The food at the end of a long commute is great and powerful.
It had been a long day at work, so all I really wanted to do after dealing with my hour’s commute from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, was to wine down for the night, nice and easy. But Titus wouldn’t have any of it. Instead, he was determined that we get some supper first. We stayed at Bukit Bintang which, for all intents and purposes, is the commercial and entertainment centre of the Malaysian capital. It’s touristy no doubt, but it retains its native sensibility – dynamic with a sense of edge and excitement.
Titus had previously visited on a business trip, and was recommended Wong Ah Wah (WAW) along the incredibly commercialized Jalan Alor. This eatery, unlike the rest, appears to be frequented by locals for its chicken wings. There are many imitators, but the original one can be identified by the faux Mickey Mouse on the signage.
In Southeast Asia, the latitudes have a direct co-relation with the level and sophistication of the local cuisine. Singapore, at just 1.3 degrees north, is by far, the most bland and perhaps because of it, is one of the more well-loved ones. The greater influence of the Chinese community, particularly the Fujian demographic, gave rise to light and flavorful characteristics, with emphasis on umami. In Malaysia, the greater influence of Malay culture and spices on predominantly Cantonese cuisine, created a unique Malaysian Chinese personality that was heavier in flavors. As a result, Singaporeans trying it for the first time, may find themselves unaccustomed. Johor is the exception to the rule, as it’s influenced more by Fujian demographic as well.
The distinction was most obvious with the innocent looking obligatory greens. It was stir-fried, but the flavors overall, are more full-bodied. It’s not bad in itself, but it certainly required some getting used to. This would’ve gone intensely well with rice, it was minutes to midnight.
I’ve looked through Google, and WAW has a problem with their stingray. The portions may be huge, but it’s hardly amazing. But it was very cheap, though.
Then came the soft-shell clam, a.k.a. “la la”. This version was said to be served in the generic sounding sauce that tastes reminiscent of XO sauce. After our very first clams, there was a sort of unannounced tension going on. The mythical jinhua ham had done its job, and between me and Titus, I could’ve sworn there was a no holds barred kind of atmosphere. There was no courtesy, just an ‘every man for himself’ situation to finish as many as the XO sauce laden clams as possible.
Wong Ah Wah is known primarily, for its roast chicken wings which are quite frankly, not too disimilar to the barbecued chicken wings you’d find in Singapore’s hawker centres. Unfortunately though, I don’t have pictorial evidence since this came last and my phone decided to call it a day. I can tell you that it was very well roasted and was juicy. The lime chili sauce by the side gave it an impressionable spark. While the chickens here are meatier, I felt that they were ultimately not as good as the ones back home.
To top it all of, we had the obligatory carbs. Although I’d probably be bothered by the richer flavors, this Yee Mee was absolutely delicious. When paired with sambal (belacan…in Kuala Lumpur it seems, every sambal is a belacan), it’s just explosive.
Wong Ah Wah may not be exactly amazing, but for a Singaporeans, the prices are. The supper costed us no more than SGD 30, which is impossible to find in Singapore. Hey, TimeOut KL lists this place as one of the places to visit, so you should, too.