC, we decided to have an early dinner at The Hakka Restaurant. As we walked in, just past 6.30pm, many were already leaving, with filled stomachs. Yes, their regulars tend to dine early here. Don’t expect any lavish decor here. The Hakka Restaurant prides itself as serving authentic Hakka fare in very basic surroundings, despite its humongous size. The place brings back a tinge of nostalgia to me… it reminded me very strongly of those typical busy no-frills old timer Chinese restaurants back in Ipoh.
The first dish that we had was the typical Hakka dish: their Abacus Seeds. Little rounds of slightly-chewy dough made from flour and yam, any true-blue Hakka will swear by this dish. The balls of yam+flour were saute’ed with strips of mushrooms, wood fungus, chinese celery, minced pork and dried cuttlefish. I like the just-right texture of the balls and this dish was executed well: not oily and all the accompanying ingredients were a perfect balance amongst each other but did not overwhelm the stars which were the yammy (and yummy) balls.
Hakkas dishes are well known for their robust savoury flavours… and most of these dishes call for big amounts of rice. The Mui Choy Kau Yook is a great example. You simply canNOT eat this dish without rice! The thick slices of pork belly were so flavourful and tender they practically melt in my mouth and the lardy taste of them had totally infused into the pickled vegetables.
The Yong Tau Fu dish was just average though. I felt there should have been a bit more of salted fish and pork mixed into the fishpaste – a typical Hakka touch to yong tau fu.
The Fried Meatcake was good. A rather different take on the usual steamed version. A minced pork patty with chunks of salted fish mixed in, deep-fried and really aromatic. The boys loved this.
Prices are fair, maybe a bit above average but then this is city-centre dining so that’s expected. We love the hearty fare here and will return to try their other dishes as clearly they have maintained their authentic Hakka flair.
6 Jalan Kia Peng
50450 Kuala Lumpur