Entering the restaurant, it was like we travelled back through time; there were old kopitiam tables and sturdy wooden chairs that had withstood the test of time, white ceiling fans and dusty fluorescent lights suspended by wires and windows without shutters.
In a country where progress is reflected in our country's employment and where locals are in the pursuit of more ambitious vocations, it is heartening to see that cheap foreign labour is not employed in this restaurant. The servers in this restaurant are withered, shrivelled uncles and aunties wearing white pagoda T-shirts over white shorts.
A bespectacled, wizened man with fingers nimbly skimming an abacus was presumably the "cashier".
Chopped wood for the stove is stored at the back to cook the food the traditional way.
The food that you will see below is from an accumulation of two visits. The first time, we went there with no idea what to order. We were impressed with what we had tasted. Our second time was a more educated trip, but unfortunately we were overenthusiastic, and thus we overordered!
I'm a big fan of pork trotters. Unfortunately, Pretty Pui isn't, so it was a nightmare for her as she thrust her chopsticks into the thick fat in search of lean meat. We tried two types of dishes: stewed pork trotters, and stuffed pork trotters with chestnuts, onions and mushrooms. Both are delicious, but the "small" portion of stuffed pork trotters was still too much for 5 of us.
The pei pa duck with its crispy skin would have been more enjoyable had it not been for the thick layers of fat that left one feeling full after consuming it. At first, I tried spitting out the fat, but that left my jaws tired. After that, I was merely tearing off and eating the skin and leaving behind the fat and the meat that seemed to be fused together.
Our dish of chicken came steamed with black fungus, ginger and kum chum (dried lily buds).
We tried two types of tofu dishes; one was seng kua taufu cooked with mushrooms and ridge gourd (petola), and the other, tofu with mixed vegetables. Both dishes came with a starchy egg sauce that was good enough to drink by itself.
We loved the kah heong chai (literally translated as village vegetables) which consisted of nam yue (red fermented bean paste), black fungus, fried foo chuk, chinese cabbage, transparent glass noodles and kum chum. We ordered this on both visits as it was absolutely addictive.
The fluffy, white rice steamed in little aluminium bowls not only looked adorable, but tasted great too.
Note: The airconditioned restaurant is located nextdoor. Same food, different environment. You decide.
Sek Yuen Restaurant
313-1, Jalan Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Airconditioned restaurant: 315, Jalan Pudu.