Seri Kembangan is what they call the “Hakka Heartland” due to the majority of Chinese residents living in that area being Hakkas. I seldom venture into Seri Kembangan although I know there are lots of restaurants and shops serving delicious stuff there. The reason for this reluctance is because of the horrendous traffic choking up the entry roads into Seri Kembangan, except maybe on weekends and even so, it all depends on the time of day. Anyway, despite my reluctance, there ARE 2 reasons I would go to Seri Kembangan – one is for Yap Hin and the other is for Chen Fatt. Now in case you think these are 2 Hakka blokes I have the hots for, well… they are actually 2 restaurants serving good Hakka home-style food which I return for, again and again!
No other dish would epitomize Hakka cuisine more than their Mui Choy Kau Yook (RM22) – pork belly braised with pickled vegetables. At Chen Fatt, I tasted one of the best versions ever. The thick pieces of pork belly, while maintaining their form, were melt-in-the mouth tender, and had completely morphed with the flavours of the pickled vegetables. We scooped up every bit of this dish, including the oh-so-tasty gravy and left the plate clean.
Pineapple Pork Ribs (RM18) is another porky dish done very well at Chen Fatt. Sizeable chunks of meaty ribs have been fried before being cooked in a sweetish sourish sauce, enhanced by chunks of fresh pineapples. Be prepared to load on the rice for this!
I love fish maw and Chen Fatt’s Fish Maw Soup was hard to resist (RM18). Spongy slices of fish maw, boiled till tender, were served in a thick broth, full of umami goodness and fragranced by sprigs of fresh parsley. For that added bite of crunchiness, fat beansprouts were thrown in as well. This is far more satisfying than any seafood bisque in any 5-star restaurant, I tell you.
Both the Mango Tofu (RM16) and Steamed Assam Fish (RM33) have that delicious sour tang brought about by fresh lime juice. The steaming hot tofu squares have been deep-fried, rendering a crispy “skin” on the outside while the silky mash inside remained soft and silky. There were also pieces of barbequed crunchy dried cuttlefish sprinkled onto the tofu salad and these, together with the mango strips and Bombay onion slices all add up for a wonderful burst of flavours in the mouth!
If you are a fan of prawns, try their freshwater prawns but this must be pre-ordered, to ensure you get the huge ones! For one order of these gorgeous crustaceans, Chen Fatt can serve them 2 ways: for the heads, the best way is to steam them with just some ginger strips, Chinese wine and egg whites. The thick roe oozing out is truly slurp-worthy… be sure to mop up every drop of this! And then, once you’re done with the heads, sink your teeth into the succulent “body” of the prawns, which are saute’ed simply in superior soya sauce. Simple… but they hit the mark, right on. The bouncy prawn meat need nothing more than soya sauce to bring out its sweet freshness.
Chen Fatt’s Paper-wrapped Fried Chicken (@ RM3.30 per piece) are also worth a mention. The chicken pieces were well flavoured with Chinese wine and ginger juice and once you peel open the grease-proof paper, the thick gravy spurts out – be careful not to drip this – it’s too delicious to waste! After that super heavy meal, we even packed some of these back home! The dishes served here are mostly comfort food, nothing fussy… they are mainly home-style unpretentious dishes, all cooked with a lot of Hakka heart.
Restoran Chen Fatt
1487B Jalan Besar
(Jalan Besar is the main road as you enter Seri Kembangan. Chen Fatt is located in the same row as CIMB and RHB Bank)