Ensconced in a quiet corner of Shoplex Mont Kiara is Fat Fook Inn, a charming little eatery if ever there was one. This is a restaurant that wears its heritage like a badge of honour – so you'll quickly detect the Oriental-style murals and distinctly Chinese plates bedecking the walls, all immediately alluding to the fact (if you hadn't already sussed it out) that this is unquestionably a Chinese restaurant.
The eatery is run by Lam Ee Voon, who also owns sister restaurant Fat Fish next door. Lam was motivated to open Fat Fook Inn after realising there was a dearth of quality Chinese restaurants in the area.
“I've been in this area for about four years now because of Fat Fish and I love Chinese food. And I found that there's no proper Chinese restaurant around here, so that's why I kept an eye out to see if there was a vacant lot to take over,” she says.
Last August, Lam's dream came true when a lot became available and the management was responsive to her idea for a true-blue Chinese eatery.
At Fat Fook Inn, there is no immediately obvious slant to the Chinese cuisine, as it doesn't hail from any particular Chinese province or region. Instead, Lam trawled through her own favourite Chinese meals and came up with a diverse range of fare.
“So a lot of people ask me, 'What kind of cuisine do you specialise in?' And basically we don't specialise in any Chinese province's food, because we have a wide range of stuff that we serve here.
"For example, we have Hokkien noodles, Cantonese-style dishes, Hakka dishes like pigs' trotter and we even do a Teochew steamed fish, so it's a combination of every single style of Chinese food there is,” affirms Lam.
Start your meal here with the marinated shredded chicken with jelly fish (RM20). “It sounds very boring but we use premium grade jellyfish and you can taste the difference in the texture,” says Lam.
Interestingly, Lam's family is in the business of supplying and distributing dried and fresh seafood like fish maw, abalone and sea cucumber, so she knows a thing or two about seafood.
The dish is delicious – the jelly fish plump with a distinct wobbly, bouncy quality to it that mingles amiably with the tender chicken in the mixture.
Next up, try the wok-fried yue kwong hor (RM20) or stir-fried flat noodles. The dish arrives with a raw egg yolk atop, which you're meant to pierce and slather all over the noodles to create a creamy veneer.
The egg gives the noodles a silky texture and accentuates the natural attributes of the dish, which is packed with unctuous slices of pork belly, plump prawns and springy squid, all working together harmoniously to deliver the gastronomic equivalent of an ebullient rendition of 'Lean on Me'.
The Hokkien noodles (RM18) also packs a phenomenal flavour punch with copious amounts of crispy pork lard juxtaposed against pork belly, squid and vegetables. The black sauce in this rendition might perhaps not be as thick as popular versions of this famed dish, but then again, you don't often get Hokkien mee with such generous portions of pork lard and other ensemble ingredients.
If you're going to be partaking in a variety of dishes, definitely, definitely eat them all with a serving of pork lard rice (RM3). This devilish offering is essentially rice topped with a sprinkling of crispy pork lard and a house-made sauce. Tossed together, this seemingly simple dish takes on an altogether elevated form, and will form the perfect canvas to the sumptuous, hedonistic meal ahead.
From the vegetable options, try the stir-fried chives with chestnut mushrooms (RM20) which features crunchy chives against chewy bits of mushroom in what proves to be an union of equals.
Sweet and sour pork is so common in Chinese restaurants that it's also the dish least likely to impress locals who have tried numerous variations of the same old thing. But at Fat Fook Inn, the sweet and sour pork with pineapples (RM28) is really quite ... faultless. The pork has a lovely crunch that gives way to a tender, almost juicy interior and the sauce that lines the crevices and hollows of the meat juggles the sweet-sour divide with aplomb.
The braised sliced pork belly with salted fish (RM32) is a thing of beauty that differs slightly from traditional versions. “Normally the pork belly is braised together with the salted fish in the claypot, but here we call it yin-yang because it's half braised and half deep-fried,” says Lam.
When you mix all the ingredients together, you'll immediately detect slices of crunchy pork belly interspersed with the intensely salty salted fish and fiery dried chillies in what proves to be an addictively good compilation of intense flavours.
Perhaps the piece de resistance at Fat Fook Inn is the stewed chicken with dried chilli and Chinese yellow wine (RM42) which is – to put it mildly – sensationally good. The chicken is silken soft and coated in a sauce that has an inherently alcoholic undercurrent running through it. Each mouthful offers so much euphoria that you'll have to stop yourself from singing – yes, singing – out loud.
Having done what she dreamed of, Lam is not stopping here. Instead, she has her sights set on building a veritable Chinese restaurant empire.
“This is actually just a test pilot outlet to gauge the feedback from everyone. So if all goes well, we hope to begin expansion next year. We'll start with replicating the eatery but in bigger spaces, then move on to an express outlet then hopefully in the next two or three years, open a banquet hall,” she says determinedly.
But through all this growth and expansion, Lam says she will continue to ensure that Fat Fook Inn retains its core identity and purpose.
“There are many competitors in the market but I think what sets us apart is that having a meal here is like having a meal at home,” she says.
Fat Fook Inn
Address: Shoplex Mont Kiara, Jalan Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 012-447 7268
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm