PETALING JAYA, March 14 — My gym buddy has been raving about his new favourite chicken rice shop for months.
We used to head to the same chicken rice stall in Taman Desa after gym but now that we train at different places, he has found a new go-to spot for his post-workout protein.
Gym bros come and go, and sometimes they seek their chicken breasts elsewhere while you’re still finishing your final drop set.
That, and he has a new girlfriend.
Join the queue in front of the shop.
Perhaps his new spot is more conducive to romantic dates, then? We shall see.
My Gym Bro and The Girlfriend (her name withheld for privacy but mostly because we love how impressive "The Girlfriend” sounds — her lack of eye rolling at the two of us betrays a generosity beyond her tender years) has invited me along for lunch at Wong Kee Chicken Rice in Section 17, PJ.
If the name Wong Kee sounds familiar, they used to be located inside Restoran Hong Seng, the corner coffee shop just across the road. Which means I have had their chicken rice before, just not in quite a while.
Time to try it again, and with fantastic dining companions this round.
As we join the queue in front of the shop — notoriously long but it moves briskly if you are patient or have company to have engaging conversations with, as I do — it occurs to me that I am a Gen X on a third wheel date of a Gen X with two Millennials.
A whole roast chicken, with plenty of crispy skin to pick at.
Whatever would we talk about?
This is not the first time I had met The Girlfriend, of course. We had our first tri-date — Is that even a thing? Better than He Who Was The Third Wheel though, surely? — at LI Damansara Jaya a few months ago.
But as first dates (or, more accurately, tri-dates) go, it was a tentative affair. We made small talk over the housemade spam katsusando (more burger than sandwich with the soft milk buns and savoury hoisin mayonnaise, but who’s keeping track?) and chargrilled French beans needing only a squeeze of lemon.
Soon we warmed up — it might have been thanks to a triple order of LI’s signature cocktails though — and went deeper into more irreverent topics.
The well-greased chopping area, every splatter the sign of a swiftly executed order.
Spurred on by the refreshing concoction of gin and lime, ginger syrup and kyuri (basically cucumber, albeit the Japanese variety), we rhapsodised over dating foibles and the dearth of a decent carbonara in town.
Which means — fast forward a few months — now that we have finally breached the front of the queue, we can let my gym bro take care of making the orders and grab a table.
The former is no mean feat, itself a labyrinthine process of 1. Figuring out what types of roast meats are left, and 2. Trying not to over-order and leaving some for the poor folks behind us. In my Gym Bro we trust.
To be fair, I doubt he’d have much chance to ruminate and linger. The well-greased chopping area is a statement in and of itself: the very paragon of ruthless efficiency, every splatter the sign of a swiftly executed order.
It’s self service here so we get up and retrieve our orders once they are ready. And what did we order?
A thick, unctuous dark sauce goes with everything from oil rice to roast meats.
A whole roast chicken, of course, for the protein, with plenty of crispy skin to pick at. A big platter of their luscious char siu (caramelised barbecued pork) resting on a bed of sliced cucumbers (the local sort, best for soaking in all the meat juices and grease).
And one thick, unctuous dark sauce to rule them all: everything from the bowls of oil rice to the plates of roast meats.
Honestly though, the three of us pretty much ignore this treacly gravy in favour of their addictive chilli sauce. You know it is liquid manna when the shop proprietors offer the chilli sauce in small bowls rather than saucers!
In between bites, The Girlfriend makes me laugh with her wry observations and their couple’s back-and-forth would entice a smile from the gruffiest of souls.
They pay me the sweet courtesy of guffawing at my lame puns, the undeniable dreadfulness no deterrence to their enjoyment.
You know the chilli sauce is addictive when they offer them in small bowls rather than saucers!
But I’m sure they enjoy their meal even more.
It’s protein for my Gym Bro after a good workout but I’m sure he appreciates a visit to Wong Kee Chicken Rice for the time he gets to spend with his darling while in the queue as much as the chicken rice itself.
Wong Kee Chicken Rice 黃記雞飯
931, Jalan 17/38, Section 17, PJ
Open Tue-Sun 9:30am-3pm; Mon closed
Tel: 010-520 1071
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