Sunday, August 05, 2007

Food - Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant

Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee Restuarant, CNY 2007
"Leap" year at Ah Kow's

If you ate out in the 1960-80s in Sarikei, the food choices were quite limited. There were Malay food and Chinese food from the 3 major dialects of Foochow, Hokkien and Cantonese. Cantonese 廣東 cuisine is considered one of the top 8 distinct culinary traditions of China together with the spicy Sichuan 四川, Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong.

Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee - Cleanliness Award A.
Restaurant owner, Ah Cheong (right), holding the award.
Sarikei District Council, Borneo Post 25 Aug 2005

Hung Kiew Kee restaurant 馮球記酒樓 aka Ah Kow's restaurant was the top restaurant in Sarikei in the 1960s-80s with its Cantonese cuisine. In the 1990s-2000s, several new restaurants opened to compete with it. However, this famed restaurant deserves a post of its own for feeding the revellers in Sarikei wedding dinners and other celebrations over the decades.

Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee Restuarant, 2007
Fish Maw Soup with beaten egg
Source: Kong Kay

Ah Kow started working for an early Foochow restaurant, Man Nan Lou, at No.22 Repok Rd. Later Ah Kow and his dad, Mr Fung Kiew Kee, started 馮球記酒樓 at the back of No. 9 Repok Road, Kiew Lok Kopitiam 僑樂園茶室. (Block 2 Left, Repok Road, counting from Rejang River). It moved to No. 6 Berjaya Road (with the Merderka fountain in front of the shop now) in Aug 1972. Ah Kow has hung up his wok in the late 1990s and his son, Ah Cheong, has taken over the kitchen.

Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee Restuarant, 2007
Stir fried Asparagus with garlic
Source: Kong Kay

Ah Kow's restaurant is best known for its wedding banquets which they delivered in their old station wagon and on bicycles to the old basketball stadium for massive wedding lunches from the 1960s till they moved to Berjaya Road. At the Berjaya Road's shop, the ground floor operates as a kopitiam and levels 2-3 as an air conditioned restaurant. Do you remember when they ran out of space for huge wedding lunches and even set up tables in the non-air conditioned areas near their staff's quarters?

Sarikei Hung Kiew Kee Restuarant, 2007
Grilled Gold Coin 金錢 - who coined this term?
Source: Kong Kay

Do you recall some of their famous dishes of the wedding lunches? The cold dish of myriads of meat and jelly fish. The roasted chicken with its golden skin which you dipped into something that looked like sand (salt and seasoning) and calamansi lime? The siew mai dumplings? The deep fried balls of minced pork and onions? The grilled 3-layer gold coin 金錢 (fat pork, pork liver and lean pork)? The deep fried bird's nest (dough) that's filled with meat, mushrooms and quail eggs? The shark's fin soup with vinegar? The deep fried fish? The braised pig trotters? The fried noodles? The sliced peach and longan dessert (from canned food) with ice cubes?

Not many Sarikei folks know where is Hung Kiew Kee restaurant 馮球記酒樓 but if you mention Ah Kow's, the food bell will ring immediately. Is Ah Kow's restaurant known as Ah Cheong's restaurant now? What's in a brand name?


Telephone #. Ask for towkay Ah Cheong
+6 (084) 65 1480
+6 (084) 65 2419
+6 (084) 65 4264

Our famous Iron Chef, Ah Kow, passed away on 24 May 2008 at the tender age of 78 years old.

Source: Sin Chew Daily News
Submitted by: Wong Kee Hook


Kanga said...

Food! "to eat is heaven!" was that Confucius? Distinct cuisine: Cantonese, Szechuan, and my guess for the next two would be 'Shanghai'? & 'Jing' (area around Beijing -northern Chinese??)
Gold coin pork; my heavenly dish but also very 'sinfull' with lovely fat!
No.9 Repok Road - "kiew Loke 'yin'?(pronounced in Cantonese)coffee shop".
My memory of Ah Kow's dishes in the 70's would be on par with any top restaurants overseas!

Chen said...

Another dish that I missed is the Ah Kow's yam with kaya sweet dessert. Yeah, it's oily.

love said...

still remember when i'm young if there's a wedding dinner or lunch, then it'll b 'ah Kow'. birthday celebration? 'ah kow'. family gathering? 'ah Kow'. all i can say's
"best of the best".

love said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lidasar said...

Oh yes this restaurant was started by Mr.Fong Kiew Kee. I remember them operating from No.9 Repok Rd Kee Lok Whee Coffee Shop. Ah Kow is the son and now is in the hand of the 3rd generation. Actually this together with another Cantonese restaurant operated from the coffee shop that was below Luk Kee Brothel were the earliest but was defunct early.

Ikan Sembilang said...

Ah Kow and Ah Zhen are our Sarikei's iron chefs. I love Cantonese food, especially the chow mien with tomato sauce prepared by Ah Kow.

ront said...

actually the gold coin meat is quite rare nowadays in Sarikei....

even Hung Kiew Kee dont roast that everyday.....

its a MUST have thing for every visit!

there used to be another cantonese fella by the open air market who used to sell this every chinese festivities...unfortunately he has passed away and no one continued his business....or at least inherited his roasting skills.

Pauline said...

First of all, on behalf of my brother, Fung Chong Hua, I sincerely like to thank Daniel Yiek for putting up 'Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant' in Sarikei Time Capsule. Without your initiative and hard work, no foreigners would know where Sarikei is. As for the young Sarikeians and the readers, we can't see Sarikei history virtually. Keep up with the good work, Daniel!

I also would like to thank everyone who has added nice comments about Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant here including 'Kong Kay' who might know my sister, Lily, in Kuching. Our family with heartfelt appreciation for all your support rendered to Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant all these years including the nice photos taken by 'Kong Kay' especially on the 'Ching-Chieng'. It looks very appetizing!

Anonymous said...

does anyone have any contact number for this Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant in Sarikei? I have searched the web, there are no numbers. Plan to hold my wedding reception there. Thought of calling up :)Anyone please?

Daniel Yiek said...

I found this in an old telephone directory. Pls try these and ask for towkay "Ah Cheong"

+6 (084) 65 1480
+6 (084) 65 2419
+6 (084) 65 4264

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