FLUFFY, fragrant, flavourful — these are all essential indicators of a good bowl of yam rice.
Yam, which is also known as keladi or taro, is the main ingredient for this dish.
The starchy root vegetable is also commonly found in dishes such as bubur cha cha and steamed yam cake.
The fragrance comes from the dried prawns and mushrooms.
Yam rice is often served alongside salted vegetable pork soup or various braised pork dishes.
At Zheng Ji Restoran Famous Yam Rice, the dishes stay true to its Penang-style recipes, with minor tweaks.
Located in Pandan Perdana, Ampang, the restaurant serves a pretty decent interpretation of yam rice as well as its must-have side dishes.
Proprietor Jacky Yong said the restaurant started as a partnership with a friend using the latter’s family recipes more than three years ago.
“Since then, we have parted ways and there have been some changes to the recipes, ” he said.
He said while simple ingredients are used in cooking yam rice, the quality can make a huge difference.
Yong said uncooked rice grains are first wok-fried with fried dried shrimp, yam cubes and tender slivers of pork belly.
It is flavoured with good quality soy sauce, and then cooked in a rice cooker until fluffy and fragrant.
When served, it is topped with more fresh yam and surprisingly, small fried dried shrimp.
The almost paper-like texture of the shrimp has a salty and umami taste that lifts the flavours of the rice dish.
On its own, the rice is tasty with a few slightly charred rice bits, and it was not too oily.
Each bowl of yam rice costs only RM1.80.
The salted vegetable pork soup is a great accompaniment to balance the heaviness of the rice dish.
There are plenty of variations of this soup you can choose from, including with offal, pork balls, and pork blood.
Each small portion of soup costs RM9.50.
We opted for just pork slices and pork balls, garnished with Chinese parsley.
The soup was sour enough to cut through the pork broth as well as the rich yam rice.
Another great accompaniment to the yam rice are the braised dishes.
Some of the popular options include pork slices, pork knuckles as well as braised tofu and eggs.
“Unlike the traditional recipe, I use plenty of spices when braising the meat.
Spices like cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves and whole black pepper are infused into the broth, ” Yong added.
The spices give the broth a slightly sweet and earthy flavour, which is infused into the meat, tofu and eggs.
Most of the braised dishes are priced at RM9.50 onwards.
A condiment of dark soy sauce with chilli paste helps to pep up the flavourful dish.
Zheng Ji Restoran Famous Yam Rice is open daily, except for Mondays and operates from 10am until 9pm.
It is located at 25, Jalan Perdana 6/4, Pandan Perdana, Ampang, Selangor.
For details, call 012-234 6881.