On the night we reached KL, we were sent straight to Hotel Pudu Plaza. After checking in, we looked for a nearby restaurant that seemed decent for dinner immediately. A lot of hawker restaurants serving local  Malay food were available, however the dishes were just not presented in a way that could easily capture my attention. Finally, we set foot in 瓦煲雞飯 (wa bao ji fan) and decided to try their signature Claypot Chicken Rice, which every table had.

Review of Claypot Chicken Rice 瓦煲雞飯 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

I glanced over at the menu posted on the wall and learned that it was only a listing of drinks.

Since they didn’t have a food menu, we had to specifically ask the staff to order. The boss and everyone else were speaking only in Mandarin and Malay. And apparently, they thought I was Japanese so they (including some other customers who heard me) were surprised when I spoke in Chinese. 😛

We had their signature Claypot Chicken Rice (瓦煲雞飯), Wintermelon Soup (冬瓜湯) and Chinese Stir-fried Lettuce (生菜). While waiting, I observed that it was interesting to see how the rice was being cooked using charcoal fire. Serving time was slow, since cooking rice in a claypot is really a slow process, but the result is worth the effort.

The claypot rice itself was done well. The bottom and sides developed an excellent crust that soaked up most flavor. However, I found that the claypot rice was dressed with too much black soy sauce and too much oil. Toppings consisted of savory chunks of skin-on, bone-in chicken, Chinese sausage (lap cheong) and mushroom. The chicken was a bit dry but plenty rich. Studded with fatty meat, the lap cheong was tender, sweet and smoky. The serving size was enough for two to share. The taste of 瓦煲雞飯 could get a little monotonous if you’d finish the entire portion alone.

Bright in color, the Chinese lettuce was good, crispy and fresh. It was a great side dish to the claypot chicken rice.

Any soup would be comforting for us that night, and we got the ever-nourishing and soothing Wintermelon Soup (also Cantonese in origin). It was cooked with pork bones and velvety cubes of wintermelon. The winter melon’s delicate white flesh had no distinct taste of its own, absorbing only the broth’s flavor.

Instead of going over the list of drinks all unfamiliar to us, we got the honeydew drink and sour plum juice. Their pictures were posted on the wall and somehow they looked good.

Light and refreshing, the honeydew juice turned out to taste like a hefty combination of green apple and melon juice. It was way better than the sour plum juice (suan mei, on the right), which was far from heavenly. Ugh, it tasted like salt and plum water (mouth-puckeringly sour) put together. I swear I won’t be salivating over this in a lifetime. It was so bad, but because Louie (the 壞人 that he is) chose the honeydew and inisted that I finish the sour plum one, I had no choice but to drink it. 🙁

This wasn’t the best meal we had in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In fact, it was the worst. 😛 But for one who loves authentic Malaysian-Cantonese food, it’s a damn solid one. The salty and crusty claypot rice would do justice for your hunger. Considering that we paid RM 20 for everything in this meal, it’s was a reasonably good deal.

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71 Responses

  1. R U S S

    I’m sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t superb ( but the claypot has a bit of an appeal with it ). I’m sure you’ll find better restaurants there. What happened to you is part of the traveling experience. I had a similar one in Singapore.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Fortunately, we had better-tasting food in the rest of our meals when we were in Malaysia. Yeah, it was also good that we knew how the claypot chicken rice tasted. At least I had this story to share to everyone (how I was unilaterally underwhelmed).

      Reply
  2. Jacqueline

    At least the honeydew juice was good 🙂 I live in south Florida and have run into some yucky spots down here and although I don’t travel much I do try and eat at various “exotic” restaurants in my area. Food is so hit-or-miss, but I’m happy that I don’t just look for the nearest chain or fast food joint. Kudos to you for trying the claypot chicken- very interesting post 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The honeydew juice even had some bits of jelly as I remember. I live in Chinatown and have been raised in a family cooking Cantonese meals so I’ve eaten a fair amount of this authentic cuisine. This restaurant turned out to be a good choice only for the experience. If I were to judge the food again when my stomach is full, it might be a different story altogether. As my boyfriend said, all food become a bit delicious when you’re hungry. Thanks for dropping by this post all the way from Florida! 🙂

      Reply
  3. mary edwards

    This looks delicious. I’m so jealoust of your trip there! Always wanted to go. And taste food made in the country. Great review

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Mary. I saw other diners getting the same dishes, which smelled good by the way. As for the claypot chicken rice, it only needed to be tweaked to my particular taste (perhaps less black soy sauce and salt) but it can be considered yummy as a traditional dish in KL as served.

      Reply
  4. Gabby O'Brien

    The food looks really good, too bad it seems that it didn’t taste that way!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yeah. Anyway, the food had nice heat level and the ingredients in the claypot rice really came through with a lovely fragrant note. The chicken was tender and there were plenty of mushrooms and Chinese sausages sliced super thin.

      Reply
  5. Hana

    The Claypot Rice does look yummy (and this is coming from someone who’s rice-averse). I wish there’s a place here in Manila where we can get to try that, too!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh yeah. I haven’t encountered any restaurant here in Manila offering the same dish – or at least ones that specialize in claypot dishes. Maybe one should be opened in local Chinatown or in Banawe, QC as there are more Chinese people to appreciate the food.

      Reply
  6. mindy

    I do love me some claypot rice! However getting a nicely done one is tricky, some places seems to overdo the crisp part and make the whole pot rather inedible! Seems like this one’s not that horrible (although it’s not wonderful as well haha). Oh wow, poor you, couldn’t you order some more drink instead?

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We just had water to wash away the taste of sour plum. This restaurant was so packed with customers that night even when it’s a weekday. This just explains that their food must appeal really well to those locals. I would like them to bring the food to the Philippines and cook it with some Filipino fusion trajectory. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Bonnie @ wemake7

    That is one big list of drinks. =) I’m surprised they didn’t have a menu for food.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, the choices of food are limited anyway so they can easily recite what’s available. Regardless, if they’re serving foreign guests, then there should be a printed menu with simple listing of food and the prices.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, I would also prefer my mom’s home cooking rather than this one. But when in another country, trying out different stuff that we may not like is also good as it’s part of the experience. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Paula Parker

    Another interesting review. This doesn’t look like my favorite place of all your reviews. But with a little ambiance and a little better food layout, this could be a great place to eat. Enjoyed my visit, as always.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha thanks, Paula. I think that the restaurant’s emphasis is in their traditional way of cooking the claypot chicken rice and they are not much aware of the design of the surroundings. I agree that they can attract more customers (foreign) if they improve the ambiance.

      Reply
  9. Kristin Yach

    Very interesting. I’m not sure what I would do if I was in a restaurant that only had a drink menu. Especially if I didn’t speak the language. cooking the rice in a clay pot sounds intriguing to me!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      If I didn’t know how to speak the language and were pretty hungry, I would either turn to other restaurants or pick according to what other tables are having. Point and select – that would do just fine, I guess. 😛

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s interesting how they do that, no? Cooking anything with claypot just takes a lot of time so you need to be patient in waiting and hoping that the food would not be over or undercooked.

      Reply
  10. Rebecca Swenor

    Cooking with the clay pot is awesome. It sounds like it wasn’t that bad of a meal though. It looks really good. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s a good technique that’s been used by people in ages. In this modern age though, only a few restaurants still resort to that kind of cooking as serving time is slow and people are rushing all the time.

      Reply
  11. Jessica Peeling

    That Honeydew drink sounds really good! Even though it may not have been your best meal, it still looks really interesting..never tried anything from a claypot!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, food are generally okay (with gentle prices). If they offer more food on the menu and customer service becomes friendlier, they would be a hit.

      Reply
  12. William Stone

    I love your description of the sour plum juice — salt and plum water. I’ll be sure to steer away from that and instead order the heavenly sounding honeydew drink if I’m ever in that part of the world.

    Reply
  13. Maria Oller

    I love food made in clay pots and over charcoal such a shame yours wasn’t great, I think the charcoal cooked food always has this special flavor

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Beyond the price, there’s little to recommend. There are more restaurants in KL serving more edible food–my two cents. Anyway, this is still worth a try for a first-timer.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It would be quite an experience, just like eating food cooked inside bamboo. What’s more interesting to know is that clay pots possess the ability to change and improve over time. Heated slowly over a medium flame, the pot will never crack, yet it remains piping hot long after it’s been brought to the table.

      Reply
  14. Vicki F

    That looks really good! Chicken and rice is a favorite, but I’ve never tried it in a clay pot! Great ideas!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There are many Chinese restaurants serving claypot rice with different prime ingredients. Sad you can’t find them easily when you’re in a non-Chinese country.

      Reply
  15. Don Purdum

    So it looks better than it really tasted? Sorry you didn’t have the best experience. At least it doesn’t appear to be the norm for you.

    Reply
  16. Jane

    Nice!! Havnt tried this claypot yet though t i love to try it one day since it is a malaysian food

    Reply
  17. Kath Rivera

    I want to go to Malaysia just to try their food. I’m not sure if I had this when I was in Singapore. I’m craving at this hour because of the photo.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Malaysia has super flavorful food and you should really go there at least once to sample wonderful dishes. This one though just didn’t make the cut for my taste.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, John. We wanted something local and we went to the right direction with our feet being the tour guide. My boyfriend liked the food here so that’s probably enough for us to last the night.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The smell of the food though was incredibly nice, and the rice at the bottom of the pot had formed a burnt crust, which was pretty tasty actually. Unfortunately, I’m just not a fan of food too salty or drinks too sour.

      Reply
  18. suzanne barber

    Great review! Too bad the meal wasn’t too good – it looked really yummy from the pics. It’s all about the journey though!!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Suzanne! You’re right. Add to that: Timing is very important in cooking such dish over charcoal fire. I also commend the cook there for not burning the ingredients and only having that satisfying crunch at the bottom.

      Reply
  19. Michael

    I think the thing that caught my eye was the No Smoking sign in the diner! I know smoking is still culturally accepted in the Far East so it was pretty cool that the owner cared enough to go against that trend with his sign.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, it’s not good to have cigarette smoke all over the place when the food has smoke as the customer might wrong the cigarette smoke as cooking smoke and inhale it all the way. 😆

      Reply
  20. Brijdeep

    wow the claypot chicken rice sounds and looks wondrous.. myself I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different types of chicken rice, if you have visited my food blog you would know.. I wish I had that kind of clay pot or those equipments to try that one out as well.. 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Claypot chicken rice is popular in many Asian countries, for example: Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Cooking and serving it seems like a tribute to slow-cooking.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s a cool place as you get to experience what’s it like eating in a local hawker-type restaurant in Malaysia and actually communicate with their people.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Winter melon soup is best if it’s hot or you’re in a humid country as it’s believed to reduce the heat in the body. Winter melon looks like watermelon but without the stripes and its interior resembles that of a bitter gourd.

      Reply
  21. Franc Ramon

    Chicken Rice is always epic in Singapore but looks like, it’s not for Malaysia. I guess they have their different taste preference.

    Reply
  22. Karen of MrsLookingGood

    I love eating at hawker’s stalls! But I have not tried claypot food yet TBH. Sorry to hear that you were not that happy. Sometimes if it’s too flavored, nakakasuya rin. My fave Malaysian dish EVER, even in Singapore, is Nasi Lemak. It’s the nuts that make me go crazy over the dish.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We got some plates of nasi lemak as well when we were there and liked this Malaysia’s authentic dish. I will blog about the food and our dining experience soon. 😀

      Reply

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