Friday, 5 September 2014

Hakka Restaurant @ Jalan Raja Chulan

Hakka Restaurant @ Jalan Raja Chulan specialises in...what else....authentic Hakka cuisine, of course!  This restaurant has been around for more than 50 years (since 1956) and is a popular place for outdoor dining with foreign tourists staying in hotels in the area.  Foreigners love this kind of al fresco dining under the stars.  

We've been here a couple of times (for lunch) but the ambience (at night) is definitely more eye catching, with lights strewn on the roofed canopy, when we came here for a family dinner last Sunday.

The Jungle Ferns Salad @ RM22 was a gorgeous salad full of punchy flavours.  The jungle ferns (aka "pucuk paku" in Malay) was a truly refreshing salad with the sourness from the lime juice, the sweetness from the plum sauce, the saltiness and fragrance from the fried dried shrimps and shallots, the sharpness from the sliced fresh shallots and the crunch of the vegetable ferns.  The freshness and acidity of this salad opened up our appetites for the dishes to come.

The Salt & Pepper Baby Squids @ RM30 that followed were delightful morsels of joy.  The tiny baby squids have been salted, peppered, battered, fried and tossed with bits of chilli and spring was crunchy (but just a tad hard).  It was an ok dish and my son liked it.  [#Tip: Especially good as a snack to go with a glass of cold beer (for the many foreign clientele who throng this place).]

Next was the Hong Kong "Kai Lan" (Chinese kale) @ RM40 which is a wok fried Hakka style vegetable dish with minced pork.  The kai lan, that was chopped into very small pieces, was perfectly fried.  It maintained its crunch and nice green colour.  I totally enjoyed this!

We also ordered the well known Hakka dish of Stewed Pork Belly with "Mui Choy" (preserved mustard greens) and "Mantou" (Chinese steamed bun) @ RM41.  It was not something I would order again.  Never liked wobbly pork belly to begin with, the mui choy was soft but the sauce in which it was slow braised in just didn't have the right flavour.  [#Tip: I've eaten way better ones than this and even my m-i-l can cook a more kick-ass "mui choy kau yoke" :D]

The pork belly was served with some mantou on request.  The mantou was a bit dense and not as soft and fluffy (you can find better ones elsewhere, even from Esquire Kitchen).

Our next order was the Deep Fried Brinjal (Eggplant) with Dried Shrimps, Bird's Eye Chilli & Garlic @ RM30.  At first glance, you might think it's Fried Tofu but it's not.  It's actually brinjal that has been coated and deep fried.  It was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.  The dried shrimps, bird's eye chillies and garlic bits gave it a slight heat and saltiness, somewhat similar to "ma lai chan lat chiew" (belacan + chilli paste).  This was addictive and another winning dish!

The (De-shelled) Prawns with Mayonnaise Cream @ RM90 ended up to be the most expensive dish of the night.  The prawns were fresh, fairly large in size and, most important of all, de-shelled ;)  The prawns had a slightly crisp texture on the outside (wished it was a little crispier) and well tossed in a light tangy mayo cream.

Taste wise, the prawns were decent but the presentation and garnishing left a whole lot to be desired.  The fried noodle basket (in which the prawns were served) tasted rancid ("chow yau yik" or stale oil taste) and the vegetables (lettuce and cucumber) the basket was sitting on were past its prime.  Although we don't normally consume the garnishes, but at a price of RM90, I expected more.

We also chose the Braised Tofu with Bean Curd Puffs & Snow Peas @ RM18.  The homemade tofu was braised in a light oyster broth with vegetarian bean curd puffs, fried fu chuk and snow peas (though sugar snap peas would have been a better alternative as it would have brought a sweeter and crunchier texture to the dish).  It was a peasant dish but warm and comforting nonetheless.

For our final dish, we went with their recommendation of Fried Hakka Noodles @ RM22 but it turned out to be just simple Hakka noodles fried with bean sprouts and spring onions in black sauce which was bland and devoid of any flavour.  [#Tip: I can't help but compare this to a plate of Fried Shanghai Mee from Esquire Kitchen (which was also simple and similarly fried like this one) that tasted a lot better.]

Last but not least, I feel I need to comment on the apparent lack of service.  No-one refilled our Chinese tea and water throughout our meal there (we had to self-serve ourselves with a pot that was left behind on their counter)...wondered if it has got anything to do with our (cheap) choices :( haiz, maybe we might have gotten better service if we ordered some fish and crabs, perhaps???  When we left, I did see a lot more wait staff attending to the (mostly) foreign customers outside since most locals choose to dine in the air-conditioned environment inside.

The only time the waitress offered us some kind of service (when no service was needed then) was when we asked for the bill.  She offered us wet towels that were already stacked on a plate and laid out on the table since the beginning of our meal.  Why?  Because we had to pay for each wet towel kind of her (to pressure us to take a towel)....and, of course, yours truly steadfastly refused!

My Personal Opinion

The place is rather quiet in the afternoons but I noticed that there's a sizeable crowd (especially foreigners) during dinner service due to the many hotels in the vicinity.  But then again, you know what people say about 'touristy" places, if it attracts tourists instead of locals, the food cannot be very good.

Our dinner for 10 came up to RM360 which is reasonable considering we didn't order much seafood (except prawns and baby squid, no fish or crab).  Whether your dining experience is going to be good (or bad) depend on what you order actually as the menu here has its hits and misses.  Overall, taste wise, I would say it's average fare at best.

Likes:  Surprisingly, I enjoyed all the 3 vegetable dishes very much (especially the refreshing jungle ferns).

Dislikes:  The braised pork belly with mui choy, the fried Hakka noodles and the non-existent service!

Hakka Restaurant
No 90 Jalan Raja Chulan
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 1907


  1. I like the sound of the deep fried baby squid dish. I will never eat here because I seldom eat at local tourists restaurants. For Hakka food I usually go to Ying Ker Lou.

    The deep frief brinjal sounds good too but I am cutting down on fried food. Paku dish is my favourite dish. Will always order this dish at nyonya restaurants. I am surprised to ser this Hakka restaurant serving a paku dish.

    1. I guess it's more Nyonya if you cook it kerabu style...or simply one of those fusion dishes which happens a lot these days.


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