KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The very many fans of Hong Kong Food Culture were devastated when they closed back in 2022.
The eatery in Low Yat Plaza — headed by Hong Kong native Marco Ma — had made a name for itself with its roast duck, curry fish balls and classic HK cha chaan teng eats since 2004.
As that chapter took a pause, Ma who once worked with various chefs in his home country for more than 40 years, went on to open Uncle Duck & Food Express in Pudu and Jalan Ipoh. It served a smaller menu with fish balls, various fried noodles, fried rice and desserts.
On September 8, Hong Kong Food Culture reopened at a larger space on the ground floor of Plaza Low Yat (previously they were on the lower ground floor).
You will be teleported to Hong Kong the moment you step inside.
Roast duck is one of their specialties here... the duck is given a hot oil bath before it is served (left). Most diners order the milk tea but opt for the hot lemon tea that is much better with a fragrant tea flavour (right).
Share a quarter portion of roast duck with its tender, juicy meat.
The eatery is fitted out with iconic items like neon signs, stained glass windows and even the familiar public light bus!
Even the busy buzz reminds you of Hong Kong as everyone works hard to serve you food as soon as possible.
One marked difference is how spacious it is. It's not tiny like Hong Kong where one knocks elbows with other diners and has to eat as fast as one can.
There are various stations to see the "live" action. You can see steaming hot noodles being cooked or there is the roastery with a row of roasted ducks where some are given a hot oil bath.
There's even a street food stall with curry fish balls.
Snack on spicy fish balls served with a fragrant curry (left). Order the a mix of fish balls, cuttlefish balls and pork balls with soup and vegetables (right).
The Pig Knuckle in Red Bean Sauce is a luscious, decadent bite with the gelatinous skin and fats.
The menu reads like a book. As you turn the pages, you will get tempted by all the goodies. The fun part will be visiting this place a few times to sample what they have.
After our meal, we were already looking around to see what other people ordered and making mental notes on what grabbed our attention.
The menu goes beyond cha chaan teng eats like baked rice, sandwiches, Nissin noodles and French toast. You get roast duck, noodles, congee and cooked dishes.
They are well known for their sets too, where you can get either fishball kuey teow (RM15.80) or roast duck rice with a drink (RM14.50). There's also a choice of chicken chop, lamb chop, steak, fish fillet or pork chop with rice or noodles. The set comes with mushroom soup and a drink. Prices range from RM22 to RM32, depending on what you select.
Ma is better known as "Uncle Duck" so a must-order is his roast duck.
Steamed Pork with Mei Chai has less salt but it's tasty with a tender texture for the pork belly.
Either select the duck rice set, if you're dining solo or gather more people to share the roast duck. A quarter portion with the prized leg is available for RM36, while a whole duck is RM130.
In an interview with The Star, Ma had shared how the ducks are massaged with his secret 12 herbs mix and air dried before they are roasted. You're given their special sauce and a sour plum sauce on the side.
They use smaller sized ducks here so the meat is juicy with a finer texture compared to other places. While the skin is not shattering crispy, it makes an enjoyable bite paired with the sour plum sauce that has a slight sweet taste.
One item that grabbed my attention on the menu was braised duck tongues in lo shui soy. It's not available at the moment but that is an item rarely seen in the Klang Valley.
If you're looking for a snack, order their Spicy Fish Balls (RM7), a street food favourite, where the bouncy balls are cooked in a spicy, fragrant curry which I tried previously in Uncle Duck.
One of the must eats here is the Fried Kway Teow with Beef as it's packed with 'wok hei'.
This round, we went with a mix of their fish balls, cuttlefish balls and pork balls. These were bouncy and tasty bites with the soup.
Don't miss out on the Pig Knuckle in Red Bean Sauce (RM15), if you love gelatinous fat. You can also have it with noodles. Each bite of the knuckle is luscious.
The sauce may look a startling red but it's not so strong with the fermented bean paste and incredibly appetising. I would be happy to take this home as an additional dish for family dinner.
Then there is their Steamed Pork with Mei Chai (RM36). It may look like the Hakka dish but I found this version to be more restrained in the usage of soy sauce.
This means a lighter flavour, letting you enjoy the tender texture of the pork belly with the preserved mui choy that is not too salty.
The simple Yangzhou style Fried Rice shows off the chef's skill as each rice grain is fried with egg.
One of my all-time favourites is their Fried Kuey Teow with Beef (RM18). This showcases the chef's skill as the flat rice noodles are full of wok hei and flavour. There's various fried noodles too including some using Nissin noodles, udon and even spaghetti.
A new favourite is the simple fried rice. You get six choices, including the classic Yangzhou style.
Each grain is perfectly cooked with bits of fried egg. What's interesting is they use cabbage and thick cut char siu that is leaner.
I reckon I can eat multiple plates of the unusual Fried Rice with Yam and Chinese Sausage (RM17). You get cubes of deep fried yam with fluffy centres, paired with pan fried waxed meats brought in from Hong Kong. There's sliced kai lan stalks that give a crunch to the dish.
Portions for the fried rice are generous. It feeds one greedy person or you can share with others.
Try this unusual Fried Rice with Yam and Chinese Sausage where fluffy yam cubes are given flavour by the Hong Kong-sourced waxed meat.
Sago with Mango Cream and Pomelo is a refreshing pick-me-up with its silky fruit puree and tangy pomelo (left). Steamed Egg with Milk is a classic dessert for a sweet tasting end to a meal here (right).
Other choices include one with conpoy or scallop and egg white, minced beef, chicken dice and salted fish plus the unusual version with twin sauces, one with a creamy base and another with tomato sauce.
As most of their diners are looking for a quick, one-person meal, there's rice served with cooked dishes like sweet and sour pork ribs, minced pork with eggplant and the classic fish, ginger and spring onions.
What I would like to try the next round would be their cooked dishes. These items are best to be shared. There are dishes like deep fried fish fillet with ketchup, steam minced pork with salted fish, and fried oyster.
Don't miss out on the desserts. The Sago with Mango Cream and Pomelo (RM10) was a decadent sweet pick-me-up with its thick mango puree. You get tangy pomelo that helps undercut the rich mango puree. There's also cubes of ripe mango inside the chilled dessert.
You can opt for the Steamed Egg with Milk (RM8). Texture-wise, I would prefer it to be silkier but it's a decent rendition. They also serve milk and ginger, red bean soup, walnut sweet soup and the Hong Kong favourite, almond sweet soup.
Neon signs give you a Hong Kong vibe.
Expect a queue for lunch at Hong Kong Food Culture.
Hong Kong Food Culture, G-012, Ground Floor, Low Yat Plaza, 7, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Open daily: 11am to 9.30pm. Tel:03-21416998. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hongkongfoodculture
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