Ying Ker Lou puts its own unique Hakka spin on Lunar New Year penchai and snacks, impressing us with intriguing flavours and imaginative flourishes.
If you love penchai and want to experience a distinctively different version of this multilayered feast, Ying Ker Lou's is well worthwhile. We also love their memorable snacks, spanning rolled pineapple tarts, arrowhead chips and other treats, elevated to top-notch levels.
Click above to watch Ying Ker Lou's video on its 2021 Lunar New Year penchai.
Ying Ker Lou's founding matriarch Madam Siow has carefully curated an ensemble of ingredients to make this penchai truly special.
You'll find not only scallops and abalone but Hakka-style stuffed dried oysters, Hakka braised pork belly with black fungus, Dong Jiang-style stuffed tofu pok, stir-fried prawns with Hua Diao wine, salt-baked kampung chicken, braised sea cucumber with abalone sauce, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms and house-made noodles.
Madam Siow takes inspiration from time-honoured penchai philosophies of villages, where families from various households bring their own dish to pile into the penchai.
Each component in Ying Ker Lou's penchai carries its own exclusive flavour, fine-tuned to be outstanding without overpowering each other.
Equally importantly, each ingredient is meant to be enjoyed in a specific order, one after another, for the ideal evolution of flavours.
First, start with the lighter, delicate seafood - tender scallops sourced from the U.S. and Australia, firmly juicy braised 10-head abalone, and luscious sea cucumber. These are the prized delicacies from the ocean, the crowning glory of the penchai.
Next, savour the stir-fried prawns with Hua Diao wine - these crustaceans are vibrantly weet and plump, crisp-skinned and succulent, with an aromatic boost from the rice wine.
After that come the Hakka specialities - dried oysters from Japan and Korea, larger than many other varieties, stuffed like a filling in a house-blended mix of fish paste, minced pork and chestnuts, like a premium rendition of yong tau foo.
Also Hakka-influenced is the rustic Dong Jiang-style stuffed tofu pok, with its beautifully textured filling of fish paste, minced pork and salted fish.
Then, sink your teeth into the meat - the Hakka-style braised pork belly is a classic done brilliantly, with a robust flavour that conveys deep notes of red wine, five-spice powder, dried grilled fish powder and shallots, buoyed by black fungus.
We also love the salted baked kampung chicken, smooth and savoury, representing poultry at its prime, harking back to the hillside heritage where farmers far from the coast reared fowl for protein.
At the base, you'll find Ying Ker Lou's handmade noodles with mushrooms and Chinese cabbage. These relatively thick noodles are boiled in hot water, then fried with broth to achieve a lovely taste and texture. The noodles absorb all the goodness of everything in the pot, for a flavour-packed finish to the feast.
We respect how Ying Ker Lou has thoughtfully and masterfully put together its own penchai that pays tribute to tradition. One of our all-time favourite penchai meals, bridging the gap between a restaurant-cooked and lovingly homemade penchai.
For the first time ever, Ying Ker Lou is offering penchai in two preparations - the first is hot and ready to eat, the second is frozen for families to heat up and consume at their convenience.
Since many patrons will be dining at home this year, the penchai is the perfect choice, catering for different household sizes.
The made-to-order penchai, hot and ready to eat, is priced for takeaway at RM328+ (small, for two to three persons), RM588+ (medium, for five to six persons) or RM988+ (large, for 10 to 12 persons).
If you preorder by January 31, you'll enjoy a 20% discount off the frozen penchai. With the discount, the frozen penchai costs RM262.40+ (small), RM470.40+ (medium) or RM790.40+ (large). You can keep the gold-hued alloy pot and thermal cooler bag.
The portion pictured here is medium, which is satisfyingly substantial.
Reheating the frozen penchai is simple. It can be kept frozen for a week if necessary, then defrosted and ideally heated in the oven. Instructions will be provided for orders.
You can order the frozen penchai directly from any Ying Ker Lou outlet or online. Shop at:
Also now available to order or purchase are seasonal snacks. While CNY tidbits are available everywhere, Ying Ker Lou makes the extra effort to turn these tasty temptations into relatively wholesome but still-irresistible indulgences.
If you want to receive these treats in transparent boxed packaging adorned with ribbons, preorder at least 20 portions - great for gifting!
Our favourite might be the Pineapple Rolled Tarts (RM32) - fantastic, with a thin, crumbly crust of pure creamery butter, packed with plenty of rich, house-made pineapple jam. The jam is bolstered by the zesty uplift of lemon juice; we'd happily bring home many containers of this.
The Arrowhead Chips (RM20) are also exceptional, more thickly cut and less oily than typical, channelling the pure taste of earthy roots. If you're seeking the best ngaku chips, give Ying Ker Lou's a try.
Some snacks also feature Hakka inflections. The Crispy Lei Cha Seaweed (RM20) features seaweed fried with popiah skin, infused with lei cha paste for leafy nuances of basil and other herbaceous dynamics, while the Hakka Rice Krispies (RM24) are crunchy and chunky but less sweet than average, with notes of basil, peanuts and white and black sesame for moreish munching.
Ying Ker Lou takes pride in preparing its Fried Fish Skin with Salted Egg (RM28), relying on real salted egg yolk that's steamed and turned into a paste, making this a more natural product, and its Muruku (RM24), which borrows a family recipe by one of Ying Ker Lou's own Indian staff members.
All in all, Ying Ker Lou has taken the initiative to create spectacular specialities for this Lunar New Year. Many thanks to Ying Ker Lou for this sampling.
Ying Ker Lou can be found at CITTA Mall, The Gardens Mall, Pavilion KL, 1 Mont Kiara, The Curve and Atria Shopping Gallery in the Klang Valley, as well as Beletime Danga Bay in Johor Bahru.